New Sony NEX-VG20 – low light test (wildlife at night – Onduruquea Reserve)

I was pretty nervous about the new camera I recently ordered – the Sony NEX-VG20 is an interchangeable-lens camcorder that boasts a sensor the size of most still cameras (23.4 X 15.6mm) – which, in addition to the versatility offered by the changeable lenses, apparently offers many features you don’t often see in a $2,000 camera.  But still, it’s $2,000 so you want to be sure.  And there are a variety of reviews out there – at both ends of the spectrum.  Most of the negative ones use terminology I don’t fully understand, and you get the feeling after reading a few that there are a lot of people out there just nitpicking every camera to death.  Basically I just want a camera that allows me to take the kinds of video and photos that I want to take, and this Sony seemed like the one.  My previous Sony camcorders all had low-light issues – mainly noise – which they tried to fix with a “night mode” that turned everything greenish.  So yeah I was pretty nervous.

So here is my first night video test.  Granted, it’s taken of wildlife standing under a floodlight; but I was standing pretty much in complete darkness.  The cool thing about this camera is that it allowed me to see things I couldn’t see with the naked eye (too dark) – and the on-board microphone also brought in sound I couldn’t hear while I was filming.  For this video, however, I attached a Rode videomic that picks up even more sound – sometimes a bit too much.  But I wanted the sounds of the animals, rather than the sounds from behind me, which the on-board surround mic would have given me.  This is a “guest farm” – a 15,000 hectare farm in central Namibia (near Omaruru) where they have provided a watering hole with a floodlight.

I’m very pleased with the result.  The only downside is that the sensitivity setting of the sensor results in some blurriness when the animals move quickly.  I suspect I’m going to have to break down and actually read the owner’s manual.

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