Sony's NEX VG10 might fill the gap... for now.

[col-sect][column]I don't own a camcorder. I shoot video on a Canon 5D Mark 2 which is actually a DSLR. It's a little more complicated in the audio department, but the image quality is astounding and the form factor is familiar. There's nothing else that shoots as wide as my 5D, and low light footage is great even at 3lux. Nothing else can do that. It's always felt like the perfect field camera

That being said, every once in a while I find myself wishing I had something in a camcorder form factor. Something a little smaller, more streamlined. I look at my budget, figure out how much I would have to save up, and start looking around at what's out there. But, after looking around I find that I'm comparing it all to my 5D. Can it get really wide? Does it have full XLR inputs? How's the low light performance? Eventually, I give up because it's not close enough to my 5D, until something else comes up where I wish I had something more streamlined and I find myself looking again.

I think I'm done looking... for now.

Today, Sony introduced the NEX VG10. It's an interchange lens HD camcorder with a 14mp Exmor APS-C HD CMOS chip-the same size as super-35mm movie film. It shoots 1080/60i(50i) in a 24mbps AVCHD format to SD. The "E-Mount" lens mount got the photo community excited earlier this year when they released the NEX-5. The E mount has such a narrow flange back (the distance between the chip and the lens mount) you can adapt any lens to it. I'm finally seeing Leica M Lenses in video's future.

If you already shoot Sony Alpha, you might like to know that Sony sells an adapter to allow you to shoot with your alpha lenses. but it sounds like you will only be able to shoot with them wide open The $199 adapter allows full aperture and AE control but only manual focus, so that's not bad for access to great Ziess zoom lenses.


[column]The other interesting feature is the built in stereo mic. To quote Sony, the "Quad Capsule Spatial Array Stereo Microphone uses advanced processing algorithms to combine signals from four separate omnidirectional microphone capsules. The result is exceptionally clear stereo audio with a highly directional response: this allows videographers to capture more sound from the subject they’re shooting, and less of distracting sounds around them." Looking at the picture bellow, it looks like it's a combination of an M/S pattern and a dual mono pattern. If the processing is done right it should sound really good for a built in mic. Might be usable for close up work. It will clearly need a deadcat though.

Other than that, the VG10's specs read a lot like my old Sony VX2000: Prosumer. No XLR inputs, but a 1/8" unbalanced mic in with no phantom power. VU meter on screen. A Headphone out. LCD display and eye piece-Sony usually does very well with their LCDs. Full manual exposure, audio, and white balance. And it takes the same batteries as the VX2000! I love that Sony has not moved away from the L series battery. Thank you for that Sony. It makes up for your days of proprietary card mediums.

So what's my big hang up? I'm not a huge fan of AVCHD, 60i, or compressed/unbalanced audio. XCAM35, 24p/60p, and just ONE XLR input would have made it a deal maker for me. But we'll see. For $2000 I'm not sure there's a better product to fill the gap in my field work flow. For now. There is lots of noise that Canon will be introducing a similar product this fall, which is when Sony will start shipping the NEX VG10.

Big DPreview write up here
Press Release here