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Sony NEX-VG10 / VG20 / VG30 / VG900
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Old June 6th, 2011, 11:29 PM   #1
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NEX-5 and NEX-VG10 - Happy Happy, Joy Joy

Over this past weekend I picked up a very lightly used and fully tricked out NEX-VG10 to supplement my NEX-5 and in part to get my hands on the 18-200mm E-mount zoom.

After I got it home, all I could think about is how huge and heavy the VG10 felt with that big zoom.

For my needs (music instruction videos), I finally decided that the 18-200mm is going on the NEX-5 for photography where I can really use a longer stabilized zoom, and the 18-55 is perfect on the VG10, very happy with both configurations, and both fit in reasonably sized bags with their respective lenses. I can stick the 16mm pancake on either one if I need something really small.

In my tests tonight, the VG10 with the 18-55 in its widest angle position was able to give me a very nice crisp image and excellent sound of my hands playing the instruments I teach with a very nice background defocus, all using the default auto-gain and focus settings in an office setting lit with four 60-watt incandescent bulbs and a small desk lamp. That's exactly what I wanted.

Also picked up the Sony CLM-V55 clip-on HDMI monitor, it's an absolute godsend for what I'm doing, would be nearly impossible without it. The in-monitor 1:1 zoom and peaking address my fundamental issue with the VG10's lack of any focus tools when I want to use my Nikon glass.

Based on all I had read about the VG10 and the objections from the pros, I was somewhat skeptical, but kept in mind that it's just an NEX-5 in different clothes with a few more video-centric controls. With that as a mindset, the VG10 is far exceeding my expectations and meets my needs perfectly at a price-point far less than the HDR-AX2000 or HXR-NX5U I was also considering.

Not to compare the VG10 to either of those semi-pro/pro cameras in terms of useability in the field, just glad that for my relatively simple requirements (clean image under normal room light with the kit lens, excellent live sound), it completely and exceeds my needs and is a very nice upgrade, particularly in the background defocus opportunities, from the previous camera I'd been using, a Canon HF10 with DM200 microphone.

I don't think I'd recommend the VG10 universally, the guy I bought it from told me it completely intimidated his wife so he was happy to get my HF10 setup. Someone already not comfortable with the NEX-5 coming from a more traditional camcorder background would almost certainly find the NEX-VG10 quirky and frustrating. I just love it.
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Old June 7th, 2011, 04:32 PM   #2
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Re: NEX-5 and NEX-VG10 - Happy Happy, Joy Joy

Sounds like a nice setup, Michael. I'm thinking of a couple of NEX-5's with fast lenses to supplement my VG10 - my smaller sensor HDV cameras just (can't) compete in low light for first dances at weddings. How easy is it to access the manual settings on the NEX-5 compared to the VG10, and is the shutter speed selection still a bit more restricted or has a firmware update fixed that?

Last edited by Henry Williams; June 7th, 2011 at 04:33 PM. Reason: I forgot the word can't in the second sentence, thus altering its meaning
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Old June 7th, 2011, 05:26 PM   #3
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Re: NEX-5 and NEX-VG10 - Happy Happy, Joy Joy

Unfortunately, there is nearly zero manual control of video on the NEX-5 other than setting aperture priority and exposure compensation. No manual control of shutter speed or gain is available.
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Old June 7th, 2011, 06:23 PM   #4
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Re: NEX-5 and NEX-VG10 - Happy Happy, Joy Joy

Thanks for that Michael. Very good to know. I think I can work round that but does it at least have a shoot without lens option as per the VG10 - ideally I'd be wanting to use a c-mount lens with adaptor.
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Old June 7th, 2011, 06:27 PM   #5
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Re: NEX-5 and NEX-VG10 - Happy Happy, Joy Joy

Yes, it is the same as the NEX-5 that way. I've had good results shooting video in extremely dark conditions on the NEX-5 and my Nikon 50mm f/1.8, you just have to set your expectations on what you will be able to control accordingly.
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Old June 7th, 2011, 07:08 PM   #6
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Re: NEX-5 and NEX-VG10 - Happy Happy, Joy Joy

