Hands-On Review: Sony NEX-VG30 Interchangeable Lens HD Camcorder


The NEX-VG30 is Sony's latest iteration in a very popular series of large-sensor Handycams that feature interchangeable E-mount lenses. The main innovation of the VG30 is the zoom rocker, which executes the wide-to-telephoto action of the new 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Power Zoom lens that's available as part of a kit with this camcorder. In this video, Mia McCormick of Kelby Media finds that the VG30 is capable of capturing cinematic-style video with shallow depth of field and solid low-light performance. 

The camcorder features a 16.1MP APS-C-sized CMOS sensor, a new multi-interface shoe for adding speedlights or XLR adapters (not included), and a Tru-Finder OLED viewfinder. The NEX-VG30 is compatible with the wide range of E-mount lenses, from Sony and other manufacturers, and records 1080p HD video as AVCHD to SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards.

Sensor Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor (23.5 x 15.6mm)
Resolution 16.7MP
Color Filter RGB
Crop Factor 1.5x
Lens Mount Sony E-Mount
Processor BIONZ image processor
Drive System Shutter: electronically controlled, vertical-traverse, focal-plane type
Auto Shutter Speeds: 1/48-1/10000 (movie: 24p), 1/60-1/10000 (movie: other), 30s-1/4000 (Still)
Manual Shutter Speeds: 1/3-1/10000 (movie: 24p), 1/4-1/10000 (movie: other), 30s-1/4000 (Still)
Continuous Shooting Speed: 6 fps
Drive Mode (Photo Mode): Single-shot/Continuous/Bracket 0.3EV/Bracket 0.7EV
Drive Mode (Self-timer): Approx. 10 sec. (Still Image)
Focus Control Focus System: contrast AF
Focus Area: 25 point AF
Focus Features: tracking focus
Focus Sensitivity: 0 - 20 EV (ISO 100 at f/2.8)
Manual Focus Assist: magnified display, peaking display
Flash Flash Type: multi-interface shoe (flash unit not included)
Flash Metering System: Pre-flash TTL
Flash Modes: Auto/Forced/Slow Sync./Rear Sync./Prohibited
Flash Compensation: +/-2EV, 1/3EV step
Digital Zoom x2
Gain Control Auto/manual (0 - 30 dB)
Metering Still Mode Only: 63 segment metering from CMOS image sensor
Metering Modes (still mode only): multi-segment and touch spot
Metering Sensitivity (still mode only): 0 - 20EV (ISO 100 at f/2.8)
Minimum Illumination 9 lux (1/60 shutter speed f/3.5)
White Balance Modes Auto/Onepush/Outdoor/Indoor/WB Temp
Recording Media 1 slot (Memory Stick Duo or SD/SDHC/SDXC)
File Formats HD Video: AVCHD 2.0 (MPEG-4 AVC (H.264)
SD Video: MPEG2-PS
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital 2ch Stills: JPEG, RAW, JPEG+RAW
Video Signal HD: HDTV 1080/60p/24p/60i
SD: NTSC color, EIA standards
Still Image Resolution: 16MP (4912 x 3264), 7.1MP (3568 x 2000), 4MP (2448 x 1624), 2.1MP (1920 x 1080), 307K (640 x 480), 230K (640 x 360)
HD Video Output HDMI (mini)
SD Outputs Composite Video Out (A/V connecting cable supplied)
Component Video Out (Component A/V cable supplied)
S Video Out (A/V connecting cable with S Video sold separately)
USB mini-AB/USB 2.0 Hi-speed (mass-storage/MTP)
Power DC input
Audio Headphone jack (stereo minijack)
Microphone input (stereo minijack)
Shoe Mounts Multi-interface hot shoe (x1)
Cold shoe (x1)
LCD Monitor Type: 3.0" Xtra Fine touch-screen LCD with 921K dots and TruBlack technology
Max Opening Angle: 90°
Max Turning Angle: 270°
EVF High contrast XGA OLED Tru-Finder with 2359K dots and eye sensor
Other Features Assignable Dial, Tracking Focus, Audio Level Display, CinemaTone Gamma/Color, x.v.Color, Face Detection, Priority Setting (for Face Detection), View & Index: Event, Anti-dust charge protection coating on filter, Power zoom control, Zoom lever, Variable zoom speed, DVDirect, Wind Noise Reduction, Mic Level Control, Picture Effects, Noise Reduction, Backlight Compensation, D-Range Optimizer, Exposure Compensation, Zebra Pattern Display, Histogram
Power Consumption HD: 4.2W (with SELP18200 lens), 4.6W (with viewfinder and SELP18200 lens)
SD: 4.0W (with SELP18200 lens), 4.4W (with viewfinder and SELP18200 lens)
Power Requirement 7.2V (battery pack), 8.4V (AC Adapter)

