Sony ZV-1 Review: A Vlogging Essential

While the current state of affairs means interactions outside the confines of your home aren’t really a thing right now, when you used to venture outdoors, seeing someone holding a point and shoot camera to their face became a regular occurrence.

Love or hate it the, vlogging is a thing and it will likely increase as people chase the life of being a content creator.

It used to be that when you were starting a vlog, the first port of call was a Canon Powershot that was within budget. Now more camera makers are designing vlogging specific cameras, which brings us to the Sony ZV-1.

This option was unveiled by Sony in May of last year and we have been testing it out for the past couple of weeks to see whether it is worthy alternative for those who want to upgrade from a less expensive point and shoot, but don’t want to go full Casey Neistat and carry a DSLR and Gorilla Grip combo around all the time.

So here’s how it performs.

Upgrades don’t come cheap

First things first though, if you are thinking that this is a budget-friendly vlogging camera, it is not. One of these will set you back just under R17k locally, depending on which retailer you head to.

That should be no real surprise though, as anyone who has been drawn to buying a Sony Alpha series mirrorless camera can attest.

As such, investing in a ZV-1 should only be undertaken by those who truly aim to create content, with other more affordable point and shoot options available for those who want a decent all-around digital camera.

Now that we’ve dealt with the issue of price, let’s talk about what’s on offer from the ZV-1 from a performance perspective.

A little bit of everything

Powering the experience is a 20.1MP Exmor RS CMOS sensor that shoots in a 3:2 aspect ratio. As for the lens, Sony has leaned on Zeiss for some assistance, with a Vario-Sonnar T Lens that delivers 2.7x optical zoom.

The focal length is 9.4mm to 25.77mm, which is to be expected given that it is aimed at the vlogging crowd, but in terms of framing content that is more than a single person talking to camera, the available 84 degree field of view is solid.

On that front it works well if you plan to capture some timelapse videos, which is a mainstay in many vlogs these days.

This camera can shoot video in up to 4K at 30p, which is great, but this can quickly become a drain on the battery, which can only handle up to 45 mins of constant shooting at that rate.

You’ll likely have to bring things down to FullHD, which the ZV-1 can do too, but if you plan to capture a full day’s vlog worth of content, you’re going to need two or three back up batteries to add to your setup too.

While battery life is on the slightly low side for video, a common problem with most digital compact cameras, what did prove impressive is the quality of the content captured.

We stuck with the Intelligent Auto mode to shoot mostly, as it meant less work on our part to capture video, it also meant the camera was better equipped to adjust to any changes in lighting environment, subject matter or filming style.

As such, it became our defacto mode for filming. We were particular taken with the low light photography and its ability to handle natural light, which is great if you plan to film outdoors a lot.

Some stifling accessories

Now let’s talk about some of the vlogging accessories that accompanied our ZV-1. When it comes to these elements, Sony delivers a mixed experience. There is a a dark grey wind muff (pictured below) and a tripod/grip/remote on offer to aid the vlogging process, with of these being solid and the other being less than.

We’ll focus on the wind muff first, which is good at blocking out unwanted noise. We particularly found it important to lessen any noise while zooming in and zooming out of the lens, which is surprisingly loud for a camera aimed at vloggers. Either way, it is a must-have for the ZV-1.

Shifting to the tripod/grip/remote accessory and a few things are not quite right. The size of the accessory for one, with it not being long enough to provide a reassuring grip while holding the ZV-1. Things are secure enough thanks to screw-on functionality, but the grip feels about five centimetres too short in our opinion.

It also isn’t particularly stable when placed in tripod mode, and takes several attempts before it feels in the optimal position to be left alone.

As such, you’re likely going to want to opt for a third-party design instead.

Final verdict

At R16 800, the Sony ZV-1 does not come cheap.

We always knew this would be the case though, as evidenced by some of the company’s other hardware, but that higher price tag affords several advantages, such as solid build quality and most importantly great visuals in a variety of environments.

If you are making the upgrade from a less powerful digital compact camera and want to reach for an option that is both lightweight, but delivers comparable vlogging quality to a mirrorless option, this is certainly worth considering.

Outside of the wind muff though, we think third-party accessories should be used to complete your upgraded vlogging kit over what Sony has designed for the ZV-1.


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