NEX-VG30 as a still camera at DVinfo.net

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Old November 3rd, 2013, 12:48 PM   #1
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NEX-VG30 as a still camera

Hey you guys with the VG30 or VG20, do you do a lot of still photography with it? I'm considering a new camcorder and really like the ability to limit depth of field with the new larger sensor cameras, but it would be really nice if it could be my only camera, actually doing more duty as a still camera than video. I'd like to do some soccer video for the grandkids and maybe some dance video as well and also may some studio stuff.

The 16MP is more than adequate for my needs. For still photography, I'm accustomed to using a Canon 5D2 or 7D (whichever one my wife is not using at the moment). Video on those cameras is frankly more trouble than I'm willing to go to, especially since I have to add on a Hoodman viewfinder and external mic when switching to video...not to mention manual focus. Manual focus is what I did back in the 1960's! The 12 minute limit on the Canon DSLR video is not often an issue, but when it is, it's a deal breaker.

For stills, I see the specs say RAW or JPEG. Are the RAW images 12 or 16 bit per channel? Or just 8 bit? How about controls? If I'm accustomed to shooting in what Canon calls Aperture Priority, will I still have something comparable? Can I individually set ISO, aperture, shutter speed? How about studio stills using a Pocket Wizard to control studio flash? Anything else you guys can offer to encourage/discourage this route? I'm at the stage of my life where I have no imagined future as either a photographer or cinematographer. I'm willing to compromise some image quality and features for the sake of convenience.

I really have no interest in full frame. I like the flexibility of 18-200 in a crop sensor camera. As to the VG30 itself, is it near end of life and the VG40 about to appear? If this were a Canon model and over six months old, I'd assume the new model is about to be announced, but I don't know about Sony.

Any advice will be most appreciated. Thanks.
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Old November 29th, 2013, 01:46 AM   #2
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Re: NEX-VG30 as a still camera

I use a VG20 as a professional still and video camera and the VG30 has the same sensor. Yes, it shoots RAW at 12 bit with all the usual control over the image a professional would require with few if any 'gimicks'. Here are some 1920x1080 JPEGS from a recent commission I undertook in Japan. The LH shot of Osaka Castle is a 'still' image and the RH one is a random frame grab from the AVCHD 50P @ 1/50th video recording. Photo 3 shows my VG20 rigged for Production whilst Photo 4 shows it rigged for 'run-n-gun'.

I use only Carl Zeiss fully manual vintage prime lenses, a selection of very high quality filters plus an occasionally useful Zeiss 28-70mm zoom, all coupled to the VG20 via a Metabones 'Speedbooster'.

These following images are original and un-retouched except for the re-sizing on image 1, 3 and 4. Image 2 is of course native 1920x1080. Images 3 and 4 were shot on my NEX 5n (same sensor as VG20/30/EA50)
Attached Thumbnails
NEX-VG30 as a still camera-dsc00089_1920.jpg   NEX-VG30 as a still camera-snapshot_016.png  

NEX-VG30 as a still camera-dsc00340_1920.jpg   NEX-VG30 as a still camera-dsc0079_1920.jpg  


Last edited by Craig Marshall; November 29th, 2013 at 06:56 AM.
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Old November 30th, 2013, 06:37 PM   #3
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Re: NEX-VG30 as a still camera

Thanks, Craig. That tells me what I needed to know. This platform will work doing better at stills than the Canon DSLRs do at video...at least for my needs. Funds just got a little tight, so I'm dropping out of the market for now, but I believe this is the way I'll go when there is cash again.

Thanks again.
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Old December 1st, 2013, 03:24 AM   #4
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Re: NEX-VG30 as a still camera

I bought a VG20 as a B-camera to my FS700. You can find them pretty cheap on eBay, I found a
demo unit from a large video seller for about 1 grand. It's a great little B-camera and will take all
my adapters (Canon EF to NEX, Sony A mount to NEX and Canon FD to NEX) and lenses that I
use on my FS700. As a plus, the stills are actually quite good. I just shot senior portraits with
the VG20 and a Sigma 18-35 F1.8 and Sigma 50-150 F2.8. It takes great stills!
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Old December 1st, 2013, 02:05 PM   #5
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Re: NEX-VG30 as a still camera

This is a great site. I had never heard of Metabones before this. Seems like that will make the move to Sony easier, as I'll be able to use the fortune my wife has tied up in Canon mount lenses. I don't have an "A" video camera, so a B camera is not an option. Also, my long and expensive history with digital has taught me to buy new models the day they are available, as I prefer to pay a premium up front for a longer technological life. For example I bought the Canon 5D Mk II when it had to be pre ordered. Now, several years later it is still a modern workhorse camera.

With luck, my disposable funds will be available in time for the next NEX-VGxx model.

Thanks for the encouragement.
Bill
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