The Sony NEX-VG20 Interchangeable Lens HD Handycam Camcorder with 18-200mm Lens is the updated, second generation of the large-sensor Handycam camcorder, featuring an even higher-resolution CMOS chip and new 24p & 60p recording modes at 1920 x 1080 resolution. Like its predecessor, the NEX-VG10, the VG20 has an APS-sized sensor and an E-mount for attaching Sony's growing family of compatible lenses, and so the camcorder enables the shallow depth of field for which DSLR video cameras are so highly prized.
The VG20 comes with a versatile 11x lens (18-200mm – 32.4-360mm equivalent in the 35mm world for video), an f/3.5-6.3 OSS model that is video-optimized to silently autofocus while providing optical image stabilization for potentially shaky shots. Though it shares strengths with DSLRs, the NEX-VG20 also succeeds where those cameras fall short. Physically a camcorder, it's specifically designed for shooting motion video with ease and comfort.
In fact, the ergonomics of this second-generation NEX camcorder are greatly improved. The NEX-VG20 features a new grip and belt design for more comfortable handheld operation. New buttons enable more efficient operation: there are new direct-access hard keys near the rear of the body, an expanded focus button for better manual focus, and a second REC button that's more easily accessible during low-angle shooting, for when you're holding the NEX-VG20 by its pro-style handle.
Of course, the VG20 keeps the features that made its predecessor such a standout. The APS HD CMOS sensor is significantly larger than a conventional camcorder's, and it's large enough to grant you creative control over what's in focus and what's not, facilitating cinematic-looking video. Manual control over all significant image parameters furthers this intimate level of engagement with captured image.
And unlike with DSLR cameras, there's a swiveling LCD screen, to show you what's in the frame as you shoot from any angle – the 3.0" Xtra Fine LCD now swivels 270°. It's also now a touchscreen, for direct control over menu functions. When the LCD panel is closed, the assignable control dial is now accessible to the operator.
Further enhancements for the NEX-VG20 include the capture of RAW still images (up to the sensor's 16.1 Mp size, of course) and 5.1 surround-sound recording with audio level control. Like the VG10, the NEX-VG20 records AVCHD files (up to 28 Mb/s) to either Memory Stick or SD/SDHC/SDXC cards, and it adds Direct Copy of these files to hard drives.