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Sony NEX VG-10 or Canon XA10?

Brian's picture
Last seen: 1 year 6 months ago
Joined: 12/29/2010 - 9:00pm

I have not yet seen any comparisons between these two cameras. I know, they're both brand new on the market and there hasn't been much time to do a real in-depth analysis. So without having them in my hands, here are just a small sampling of the differences I've seen online that might tip the scales toward one or the other:

Price...
Sony: about two grand
Canon: about two grand

Interchangeable lenses...
Canon: Nope
Sony: Yup

Mic inputs...
Canon: 2 XLR's
Sony: single stereo 1/8" jack

On-board microphone...
Canon: Nope, but there's a mount + individual audio controls
Sony: Yup, that awesome 4-pod thingy

Kit lens...
Sony:18-200mm
Canon: "35mm equivalent of" 30.4mm - 304mm

Still photo capability...
Sony: JPG, 14.6 megapixel
Canon: nope

Anybody been able to test both of these side-by-side yet?


vid-e-o-man's picture
Last seen: 5 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 02/06/2010 - 4:20am
Plus Member

I haven't tested either one and I'm not trying to highjack your thread but comparing the two how does the sensor in the Sony (23.4 mm x 15.6 mm) relate to a 1/3 or 1/4 inch sensor?Does the 1/3 or 1/4 inch refer to a diagonal measurement? Also, how would the Sony's sensor compare to a 3 ccd or 3 cmos sensor setup?


Brian's picture
Last seen: 1 year 6 months ago
Joined: 12/29/2010 - 9:00pm

Good question... I was wondering about those same things. Maybe someone can enlighten us?


Woody Sanford's picture
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 10/19/2010 - 7:33am
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While I have no experience with the new Canon, I have had two months with my NEX-VG10. I was a Canon guy for several years and this is my first Sony. I haven't found theVG10 hard to work with and I film outdoors 99% of the time so what I've gotten out of being able to change lenses has made the world of difference for me.

Its going to boil down to what an individuals needs are but I couldn't even think of going with the Canon on this one. The audio I get out of the VG10 suits my needs and exceeds them, so Ivoted the VG10 but thats what fits my needs better.



David Forrester's picture
Last seen: 3 months 19 hours ago
Joined: 05/09/2010 - 8:04pm
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I think I can help out here with some practical notes.

I have 2 cameras - a Sony Z5 with 3 -1/3" exmor sensors and a Canon 5D Mk2 with a full frame sensor (36x24mm). 2 very different cameras that accomplish 2 vastly different objectives. Both deliver astounding HD video, but are as different as night and day. Similar for the 2 cameras you ask about.

The new Sony has 1 large Exmor sensor - about the same size as a Hollywood 35mm film size, the Canon use the 3 1/3 sensor system. 1/3" is the size of the circle of the image from the lens and it basically covers the 3 sensors in the Canon - one for red, green and blue (ya - diagonal measurement). The big difference is that by optical properties on 1/3" sensors, it is impossible to get a shallow depth of field to focus and effectively isolate the main subject from the rest of the image even at wide open aperture. But the Sony, with it's larger sensor can do it - just like in Hollywood films, just like a 35mm camera. Focusing becomes very critical in a large sensor camera and more care is needed to make the best use of it.

It is easy to use a 1/3" sensor camera because focusing is not nearly as critical as almost always the entire image will be in reasonable focus . At wide angle, focusing is always almost perfect from close to infinity. Which really sucks when you want the main actor to be in focus and the background out of focus - it can't be done! But the Sony can do it reasonably well.

Now here is the problem: You are always on high alert with the Sony to get the main subject in focus. You can dial in or out the rest of the subject to be in focus (somewhat) by altering the aperture (iris). The larger it is (ie f2 or so) the more isolated the subject material is in front of or behind the main actor (or subject) is -which is fantastic if that is what you seek to accomplish. if you want the foreground, background or all of the subjects to be in focus as well, you dial in f11-16 or so - depending on how much you want that to be in focus.

