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Old April 30th, 2013, 09:06 AM   #31
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Re: NEX-VG30 Did it miss the mark?

Our local Best Buy (or Worst Buy as I call it for fun) remodeled their electronics section, mainly making way for a new Samsung section.. As part of this the camera section got moved and re-done. When I went in there last week, I was surprized to see a VG30 out on display to be played with.

I didn't have much time to play with it because I was on my lunch hour, but from what I saw the picture looked very good with the stock 18-200 lens. I liked the bokeh that I was seeing and the focusing speed was pretty good.

The one thing I noticed was the power zoom speed... not matter which setting I had it on, it seemed slow and that would be a problem for some run and gun where it's important to be able to frame quickly sometimes. I'm comparing the zoom speed to my NX5 which is like a rocket compared to the VG30.

Maybe when the VG40 comes out, and this drop to $1000 like the VG20 did I'll pick one up. Or, if I can save the money I'll get one... whichever comes first. Haha.
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Old April 30th, 2013, 02:00 PM   #32
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Re: NEX-VG30 Did it miss the mark?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn Clary View Post
People also want to take photographs, so yes, the $2200 difference (I bought a brand new 5dIII for $2800, so if the VG20 is $600 I agree with your pricing) is worth it. Not only do you get superior high ISO, you also get 6fps FF shooting, HDR raw in camera, 61 pt AF focusing system from the flagship 1DX, etc. The 5d3 is amazing and is probably the best hybrid stills/video camera on the market for the money. Not to mention the EF Canon line of lenses.
Well that is one opinion. The VG20 DOES shoot stills though...at 6FPS and RAW as well. And you can
use Canon EF lenses on it, I do it all the time. Plus there is no silly time limit on the video
recording length, no overheating and much better audio options. How well does that 61
point autofocus work in video? That might be neat if it wasn't just a still feature, but I don't
know. It probably depends on how
important FF is to you, and your relative importance of stills to video. For a mainly stills person
who wants to dabble in video I'd go 5dIII all the way. For someone who needs a versatile video
camera and wants to occasionally snap stills the VG20 is much better. I just finished a job that
needed multicam, and I was able to use the VG20 because I could throw a 32 gig SDHC in it and leave
it recording the entire 2 hour show while I shot the main angle with my FS100. The guy competing
with me for the job used 7d and 5d and was trying to figure out how to shoot the show, would have had
to hire a 2nd shooter and figure out when each of them should switch cards and putting together
that many clips in post would have been fun. If you shoot a wide variety of video types the VG20
is much better. For short stuff and narrative the 5DIII is fine and certainly better for stills (although
the VG20 is no slouch here) as well as the FF look. For what I do, the VG20 was a better
hybrid stills/video machine. For you and others, the 5DIII may be, but that will depend on what
you need to do with them.
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Old April 30th, 2013, 05:43 PM   #33
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Re: NEX-VG30 Did it miss the mark?

Great video Paul, bare feet eh great stuff.

Like your chopper on the cay shoot too, looks like you flew over Green Island? We had our honeymoon there 40yrs ago, back in the Betacam days.

Cheers.
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Old April 30th, 2013, 09:49 PM   #34
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Re: NEX-VG30 Did it miss the mark?

Great points Gabe. The 20/30 also have better mics and the ability to carry a longer life battery. The metabones speed adapter effectively makes the 2/0/30 a FF camera if you have to have that look (as well as making the camera even better in low light.

It's also a "real" video camera, albeit a small one. It has a handle. You can remove the video card & battery without taking the camera off of it's tripod/mount. It has a hot show and a cold shoe. It has clean HDMI out, which by all accounts is true 4:2:2 color (read conflicting reports about he Mark III firmware).

Does all of that make the 20/30 a better camera then the Mark III? Depends on what you need it for I guess, but it's hard to argue that the Mark III is a better over all value as a workhorse (esp if you get a used VG20, which are going for about a grand right now lightly used).
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Old May 1st, 2013, 12:37 AM   #35
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Re: NEX-VG30 Did it miss the mark?

