If you’re a vlogger, it looks like Sony may have just ticked off the most boxes of any current camera manufacturer. If you were already a Sony fan or user, then your dreams have definitely been answered with the Sony ZV-1.
Sony ZV-1 Pricing
For the number of features that Sony has packed into this camera, such as excellent 4K video, amazing eye autofocus, a built-in ND filter, etc., the price is very tempting.
The Sony ZV-1 will regularly retail for $800 USD or $999 CAD. However, Sony has promotional pre-order pricing, which places the camera at $749 USD ($50 USD savings) for a limited time. Camera orders will start shipping on June 11th at major retailers, so get your pre-order in before then! No information is available on discounted prices for Canadians. However, some retailers in Canada & the USA are offering the Sony Vlogger Kit with a $50 to $100 discount when it is bought together with the camera.
What’s In The Box
- The ZV-1 Camera Body
- 1 Rechargeable Battery Pack
- 1 Micro USB Cable
- Wind Screen / Dead Cat
- Wind Screen Adaptor
Sony ZV-1 Specs
- 20 Megapixels
- 1″ Exmor RS CMOS sensor
- 4K Recording – Unlimited Video Length
- Directional microphone with windscreen
- Flip-out 7.5 cm TFT LCD touch screen with variable angle for monitoring focus while vlogging
- F1.8 (wide angle) to 2.8 (telephoto) lens with a focal range of 24–70 mm
- 2.7x Optical zoom (11x digital zoom)
- 3 step Neutral Density filter
- AF is 5 cm to infinity
- Object Tracking
- Eye & Animal Autofocus
- Max 24 FPS burst shooting
- Micro HDMI, 3.5 mm Microphone jack, Multi-Interface Shoe
- Size: 4-1/4″ x 2-3/8″ x 1-3/4″
- Weight: approx 294 grams
Sony ZV-1 Special Features
Built-in Skin Softening / Smoothing
Ok, so this is something that not everyone may want to use, but for those who plan on vlogging daily, or with a lot of close-up face shots such as make-up tutorials or talking head videos, you may be interested in this feature. The camera does allow you to set the level of skin softening or skin smoothing from a low level to a high level to suit your taste.
Focus & DeFocus Quickly
The camera also allows you to quickly have your background defocused if you are in a busy or messy environment. Still, with a push of a button, you can quickly bring the background back into focus if you want to highlight your surroundings.
Unlimited, Beautiful 4K Footage
Unlike some cameras which have a 30 minute recording limit, the Sony ZV-1 allows you to record beautiful, high-quality 4K footage at 30p without any recording limit. You will have to set the camera’s temperature tolerance to high to allow the camera to do this, as the camera will generate more heat to record in 4K. Sony has also enhanced its color science so that you get beautiful colors straight out of camera for quick updates and uploads. However, you can always grade your footage later if you shoot in S-Log, HLG, Cine, etc.
Take note that the 4K video does suffer from cropping of the image at around 15% if active stabilization is enabled while shooting in 4K. This is something to consider if you plan on walking and speaking with stabilization turned on. This will result in a less wide image, which is not great if you are trying to show your environment. Of course, you can buy a gimbal to avoid having to turn on active stabilization, but that is an added cost if you want to start on a smaller budget. If you will have the camera set up on a tripod in a room, then this isn’t really an issue.
If you want to shoot at 1080p, you can shoot at up to 120p.
Product Showcase For Reviewers
One of the most challenging issues for people who like to do product reviews is the responsiveness of the camera’s autofocus system and what the camera chooses to focus on. Most new Sony Alpha cameras have amazing eye autofocus which grabs focus on your eye while sitting or walking and speaking. However, because the older Sony cameras always put a priority on grabbing focus on the eye, if you held up something in front of the lens such as a plate of food or a watch, the camera would still try to keep focus on your eye and the object would be out of focus.
However, with the new product showcase feature, the camera will automatically switch focus to the item that is closest to the lens that you are holding up. This allows you to get those close and detailed shots when you are explaining product features. It really is a lifesaver of a feature because it keeps the video flow going and makes editing easier since you are dealing with fewer video clips. This feature can be turned on or off if you plan on videoing a location where you expect people to be constantly passing in front of the lens.
Facial Metering Mode
While many cameras meter based on the entire scene in the video, this camera allows for priority face metering. This means that you can be sure that your face will be properly exposed while you are talking and walking through different lighting environments.
The camera also offers 960 fps recording, but at a much lower resolution of 720p, so this may not be a useful feature for those who are focused on the best video quality at all times.
Variable Angle Flip-Out Screen
Finally, Sony has given its camera users a flip-out screen. Now you will be able to compose your shot and ensure that you have focus on the areas that you want while you are in front of the lens. However, the camera does not come with an optical viewfinder, so you must rely on the screen for all photos and videos. The screen could be a bit brighter, considering that you are may be forced to use it in bright sunlight as well.
In addition to the eye auto-focus and product showcase feature, the camera also includes object tracking! This is great if you want to track a subject or moving object without having to play around with focus settings.
Built-In ND Filter
If you’re planning on shooting a lot of videos outdoors in bright sunlight, the 3-stop built-in ND (neutral density) filter will help. You will also be able to shoot at 1.8 if you shoot wide in bright sunlight to have a blurred background in bright sunlight with the help of the built-in ND filter.
Up to 24 FPS Burst Shooting
Burst shooting is available at up to 24 fps, based on technology borrowed from the A9 series of Sony cameras.
Ports & Connections
The camera comes with a microphone jack to attach an external microphone if you prefer to use one over the built-in camera microphone. However, it doesn’t come with a headphone jack for audio monitoring. There is a Multi Interface (MI) hotshoe to attach microphones, lights, etc. There is also a micro USB port for charging the camera (unfortunately not USB C), and a micro HDMI out.
You also have wifi and Bluetooth connectivity. Bluetooth connectivity is required if you plan on using the optional vlogger accessory handgrip from Sony.
Optional Vlogging Accessory Kit
Sony sells an optional vlogging accessory kit, which includes a shooting grip that has a wireless remote built-in. As mentioned above, the grip connects to the camera via Bluetooth. This means you can actually control some camera settings while standing in front of the camera. The grip can be extended out to act as a mini tripod as well.
You can buy this grip separately or as part of their vlogging kit, which includes a 64 GB Sony memory card.
Where The Sony ZV-1 Misses The Mark
As you can see, the features that this camera provides for vloggers with minimal effort or setup from the vlogger’s end is truly a time and stress saver. However, there are some areas where it misses the mark that some users may not be able to deal with.
Average Battery life – the battery life is just average, considering the battery is small. If you use Bluetooth, expect it to drain even quicker. You will need additional batteries to get you through heavy shooting.
No Optical Viewfinder – most vloggers won’t care about this, but if you plan on taking photos, and are used to an optical viewfinder, this could be a deal-breaker.
Not Ultra Wide – at 24 mm wide, this camera allows you to capture a good deal of your surroundings. However, if you really like to show your environment in your videos, it may not be wide enough for you.
No Built-in Flash – again, this is something that most vloggers may not care about if you vlog outdoors, or if you plan on having a more powerful external light. For those who want to take photos, keep this in mind.
Limited Weather Sealing – while this camera may be capable of handling light rain for short periods of time, don’t expect it to hold up in areas with heavy water and dust.
Do I Recommend It?
Even with the shortcomings that I have pointed out, the amount of helpful and easy to use features that this camera comes with makes it one of the easiest decisions for those who are looking the best all in one vlogging camera. Just be sure to buy an additional battery or two when you are out shooting since the battery life is average.