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Sony ZV-1 Review

The Sony ZV-1 is designed to be the perfect compact camera for vloggers, with 4K video recording, a vari-angle screen that faces the front, and a number of features specifically for vloggers. Let's find out how it performs.

| Sony ZV-1 in Compact Cameras

Sony ZV-1 Review: Sony ZV 1 (8)

The Sony ZV-1, was announced as the ultimate vloggers camera, with 4K video recording, a vari-angle screen, and video-focused features including "Product Showcase", a clear or defocused background option, a triple microphone system, and included in the box is a deadcat wind screen. Are Sony right, is this the ultimate vloggers camera? We find out how the ZV-1 performs both as a stills camera, and a video camera.


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Sony ZV-1 Features

Sony ZV-1 Review: Sony ZV 1 On

The Sony ZV-1 builds on top of the success of the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 series, and features the same lens and sensor, as the RX100 V. There's a 20mp BSI CMOS sensor, which is a 1inch-type sensor.

The lens is a Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* branded 2.7x optical zoom lens, with f/1.8-f/2.8 aperture with optical image stabilisation (OIS), giving a 24-70mm equivalent (in 35mm equivalent terms) to give a good wide-angle view, as well as a reasonable amount of telephoto zoom.

There's a 3inch vari-angle touch-screen on the back that can be turned round to face the front, ideal for selfies and vlogging, and the screen has a resolution of 921K dots.

As a compact camera, it will easily fit into your pocket, even a pocket of a pair of jeans (not skinny), and weighs less than 300g.

New features unique to the ZV-1:

  • Bokeh button, to switch between background blur (defocus), or clear background modes
  • Product showcase enables rapid focus on small items held in front of the camera
  • Smart auto-exposure (AE) transitions, optimised for faces
  • 3-capsule microphones for clear sound
  • Included "dead cat" wind screen

Sony ZV-1 Review: Sony ZV 1 (3)

The ZV-1 camera has P, A, S, M shooting modes, giving you full manual controls, and these can be accessed by using the Mode button on top of the camera. You'll also find an intelligent Auto mode, making it easy to use the camera as a point and shoot, with the camera automatically detecting the scene and adjusting settings accordingly. Macro focus can be as close as 5cm from the front of the lens at the wide-angle setting but is 30cm when using the telephoto zoom.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are built-in meaning you can connect the camera to a smartphone or tablet, and use one of Sony's Imaging apps* to control the camera and transfer images. A Bluetooth connected shooting grip is available, the GP-VPT2BT, or you can go for the VCT-SGR1, which uses a cable connection. *There are currently a number of different Imaging Edge apps, including Mobile (the main app), Transfer & Tagging Add-On, and Movie Edit Add-On (designed for the ZV-1, RX100 VII, and RX0 II).

Sony ZV-1 Review: P1010243

Video recording

The ZV-1 records video as 4K UHD (3840 x 2160), which uses 1.7x pixel resampling, meaning the camera is using around 14mp of data for each frame and squishing that down to 8.8mp (4K resolution) for improved detail. The camera also supports 4K HDR recording, with S-Log2 / S-Log3 gamma controls, and a built-in 3-stop ND filter.

Slow-motion / HFR (High Frame Rate) video recording is possible up to 960/1000fps (NTSC/PAL), with 480/500fps, and 240/250fps options. The higher the frame rate, the lower the actual resolution recorded, with 240/250fps recording at a resolution of 1824x1026, 480/500fps recording at a resolution of 1824x616, and 960/1000fps recording at 1244x420 (on the quality priority setting). All of these are then enlarged to 1920x1080 (FullHD) resolution.

Time-lapse video recording is supported. A tally light lets you know when you're recording video, and the camera can be used as a webcam (via USB) using Sony's PC software.

