camcorders

Sony Handycam NEX-VG20 Camcorder Review

$2,199.00

A melding of the Handycam camcorder and mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras.

Introduction

The NEX-VG20 is Sony's latest experiment in the melding of two distinct product lines: the Handycam camcorder and the NEX series of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. Yup, that's right, the VG20 is a hybrid camera/camcorder device in the most basic sense of the term, but this one of those cheesy hybrids that's having an identity crisis (we're looking at you JVC PX10). No, the NEX-VG20 is a serious camcorder that is designed with specifically with videography in mind. But its guts are taken directly from Sony's NEX camera line, featuring a particular similarity to the Sony NEX-5N camera.

The 16-megapixel APS-C CMOS image sensor is taken directly from the Sony NEX-5N camera, as is the Sony E-mount interchangeable lens system, but the VG20's design features are no different than what you'd see on your average prosumer camcorder. It's got the right-side strap for easy handheld shooting, it's got a handlebar for transport and an alternate shooting grip, it has a 5.1-channel Dolby Digital microphone, and it has the iconic left-side LCD and top-mounted viewfinder setup that have been a staple of pro camcorders for many years.

The VG20 is Sony's second installment of this "interchangeable lens Handycam" experiment. The previous NEX-VG10 had many of the same specs and design implementations, but lacked the multiple frame rate options that the NEX-VG20 flaunts. Sony also improved the autofocus, added a better microphone, and completely revamped the design of the LCD on the VG20. Even though we didn't review the NEX-VG10, it's fair to say the VG20 offers some significant upgrades over its predecessor.

The Handycam NEX-VG20 is available for $1599 (body only) or for $2199 with an 18-200mm kit lens. This makes the VG20 the most expensive model in Sony's Handycam line, and it's a lot pricier than the Sony NEX-5N camera ($699 with its kit lens).

Sections

  1. Introduction
  2. Design
  3. Product Tour
  4. Performance
  5. Color Performance
  6. Low Light Performance
  7. Motion Performance
  8. Sharpness Performance
  9. Sample Videos
  10. Usability
  11. Ease of Use
  12. Handling
  13. Controls
  14. Features
  15. Recording Options
  16. Hardware
  17. Sony Handycam HDR-CX700V Comparison
  18. Canon Vixia HF G10 Comparison
  19. Panasonic HC-X900M Comparison
  20. Conclusion
  21. Photo Gallery