Last weekend I rented a VG-20 at DVinfo.net

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Interchangeable lens AVCHD camcorders using E-Mount lenses.


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Old November 7th, 2012, 03:18 PM   #1
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Last weekend I rented a VG-20

Last weekend I rented a VG-20.

Wow, what a camera! The only real limitation is my ability to compose a shot, and tell a compelling story.

I also impressed by the built-in mic. The surround sound actually works, and in stereo it does a great job of keeping the stuff in the center, in the center-- only extreme left and right are off center. A simple stereo mic has a tendency to never have anything dead center. The VG-20 mic seems to work quite well as if it is a mid-side design.

At the track I did some crazy fast pans and the rolling shutter was only a problem on shots that were useless anyway (because of the fast pan). I didn't have time to really get into all the manual settings, but even in auto, it did a good job of keeping the subject in focus - something that a typical DSLR shooter apparently has trouble with ;)

At the track the depth of field was just right in auto, the subject was sharp, and other stuff was just a little soft, not out of focus. I thought that was a pleasant look.

I'll try to throw together a little bit of what I shot so you guys who know what you are doing can give come advice.

There is another event in 2 weeks at a roval track. Speeds will be up to 160mph for the guys in our club, I want to try to capture it a way that looks as fast on film as it does in person. Any advice for how to do that?

I also used to camera for an interview. The shallow depth of field and crystal clear image was outstanding.
I can't imagine why anyone would want to wrestle with a DSLR in that situation. I also can't imagine how a more expensive camera could look any better. Granted, you need separate audio, but it's a small price to pay for the overall quality you end up with.

I still don't know what to buy. I'll need a video camera about 8 times a year, and always want to have a still camera.

Right now I might purchase an a77, and continue to rent a VG-20, 30, or even a VG-900 when they become available.

~Jay
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Old November 7th, 2012, 03:49 PM   #2
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Re: Last weekend I rented a VG-20

I'm entertaining getting either a VG30, VG900 or an FS100 to go with my A77. Revenue for the next month will likely be the decider. I need a second camera and I'd like it to be a proper video format... so I can get a 1 hour roll if I ever want it (for a time-lapse) and have external recorder options when necessary.

Still really liking the A77, though I notice a bit of CA with the kit 16-50 and at 2.8 it's softer than I'd like, which will ultimately drive me to a Zeiss, I know.

The latest Ken Block video (posted into the other thread, a Hoonigan video with his car catching fire over the duration of the race) has my shots from the A77 for almost all the exterior footage. Would have loved to have a second camera to just point at the jump during that race, though.

Looking forward to seeing your shots with the rental.
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Old November 7th, 2012, 05:05 PM   #3
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Re: Last weekend I rented a VG-20

Ryan, cool stuff in the car catching fire vid, a77 ... nice.

I'm sure you know there are some real pros/cons with the FS100. E-mount means almost any lens on the planet will work and the Sony adapters will mount your Alpha lenses. Its a real video camera with proper XLR inputs and with what you shoot -- the S&Q modes will be a godsend. The slow-mo is phenomenal - in S&Q you can have it record at 60fps and convert it to 24 or 30p in cam - but you lose audio. You can also set it to record as little at 1fps for easy-peasy time lapses. You can also record standard 60p and get audio, but the resolution in S&Q is better. Low light performance crushes any DSLR since its native 1920x1080 and not getting scaled down.

The big drawback with the FS100 is the picture profiles are a lot of work to get a good look, thankfully there are some really good PP's floating around, but all require lots of fiddling in post as its a cinema camera. The other issue many have - myself included - is the base ISO is about 500, so its really easy to blow out highlights, I mean so easy its frustrating if you do a lot of daytime/outdoor shooting. The S35 sensor is so stinkin' sensitive. A vari-ND is a must to keep things in check. Its not something you'd just hit record and walk away IMHO, unless you use a really small aperture and leave ISO on auto - though you'll likely still clip the highlights if clouds are dancing around in front of the sun.

It also feels really cheap - cheap plastic, crappy top handle and the side handle-grip tolerances are so bad that fully tightened it still creaks and wobbles. Some of this was addressed on the 700 with a better handle and ARRI rosettes. The top handle is a joke for a $4000 camera. And I know why Sony designed the FS100 in the manner it did, but I really wish they would have used the Z1U or VG style form factor with a side mounted LCD, integrated top handle with record button and mic shockmount and just added an E-mount. I've handled three FS cameras and they all feel like the top and side handle are going to just fall right off the camera. There are mounting points and Berkey among others makes a replacement top plate, at a cost. My A99 doesn't have that cheap feeling at all.

If you can rent before buying I'd definitely say do it. I do a lot of run-and-gun and the FS just wasn't working well for me, YMMV. I went back to a DSLR with the A99. Though my friend is taking my FS100 and we'll still be using it for everything with more controlled/consistent lighting. The IQ and DR are top notch, the construction leaves a lot to be desired. Its been a real love/hate relationship with the FS100, but in most of my shooting situations the A99 is much easier to make adjustments - even when I have to go menu diving.

Oh how I wish I could get the FS sensor/processor in a VG body - it'd be nirvana.
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Old November 7th, 2012, 05:15 PM   #4
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Re: Last weekend I rented a VG-20

Hmm, yeah, lighting will be an issue. My other thought is to buy an A99 to go with my A77, but that's not the most flexible package considering they're both DSLR format.