Sony ZV-1 Review: Sony ZV 1 (1)

Key Features

  • 20mp 1inch stacked BSI CMOS sensor
  • 2.7x optical zoom lens, f/1.8-2.8, 24-70mm equivalent, with optical image stabilisation (OIS)
  • 3inch, 180degree tilting touch-screen, 921K dots
  • ISO125-12800 expands to ISO80/100, ISO25600 with multi-frame NR
  • 315 phase-detection AF points – hybrid AF system
  • AF with eye autofocus (real-time), and real-time tracking AF
  • Face skin-tone smoothing, auto exposure based on your face (brand new)
  • SteadyShot Active Mode: stabilisation optimized for walking (11x better – than “standard”), optical and electronic IS system (4K + FullHD)
  • Clear voice recording, 3-capsule microphone, with wind-shield included - “dead cat” slots into the hot-shoe
  • Multi-interface hot-shoe so you can add additional audio (eg XLR), or you can use the microphone socket
  • Bokeh button to switch between bokeh background or detailed background, plus product focus option
  • 4K 30/25/24fps video: 14mp image down to 8mp for detail
  • S-Log2/3 video recording, timelapse, HLG
  • Super slow motion (up to 1000fps), vertical video shooting
  • Up to 24fps continuous shooting

Sony ZV-1 Handling

Sony ZV-1 Review: Sony ZV 1 (5)

The ZV-1 is compact enough to take with you everywhere you go without worrying about weight and size. The camera weighs 294g with battery and memory card. (297g with deadcat, although perhaps it should be called a dead mouse due to it's compact size). When the deadcat is fitted, it can initially be a little difficult to find the on/off switch, but is something that you'll soon get used to. The mode button next to this is used to switch between the modes (on screen), as there is no mode dial.

There's a grip on the front, that Sony say is "optimised" for selfies. The grip works well, being made of rubber and providing a good level of grip. There's also a rubber grip on the back for your thumb to hold on to. The "focus/defocus" button is clearly labelled, and can be customised if you want to change what it's used for. It's perfectly placed for use when recording video. The top buttons are a good size, with a large video record button. On the back, the buttons are much smaller,

It feels well built, even with a plastic construction, although of course, time will tell how well it lasts, and much of that will depend on how well you look after it. There is no built-in flash, however, you can use the hot-shoe to attach an optional flash (or LED lighting) if needed.

Sony ZV-1 Review: Panasonic Lumix G100 Vs Sony ZV 1 Top
Panasonic Lumix G100 Vs Sony ZV-1 Top - The ZV-1 has a size advantage, but if you want to change lenses, then the G100 is also a vlogging option.

The vari-angle touch-screen looks reasonable outdoors in sunny conditions but doesn't match the G100 for resolution or brightness and colour. You can use the "Sunny" setting for the screen that makes the screen much brighter for use outdoors, however, in this mode the screen gives you the impression that your images are going to come out over-exposed. The screen has a resolution of 921K dots.

With a tilting screen, it flips out to the side, and thankfully all the ports are on the other side of the camera, meaning there's no risk of the screen or cables interfering with each other. The tripod position could be better, as it means that the battery/memory card compartment are blocked when the camera is mounted on a tripod.

Sony ZV-1 Review: Sony ZV 1 (4)

The menus are the fairly typical Sony menu system, meaning you can spend a very long time trying to find settings and options, and unfortunately, they haven't been updated, with the A7S III introducing a completely redesigned menu system. On the ZV-1 you can't use the touch-screen to change or select options in the menus.

Wi-Fi, and transferring images worked well, using Imaging Edge Mobile, and the initial setup or connection is made using a QR code displayed on the camera. Remote control of the camera was possible once we'd entered the correct setting on the camera, and gives an enlarged view (assuming your smartphone has a larger screen than the camera), and you can access all the different shooting modes from the app.

Sony ZV-1 Review: Sony ZV 1 (7)

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 260 shots when using the screen, which can be extended to 410 shots with "auto monitor off" set to 2seconds. This is reasonable for a compact camera, but we'd definitely recommend a spare battery or two, especially if you're recording video, as the battery gives 45 minutes of movie recording time.

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Photographs taken using the Sony ZV-1

Taking a BreakApple BlossomA Cheeky GullA Bee's work is never DoneOn the WindowWest Shore SunsetSunset over the Little OrmeSetting Sun in Colwyn bayDaisies

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jameslander Avatar
31 Jul 2020 10:26AM
A free merkin with every camera ! Who are they trying to attract ?

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