Normally we don't test camcorders for their photo performance, but since the NEX-VG10 is in many ways just an NEX camera in a more video-friendly design, we ran it through our usual photo tests as well (with the 18-200mm lens). Unsurprisingly, it performs well, much like its co-generation NEX-5, albeit with the continuous-shooting chops of the SLT-A55V. We couldn't time how long it took to power on and shoot; the camcorder always wakes up in video mode, because it always reverts to video when you turn off the power. In any case, it takes about 0.4 second to focus and shoot in good light, increasing to 0.8 second in poorer conditions. The one outlier is shot-to-shot time, which is rather high at 1.2 seconds, though it offers an excellent burst speed of 5.9fps.
|Sony Handycam NEX-VG10|
|Sensor||14.2-megapixel Exmor CMOS|
32.4 - 360mm (16:9)
|Autofocus||25-point contrast AF|
|Min illumination (lux)||standard: 11
low light: n/a
0 .43x magnification
|LCD||3-inch articulated 921,000 pixels|
|Primary media||0GB flash; SDXC|
1080/60i @ 24, 17Mbps
1440x1080/60i @ 9Mbps
|Manual shutter speed||1/4-1/4,000 sec|
|Audio connections||3.5mm mic jack, headphone jack|
|Video connections||Mini HDMI|
|Photo: ISO sensitivity||ISO 200 - ISO 12800|
|Photo: Continuous shooting||7fps (frames n/a)|
|Body dimensions (WHD, inches)||3.9x5.3x11.5|
|Operating weight (ounces)||25.5|
|Ship date||October 2010|
The VG10 certainly looks the part of a pro camcorder, with a big, comfortable handle that houses a hot shoe, accessory shoe, and 3.5mm mic jack on its side. It also features a huge, comfortable eye-level viewfinder. But you can't really shoot using the handle; there's no record control on it, and if you've got an external mic attached, it will probably interfere with your grip.
A big, textured side makes the camera comfortable to grip when shooting at eye level, even with the heavy lens mounted on the camcorder. However, I found that while shooting I frequently counterbalanced the lens by pressing down with my forefinger--right on the photo button.
Inside the recess of the relatively small LCD are the direct-access controls: menu, white balance, focus (AF, MF, DMF), exposure compensation, gain, playback, display, LCD/EVF toggle, and a large jog dial for making adjustments. I can't pin down why I'm not crazy about them. Maybe it's because I always have to look at them to see what I'm doing and because my finger keeps hitting the sides of the jog-dial enclosure.
The interface issues are compounded by the lack of important features like peaking assist for manual focus. Despite the big, high-quality microphone there are no mixing or levels controls--just volume. No color bars. No ability to define how fast or slow the autofocus or exposure changes. Though it has a broad array of still photo capabilities, including Sony's multishot modes, such as Handheld Twilight, the lack of raw support is a bit of a disappointment.
Some may make a big deal about the large sensor in this camcorder, but it's a large sensor crammed with pixels unnecessary for shooting 1080 HD video. As with a dSLR, however, the larger sensor provides advantages when trying to achieve shallow depth of field on close subjects. But Sony confounds that by trying to compete with lower-end camcorders on zoom range, burdening the camcorder with an expensive, relatively narrow-aperture, narrow-angle lens and thus an uncompetitive price.
I wouldn't say that there's no audience for this camcorder, but it wouldn't be my recommended choice for many people. It just seems like there's a lot of conceptual work that needs to happen.