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Sony ZV-1 Review: The new vloggers favourite

Sony ZV-1 is a new compact camera designed by the Japanese company specifically for vloggers and other “content creators.”

The camera is very similar to the camera from the RX100 series, and in terms of stuffing, this is an updated version of the RX100 V, but with improvements in ergonomics and functionality, which should make it easier to shoot in selfies. A separate name directly indicates that the new product is not part of the RX100 series.

If you are primarily into photography, then the ZV-1 is unlikely to interest you, because it is a camera specifically aimed at creating videos for social platforms like YouTube.

Comparison with RX100 V

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Left: Sony ZV-1, right: Sony RX100 V. Source: bhphotovideo.com

In fact, in terms of hardware, the ZV-1 largely coincides with the RX100 series. The camera uses a 24-70mm equivalent f / 1.8-2.8 zoom lens and a 1-inch 20-megapixel CMOS sensor from the RX100 V , however this is complemented by AF enhancements from the Mark VII.

On the other hand, the controls and the way you work with the camera are quite different. There is no control ring around the lens and the key layout is completely different.

It is also worth noting that unlike the RX100 series, Sony does not use Cyber-shot branding for this camera, and the official model name is DCZV-1, unlike DSC, which stands for digital stills camera.

The camera also uses the same NP-BX1 battery as the RX100.

Video

The ZV-1’s video capabilities are very similar to the RX100 VII, with 1080p up to 120p or UHD 4K up to 30p. There are also high-speed modes in which the picture is captured at a lower resolution and then increased, allowing you to shoot at speeds up to 960 fps (1000 fps in PAL mode).

As with other recent Sony consumer cameras, all shooting is done in 8-bit. Log and HLG modes are available, but they provide less flexibility than 10-bit shooting.

Other improvements are available through the use of the processor from the RX100 VII: the ability to apply 4K digital stabilization in addition to lens stabilization. The camera can also record shake information in metadata so that Imaging Edge can digitally apply corrections after shooting.

It’s slightly thicker than the RX100 V, and Sony says the use of composite materials in the construction improves heat dissipation, which should better protect against overheating. Regardless, by default the camera only records video for five minutes in a row. It is necessary to deactivate the overheat shutdown function for longer recording.

It is reported that after that the camera can record almost indefinitely (well, or until the space on the memory card runs out). However, it is not yet known how much the camera gets hot, or how long you can hold it in your hands until you feel like attaching it to the optional VPT2BT Bluetooth selfie stick.

Ergonomics

The first thing you’ll likely notice when looking at the ZV-1 is its unusual ergonomics. There is a separate large [REC] button just behind the shutter button. The importance of size and position will not be apparent until you flip the camera to the selfie position, keeping it at arm’s length. The button is designed to be operated with your left index finger, while the zoom button is operated with your left thumb.

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Source: bhphotovideo.com

The focus on selfie content also means the lack of a built-in viewfinder – there is little point in using an expensive component in such a camera.

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Source: bhphotovideo.com

Instead, the camera uses a fully movable, swivel touchscreen display, making it easy to use when the lens is pointed at you. As you might expect, the display shows a mirror image of what hits the sensor when the camera shoots in the selfie position.

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Source: bhphotovideo.com

The touchscreen interface allows you to use the push-to-track feature, but like most current Sony cameras, it is otherwise very limited in functionality.

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Source: bhphotovideo.com

As for the ports, they are all located on the right side of the case (or left if the lens is directed at you), that is, on the back of the swivel screen. There is a microphone jack, HDMI-out and USB-port through which you can charge the camera while recording. Most importantly, all ports can be safely used without touching the flip-up screen.

Updated microphone

The lack of a viewfinder has made room for a rather advanced 3-capsule microphone located on top of the camera. Sony says this arrangement is specifically designed to effectively record sound from someone in front of the camera.

