The Sony ZV-1 is Sony’s entry model entering the ‘vlogging’ area while promising outstanding performance, versatility, and image quality.
In terms of quality, Sony is well known to deliver highly sophisticated products while also developing technologies that implemented standards for other technologies for a very long time (Trinitron TV Screens). Therefore, new products from Sony are always highly anticipated due to their superior brand-reputation.
This review is taking an in-depth look at the Sony ZV-1 based on my own experiences. I will not compare this camera with other products from different manufacturers, but will solely concentrate on the basics, workings, and options that come with the ZV-1. Most importantly, though, I will keep this review as objective as I can, meaning I will promote not only the good points of the camera but also my dislikes. However, I must stress that those interested in buying this camera need to get down to the basics of photography while learning a little about changing or setting the aperture, focus, shutter speed, and focus. This routine ensures that the potential user is getting the most out of this camera, even in tricky situations.
The Sony ZV-1 comes with a magnitude of options. One of the strongest points must be the automatic point-and-shoot setting which will deliver instantly excellent images in most situations without demanding significant user input. It is merely a matter of selecting the Intelligent-Auto-setting and taking pictures.
Furthermore, the camera is featuring a new technology that enhances natural skin tones and keeps faces bright subjected to changing light sources or different environments.
Another outstanding feature is the Automatic Focus technology (AF) which gives the ZV-01 the edge in its field. The AF is working lightning fast and features Sony’s new Eye-Tracking technology, which proves to be invaluable when taking recordings of moving people.
Definitely noteworthy is the camera’s display which gives the user total control in every situation and can be folded face-down into the camera housing, meaning it is safe from being scratched or damaged.
Other features take care of shutter and aperture settings as well as focal length, ensuring that the camera can be used in tricky situations where Intelligent-Auto can not cope any longer. Furthermore, a wealth of video options is offered, ranging from Intelligent-Auto over Movie to High-Frame-Rate settings with the latter delivering stunningly super-slow-motion footage.
Another useful option is the ‘Function’ setting which lets you change the Audio-Record-level, Steady-Shot, Focus-mode, Skin-effects, Focus-Area, Creative-Styles, and many more. Last but not least there is the ‘Menu’ option which lets you change date and time, format an SD card, change slow-motion settings, and many other camera and image functions. Again, the user is well advised to learn the basics at the very least.
Also, I find the supplied windshield for the microphone to be of immense value. Taking video recordings with the windshield in harsh windy or otherwise noisy conditions will drastically improve the quality of the audio.
However, here comes my first niggle. The windshield for the microphone is too close to the Power-button and also takes it out of view. Maybe it is just my personal opinion, but it still does annoy me because I have large hands and find it hard to operate that button.
As already mentioned, Sony is well known for the outstanding quality of their products. Anybody choosing to buy this camera will not be disappointed while appreciating the craftsmanship and effort that has gone into this product. Hence, I would like to refer to my 17-years old Sony camcorder, which is still operating as good as on its first day.
The speed of the camera, especially in the Intelligent-Auto setting, is well balanced and sophisticated. Taking the camera and pressing the release button almost always guarantees excellent results under most conditions. Indeed, it will sufficiently compensate while the level of light or the focus is drastically changing, e.g. taking a picture through an open window, and abruptly turning back to take an image through a doorframe inside the house.
Anybody who knows a bit about cameras is aware that the Automatic-Focus will not always yield great results. However, Sony engineers have certainly delivered with the ZV-1 as most of the time, pictures or recordings are taken with AF come out crisp and clear. It lets you move about freely or starting to do things at random, near or far while the AF seems to work at the speed of light. Not once did the camera disappoint, making it one of the strongest points so far (view attached recording). The same applies to the Macro feature in the IA-setting, which is returning brilliant close-ups of insects and flowers without having to fiddle with additional settings.
The Slow-Mo function certainly has become my favourite due to the stunning image quality and the breath-taking action it delivers with a healthy punch (please view the attached recording). It comes with a range of settings that lets you select the image quality, and the speed of the motion ranging from 10x, 20x or 40x times of the original speed of the moving object, depending on the frame rate you are going to select (250, 500 and 1000 frames per second). The length of the recording is pre-programmed and depends on the frame rate, e.g. higher frame rates yield shorter recordings. Therefore, learning the basics of this function will guarantee continued success when using this option.
Living in a world of instant access demands a certain level of connectivity for everything we use. The Sony ZV-1 is no exception. That is why it is good to know that you can connect your camera to your smartphone, TV, or computer over a wireless connection. In contrast, you can remotely control your camera with a computer or smartphone. The same applies to Bluetooth-connectivity, which lets you connect to your smartphone or the Sony shooting-grip. The latter serves as a remote control for your camera while vlogging (watch the attached video).
Operating the Sony ZV-1
One vital module needed to operate the camera is an SD Memory Card. While there is a magnitude of different cards available, my preferred option has always been SanDisk. Because of the camera’s performance, and the high data volume needed when taking video or Slow-Motion recordings, I found it essential to choose an SD-card able to cope with the speed and high demand of the camera. Hence, a SanDisk Extreme Pro is more than suitable to cope very well with the volume of images and recordings.
Likewise, operating and setting up the camera itself is very easy and straight forward. First, charge the battery and select an appropriate SD Memory Card. Then switch on the camera and follow the steps on the initial screen, which invites you to choose your language, date, and time. The next step is to simply point and shoot.
Nevertheless, here comes my second niggle. The battery life could be better, especially for those of you who will use the camera for vlogging or while on holidays. Therefore, investing in a spare set of batteries and a separate charger is a very wise option to avoid disappointment.
Lastly, transferring your taken images or recordings to your computer or smartphone does not require a high technical understanding as it is straight forward.
The Sony ZV-1 is one of the most sophisticated cameras on the market. Its range of options, high quality, ease of operation and the high image quality make this camera a worthy contender. Indeed, I have to admit that I am more in favour of the ZV-1 then using my trusted Sony alpha 300, which is now 11-years old.
So, what is good about this camera? Well, pretty much everything, which makes this gadget so likeable. It performs well, it feels good, it delivers stunning images and recordings, and it is easy to handle. Generally speaking, the magnitude of good points eclipses some negatives, which is the missing focus-ring, short battery life, and restricted accessibility of the power-button because of the windshield (if installed to the camera). Also, the camera heats up considerably when used for long video recordings on a hot summer’s day.
However, overall, it is fun to use, affordable, and a worthy companion for the serious vlogger or for taking a magnitude of images and recordings under almost any condition.