The Sony RX100 family of cameras has long been a favorite of photographers searching for a pocketable camera with image quality that’s competitive with the latest and greatest smartphones.
A larger-than-standard 1-inch class image sensor, bright zoom lens, and integrated electronic viewfinder have been the hallmarks of the RX100 family, but while the series offers excellent video, with more recent entries recording at 4K, there are some drawbacks for video creators—most don’t offer a mic input or an on-body accessory shoe.
Enter the Sony ZV-1, the company’s first camera built for vlogging. It shares a lot of tech with the RX100 family, including the 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 zoom lens most recently seen in the RX100 VA, and the stacked image sensor and processor from the RX100 VII.
Built for Vlogging
But while the RX100 is tuned for photographers, the ZV-1 is all about video capture. It makes some big ergonomic changes to get there, dropping the electronic viewfinder entirely and adding a vari-angle hinge to the LCD, so it can swing out and face forward for selfie videos. A tally light is on the front too; it glows red when you’re recording.
A multi-interface hot shoe is included in lieu of a viewfinder. You can use it to mount an on-camera microphone; the shoe has digital contacts for use with Sony’s on-camera micorphones, as well as a standard 3.5mm input.
The in-camera microphone has been improved too. It’s larger, taking up as much room as a pop-up flash (the ZV-1 doesn’t have a built-in strobe), with a three-capsule design for improved clarity. Sony includes a wind screen to cover it when recording footage outdoors.
Video itself is available at 4K quality at 24 or 30fps, and can be recorded with standard color, HLG for HDR output, or with the flat S-Log look for grading. For slow-motion, you can use the HFR function to record at up to 960fps for an extreme 40x slowdown, and there’s also in-camera time-lapse.
Stabilization is a mix of optical and digital, and the lens includes an integral neutral density filter to cut incoming light and deliver smoother, more eye-pleasing motion in footage. For extra stable footage, you can run clips through Sony’s Imaging Edge software; it leverages in-camera gyroscope data to smooth out jitters after capture.
The front-facing screen helps vloggers frame shots, but it’s not the only tool available. There’s a background defocus button on the camera, so you can get a shallow depth of field look without having an intimate knowledge of camera settings.
Face and eye detection work to keep you in focus during walk-and-talks. The camera’s metering system is tuned to keep your face properly exposed during these types of shots, so you won’t end up looking dark and shadowed when moving from sunlight to shade during a shot.
Vloggers who show off products will be happy to know there’s a new focus setting that prioritizes foreground objects. The Product Showcase feature keeps focus locked on your eyes most of the time, but quickly switches to foreground objects when they come into frame, perfect for shots where you want to show your audience something.
You won’t be able to use the ZV-1 as a webcam at launch, but Sony plans on adding the feature via a future firmware update. The feature is limited to PCs running Windows 10, and will be available in July.
The emphasis is on video for sure, but the ZV-1 is as capable for stills as the RX100 VA and VII. It matches their 20MP resolution, offers blackout free Raw capture at 20fps, backed by a hybrid autofocus system that’s unmatched by competitors.
Sony expects to ship the ZV-1 on June 11. It’s priced at $799.99 in the US and $999.99 in Canada. Customers in the US will enjoy a $50 promotional discount through June 28, but it’s not available in other markets.
It’s also selling a pistol grip for the camera, the GP-VPT2BT. It’s typically priced at $149.99 in the states ($199.99 in Canada), but you can get it for $50 less, along with a 64GB memory card, when bought along with the camera the camera through June 28 if you live in the US—Canadian customers can get the deal through June 25.
We’ve not yet had an opportunity to test out the ZV-1, but hope to have a review soon.