Thanks Michael. They'll be running as locked off B and C cameras pointed at the dancefloor so as long as I can manually set the focus to prevent hunting and stop the lens down using it's ring to allow a slightly more forgiving DoF I should be alright.
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Old June 7th, 2011, 09:54 PM   #7
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Re: NEX-5 and NEX-VG10 - Happy Happy, Joy Joy

Henry, I think you'll be surprised at the results you'll get. I've been shooting the VG-10/Nex combo for commercial work for some months now, and as long as you accept that you have a workaround to live with, it's capable of extremely nice footage.
I've grown very fond of my Nikon 50mm 1:1.8 lens in low light; it is a very effective combination, limitations notwithstanding
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Old June 8th, 2011, 03:03 AM   #8
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Re: NEX-5 and NEX-VG10 - Happy Happy, Joy Joy

Thanks Wayne!
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Old June 11th, 2011, 02:18 AM   #9
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Re: NEX-5 and NEX-VG10 - Happy Happy, Joy Joy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Eskin View Post
Unfortunately, there is nearly zero manual control of video on the NEX-5 other than setting aperture priority and exposure compensation.
If you think of setting the DOF rather than setting the aperture, you are half way to a solution. Given any lens, you can divide its aperture range into shallow (larger aperture) to deep (smaller aperture) with intermediate DOF in the middle.

Note: You know that if you go for a shallow DOF with a wide angle lens you are not going to get it.
Likewise, if you use a slow lens, you know you are going to need to increase the focal length because the minimum aperture is small.

Once you have chosen the lens, set the zoom if not a prime, and set the aperture -- you now have the desired DOF. Next you need to get both the shutter-speed and exposure correct.

With a given amount of light and a set aperture, you might think you need to directly control the shutter speed to get the correct exposure.

However, in bright light, by using a Vario ND you can dial down the light entering the lens until you have the correct exposure. But, what is the shutter-speed?

WATCH motion in the scene. If there is too much motion blur, you are likely lower than 1/30th second. If there is strobing, you are likely above 1/120th. Knowing the shutter DURATION number is of little value. If it doesn't LOOK right, you must fix it.

There are only two variables: overall illumination and aperture. If you have the ability to decrease illumination, do so and keep the aperture and hence DOF. If you don't, you'll have to compromise DOF. In most cases, in bright light your problem will be strobing so that means either less illumination or less DOF. Or, both.

In low light, the same rules apply except you may think you need to CONTROL gain.

Nope. When you SEE noise there is too much gain. Doesn't matter what the gain value is. Noise needs to be eliminated.

The camera will add less gain when there is more light. Once again there are only two variables: overall illumination and aperture. If you have the ability to increase illumination, do so. Gain will go down. (If the image has too much motion blur, adding more light will remove this.) Because the aperture has been set the DOF you wanted remains.

If you can't increase illumination, you'll have to increase DOF by increasing the aperture. In most cases, your problem in low light will be noise and/or too much motion blur. So that means either more illumination or more DOF. Or, both. (And, if the aperture is near fully open, it means switching to a faster lens.)

Bottom-line, big chip cameras are used in a completely different way BECAUSE you have the creative choice to FIRST set DOF. All else follows by simply looking at the image. The actions you take are based upon your gut feel for photography.

PS: with any inexpensive camera, you'll never eliminate strobing at low frame-rates. The best you can do is add so much motion blur it covers up the way too sharp edges that cause strobing. Of course, you can reduce Sharpness, but that kills the resolution of static pictures. On the other hand, if you believe strobing looks like film, then you have no problem because you'll have lots of it with 25p and 30p.
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Old June 11th, 2011, 10:59 AM   #10
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Re: NEX-5 and NEX-VG10 - Happy Happy, Joy Joy

Thank you for the great summary of how to effectively achieve manual control on the NEX-5. I've been experimenting with neutral density filters for shutter speed control, but your post is a real jewel.
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Old June 11th, 2011, 06:55 PM   #11
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Re: NEX-5 and NEX-VG10 - Happy Happy, Joy Joy

Thank you!
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