Sony's latest interchangeable-lens camcorder has a full-frame sensor
Sony seems to be pretty jazzed about its new 24.3-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, because they're adding it to everything: Premium point-and-shoot cameras, translucent-mirror models, and now, interchangeable-lens camcorders.
The Sony Handycam NEX-VG900 is the company's first full-frame camcorder, and it shares the same E-mount system used by the Alpha NEX line of mirrorless cameras. Sony says the camcorder's full-frame sensor offers many of the same benefits you'd get from shooting still images with a full-frame DSLR, such as dramatically shallow depth-of-field effects, good performance in low light, and capturing much greater detail and a wider range of colors than your average prosumer-level camcorder.
Given the camcorder's sensor size and Sony's first 4K HDTV announcement just a few weeks ago, it's a bit surprising that this is "only" a 1080p video camera. The Handycam NEX-VG900 shoots 1080p AVCHD Progressive video (28Mbps) at both 60fps and 24fps, as well as 24.3-megapixel stills in JPEG, RAW, or RAW+JPEG format. You can capture frames as still images while you're recording video, but resolution for those images is limited to 1920-by-1080 resolution (2.1 megapixels).
The VG900 also comes with a mount adapter that supports A-mount lenses, and the camera switches automatically from full-frame mode to a cropped mode depending on the lens that's attached to it. It's also compatible with the LA-EA2 lens-mount adaptor introduced last year, which will add phase-detection autofocus capabilities to the camcorder; the VG900's native system is contrast-detection autofocus.
The VG900 has manual controls for shutter, aperture, and white balance in both video and still-shooting modes, as well as creative effects filters for both movies and photos. In addition to an eye-level, 2.3-million-dot OLED viewfinder, the camcorder has an adjustable 3-inch touchscreen.
In addition to the full-frame sensor, the VG900 also offers improved audio-input capabilities as compared to previous camcorders in the NEX-VG lineup, although you'll need to purchase a separately-sold XLR-input kit for about $800 to use professional-grade microphones. The camcorder also has a 5.1-channel surround-sound microphone array built into it, a headphone jack, and a visual audio-level monitor. Storage is handled by a pair of slots that accept both SDHC/SDXC and MemoryStick Pro cards.
Another enhancement as compared to previous NEX-VG camcorders is a built-in zoom lever that supports Sony's new powered zoom lenses. Unlike shooting video with a DSLR, that means you can operate compatible power-zoom lenses without having to twist the lens barrel with your hand.
Due in November, the Handycam NEX-VG900 will cost $3300 for the body only.