The Sony ZV-E1 Camera Walkthough & Video Deep-Dive

Discover why the Sony ZV-E1 is the go-to camera for beginner and professional filmmakers, offering 4K video recording and advanced AI features in a compact form factor.

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Have you recently invested in the Sony ZV-E1, or are you still gathering facts to make an educated buying decision? Either way, you're in the right place! I'll break down the camera's key functionalities, highlight its standout features, and provide guidance on any additional equipment that could elevate your user experience with this device. The Sony ZV-E1 indeed fills a crucial niche in Sony's ZV series with its robust features. This piece isn't a review per se but an enlightening overview of the camera's physical and operational aspects to assist you in making well-informed decisions. If you find this article beneficial, don't hesitate to explore our Moment YouTube channel and our Ultimate Tutorials Channel. These platforms provide straightforward educational content and comprehensive guides. We even offer an online course dedicated to the ZV-E1, delving deep into its button layout, menu settings, optimal recording configurations from a professional standpoint, and many other enriching insights.

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1. Getting Started

The Sony ZV-E1 is one of the most potent compact cinema cameras currently on the market. For practical purposes, consider it a miniature Sony FX3– sharing much of the FX3's capabilities but in a more condensed form, minus the top handle. Sony's diverse array of cameras caters to a wide audience, ranging from fledgling photographers to seasoned professionals. The ZV-E1 strikes a perfect balance, offering excellent value given its mid-range position and pricing.

This camera is equipped to deliver 4K recording, provides 10-bit color depth – a boon for color grading enthusiasts – and supports SLOG3 and S-Cinetone. Additionally, it's loaded with impressive AI functionalities, enabling you to amplify your filmmaking prowess at the mere press of a button.

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2. Battery Life

Sony asserts that the ZV-E1, powered by afully-charged NP-FZ100 battery, can capture up to 570 photos or record 95 minutes of video. The newer Sony models boast significantly improved battery lifespans compared to their predecessors. My strategy involves carrying 2-3 batteries, which suffice for a day's work.

A notable advantage of Sony cameras, including the ZV-E1, is their USB-C charging capability. This is particularly convenient when you're in a café or winding down your day, as it allows you to repurpose your iPad or laptop's cord to charge your camera. Alternatively, you could opt for a separate charger to juice up one battery while you shoot with another.

You’ll be relieved of the need to swap out batteries if you employ the ZV-E1 as a streaming camera or webcam and connect it via USB-C to your computer. Your computer will sustain the camera's charge while it's in use.

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3. Which Sony Lens To Use?

The Sony ZV-E1 is a full-frame camera compatible with Sony's E-Mount lens system. When selecting lenses, ensure they provide "Full Frame Coverage," as Sony also offers E-Mount lenses designed for their crop sensor cameras. Interestingly, you can fit these more cost-effective crop sensor lenses to your full-frame camera, but at the expense of significantly cropping your image. For instance, a 50mm Sony E-Mount lens crafted for crop sensors, given the 1.5x crop factor, functions more like a 75mm lens. For optimal image quality, it's recommended to avoid crop sensor lenses and instead invest in a full-frame lens.

Should you need further lens suggestions, here are a few I appreciate:

  • Sony 20-70mm F4: This lens is incredibly versatile. The 20mm setting is perfect for vlogging, while the 70mm allows for striking close-up shots.
  • Sony 24-70 2.8 GM: This lens is exceptional for lifestyle photography. Although slightly larger and heavier, it's the top-tier zoom lens available for this camera.
  • Sony 16-35mm: Ideal for dedicated vloggers, this wide zoom lens comes in a compact F4 version and a marginally larger F2.8 one. Remember that this camera has a relatively small body, which may seem disproportionate to these faster F2.8 zoom lenses.

Lastly, I recommend some compact, budget-friendly third-party lenses that pair excellently with this camera. The Tamron 28-75 2.8 and Sigma 28-70 2.8 lenses, priced under $1000, deliver outstanding performance for their size and cost. I've extensively used both and have shot most Moment courses using them.

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4. Audio Inputs

The Sony ZV-E1 features anin-built tri-capsule microphone, designed to automatically fine-tune its sensitivity to focus on the primary speaker while attenuating ambient noise. This functionality is particularly advantageous for vloggers who must record their voices clearly without using external microphones. However, you can utilize the 3.5mm microphone input on the camera’s left side for superior audio or capture sound from an external source. This feature facilitates the connection of an external microphone, such as a shotgun or wireless Lavalier mic, to enhance audio quality.

The Rode Wireless Go or the DJI Mic Kit are a few of my personal favorites for external microphones.

A vlogger microphone from Sony.
A vlogger microphone from Sony.

4. Touch Screen

The Sony ZV-E1 boasts a three-inch touch-responsive LCD, capable of rotating 180 degrees to face the user. This feature greatly aids vloggers who must monitor their framing and composition in real-time. Furthermore, the screen offers up to 135 degrees of vertical tilt, enabling effortless shooting from diverse angles.

