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Sony ZV-1 Review: Vlogging cameras just took a big leap forward

Canon has cornered the market on vlogging, and while you might think that’s a small market – think again. That’s why GoPro went so hard with it’s Media Mods, and it’s why Sony is here with something brand new – the ZV-1, and it’s got Vloggers in its fold-out screen.

It’s compact. Tick.

Lightweight. Tick.

Fold out screen. Tick.

Fast focus. Tick.

3.5mm Mic input. Big Tick.

This thing has all that vloggers are looking for, including an optional handheld shooting grip (GP-VPT2BT) with all the camera controls you need.

I’ve tested this in a few scenarios. Firstly with a wireless mic on the shoe and 3.5mm jack for a casual video look at an in-car infotainment system.

Then I used it as a studio camera for a simple piece to camera presentation, again with a wireless mic in the 3.5mm.

Yesterday, I took it Vlogging. From the studio, in the car, and on the streets, then back to the studio. All using the in-built top-mount microphone.

It’s great. In fact, it’s excellent.

Jun Yoon from Sony Australia says “Sony’s new ZV-1 was purpose-built to specifically meet the needs and demands of vloggers and content creators,”

“We are always listening to our customers, and this dedicated camera is the result of direct feedback from our extended creative community. Featuring an innovative design plus many new technologies, settings and modes, it will allow video content creators and casual video shooters to make content in ways they have never been able to before. The ZV-1 aims to let the subject shine in any environment. Every single feature is optimised for any type of daily video creative expression.”

In my use, I will say the Microphone seems very tuned to the up close Vlogging style and works best with background noise – go figure. Any distance from the camera and you’re sounding unprofessional – get a wireless mic.

Focus is a big issue, well known with the Canon G7X series, fixed for the most part in the Mark III, but man, this Sony kills it. It was dancing around the focus when I just waved my hand in front of the camera. But it snaps back to your face when in shot.

Exposure can be based on Face priority, ensuring those walking out into bright light shots are covered.

Perhaps the best party trick is the Bokeh button. A single button touch and the background is blurred. On or off – simple as that, no digging into settings.

I didn’t use anything other than Intelligent Auto video mode, no need.

If you make the mistake of starting the video when the camera is on it’s side, it will record in “Portrait” or should I say – “Instagram Story” mode. But – that can be corrected with a 90 degree rotation in post. Easy.

Shooting 4K with the high-bit rate XAVC S codec, quality is excellent.

But two things. The “Mode” switching is a button and menu. Not a dial like – well, pretty much every camera ever. I don’t like this.

Secondly, The screen folds out sideways, this is a personal thing, and goes probably to my constant use of the Canon for Vlogging, but it’s a strange look. I’ll get used to that.

Stabilisation seems excellent though I’m loathe to say at this early stage it’s on par or better than Canon. Not because I don’t think it is, just because I really haven’t tested that – but it certainly looks great in walking shots.

Oh, and a simple thing – there’s a red light on the front to show you’re recording. When the screen isn’t out, this ensures you don’t do any “takes to no-one” misfires. Excellent feature.

Also worth noting, the wind shield I’ve used comes standard, Slides into the shoe and covers the mic – another tick of a box there.

It really does come across that Sony listened to customers here, built something people want, not just something they think is needed to compete.

If nothing else the ZV-1 puts Canon on Notice.

Sadly, no idea of price at this stage, if it’s not the same or less than Canon, Sony are playing games. To compete, it has to go head to head at the very least.

Sony ZV-1 Review: Vlogging cameras just took a big leap forward
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