I recently sold my virtually unused 18-200 kit zoom on ebay for a lot of money (to a NEX 7 fan) and used the cash to offset my purchase of some vintage Carl Zeiss prime lenses. The pictures in the article shows the Zeiss 50mm fitted as well as Sony's excellent 16-50mm motor zoom. I have since purchased a selection of very fast, very heavy Zeiss primes all the way up to the big 300mm F4.0 which has a front glass nearly 5" in diameter and weighs in at nearly 2kg.

Last edited by Craig Marshall; May 1st, 2013 at 04:59 AM.
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Old May 1st, 2013, 01:43 AM   #36
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Re: NEX-VG30 Did it miss the mark?

Originally Posted by Shawn Clary
"People also want to take photographs, so yes, the $2200 difference (I bought a brand new 5dIII for $2800, so if the VG20 is $600 I agree with your pricing) is worth it. Not only do you get superior high ISO, you also get 6fps FF shooting, HDR raw in camera, 61 pt AF focusing system from the flagship 1DX, etc. The 5d3 is amazing and is probably the best hybrid stills/video camera on the market for the money. Not to mention the EF Canon line of lenses."

This seems to be such a typical comment from Canon enthusiasts, especially the last line. I'm sure if these guys ever had the opportunity to operate with Zeiss CP2 super speed lenses, they would be like a kid in a candy store. Now before the fires of hell descend on me, I too own Canon product but like many Toyota 4WD drivers here in Australia, Canon owners often seem so engrossed, if not biased toward their favorite product, they are often totally unaware of what the competition has to offer. As a retired Betacam SP television commercial producer, (paid very well to shoot and edit Toyota TV commercials for nearly ten years) I have owned and operated some excellent broadcast cameras from Beaulieu, JVC, Sony and Ikegami as well as professional lenses from Schneider, Canon, Fujinon and now Zeiss. Each has their advantages and all were/are very expensive compared with today's mass produced hardware.

I have now owned and operated a NEX VG20 professionally for well over a year (plus a backup NEX 5N) and I agree, it's feature set of interchangeable lenses, large APS-C sensor, RAW stills capability and full manual control offers exceptional value for money. The VG30 even more so, especially with it's zoom rocker and OLED viewfinder. When it was first released nearly 18 months ago, the VG20 offered class leading frame rates up to 50/60 fps Progressive and a 'clean' 8 bit 4:2:2 HDMI output for recording uncompressed to third party SSD recorders before most DSLR operators even knew what it was. The VG20's occasionally criticised 'lack of picture profiles', simply indicates to me the writer's inexperience. There is very little you can do to improve the 'baked in' picture from 8 bit consumer or pro-sumer DSLRs and video cameras. The latitude just isn't there so often the best you can achieve with compressed codecs is learn to use filters, avoid burning out the highlights, then transcode immediately to high quality 10 bit editing codecs like ProRes or DNxHD. As for filters, I employ a small selection of the wonderful Schneider Optics 4x4" glass filters with my matte box and their considerable cost is regularly offset by the time and/or money saved in post production and colour 'correction'.

When there is so much exciting competition on offer, I still cannot imagine why anyone would consider using any DSLR form factor camera to primarily shoot video. At best it is a 'workaround'. The Nikon D4 is the only DSLR to date to have passed the BBC's stringent quality control and useability standards for broadcast television. Both the 5D Mk 1 and 11 failed. I'm sure if uploading .MP4s to Youtube is your end result, virtually any 8 bit camera would do but as a broadcast professional, (content for the moment with an 8 bit camera) I would prefer to rely on the rigorous testing performed by BBC and EBU engineers rather than the subjective comments on popular blogs from the likes of Vincent Laforet and Philip Bloom. Remember, these gurus as clever as they are, seem to be all about selling 'website hits' to potential sponsors and advertisers.

Last edited by Craig Marshall; May 1st, 2013 at 07:37 AM.
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Old May 1st, 2013, 11:18 PM   #37
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Re: NEX-VG30 Did it miss the mark?

"The VG20's occasionally criticised 'lack of picture profiles', simply indicates to me the writer's inexperience. There is very little you can do to improve the 'baked in' picture from 8 bit consumer or pro-sumer DSLRs and video cameras."

