Sony Expands NEX Handycam Line with Full-Frame Camcorder

The full-frame Sony NEX-VG900 is one of two new interchangeable lens camcorders announced today by Sony.

Today, Sony announced the world's first camcorder with a full-frame image sensor: the NEX-VG900. The camcorder, announced alongside the NEX-VG30, is the new flagship model in Sony's line of interchangeable lens Handycams, which also include the NEX-VG20 and the NEX-VG10. You can check out our hands-on review of the NEX-VG900 here.

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The NEX-VG900 represents an exciting move for Sony, but the camcorder's lack of 4K recording is likely to disappoint many. Limiting the VG900 to 1920 x 1080 video recording means the camcorder doesn't take full advantage of its huge sensor (unless you're shooting 24-megapixel stills), and Sony's choice to use AVCHD compression on the camcorder places additional limits on the top bitrate available for recording (24Mbps). Using an E-mount lens with the NEX-VG900 will also force the camcorder to use a cropped portion of the full-frame sensor. But Sony does throw in a free A-mount lens converter so you can get full sensor coverage with an attached A-mount lens.

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The NEX-VG900 will be available for $3299 (body only), a price that is certainly in the same ballpark as many full-frame DSLRs, like the Nikon D800, Canon 5D Mark III, and new Sony A99, which was also announced today. Read more about the NEX-VG900 here.

Sony's other Handycam announcement, the NEX-VG30, is a more subtle update to Sony's interchangeable lens Handycams. The VG30 is the successor to last year's NEX-VG20, and it shares many of the same features under the hood. It has the same 16-megapixel APS-C image sensor as its predecessor, the same 60p and 24p recording options, the same 5.1-channel built-in microphone, and the same 3-inch touchscreen LCD. The main difference on the VG30 is the inclusion of a zoom rocker on the camcorder itself, which will work in conjunction with Sony's new 18-200mm power zoom lens (available as a kit with the VG30).

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In addition to the new zoom function, the NEX-VG30 includes new picture effects, a better viewfinder, and a multi-interface shoe that fits a wider array of accessories than the NEX-VG20. The hot shoe mount will support a new XLR mic kit that will allow the NEX-VG30 (or the NEX-VG900) to record balanced audio via XLR inputs at an additional cost. Sony also made a few changes with regard to button placement and body design that should give users quicker access to manual exposure controls.

Sony raised the price for the NEX-VG30, and the difference is certainly significant. The VG30 will launch with an MSRP of $1799, which is $200 more than the NEX-VG20's original price. If you want to bundle the camcorder with the new 18-200mm power zoom lens, it will set you back $2699, which is $500 bucks more than the NEX-VG20 cost with its regular 18-200mm zoom lens (with no power zoom function). That's a pretty steep price increase just for an improved zoom function and a few additional upgrades.

Both the NEX-VG30 and the NEX-VG900 are expected to be available in November.

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