The idea of the E-Mount doesn't bother me. I have a mishmash set of adaptors already from by (brief) time owning a NEX 7...which I promptly upgraded to the A77.

Interesting thoughts on the FS100, especially relevant since almost all my shoots are outdoors in natural light. (Maybe with a bounce card or an LED fill on occasion.) I had heard about the less-than-awesome build quality, and that's disappointing since my NX5U was built like a tank. I started shooting cars with a pair of A1Us (until Ken Block ran into one... now I have one left over for reading tapes,) and those were amazing little cameras, considering the era. The VG series kind of reminds me of a modern version.
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Old November 7th, 2012, 10:26 PM   #5
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Re: Last weekend I rented a VG-20

I'm now leaning towards the EA50, the VG30 in a pro ENG body, as the "A" to my A77 "B." Ships later this month.
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Old November 7th, 2012, 10:44 PM   #6
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Re: Last weekend I rented a VG-20

I love my little VG20 - simply the best bang for the buck out there. Waiting til NAB to see what the new A cam will be, but the 20 is certainly a great little stop gap and/or a B cam.

"There is another event in 2 weeks at a roval track. Speeds will be up to 160mph for the guys in our club, I want to try to capture it a way that looks as fast on film as it does in person. Any advice for how to do that?"

Jack up the shutter speed high; shoot at least at 30p (I'd probably shoot some at 60p too).
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Old November 7th, 2012, 11:33 PM   #7
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Re: Last weekend I rented a VG-20

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Morrissette View Post
There is another event in 2 weeks at a roval track. Speeds will be up to 160mph for the guys in our club, I want to try to capture it a way that looks as fast on film as it does in person. Any advice for how to do that?
Shoot as tight as you can. Get some wides too, but try to get super-tight on wheels, drivers, whatever and cut them in.
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Old November 7th, 2012, 11:42 PM   #8
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Re: Last weekend I rented a VG-20

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Originally Posted by Chris Joy View Post
If you can rent before buying I'd definitely say do it. I do a lot of run-and-gun and the FS just wasn't working well for me, YMMV. I went back to a DSLR with the A99. Though my friend is taking my FS100 and we'll still be using it for everything with more controlled/consistent lighting. The IQ and DR are top notch, the construction leaves a lot to be desired. Its been a real love/hate relationship with the FS100, but in most of my shooting situations the A99 is much easier to make adjustments - even when I have to go menu diving.

Oh how I wish I could get the FS sensor/processor in a VG body - it'd be nirvana.
How are you liking shooting video on the A99? Have you posted anything online yet? Haven't seen many samples yet. Also, is the picture as fragile as the A77s in post? My NX5U handled color correction much better - but then again it needed it more,
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Old November 8th, 2012, 06:26 AM   #9
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Re: Last weekend I rented a VG-20

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Originally Posted by Ryan Douthit View Post
How are you liking shooting video on the A99? Have you posted anything online yet? Haven't seen many samples yet. Also, is the picture as fragile as the A77s in post? My NX5U handled color correction much better - but then again it needed it more,
I haven't posted anything yet, still tinkering with the camera and trying to find settings to get the cleanest video before I take the time to get some beauty shots. I only have one lens - the big 70-400 - and I'm in the process of moving, so its not an ideal setup for walking around and shooting test shots. I have a 24-70 on the way, should be here by Friday so I'll shoot more stuff starting this weekend if I can get the time.

The A99 is more or less your A77 on steroids, with some enhancements/innovations beyond the FF sensor. I can't say it enough how much I love the silent control knob - some call it a nipple - I call it genius. You now have easy access to other exposure parameters beyond aperture and shutter speed, so you can tweak ISO, add in exposure compensation or whatever while shooting and its completely silent - brilliant.

The DR of the new Sony FF sensor is really impressive, tonal gradation is just so nice and the colors are fantastic. But like you say, it gives you a full DSLR setup and you still can't shoot takes over 30 minutes. With the VG30 coming, might be a good time to pick up a VG20 on closeout.

I had an A1U too - sold it to get my 5d2. It was a great little camera, I took mine to South America for a couple months and it was awesome.
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Old November 8th, 2012, 03:22 PM   #10
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Re: Last weekend I rented a VG-20

That little button/knob combo is a nice takeaway from the handycam line... I'm sure it adds to the A99! Now to hit the lotto or something!

The "form factor" thing is a real struggle, Sony is finally getting these "hybrids" down to where there isn't much compromise on either the still or video side of the equation, so it sort of comes down to what is most comfortable to shoot.

I personally really like the handling of and SLT, but I know it's not everyone's "cup of tea". I did run across a good deal to get into a VG20 and the 18-200 lens, and aside from it being front heavy (and heavy in general) I like the way it handles... it is nice to have a "video camera" with the image quality of the big sensor, and I'm noticing it does seem to look pretty good for stills too, even if it handles a bit awkward for that - it shares a good portion of the guts of the 5N and A57 by the looks of things, so it SHOULD be a pretty decent still camera in addition to the video features!
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Old November 9th, 2012, 06:49 AM   #11
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Re: Last weekend I rented a VG-20

The VG20 is a fantastic camera. I've been watching the prices - when used prices for the body drop below $1000 I think I'm going to pick one up to have a proper video camera that I can just hit record and let it run. I already have the LAEA1 adapter so my Alpha lenses will mate to them easily. It just has issues that prevent me from making it my primary money-making camera.
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