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excellent review

Apart from the sensor size how does this unit differ from the Sony nex vg 900?

The main difference between the two cameras is the sensor size. The VG900 will deliver a much better video quality on the full frame sensor as opposed to the cropped APS-C sensor from the VG30. Also the VG900 includes the Sony A mount adapter making it compatible out of the box with both A mount and E mount lenses.

Really great video review!!! I watched through dozens of video in youtube with this camera for find answers to all my questions and just this video review provided me all information I needed. Thank you for people who made this video!

Great review. I need two channel audio for label microphone and another, external or internal microphone, will the Multi Interface Hot Shoe allow me to do this, or is there another way around. I'm used to using PD150 and PDX10's but feel it's time to move forward, a bit! Many thanks - Nic Greene

Hi Nic -

The Multi Interface Hot Shoe does not offer this feature.  This camera offers a 1/8"(3.5mm) stereo input port.

I suggest the following:

The JuicedLink DT414 4-Channel DSLR Camera Microphone Preamplifier delivers quality audio to anyone using a DSLR camera for professional video applications. The DT414 features 2 XLR microphone inputs (no phantom power).

For phantom power, The RM222 Riggy-Micro Dual-XLR Preamplifier with Phantom Power by juicedLink is designed for cameras which already have audio meters, manual gain control, and a headphone output. The RM222 features efficient operation, small size, and a lightweight design for mounting flexibility. It can even be mounted in the hot-shoe on top of your camera.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

I have a little problem with my Sony VG30. my friend have a Sony VG20 . in same light same shutter speed same IRIS and same Gain my camera noise was terrible but his camera noise was 4 times better than mine . any one can tell me why ???

Are you both using the same lens as well?

I want to buy VG 30,but didn't use it. some one says it's good, some one says it's not suitable.I want to know how is this camcorder conditions, picture quality,low light condition,have noises on low light condition,there is faults,
Thanx;Nuwan from Sri Lanka.

The VG30 is a great option for an entry level cinema camera. It shoots in full HD, has interchangeable lenses but doesn't have the drawbacks that a lot of DSLR cameras have. i.e. no limited record time, decent audio capability. As for the low light quality, that will depend mainly on the lenses you use with it. With a good fast lens the camera will have a good low light sensitivity.

Hi! I have a problem. My sony nex vg30 lens pz 18-200, It's pictures not good. it doesn't look like some test video in youube. So how to setup pictures profile for good

Your Sony VG30 is capable of making excellent images. It does not have picture profiles per se but if your exposure, shutter speed, focus, and white balance are set correctly, your camera will record like it should. I would go to the menu and see if you are at the default settings. That should get you a good picture. If so and still the images are not what you wish, I would use Program mode. There, adjust the exposure up or down until that looks correct. Then go to White Balance and select the one that is appropriate for the light you are recording. You should be good at this point.

Question about video file formatting.

My nex-vg30 video format is TS(AVC)

how can I set up my nex-vg30 to MPEG-4 video file format?

Hi Molita -

This camcorder can record to either:  HD Video: AVCHD 2.0 (MPEG-4 AVC (H.264))  or SD Video: MPEG2-PS:

Selecting the recording mode:  You can change the quality of the image that you record by touching:   MENU > Image Quality/Size > REC Mode > Setting.....HD SD  -  Sets image quality for recording, playback, or editing movies.  SONY Operating Guide 

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com