Cameras Sony

Sony ZV-1

  • 20.1MP 1.0″ CMOS Sensor
  • 2.7X Optical Zoom
  • Product Showcase Setting
  • 3″ 921.6K dots Vari-angle Touch LCD
  • Directional mic with wind screen
  • 4K/30P & 1080/120P Video
  • Built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth


Vlogging has exploded in the last couple of years with more and more photographers (and non-photographers alike) getting on the Internet and creating interesting and entertaining content using the camera(s) on their smartphone. Today’s smartphones, coupled with easy-to-use-but-powerful imaging apps, have allowed anyone to become a content creator. So, why would we need a vlog camera? Well, if you have a studio setup where more than one camera is needed, you wouldn’t purchase two or three smartphones just for that. Instead, Sony is hoping you would give the Sony ZV-1 Vlog Camera a place in your home studio setup. And, if you crave better image quality, then the larger 1.0-inch image sensor in the ZV-1 should deliver more than what you need for content creation on the Internet. Read on about the ZV-1’s other features that may just convince you that it is the perfect vlog camera for you.

Sony ZV-1

Sony ZV-1

The ZV-1 is basically a RX100 V with a few important design changes. It features 20.1MP resolution on a 1-inch sensor. Like the RX100 V, it is not a mirrorless camera (since the lens is not interchangeable), but a compact camera with a fixed zoom lens. The lens has a 2.7x optical zoom with a 24-70mm (equiv.) wide-angle to portrait range, and a fast F1.8-2.8 aperture. At the back, the 3-inch 921K-dot Touchscreen LCD is Vari-angle (i.e. fully-articulating) and can, of course, face forward for selfies.

If you wonder why Sony cameras have become so popular, the reason can be traced back to this one technology feature: Eye AF tracking that works admirably well, period. This single feature means that you just have to lock onto your subject’s eye once and forget about ever having blurred images again. Though other camera brands also tout their Eye AF, none can claim Sony’s level of precision and persistent “glue factor.” The ZV-1 features that Eye AF tracking.

But what happens when you want to show your audience something, say a product? Since you are probably using Face/Eye AF already on your smartphone or other camera, you’ll then need to hide your face so the camera focuses on the product. With the Sony ZV-1, the camera smoothly and automatically switches focus from your eye to that product as soon as you put that product before the camera’s lens. The ZV-1’s “Product Showcase Setting” prioritizes nearby object and will perform a fast and precise focus transition from you to your featured product (without you having to hide your face), and then back again to focusing on your face/eye when you remove the product from before the camera. This one feature alone should convince many of you who showcase products in your videos.

Sony ZV-1 Back View

Sony ZV-1 Back View

Not everyone can have a clean background in their home studio or when you are walking in the street. Some software will electronically blur the background so it does not distract from you. But, that usually comes at a cost and if you move too fast, weird artifacts display. The ZV-1 has a “Background Defocus” button right on top of the camera. Press it and the camera will open the aperture to its maximum setting (from F1.8 to F2.8, depending on the focal length you are filming with) — no filter or digital effect here, but real optical defocusing. Since opening up the aperture in bright light might cause over-exposure, the ZV-1 is smart enough to automatically adjust the ISO down and even kick in the built-in 3 steps ND (neutral-density) filter to obtain correct exposure.

Video is recorded in 4K/30p, and slow-mo effects can be done in 1080/120p. Higher frame rates up to 960 fps can be shot at much lower (and upscaled) resolution. The video can be both optically and digitally image stabilized.

Sony ZV-1 Top View

Sony ZV-1 Top View

The ergonomics of the ZV-1 has been tooled specifically for holding with your left hand outstretched before you, allowing you to easily start filming with a press of a large video button with the index finger and control the zooming with your thumb.

That fuzzy thing on top of the camera is not a microphone, but a “deadcat” windscreen placed on top of the directional three-capsule mic (by attaching onto the MI shoe) to cut out noise caused by windy conditions when shooting outdoors. If you need more professional sound recording, you can also attach an external microphone onto the MI shoe as illustrated below.

Sony ZV-1 with the optional Bluetooth wireless shooting grip GV-VPT2BT

Sony ZV-1 with the optional Bluetooth wireless shooting grip GV-VPT2BT

Note that the GV-VPT2BT Shooting Grip with remote control of recording and zoom is optional, but you can get a discount if you purchase it as a kit.

More features of the ZV-1

Sony ZV-1 Technical Specs

Some gotchas before you rush out to pre-order/buy the ZV-1:

  1. The lens is not as wide-angle for walk-about vlogging, and the GV-VPT2BT Shooting Grip does not allow the camera to be moved further away (unless you have really long arms). You may need a longer selfie stick. That’s not a problem in a home studio setup because you can just set the ZV-1 onto a tripod and move it to the desired distance.
  2. The GV-VPT2BT Shooting Grip is great for its intended purpose of a grip, a tabletop tripod and a wireless controller. However, it is not a gimbal, and so walk-about vlogging won’t be silky smooth. You can turn on the optical plus digital I.S. for smoother images, but at a cost of cropping the image. Most vloggers already use a gimbal, so this might be a moot point.
  3. The LCD screen goes completely dark when you wear polarized sunglasses (which does not happen on the RX100 V). So if you do walk-abouts vlogging in bright sunlight, you might want to skip wearing polarized sunglasses.
  4. The camera heats up real fast in about 5 mins. You can turn off the warning, but may then be risking the health of the camera. Most people shoot in short segments anyway and then edit them together with smooth transition effects, so again, this might not be a problem.
  5. The built-in recharging mechanism is slower than the battery power use by the camera, so that the battery will eventually drain out even with the camera plugged into a power source. Make sure you have spare batteries.

Sony has a great product in the ZV-1. If you are starting vlogging, either at home or walk-about, and do not currently have anything set up, then I would recommend the Sony ZV-1 kit because it is currently the best one-stop option. It’s a bit pricey, but you’ll be ready to go as soon as you unpack the ZV-1 from its box. And, if you review products, the Product Showcase Setting in itself is worth the price. Plus, with Sony’s best-of-bunch tenacious Face/Eye AF, you won’t ever have to worry about out-of-focus images.


SENSOR: 20.1MPTYPE: 1.0-inch CMOS
LENS: 9.4-25.7mm, F1.8-2.8ISO: 100-12800, 64, 80
I.S.: OPTICALVIDEO: 4K/30P/24P, HD/120P/60P/30P/24P
CONTINUOUS SHOOTING: 10 FPS / 24 FPSSTORAGE MEDIA: SD, SDHC, SDXC, microSD/SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick Duo/PRO Duo/PRO-HG Duo, Memory Stick Micro (M2)
DIMENSIONS: 105.5 X 60.0 X 43.5 MM (4.15 X 2.36 X 1.71 IN)WEIGHT: 294 G (10.4 OZ) WITH BATTERY AND MEMORY CARD
US $799.99

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