Regarding usability, the Sony ZV-E1's flip-out screen is remarkably user-friendly. The touch interface is intuitive and reacts promptly, permitting adjustments to parameters like focus, exposure, and white balance. It also facilitates transitions between shooting modes, provides access to the camera's menus, and enables quick focus point alterations or toggling between autofocus and manual focus during video recording.

5. Video Recording Formats

The ZV-E1's recording formats hinge on your preference for 1080p or 4K and your desired file compression level.XAVC HS 4K provides highly compressed 4K footage with small file sizes but can burden computers and editing software. I mostly use XAVC S 4K for its balanced file size and smooth editing playback. XAVC S also comes in 1080p or HD, which is beneficial for easier editing and scenarios where 1080p is the final output resolution, as in our Moment courses.

Consider your video's destination, supported resolutions, and storage considerations. For instance, while 4K allows cropping in post-production, platforms like Thinkific and most YouTube viewers typically favor 1080p.

Lastly, less compressed codecs with high bit rates offer smoother editing experiences but fill up storage more quicker. I reserve these for shorter, high-quality footage recordings, such as short films.

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6. Picture Profile (S-Log vs. Cinetone)

Consider your editing intentions first. Suppose you’re a content creator seeking to expedite your process with ready-to-edit footage. In that case, you may prefer different settings than a filmmaker intent on leveraging this camera's 10-bit color depth.

For pleasing footage straight from the camera, disable the Picture Profile. You'll obtain a well-saturated, contrast-rich image ready for editing and posting.

The ZV-E1's two primary picture profiles,S-Log3 and S-Cinetone, offer distinctive advantages. S-Log3 is a flat profile preserving dynamic range, providing flexibility for post-production color grading. However, its screen image can appear desaturated, potentially complicating exposure and focus judgment. Conversely, S-Cinetone, modeled after Sony's Venice cinema camera, immediately delivers a contrasty, saturated, and cinematic appearance, reducing post-production efforts. This profile suits those preferring in-camera perfection, but it restricts post-production manipulation.

The ZV-E1 additionally presents various picture settings, including gamma curves, color modes, and detail settings. While initially daunting, these offer comprehensive control over your footage's appearance. Experimenting with these settings will reveal the best match for your shooting style and artistic direction.

7. Stabilization

The Sony ZV-E1 incorporates afive-axis in-body image stabilization, providing steady footage, which is particularly beneficial for mobile shooting.

You can opt for different stabilization modes. The Standard mode employs sensor-shift stabilization suitable for general shooting. For enhanced stability, the 'Active' mode integrates sensor shift and digital stabilization but slightly crops your footage affecting your frame.

The standout feature is the Dynamic Active mode, which combines optical and electronic image stabilization and offers up to 30% superior performance. Despite further cropping, it's ideal for high-action sequences, casual shooting, and longer focal lengths.

Adding to its appeal, the ZV-E1 incorporates Framing Stabilization, leveraging Sony's 'human pose estimation' system to identify and center people in the frame, maintaining the composition even when they turn away. The camera can autonomously center the subject or maintain a predefined composition.

8. Streaming & Webcam Setup

Utilizing theSony ZV-E1 as a webcamis remarkably straightforward, requiring just a USB cable and a computer with the necessary software. Connect the ZV-E1 to your computer via USB, select it as your video source in your computer's settings, and install any requisite drivers or software based on your operating system.

Configured as a webcam, the ZV-E1's high-quality video output, up to 1080p at 60fps, is perfect for streaming or video calls. The camera's advanced autofocus and image stabilization features ensure stable, focused videos, enhancing your video calls or streams, even with motion.

9. Directly Apply LUTs

The Sony ZV-E1 uniquely supports custom LUTs (lookup tables) like the Sony FX3 and Panasonic GH series. LUTs, color, and tone modifications allow you to attain the desired look for your footage.

With ZV-E1, you canuse LUTs to preview Log mode corrected footage or directly apply them in-camera for instant pre-graded footage.

When shooting in Log mode, uploading LUTs facilitates a preview of the final output, applying LUTs to the footage in real-time to better understand the anticipated color and tone adjustments. This proves beneficial if you want to preconceive a specific look before editing.

Alternatively, to save post-production time, you can apply LUTs in-camera for immediate pre-graded footage, helping to maintain a consistent look or meet tight deadlines. However, it's important to note that by in-camera application of a LUT, you sacrifice the grading flexibility typically offered by Log capture.

Overall, this camera rocks. The Sony ZV-E1 is designed to elevate your filmmaking experience, regardless of your skill level. It's compact, powerful, and engineered for superior performance. From intricate LUTs and picture profiles to USB-C charging, in-body image stabilization, and exceptional lens compatibility, the ZV-E1 has something for everyone.

But as with any tool, knowledge, and practice are the key to harnessing its full potential. That's why we invite you to take our online course, where you'll dive deep into the world of the ZV-E1 and learn how to maximize its use for your unique filming needs. It's a comprehensive guide filled with practical tips and demonstrations to help you become proficient with this fantastic camera. Plus, I go over my personal settings for an added personal touch.

And finally, Moment offers an extensive selection of gear tailored to complement your ZV-E1 and bolster your filmmaking journey. Whether you’re hunting for the perfect lens or the most suitable accessories, we've got you covered.

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