Well, that's not entirely true though. As noted in this, and several other threads, I'm a fan of the VG20. But there are several 8 bit cameras - in fact, almost all of them in the price class at or just above the VG series - that can shoot flat. Heck, even the T2i and 7D can shoot a flatter profile then the VG20/30 are capable of. Certainly the Panny AF100 and Sony's own FS100/700 can shoot a flatter profile then the 20.

That's because the ability to desaturate and/or control the contrast and sharpening are absent from the VG20/30. Certainly not because users didn't want it - Chris Barcellos and I (among others) were quite vocal in out objection of Sony dumbing down the VG20 in what looked like a clear attempt to protect the FS100. They were initially advertised, but ultimately dropped from the camera. We complained long and hard, but they did it anyway.

So while I agree with you in one sense (trying to grade super flat colour profile settings from an 8 bit camera is usually unrewarding), there are certainly a lot of shooters who have gotten some spectacular results from using just that method. If you have the time, money, computing firepower, the right programs, and a great DI guy, you can make even the T2i sing using a super flat profile. Those guys include Phill Bloom, who made an entire DVD on how to shoot a flat profile with Canons (and is what essentially got him on his way of internet camera guru).

Personally, I just "make due" with the baked in VG20 look (which I like quite a bit), but I'd also like the option to shoot flat if I wanted/needed to. And that option IS clearly missing from the VG series of cameras. Certainly not a deal breaker for me, but yeah, it is for some - Mr. Bloom being one of them as he dismissed the camera entirely on his forum... which is perfectly legit.

If you want flat, you don't want a VG20/30.
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Old May 2nd, 2013, 02:43 AM   #38
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Re: NEX-VG30 Did it miss the mark?

Hi John, Although I agree with you to a point, I still think all this is just a painful workaround with an 8 bit camera. Bloom initially criticised the camera (VG20) virtually unseen with 'DSLR like rolling shutter' comments, then went on to use and promote his pet brand of DSLRs.

8 bit limitations can be offset somewhat by immediately transcoding to and editing with 10 bit intra-frame codecs like DNxHD but as I mentioned previously, I use Schneider Optics 4x4" glass filters in my matte box and they offer several 'lowcon' and 'digicon' filter options which achieve just that 'flat' effect without the need for camera specific 'picture profiles'. These filters drop the highlights whilst raising the black levels a similar amount to compress the image into a 'flat' profile in a similar way that Dolby noise reduction systems compress the dynamic range of sound recordings. I shoot primarily outdoors in Australia, the land of high contrast lighting so I've found Schneider's 'lowcons' are a great way of 'protecting' the original image. The VG20's recording 'gamma' can be simply adjusted by careful manipulation of exposure compensation and/or the 'knee clip' adjustment provided by the included backlight compensation circuits.

I guess I'm biased here but pushing the limits of low budget 8 bit cameras to create 'artistic' videos for internet audiences may have merit for the enthusiastic hobbyist but I'm sure once corporate funding is in the offing, the 10 bit workflow just has so much more to offer. That being said, I'm more than happy with the results I'm achieving with my low budget, lightweight and well thought out VG20/Zeiss combination.

Last edited by Craig Marshall; May 2nd, 2013 at 03:44 AM.
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Old May 2nd, 2013, 02:25 PM   #39
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Re: NEX-VG30 Did it miss the mark?

Craig, could you (or anyone) like to explain how you use the backlight function? I generally just keep it off... What am I missing?
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Old May 2nd, 2013, 06:09 PM   #40
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Re: NEX-VG30 Did it miss the mark?

Hi John. The 'backlight compensation' feature was a hardware switch on the side on my Ikegami broadcast cameras and it can be very handy when you understand it's operation.

You'll need to picture a correctly exposed B&W scene on your waveform monitor. Normally, the camera will be set up to expose a scene correctly ie: generally with the sun or light source behind the operator. The 'blacks' will be black and sit at the bottom of the monitor and the 'whites' will sit on (or just above) the 100% gradation. Across the middle will sit everything else, their vertical position depending on their brightness.

