Sony Handycam NEX-VG900 First Impressions Review
The Sony Handycam NEX-VG900 is an impressive feat of technology and design, but the camcorder itself raises more questions than answers. Since the NEX-VG900 is limited to 1920 x 1080 recording, how much will the Full Frame sensor, with its whopping 24 megapixels, actually improve video quality? Is this model simply a stepping stone to a 4K Handycam in the future—something that would take full advantage of the Full Frame sensor?
What about record modes and AVCHD compression? Are pros and enthusiasts who shell out $3299 for a camcorder going to be satisfied with a 28Mbps bitrate? We heard similar complaints about Canon's new AVCHD-recording EOS C100 Cinema Camera announced a few weeks ago.
We liked the NEX-VG20 a lot when we reviewed it earlier this year, and we applaud Sony for making intelligent design changes with the new NEX-VG900 (and on the NEX-VG30, which was announced in conjunction with the VG900). The addition of a zoom rocker that works with the kit power zoom lens, as well as the repositioning of dedicated manual control buttons are smart, easy fixes that make the NEX-VG900 handle better for videographers. Hopefully next on Sony's list will be to improve the crummy control wheel used to make exposure adjustments.
Despite all the question marks, the NEX-VG900 is still an exciting achievement for Sony. The larger sensor should have an impact on sensitivity, noise, and depth of field control—three aspects of video that are very important to professionals. Due to its lack of 4K recording capability, we're unsure if the NEX-VG900 will win that many people over. But it's $3299 price tag (body only) is certainly competitive compared to other interchangeable lens camcorders. Our guess (and hope) is that Sony will continue to put an emphasis on its NEX Handycams, and we won't be surprised if a 4K version is on the horizon.