We know what most vlogs and YouTube videos look like in our age of content. Sony is doing that too and is starting to make cameras that are built to spit out the exact style of video you want to emulate.
Aimed at content creators and aimed squarely at vloggers, the new Sony ZV-E1 is a compact full-frame mirrorless system camera. It’s the new flagship of Sony’s established ZV line of vlog-centric cameras, using a similar back-illuminated 12-megapixel full-frame sensor as the pro-focused FX3 and mixing in the A7R V’s AI autofocus smarts to reduce friction reduce in the production of high-quality video content.
My colleague Becca Farsace spent a week with the camera testing many of its vlog-centric automated features, which you can check out in her review above. That said, of course, there’s still the financial friction of the ZV-E1’s price tag of $2,199.99 for the body alone, or $2,499.99 in a kit with a 28-60mm f/4-5.6 zoom lens, if there is to be launched in the first half of May.
The top of the ZV-E1 has a nice physical mode switch and the built-in microphone – but no electronic viewfinder.
The Sony ZV-E1 is the new ultra-compact champion in the Alpha range of cameras, offering a compact size and weight of just 483 grams, designed for easy travel (when not attaching the largest and heaviest Sony FE lenses, of course ). For comparison: The all-rounder Sony A7 IV weighs 659 grams and the former bearer of the “small for full format” crown, the Sony A7C, weighs 509 grams.
Sacrifices will have to be made for that slim stature, and the most notable thing for many will be the omission of an electronic viewfinder – without even an external option – and being limited to just one SD card slot. But that’s perhaps forgivable if the camera’s moving screen is typically facing forward at you while filming, or if you’re the type to record straight to a fancy external recorder like an Atomos Ninja V (though you’re doomed to do so). a micro HDMI connector).
No 8K video – but does it matter?
Aside from the usual litany of 4K 4:2:2 10-bit film modes that go up to 60fps, the ZV-E1 can film in 1080p FHD at up to 120fps – with 4K/60 and 1080p/240, respectively later come across a firmware update. It lacks 8K capture, but honestly that feels like a logical omission rather than making the camera bigger for thermals or melting its innards when it inevitably overheats. The ZV-E1 also supports the flat color profile S-Log3 and S-Cinetone, the latter still coming from Sony Venice’s super high-end world. S-Cinetone has become a popular profile among content creators who want a cinematic look without too much fuss, and the ZV-E1 is all about offering shortcuts to dynamic and dramatic looks.
Touch-friendly controls on the left; an abundance of physical buttons and dials on the right.
For example, the ZV-E1’s 3-inch articulated touchscreen allows dialing in many controls with smartphone-like taps, and the Cinematic Vlog mode easily adds a sense of drama by switching to a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and S -Cinetone color. Combine that with five-axis in-body image stabilization and Dynamic Active stabilization – cropping the image to further correct for camera movement – and you’re ready to capture emotionally compelling run-and-gun-style footage without a second thought having to worry about the additional cost or weight of a gimbal. The ZV-E1 even has a built-in three-capsule microphone that dynamically adjusts to pick up the main presenter and minimize atmospheric noise, and it supports UVC for easy live streaming (or webcam use) up to 4K/30p via USB C port.
Auto framing is like Apple’s center stage – it’s as bad as it sounds
The ZV-E1’s AI-based scene recognition can even be relied on to make framing and composition decisions, cropping your image to one of several recognized subjects in view, like Apple’s Center Stage webcam feature . Of course, it might not be wise to give a camera that much directorial control over your videos if you don’t want to risk it botching a shot or making your footage look incredibly generic.
Port choices on the left include headphone and microphone jacks, USB-C, and HDMI. Unfortunately, that video output is a fuzzy micro-HDMI, and there’s only one SD card slot.
But while much of Sony’s ZV-E1 is built around simplifying the small and nuanced complications of solo content creation, it has its fair share of quality of life features that many advanced video creators are likely to appreciate, such as: an under-trigger zoom lever, a claimed 15 stops of dynamic range, and ISO sensitivity settings of up to 409,600. And unlike other ZV models, the ZV-E1 uses the much, much better NP-FZ100 batteries, which actually last a respectable amount of time and are the first Sony camera to feature a screen reader accessibility feature.
So it’s not just for deep-pocketed beginners looking for automated features to get them started early, the core of this camera also means it’s sort of a baby FX3 or A7S III for video heads that takes a second or need third camera. However, if you’re a pro or a very experienced video user, you might feel like you bought a superbike that came with some clever, well-intentioned training wheels.
Photography by Becca Farsace / The Verand