Sony ZV-1 Review

July 15, 2020

Made for the vlogger.

The Sony ZV-1 is jam-packed with some of the best features you’ll find for a portable camera. Aimed for users who enjoy doing videos at home or outside, it’s a more versatile version of the RX100 series of cameras that now includes vlog-centric features.

It’s hard not to compare the ZV-1 with the RX100 series, but of course, made for the YouTube crowd. Most of the functions and buttons are situated on top with more buttons on the back just next to the screen. One of the highlights of the ZV-1 is the articulated screen that opens sides and can be flipped around. This instantly makes the ZV-1 a perfect tool for doing self-shot videos – a common practice for most online content.

The screen is also touch-capable, but its functions are limited and you would need to use the physical buttons to navigate menus and change some settings. There’s a dedicated hot shoe on top of the ZV-1, allowing you to connect various accessories like LED lights or an external microphone. 

The ZV-1 lacks a viewfinder though unlike the RX100 series, which features an electronic viewfinder. It’s probably a must if you like taking pictures with the camera, but as mentioned, the ZV-1 is made for video content, so the articulated screen is good enough.

On the side, you will find ports for connecting more accessories. There’s a 3.5mm port for external analog microphone (though the internal microphone on the ZV-1 already works great) along with a Micro USB port which somewhat of a letdown. We say this because most accessories now come with USB-C as a default, and that port is versatile enough to carry nearly any connection possible.

On most cameras, the one big button you will see on top is usually for the shutter to take images. But for the ZV-1, there are two – one for taking shots and one for video recording. There’s even a handgrip on the front that makes it easier to hold the ZV-1 on hand.

The ZV-1 comes with a 24-70mm lens with an f/1.8-2.8 aperture. Combined with a 1-inch Exmor RS CMOS sensor, you will be getting some great videos with this camera from great bokeh effects and even shooting at lower ISOs. But it doesn’t stop there, the camera’s Bionz X processor enables a 315 phase-detect autofocus. This means that the ZV-1 can automatically focus at faster speeds which works well if you’re shooting a video and constantly changing subjects in the view. There’s even Real-time Tracking and Real-time Eye AF which is probably the best we’ve seen on a portable camera. 

Play through the settings of the ZV-1 and you’ll find default settings for the camera buttons that include Bokeh switch and Product showcase. The Bokeh switch automatically uses the wide-open aperture to give your video a blurred background. Product showcase is made for YouTube review videos – Face and Eye AF will be turned off, and whatever product you hold up to the camera will instantly be focused.

As for the video, the ZV-1 will let you shoot in 4K 30 fps maximum. More frame rates mean lowering the resolution to 1080p, but the footage we shot was so great it didn’t even matter. There are also options to shoot in slow motion.

Sony advertises the ZV-1 with an optional accessory called the GP-VPT2BT. It’s a small shooting grip that includes a wireless remote built into it. It makes operating the ZV-1 easier, similar to a GoPro, and just in case you need it the shooting grip can also be opened up like a tripod.

Performance-wise, the ZV-1 delivers stunning video on the shots we did in daylight and nighttime. We tried using it as if like any vlogger would – handheld while walking through the streets of Dubai. Sony’s SteadyShot system offers great shake-free footage while maintaining focus on the subject. Colors are spot on and faces look natural on the footage we shot. Videos are sharp and detailed, which translated well when editing and uploading it to YouTube and Facebook. The same results also translate to still images, so don’t worry about taking pictures with the ZV-1 since it’s still very much capable.

At 3,099 AED, the Sony ZV-1 is a great choice if you’re looking for a portable vlogging camera that you can bring anywhere. It may lack the fancy features of the RX100, but performance-wise, the ZV-1 definitely delivers.

We Like: 

+ Superfast autofocus

+ Great image and video output

+ Flippable screen that’s great for vlogging

+ Small and compact

We Didn’t Like: 

– Still uses Micro USB

Final Rating: 4.5/5

by Victor
Tech Enthusiast and Movie Buff.