Sony ZV-1 vlogging camera

Sony ZV-1 vlogging camera
£699.00 Buy It Now
9.5/10 (Expert Score)
Product is rated as #1 in category Cameras

A powerful pocket vlogging camera for YouTubers.

The Sony ZV-1 is like a Sony RX100 Mark V that’s been redesigned for YouTubers. The end result isn’t perfect, but it does fix most of the criticisms we had of the Mark V when it came to video shooting. Along with the Canon G7X Mark III, it’s one of the few compact cameras that’s been designed primarily for video. First, the good bits. The best new feature is a side-hinged articulating touchscreen. This kind of screen is better than a tilting one for shooting video, because it leaves the top and bottom of the camera free for attaching accessories. Crucially, it also flips around 180 degrees to face forwards, allowing those operating one-person YouTube channels to frame their shots without needing someone behind the camera.

A range of features make this the perfect camera for vloggers and wannabe YouTube celebrities.

Sadly, Sony’s touchscreen functionality is still pretty limited. You can tap the screen to pull focus in video, for example, but not navigate menus or even zoom in on photos. That’s a shame for a camera that’s been designed primarily for people who are upgrading from smartphones; still, the benefit of that side hinged screen is that there’s room on top of the camera for a hot shoe.

This hot shoe replaces the electronic viewfinder you’ll find on Sony’s RX100 series. Losing a built-in EVF would be a big deal for a stills-focused camera, and it’s something to bear in mind if you need an all-rounder for both photos and video. But it makes sense for a vlogging camera like the ZV-1, because its target audience will mostly be using the screen as a viewfinder – and it also helps to reduce the ZV-1’s price tag, if not by quite as much as we’d hoped. The option to plug accessories like LED lights or external microphones into that hot shoe is a real bonus. If you purchased the Sony RX100 VII you had to buy an external bracket to mount them, but there are no such worries with the ZV-1, and this brings us to another of the ZV-1’s vlogging bonuses: a 3.5mm mic input. Sony also bundles a ‘dead cat’ windshield with the ZV-1, which plugs into the hot shoe to help counter wind noise when you’re shooting outdoors. But as we’ll see later, an external microphone is still significantly better than any built-in equivalent, making that 3.5mm port a crucial inclusion.

Slightly less welcome is the inclusion of a microUSB port below the mic port. While it’s far from a deal-breaker, we expect all new cameras to offer USB-C ports these days for speedy charging and all-round convenience.

The Fujifilm X-T4, for example, comes with a USB-C headphone adaptor that lets you monitor the sound on your recordings, which is something you can’t do on the ZV-1. You can at least charge the Sony ZV-1 while using the camera, though, so it’s not completely stuck in the charging dark ages.

Autofocus and lens

The Sony ZV-1 does what many vloggers have been crying out for – it combines the lens of the Sony RX100 Mark V (or at least a mildly tweaked version of it) with Sony’s latest Bionz X processor and autofocus skills. Why include the 24-70mm lens from the Mark V, rather than the 24-200mm lens seen on the last two Sony RX100 cameras? Because the former is simply more suited to vlogging, thanks to its brighter f/1.8-2.8 aperture. This combines nicely with the camera’s 1-inch sensor to give your videos some pleasing background blur, while still photos also benefit from the knock-on effect of the ability to shoot at lower ISOs in equivalent scenes (albeit at the expense of that longer 200mm reach).

But the ZV-1’s real ace is pairing this bright lens with some of Sony’s latest Real-time autofocus tech. This is possible thanks to the combination of the Bionz X processor (also seen in the full-frame Sony Alpha A9 II) and that 1-inch, 20.1MP stacked CMOS sensor, which has 315 phasedetect autofocus points covering 65% of the frame.

Features

Sony’s camera menus are renowned for being about as user-friendly as a book of hieroglyphics, and it’s done a couple of things in an effort to make the ZV-1 a bit more intuitive for beginners.

These include two new default settings for the camera’s two custom buttons. The first of these, called the ‘Bokeh switch’, will instantly switch to a wide-open aperture to give your footage a defocused background. Unlike smartphone ‘portrait’ modes, there’s no computational trickery going on here – it’s purely a shortcut based on traditional optics.

The second and perhaps more useful custom button is called ‘Product showcase’, which is designed specifically for YouTubers who specialise in
reviews.

Performance

Alongside great autofocus, a forward-facing screen and good audio options, vlogging cameras also need impressive image stabilisation to help keep handheld footage steady. Of those four features, this is the Sony ZV-1’s weakest area. Not that its SteadyShot system is bad, by any means. Its most powerful ‘Active’ stabilisation mode combines optical and electronic stabilisation, and is available in 4K shooting too.

Video and image quality

Like the most recent Sony RX100 cameras, the ZV-1 oversamples its video footage before downsampling it to 4K. This process produces sharper results than alternative techniques like pixel binning, and you can see this in its 4K footage – it’s very crisp and detailed, and has no crop unless you’re shooting with ‘Active’ stabilisation. It’s a slight shame the ZV-1 doesn’t have a 4K/60p option, as this would let you slow down 4K clips without any loss in quality. But it’s not a major miss, and the 4K/30p mode impresses with its lack of rolling shutter, which is a common side-effect of CMOS sensors that sometimes results in skewed lines during fast panning movements.

SONY ZV-1: The ULTIMATE Review

Review of the Sony ZV-1 with comparisons to the a6000 line. Evaluating the vlogging & live streaming capabilities and testing the autofocus, low light, image ...

9.5 Total Score
The Sony ZV-1 does what many vloggers have been crying out for

The Sony ZV-1 is the best compact vlogging camera you can buy. Its mix of a bright lens, superb autofocus and design tweaks like the side-flipping screen make it a powerful pocket video option with few peers. Those seeking super-smooth walking footage might find its image stabilisation a slight let-down, and it has a few familiar usability quirks, but the ZV-1 remains the best video all-rounder in its weight class.

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  • A range of features make this the perfect camera for vloggers and wannabe YouTube celebrities.
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Sony ZV-1 vlogging camera
Sony ZV-1 vlogging camera
£699.00
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