Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sony NEX-VG20 and Panasonic GH2 as still cameras

Comparison of out-of-camera JPEG stills - shot with kit zoom lenses in full auto:

Sony NEX-VG20 shot with Panasonic DMC-GH2, 25mm, f4.7, 1/25th sec, ISO 800

Panasonic DMC-GH2 shot with Sony NEX-VG20, 51mm, f7.1,1/50th sec, ISO 3200

Sony NEX-VG20, 200mm, f6.3, 1/320th sec, ISO 2000

Panasonic DMC-GH2, 140mm, f5.8, 1/80th sec, ISO 400

Sony NEX-VG20, 46mm, f9, 1/250th sec, ISO 100

Panasonic DMC-GH2, 32mm, f7.1, 1/200th sec, ISO 160

As a still camera, the VG20 compares quite well with the GH2 in JPEG image quality and responsiveness - turn it on, switch to still mode, and you're ready to shoot.  With its 16 megapixel sensor (same as the NEX-5N), the VG20 produces decent high resolution stills with impressive low light sensitivity and dynamic range.  But, as with video, changes to most settings require a drill down into the touch screen menu.  And, without a built-in flash, the VG20 is only marginally useful as an indoor camera out of the box (especially with the slow kit lens).  Yes, it has an Alpha hot shoe, cold shoe and external flash sync, but for $1600, Sony should have included a flash (this is not unreasonable, built-in flash is included with other, less expensive, Handycams).

That said, if you want high quality JPEG and RAW stills from an interchangeable lens camcorder, the VG20 is the only game in town (sadly, I did not have the software or the time to compare the two cameras' RAW capabilities).

Please check back over the next few days as I update this comparison and add video.  In the meantime, if you found this side-by-side valuable and it helped you decide that you want either the GH2 or the VG20 (or both!), please support this blog and future hands-on reviews by buying them through these links from AdoramaAmazonCrutchfieldOneCall, and Unique Photo.  Thanks!

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