The Sony ZV-1 Camera Hands-On Review

A bite-sized camera made for the lifestyle YouTube connoisseurs.

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Content creators rejoice — the Sony ZV-1 is a purposely built compact camera perfectly molding the proven image capabilities of the RX100-series line with an updated body for even more efficient YouTube juice.

Sony launch 034
Sony - many holding vlogging camera in hands.

Small enough to hold with one hand.

Sony - Man holding camera in front of face.

Light enough to vlog an arm's length away.

To Know:

A pocket-sized camera with uncompromising imaging technology and unique features for content creators and vloggers that lets the subject shine in any scene. Featuring Sony’s advanced Realtime Eye-AF 3 and Real-time AF tracking with simplified Background Defocus function, Face Priority AE (auto exposure) and Product Showcase setting made specifically with content creators in mind.

What We Love:

Auto Focus You’ve Never Seen

Focus will switch quickly between your face and anything in the foreground even while shooting in selfie mode and a new product showcase.

Fully Rotating Flip-Out Screen

Excellent for vlogging at an arm’s length away.

Perfect Size

It takes the stress of a big camera away, making it fun to shoot because of its compact size.

The Details:

Brand: Sony

Price: $799.99

Product Type: Mirrorless

Best For: YouTube connoisseurs looking for a quick vlogging camera to capture lifestyle content and fun clips.

Shop Sony ZV-1

Sony - Man adjusting the camera.

Setting up the product shots!

Sony - Showcasing the flip out screen of the camera.

Sony's delightful flip out screen crafted for vloggers.

Sony - Man talking to the camera in the forest.

Take it anywhere you go.

YouTube fascinators and content creators rejoice!

First off — we’re incredibly amped that we sell Sony in the shop. Their beloved reputation now lies in the hands of Moment, anxiously awaiting for a field of possibilities. But, okay, enough with the fan-boy attitude, let's get to the meat of the review.

The Sony ZV-1 is a small, consolidated camera meticulously crafted for content creators in mind. Looking at it from a hardware perspective, it’s essentially an updated version of the RX100 VII, only featuring ergonomic changes to allow creatives to operate on the opposite side of the camera. Thought, don’t be confused — it’s not a part of the RX100 line, as its name insinuates. ZV1 gets rid of the pop-up viewfinder for a directional microphone that is much better for vlogging.

One of the greatest features we love and find appealing is how spot-on its auto focus is without its new Product Showcase focus mode. Great for content creators and vloggers, this camera allows you to quickly and effortlessly hold something up to the camera without missing focus. It’s video capabilities are, again, similar to what you might find to the RX100 line — shoot 1080p footage up to 120p or UHD 4K footage at up to 30p. And while the camera can shoot at higher frame rates, like 960fps... The quality just doesn't look as good as something like the 1080p 120fps mode it has. Like other recent Sony cameras, all this footage is 8-bit. Log and 'HLG' modes are available, but will offer less flexibility than 10-bit footage would. The ZV-1 also offers really great image stabilization - It has "standard" and "active" stabilization modes - the standard mode will crop in the depth of field more, however. Additionally, it supports HLG and S-Log2/3 for simple color grading during post production. And while it includes a socket for a mic, the headphone jack is missing (shocker!). Unlike most cameras in the RX100 lines, this camera has a vlogger-friendly fully articulating touchscreen display. Easier than ever to look at yourself in the mirror and record away!

As a professional filmmaker, I’m delighted to see how Sony’s continued tradition by adding professional features even to their more moderately priced camera bodies. S-log 2, S-log 3, HLG picture profiles next to zebra and manual audio and focus controls are all still there, as well. It’s the perfect option for creators who want a simple setup and don’t want to carry around a large rig.

To note — we chose PP6 for the image profile; much more crisp and clean compared to others, such as the standard. The standard image profile almost came out crunchy and unstable, which wasn’t the look I was looking for. One important observation to note, as well, is how close up 4k footage with stabilization is to the face when you’re shooting from an arm’s length away. The 1080P 24FPS was my preferred look. I also prefer to expose my shots with the exposure compensation set to -1.0; a slightly darker image is a lot better than a nasty blown out image.

Overall, if you’re a photographer looking for a Sony alternative, this isn’t the camera for you. Designed specifically for the vlogging types in mind, this compact piece of equipment was made for the funny clips and lifestyle jumps — not intended for photographing cool landscapes or portraits. That being said, it’s also pretty cinematic Something to certainly keep in mind for your next purchase. We have plenty of other Sony cameras made available for photographers here.

  • Side-articulating LCD screen for easier to compose selfie shots
  • Face-priority AE keeps faces bright in backlit or dim condition
  • Clear Voice w/ 3-Capsule directional mic
  • Standard 3.5mm mic jack
  • High bitrate 4K movie 2 w/ full pixel readout and no pixel binning
  • Super slow-motion movie HFR 7 (High frame rate) up to 960 fps
  • Wi-Fi for easy file transfer and remote camera control
  • Built-in ND to control exposure in bright light conditions
Sony ZV 1
Sony - A landscape shot with pine trees.

Unedited in PP6 mode.

Sony - Gorgeous greenery with a boarded walkway.

Unedited in PP6 mode.

In Detail:

Featuring a 20.1MP stacked back illuminated 1" Exmor RS CMOS sensor with DRAM, and a large aperture 24-70mm1 F1.8-2.8 ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T lens. As said before, it includes a fast Hybrid AF, Real Time Eye-AF3 and Real-time AF tracking. You’re also able to quickly switch between two modes of defocused background bokeh, which is a lovely feature for those pixel peepers. Product Showcase setting transitions focus from face to object, while Face Priority AE keeps faces bright in backlit or dim conditions. If you shop with us, it comes with a rechargeable Battery Pack (NP-BX1), a micro USB cable, wind screen, wind screen adaptor, and a strap.

What It Has:

  • Pixels: Effective: 20.1 Megapixel
  • Maximum Resolution: 5472 x 3648
  • Aspect Ratio: 1:1, 3:2, 4:3, 16:9
  • Image Stabilization: Digital, Optical
  • Recording Limit: Unlimited
  • Audio Recording: Built-In Microphone (Stereo), External Microphone Input (Stereo)

What It Does:

  • Clear Voice w/ 3-Capsule directional mic
  • Standard 3.5mm mic jack
  • High bitrate 4K movie 2 w/ full pixel readout and no pixel binning
  • Super slow-motion movie HFR 7 (High frame rate) up to 960 fps
  • Wi-Fi for easy file transfer and remote camera control
  • Built-in ND to control exposure in bright light conditions
  • Easy-to-push REC button with front-facing record tally light

Specs:

  • Sensor Type: CMOS
  • Sensor Size: 1"
  • Dimensions: 105.5mm x 60mm x 43.5mm
  • Weight: 294g
  • 20.1MP 1" Exmor RS BSI CMOS Sensor
  • ZEISS 24-70mm-Equiv. f/1.8-2.8 Lens
  • UHD 4K30p Video with HLG & S-Log3 Gammas
  • 3.0" Side Flip-Out Touchscreen LCD
Sony - Man walking up the forest floor.

Unedited in PP6.

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