I spent some time this weekend practicing with a Sony NEX-VG30 video camera, which some of my students will be using this semester at Flagler College. My wife graciously agreed to let me shoot video of her as she worked. You can see the video here.
The VG30 and 18-200mm lens lists for $2,698 on B&H Photo. The XLR adapter and microphone is $798. Total: $3,296.
The camera produces beautiful, high-resolution images. The adapter and microphone capture clear sound. The camera is not difficult to use, although I had to hunt around for the right buttons at times. I have been using Canon DSLRs for the past few years and so it takes some time to get used to a new system.
The VG30’s focus and manual buttons can be hard to reach quickly, especially if you use a tripod. And I couldn’t attach the camera to my tripod without first removing the lens and attaching the tripod plate. That would be a drawback in the field, especially during run-and-gun shoots with little set-up time.
I wish Sony had made it easier to adjust the manual settings. Users must go back and forth between the cramped buttons on the side of the camera and the touchscreen, and the process is a little tedious.
On the plus side, the camera has a big 16.1 MP APS-C sensor. Sony touts its ability to produce cinematic HD video.
The VG30 was released in 2011. It’s light – just 1.5 pounds without the lens – and feels sturdy. It also shoots still photos. For more details on the camera, download its user manual here.
The shotgun mic works especially well for picking up ambient sound. For the best audio during interviews, use a lavalier mic.