If you were to open your iris a stop whilst watching the waveform monitor, you will see the 'middle' of the picture lift up and generally, (depending on how the camera is 'set up') the 'knee clip' circuits will prevent the whites from rising much above the 100% gradation. This action 'compresses' the picture and is usually what backlight compensation circuits do. The typical use for such a feature would be to say, shoot a dark skinned person against a bright background. I set mine on the Ikegamis to about 2 stops with white clip at 98% so flipping the switch when entering a dim room with sunlight streaming in through the windows, the room just 'opened up' and the windows went to 98%. Just perfect for the nightly news as the other network guys often came back with pictures too dark to see.

The VG20's backlight comp circuit works the same way and it can be integrated with the 'exposure' comp. feature. When combined with the Schneider lowcon or digicon filters, it's a great match so an ideal alternative to 'picture profiles'. Remember, film cameras never had digital 'picture profiles'!

PS: I should remind readers that my entire professional output is delivered on an 8 bit 4:2:0 HD video medium called BluRay. If I were paid to produce for cinema, I would not be shooting on an 8 bit camera.
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Old May 2nd, 2013, 07:45 PM   #41
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Re: NEX-VG30 Did it miss the mark?

Good stuff Craig, thanks. yeah, I started on film. You could push it around a little using different types of chemical baths, or slightly exposing it or a few other tricks, but yeah, the color/gamma was "baked" in as well.

Maybe that's why I don't care for shooting an ultraflat profile...

One other question - do you know if using the backlight feature adds any negative things (like grain, etc)?
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Old May 2nd, 2013, 10:49 PM   #42
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Re: NEX-VG30 Did it miss the mark?

No, not that I've noticed. There's also little or no colour banding with the VG20 either and that's rare win an 8 bit colour camera recording to the AVCHD compressed codec. This is more evident with H.264. A fix for banding is adding 'grain mattes' (eg: rGrain) in post but I've never had the need to use them.

As with all these exposure/backlight 'tweaks', each user should experiment with their particular combination of gain/fps/shutter/lens combo to see what works best for them.

There's some good tech info on Schneider's website: https://www.schneideroptics.com/ecom....aspx?CID=1218
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Old May 2nd, 2013, 11:09 PM   #43
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Re: NEX-VG30 Did it miss the mark?

Thanks again Craig.
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Old May 3rd, 2013, 12:04 AM   #44
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Re: NEX-VG30 Did it miss the mark?

Craig and John:

Some interesting discussions going on here. I talked myself into the Black Magic CInema Camera last year when it was announced, and I ordered it early on. While involved in the seemingly endless wait for the camera, I bought a used Black Magic Shuttle2 recording unit, and shot it with my VG20. Plan was to learn a bit about working with the Black Magic codec, and with Resolve Lite pending arrival of the Cinema rig.

I have to say, without actually performing any quantifying testing, I think use of the Black Magic recorder with the VG20 resulted in a Prores file with a lot more dynamic range than results from the VG20 in camera output. This is something I will do a bit more testing on and post here.

As John might remember, I have been using a lot of my vintage Nikon and Pentax glass on the camera. The kit lens has been handy for hand held shooting, given the steady camera feature.

My original foray into the large sensor camera was with the original Canon 5D Mark II. I was intimately involved in testing of Magic Lantern, because of the promise of that first large sensor. And of course, the reason that many continue to use DSLRs for Cinema type shooting is that equipment and gear has been adapted for that purpose.
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Old May 3rd, 2013, 04:25 AM   #45
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Re: NEX-VG30 Did it miss the mark?

Hi Chris, I think my 'downunder' countrymen at BMD are on a real winner here with the three 'Cinema' variations, especially the M4/3 'pocket' version. I nearly bought a Shuttle 2 last month.

Although I've not yet performed my own tests, I was not sufficiently convinced of the quality advantage to part with my $$$ for the Shuttle 2 based on the 'cost to operate' as compared to recording native AVCHD then immediately transcoding to and editing with 10 bit codecs such as ProRes or DNxHD. I'm waiting for BMD to offer a portable 'HDMI to SD Card Recorder' now that they have successfully introduced the concept with the Pocket Cinema camera!

As I write, I'm attempting to configure and balance up my huge vintage Carl Zeiss 300mm F4 to the matte box, rails, follow focus and tripod. The entire 'bazooka' is nearly a yard long and as the tripod connects under the lens, the comparatively tiny VG20 simply 'hangs off' the back!
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