This is the true art of creative film making and that is what the new Sony and my Canon 5DMk2 does so brilliantly - but even more so with the 5D. It is a bear to use and you are always always on your toes to get the subject in critical focus. It is not easy by any stretch. If the subject moves forward or backward, you have to adjust your focus to follow the subject - that is called follow focus. It is cinematography far more than videography. it is a far more creative process producing gorgeous out of focus backgrounds that makes filming with these cameras so powerful - the final result is different as night and day and much nicer overall - but takes practice to get the most out of it.

OK - the other questions: XLR inputs. These are for professional external mic or sound inputs. The Sony has a brilliant sound system mounted up top, but really, the best sound comes from independent mics placed near the actors plugged onto the camera - that Canon can do this, the Sony - well, not the best system out there.

Sensors. The Sony Exmor sensor is world class. It is a method of capturing the image in such a way as to produce an image this is free from aliasing, has outstanding color, low noise, low light capability - better than anyone else. Even in my Canon 5D, I can see the grid pattern at times - and I hate it! Don't have that problem with the Sony - smart move!

The large sensor in my Canon 5DMk2 is enormous. Because of the large size, I can take night pictures with velvet blacks and low / no noise with the right lens at f 1.4-f2. Same with the new Sony.

These are tools that you have to choose what you want to do with you filming. The creative door generally means large sensor. The ease of use and video filming means small sensors. For me, I want both! So I use both. When depth of field is a non issue and the lighting is right, The Sony wins every time. But when I need that shallow depth of field and to isolate the actors, or night shots, the Canon wins. it is a formidable team, that's for sure.


vid-e-o-man's picture
Last seen: 5 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 02/06/2010 - 4:20am
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Thank you David, that was an excellent explaination of the sensor comparison. I thought that I had lost your train of thought in the last two lines 'When depth of field is a non issue and the lighting is right, the Sony wins every time. But when I need that shallow depth of field and to isolate the actors, or night shots,the Canon wins.' But then as I rereadyour posta second time I realized that the Sony that you were refering to was your Sony Z5 not the Sony NEX-VG10. Any way thank you once again for the time you took and your expertise for this reply. I find thatthis forumis a gold mine of information and that the posters are very generous with their time and knowledge.


XTR-91's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: 12/06/2008 - 8:57pm

The biggest thing is that the Canon is tape, and it has a more thought-out set of manual controls, but just by the nature that it is $4,000, and the vg's

$1600


Brian's picture
Last seen: 1 year 6 months ago
Joined: 12/29/2010 - 9:00pm

David - Thanks for the incredibly valuable reply. Awesome.

XTR-91 - Gotta correct you here. Are you saying theCanon XA10 is tape? If so, that's inaccurate. It's got a 64GB internal hard drive plus two slots for SD cards. And the Sony NEX VG-10 retails for around $2000.


David Forrester's picture
Last seen: 3 months 19 hours ago
Joined: 05/09/2010 - 8:04pm
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Your welcome guys - filming is a lot of fun. When I started off with the Sony Z5 (similar to the Canon XA10 in a way), I had a blast. But when I tried to isolate the actors or give that shallow depth of field, I simply could not do it no matter what I tried. The best way was to max zoom out to 590mm and get it that way - which won't work inside the house!! That is when I got the Canon 5DMk2 and adopted my Carl Zeiss lenses from my almost extinct Contax camera system. Yes I am on total manual and yes it took about 3 months to get the hang of it. And Yes it was a pain to follow focus, but when done correctly - holy smokes, this this thing rocks!

I knew in my soul that if Sony should ever come out with a DSLR full frame camera with the Exmor sensor, it would be the camera of the year. It did recently- not full frame - but the size of the NEX VG10 - the A55 and it was voted as the camera of the year!! It is incredible. Internal stabilization, no flip up mirror, follow focus in video mode - wow!

Now I am saying 2 more things. If Sony comes out with a professional video camera with the NEX VG10 sensor - it will become the camera of choice for low budget film makers. It will be stunning. And if Canon comes out with the MK3 - it will take first place just ahead of the Sony A55 - because it will be a full frame sensor.

