Sony has just released a new camera directed solely towards vloggers and YouTuber creators. In fact, they’re even calling it the Sony Vlog camera ZV-1 (check out their website below). With my trusty NX1 slowly but surely showing its age, I’m always interested in new cameras. Especially those that won’t cost an arm and a leg, which the Sony ZV-1 certainly doesn’t.
Sony came really close to making this camera perfect for the job. But the issues I see in the ZV-1 are deal-breakers that will prevent me from even considering it. To not come across all negative I do want to point out some things Sony got right with this vlogging camera:
- The sideways flippy screen is a welcome addition.
- The autofocus looks flat-out amazing, just like you’d expect from a Sony camera.
- The tweaked picture profile looks better than what was previously implemented. At least in all of the examples, I’ve seen.
- The integrated ND filter is another welcome addition which has been missing on the most recent RX100s.
Tripod mount location
The tripod mount covers the battery compartment, which also holds the SD card. And it’s also off center. I understand this decision might have been made in order to keep the size down. But combine this with my biggest gripe and it really becomes an issue.
Having the tripod mount off center might not be an issue if you’re solely into videography and using it as a vlogging camera. But this camera is also great for stills. An off center tripod mount will absolutely ruin panoramas and that makes it an issue for me.
Sony ZV-1 Codec and bitrate
It’s about time Sony gave up on their own codec, at least in consumer cameras such as this one. H.265 (High Efficiency Video Coding – HEVC) has shown itself to be a solid codec and is now being used in many other cameras. Sony uses its own codec based on H.264 and only at 100 mbps. From a video centric camera you should be expecting a higher bitrate or a more efficient codec.
Yes, H.265 can be a strain on your system when editing but that’s what proxies are here for. The superior compression of the newer codec would allow for video files to take up less space on SD cards and hard-drives or the quality to dramatically increase while keeping the same file size.
Not wide enough Focal length
The focal length, which at its widest is a 24 mm equivalent, is too narrow for the kind of walking and talking shots many vloggers do. And considering the camera crops in quite a bit when digital stabilisation is activated that angle of view gets even narrower. This camera should have been a 16 mm equivalent at its widest point. At 24 mm and with stabilisation enabled you’re not fitting in much more than a single face.
Micro USB 2 (USB 2.0) in the year 2020
And the worst offender of all, in my opinion at least, is releasing a product with a Micro USB connector in the year 2020. USB 2.0 on this camera means slow charging and slow transfer rates.
Only implementing USB 2.0 means that you won’t want to keep the SD card in the camera to transfer files. You’re going to want to use a card reader. Which requires you to remove any tripod mount you might have attached.
The same goes for the battery. Because this camera doesn’t support USB Power Delivery you’re stuck with slow charging. Which might mean you have to carry around multiple batteries because you can’t quickly top it up using a battery pack. And what do you have to do to change that battery? Take off the tripod mount.
Autofocus: Fast Hybrid AF, Real Time Eye-AF3, and Real-time AF tracking
Vlogging features: Face priority AE keeps faces bright in backlit or dim condition