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Source: dpreview.com

The camera comes with a fur windshield that can be mounted on the hot shoe to the left of the microphone. This means that it cannot be used simultaneously with other accessories such as external LED lighting. In addition, the windscreen covers the power button, which is also a charge indicator, which is not very convenient.

The ZV-1 is equipped with another hot shoe on the side of the camera, which allows you to mount a cannon microphone. This mount has all the pins of a Sony Multi Interface Hot Shoe, which means it can be used with a wide variety of accessories, including a microphone or XLR adapter for example.

Autofocus and auto exposure

The ZV-1 uses the latest Sony autofocus system: it focuses on whatever you tap on the screen, and automatically applies face and eye detection if it’s a face. The system will continue to track the person even if he turns away from the camera.

The tenacity of the autofocus system is especially important for a camera like this, because your face must be constantly in focus and you will be too busy to track and correct its mistakes.

As mentioned above, the new product is equipped with a number of special features for video blogging, which make it easier to get the desired result with minimal interaction with the camera and its settings.

The most basic of these is Face Priority Auto Exposure. It links the metering system to the face detection system and prioritizes the exposure of the face over the metering of the entire scene. It is designed to respond quickly to changes in lighting, so faces remain properly exposed even if the light changes.

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Source: dpreview.com

Sony also says it has tweaked the color reproduction in a “Standard” creative style, with particular attention to making skin tones appear more appealing.

Background defocus mode

Sony emphasizes that the Background Defocus mode is not a filter or a simulation of a shallow depth of field. On the contrary, it is a mode that automatically opens the aperture to its widest value to provide the shallowest possible depth of field.

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Source: bhphotovideo.com

The function works in one click, so vloggers do not need to learn to work with different aperture values. And since the camera knows its target is its widest aperture, it can react almost instantly by adjusting the ISO and ND filter to compensate for the change in aperture.

By default, the background defocus mode is assigned to the C button located on the right side of the top panel, making it easy to press when holding the camera with your left arm extended.

Product demo mode

Perhaps the feature that makes the target audience of this camera the most obvious is the Product Showcase. It makes it easy to create a video in which you can film yourself holding the product you are talking about while showing the details.

Product Showcase mode prioritizes focus on products that appear in front of the camera and disables facial recognition when it does. This means you don’t have to hide your face or wait for the camera to refocus on the object you are trying to show your audience. Again, it is designed to be an automatic mode so you don’t need to manually adjust the AF.

Disadvantages of the camera

The Sony ZV-1 is primarily a camcorder designed for selfie mode, which easily explains why it lacks many of the photographer-friendly features and functions from the RX100 line, such as the electronic viewfinder and control ring around the lens.

But videographers will also notice some inconsistencies, such as the lack of a headphone jack. Of course, most videos in selfie mode are shot without headphones, however, in any case, the disappearance of this port looks like a rather strange move. Without headphones, you will not be able to check the volume level before pressing the record button, and also normally watch the footage after shooting (the built-in speaker is quite quiet).

In addition, Log and HLG modes are limited to 8-bit color depth. Of course, you can hardly expect that most of the clips shot on the ZV-1 will be subjected to serious color correction, but more experienced videographers should be aware of this limitation.

Conclusion

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Source: Tyler Stalman

The Sony ZV-1 looks like a very powerful tool for anyone who shoots a variety of video content in a selfie position.

At the moment it is not entirely clear how, apart from its main “specialization”, the ZV-1 is also suitable for photography. It is clear that such a product has its own niche in the market – before that, Canon G7 X III received special functions for video bloggers . At the same time, unlike Canon, Sony cannot directly broadcast videos to YouTube, however, the latest version of Sony’s proprietary application allows you to transfer videos (including 4K) to a smartphone immediately after shooting. The cost of the new item will be $ 799 – the camera cannot be called a budget camera, at least at the moment. Removing the viewfinder, however, has reduced the minimum retail price by $ 200 from the RX100 VA’s starting price and kept it under $ 50 from its main competitor from Canon.