The ideal video / film system will be like this: Main camera: Sony Z5 or Z7 or equivalent for a small 1/3" sensor to get that deep depth of field and great color, low light etc. Camera 2: A Hollywood video sensor camera with the traditional depth of field we are used to - currently the NEX VG10 or if you have 100-$250k, the Arri, Red or Sony f35 systems! and for the real creative shallow depth of field for insert shots or breaking new barriers, the third Camera: the Canon 5DMk2 or 3 (plus the required gear to make it all work smoothly).

It all depends what you want to accomplish. I want to do films - not video - so I am content with my system. If I want to do video only, the Sony Z5 works wonders. If I want to do still photography, shallow DoF, video night shots, and video or still creative and artistic work the Canon 5D wins every time. (but I need a separate sound recorder for 4 channel). it does get expensive, but what the hell, live life to the fullest and have fun.

This folks is film making at its best. Now git out there and make a ton of films. And laugh and be happy.


The Warden's picture
Last seen: 3 years 7 months ago
Joined: 01/18/2011 - 5:12am

Gentlemen, I stumbled onto your posts about the Sony NEX-VG10 and you guys might just be the best feed back source for my dilemma. i hope I can be short and not bore you, in hopes of everyone's opinion:

I purchased the Canon 7D for the purpose of replacing my Canon Mark III so I could gain the benefit of stills/video in one unit. I am either quickly learning that this video camera is NOT for fast-action sports shooting, or I am just not grasping the shutter settings and other needed settings to eliminate motion blur and ghosting (if I freeze a frame, I can sometimes see the court through their faces/arms/legs.) It also shakes like hell in my hands! My biggest issue, losing detail in players faces when I am further away from the action.

So, in your opinions, should I do one of the following:

1- Stick with it. You can achieve great fast-action video with little motion blur. You just need to learn how to use it properly.

2- Keep your Mark III and trade the 7D for the Sony NEX-VG10. You are going to continue to have motion blur issues with the 7D trying to shoot low-light HS gyms basketball games, not to mention the difficult follow-focus limitations. For the inconvenience of lugging around two units, you will end up with much better video, and you already get great stills with the Mark III.

3- Keep your Mark III and trade the 7D for a 3CCD chip tape-driven camera, or something else that is best designed for capturing low light, fast-action footage.

Thank you in advance for your input.


UnitedNerds's picture
Last seen: 3 years 9 months ago
Joined: 11/12/2010 - 2:19pm

I would like to point out that so far, nobody that has posted here has had any experience with the XA10 and it is all based on specs and speculation. So far nobody has actually worked with it to judge it fairly.


onehorn's picture
Last seen: 3 months 1 day ago
Joined: 04/14/2010 - 4:18pm

Seems to me you are right, the cameras are so new that few have any experience with them. I will say that from reading a bit about both cameras it would depend on what you are shooting as to which is better for your application.

Most of what I do requires gathering audio from various sources. For that the Canon wins hands down. While one can get adapters (or make them) that little 1/8 stereo mini-jack on the SONY means poor audio from external sources period. With two XLR connectors (industry standard) one can use any number of different microphones and / or connect to other audio sources, such as mixing consoles, network feeds etc..

I'd love to have the interchangeable lenses rather than using lens adapters (such as wide angle or 35 mm adapter) but the flexibility of those XLR's for audio can't be beat.

One can always move to a separate audio recording system, such as a small digital recorder with XLR inputs. This can be a hassle though when shooting many short individual shots, but I have done it when shooting bands live. I use the cameras onboard audio as a reference to synch the external audio in post, then mute or delete the onboard audio.

One last item though. The Canon XA-10 uses a SINGLE 1/3" CMOS sensor and not 3 CCD as a previous post implied. So both the SONY and the Canon use single chip sensors. The SONY being an Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor (23.4 X 15.6mm) which if my math is correct, is roughly 0.92 X 0.59 inches. So the SONY has a much larger image sensor

Until some manufacturer puts both interchangeable lenses and XLR into one camera, in this price range; well then, the choice is going to be dependant upon individual needs.

The reality is that these cameras each offer a specific solution to different problems. They compete only in price point.