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Sony ZV-1: TechRadar Review

A powerful pocket vlogging camera for YouTubers

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from the in-depth feature Sony ZV-1 review by the camera experts at our sister site,TechRadar. The quick “two-minute review” can be found below, and you can read the entire review here.

OUR VERDICT
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 stabilization 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.

FOR

  • Class-leading autofocus
  • Bright lens for lovely video bokeh
  • Hotshoe and 3.5mm mic port
  • Side-flipping screen ideal for video
  • Fits in your pocket

AGAINST

  • Average video stabilization
  • Touchscreen still very limited
  • Micro USB rather than USB-C

Two-minute review

The Sony ZV-1 is the most powerful pocket vlogging camera you can buy right now. It takes the best video features of the Sony RX100 series, including its class-leading autofocus system, and combines them with design tweaks that make it ideal for shooting YouTube videos at home or on the move.

Its main strength is the combination of a bright 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 lens with Sony’s Real-time tracking and Real-time Eye AF systems. Together with the ZV-1’s 1-inch sensor, which is larger than those in today’s smartphones, these make it easy to shoot high-quality vlogs with pleasing background blur and consistent focus.

(Image: © Future)

The inclusion of a 3.5mm microphone port means it’s relatively easy to add good-quality audio to match your videos, while a hotshoe lets you mount accessories like a shotgun mic or LED light without needing a bracket to support them.

This is particularly useful because, while the ZV-1’s three-capsule internal microphone is an improvement over the built-in mics found in the RX100 series and other compact cameras, it still falls short of offering audio that matches the quality of its video. You do at least get a windshield bundled with the camera, which is essential for when you’re shooting in breezy conditions.

The ZV-1 isn’t perfect, and you might want to consider other options, depending on your needs. Its SteadyShot stabilization is passable for walking videos, but falls short of the smoothness offered by the DJI Osmo Pocket, GoPro Hero 8 Black, or larger cameras like the Olympus E-M5 Mark III. Its strongest stabilization also adds a slight crop that can make the resulting focal length slightly tight for handheld shots, though we didn’t find this to be a major issue.

Despite the inclusion of renamed shortcut buttons for beginners, the ZV-1 also isn’t the most user-friendly camera for those upgrading from smartphones. Aside from letting you tap to focus, its touchscreen doesn’t work with menus like the handy ‘Fn’ grid, and it settings remain labyrinthine; a beginner-friendly section for video newcomers would have been nice.

The flipside to this complexity is that the ZV-1 is absolutely packed with features, including a built-in ND filter, autofocus sensitivity options, and profiles like S-Log2 for those who like to color-grade their videos; Sony is also promising live-streaming software for Windows users from July 2020. All this makes it incredibly powerful for a compact camera, and ensures that it’ll grow with you as your skills improve.

The ZV-1’s size means there are naturally other compromises, including the lack of a headphone jack and average battery life, while the absence of an electronic viewfinder means those looking for a stills camera should also look elsewhere. But the ZV-1 packs in more power and video features than any other pocket camera, making it an ideal take-anywhere camera for shooting content for your YouTube or other social media channel.

(Image: © Future)

Sony ZV-1 Price and Release Date

  • The Sony ZV-1 launched on May 26, 2020
  • It costs $749 / £699 / AU$1,299
  • You can also buy a Bluetooth Grip controller for $138 / £170 / AU$249

You can order the Sony ZV-1 right now, as pre-orders opened on its release date of May 26, 2020. Sony says shipping is expected to start “in early June” in the US and UK, and by “mid-June” in Australia.

The compact vlogging camera costs $749 / £699 / AU$1,299 which puts it roughly in between the Sony RX100 Mark IV and RX100 Mark V price-wise.

Unlike all of Sony’s RX100 series camera, the ZV-1 lacks an electronic viewfinder, which helps to keep its price down. It does, though, bring newer features that aren’t available on the latter two cameras, including Real-time Eye AF autofocus.

That price tag puts the Sony ZV-1 at a similar price point to its main rival, the Canon G7X Mark III. That camera launched in August 2019 for $750 / £700 / AU$1,100, although it can currently be found for slightly less than that.

You can also now buy a shooting grip with an integrated wireless remote for the Sony ZV-1, the Sony GP-VPT2BT. This is available now, and costs $138 / £170 / AU$240.

This article originally ran on techradar.com. Click here to read the full in-depth Sony ZV-1review from our digital imaging experts at TechRadar.

See also: Meet RX0 II: Sony’s Smallest Digital Camera

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