Sony ZV-1 Review: Is it worth all the hype?

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The Sony ZV-1 entered the market a few weeks back with the intentions of capturing the hearts of vloggers and content creators alike. Its a small pocketable camera which comes with a very similar look and feel of the RX100 series from Sony.

The ZV-1 takes a 24-70mm equivalent F1.8-2.8 zoom and 1″-type 20MP stacked CMOS sensor from the RX100 V but pairs this with the autofocus of the RX100 VII. It can shoot 1080p up to 120fps and 4K up to 30fps.

As soon as you get the device in your hands, one thing is extremely obvious. It was created for your to shoot yourself. There’s a large record button on the top of the camera right behind the shutter button and the zoom toggle surrounds the shutter button. Both can be easily controlled when shooting yourself. The LCD articulates fully so you have a good view of yourself and can be tapped to focus on yourself too.

On the right of the ZV-1 you find its ports. Here too keeping video in mind, you find a mic input, HDMI out and USB connector. Since, they’re on the right, there’s no clash with the flip-out display in the scenario you need to connect the mic or a power-bank or anything like that.

Now there isn’t an EVF on the Sony ZV-1. I’m guessing they didn’t want to add an expensive part on the camera (considering price is major appeal as far as this product is concerned) and in my usage I didn’t really miss it. Thanks to the missing EVF, Sony was able to add a 3 capsule microphone which focuses on the audio coming from the front of the camera. Also, included in the box is a wind-filter (deadcat) which attaches to the hot-shoe mount on the camera.

Amateur Vlogger’s Delight

Now while there can be a lot discussed about what the Sony ZV-1 has and doesn’t have compared to other options in that price range, I decided to look at the camera from a purely vlogging perspective. I myself have never vlogged professionally. My only experience with vlogging comes from shooting myself with my smartphone. So if like me you have no experience and would like to start vlogging, is the ZV-1 a good fit? My impressions from a little time spent with the camera would be a definite yes.

Along with the camera we also had Sony’s ZV-1, we also had the company’s ‘Shooting Grip’ which also doubles as a tripod and wireless remote. So basically on day one, you have everything you need to get going as far as vlogging is concerned. Switch on the camera, flip out the display and you’re good to go.

Focus on the Sony ZV-1 is fast and on point in most occasions. There wasn’t much ‘focus hunting’ in my use.

Shooting yourself on auto-mode is great. The camera’s eye-tracking works extremely well and focus stays locked. One issue with the ZV-1 is that it shoots too close to your face. The 24mm wide angle doesn’t get far enough to give you much more than your face in a shot, especially when hand-held.

The 24-70mm lens provides a decent zoom range

There are also a whole load of auto-mated features to help you shoot your next vlog. One great example of the same is the “Background Defocus” which blurs your background as you shoot yourself. It’s not the same bokeh effect (background blur) you would get with larger cameras but it works and works well. One simple tap of the dedicated button and the function works with extreme ease. Another feature is the “Product Showcase” which basically sees to it that if you’ve got a product in your hand, the camera keeps focus on the product and doesn’t go looking for your eye to focus on.

On the Sony ZV-1, here’s how the background blurs with the click of a button thanks to ‘Defocus Mode’

Audio quality on the ZV-1 is great compared to most camera’s of its stature but if you want to take it a step further with a dedicated mic, you have a 3.5mm mic input. The deadcat is also extremely functional when recording audio directly from the camera but brings about the issue of blocking the hot-shoe mount.

Audio captured through the Sony ZV-1 microphones

The battery-life in my experience with the Sony ZV-1 was decent. Sony says you can get about 45 minutes of recording time or 260 shots with the camera. I would say in real life it’ll be about 20-25% lesser.

Should you buy the Sony ZV-1?

At Dh3099, the Sony ZV-1 isn’t easy to recommend. There are much cheaper options from the competition but not all of them offer the power that the ZV-1 does. Just like the RX100 series, the Sony ZV-1 comes with an array of extra features to justify its higher price tag.

If you’re an amateur content creator and looking for a camera that’s easy to use but will enable you to learn and improve your skill (to a certain extent), the Sony ZV-1 is a good investment.