Sony Handycam NEX-VG20 Camcorder Review$2,199.00
Low Light Performance
Low Light Sensitivity
Limiting the shutter speed on the NEX-VG20 to 1/60th of a second, the camcorder required 8 lux of light to illuminate our test chart up to broadcast television standards. This scenario also required the camcorder to use no zoom, thus letting the lens utilize its widest aperture setting. Using a bit of zoom, in order to frame our chart to simulate a head-and-shoulders portrait shot, the camcorder needed 17 lux of light to obtain a proper video image. Both of these tests were performed using the camcorder's 60i frame rate setting. More on how we test low light sensitivity.
Using the 24p setting on the VG20, which allows the camcorder to drop to a 1/50th of a second shutter speed, made it possible for the camcorder to capture a bright enough image with just 13 lux of light (when using some zoom). The VG20 was hurt in this test a bit by the fact that its kit lens has a widest aperture of f/3.5, which is not that fast. A lens with a wider aperture would surely improve the VG20's low light sensitivity, but, even with the kit lens these results aren't too shabby. They're much better than the results from the Sony HDR-CX700V and they're on par with the Panasonic HC-X900M. The Canon HF G10, however, wins the low light sensitivity category outright.
Low Light Noise
Just as we saw in our bright light test, Sony was able to keep noise levels down on the VG20's low light video images as well. The noise levels measured at a low 0.87% in this test, and anything under 1.0% is considered "good" in our book. Most high-end consumer camcorders also do well in this test, as the Canon HF G10 and Panasonic HC-X900M produced noise levels on par with the Sony VG20. More on how we test low light noise.
Using its 24p frame rate did little to improve the already-good noise levels on the NEX-VG20. The camcorder averaged 0.84% noise in its 24p low light video, which is barely any different than the 0.87% noise levels measured on its 60i footage.
Low Light Color
Like most camcorders, the VG20 lost some of the color saturation in its videos when we brought the lights down. The saturation level dropped from 100% in bright light to around 76% in low light, and the color accuracy took a bit of a hit as well (4.84 color error in low light). These numbers are by no means bad—they're just about the same as the camcorders we compared it to—but we were hoping the VG20 would do a bit better in this test. More on how we test low light color.
Shooting with its 24p frame rate gave the VG20 a bit of a bump in both color accuracy and saturation level. The color error lowered to 4.48 and the saturation level increased to 83% with the 24p frame rate, compared to the results from 60i recording listed in the previous paragraph.