Sony Creates ZV-1 Compact as the Ideal Vlogging Camera


Vlogging just got a whole lot easier with the release of the Sony ZV-1 Digital Camera. This ultra-compact system may look familiar to fans of the RX100—it does borrow a lot of that series’ tech—but Sony has redesigned the ZV-1 to better appeal to the everyday content creator. Just by looking at it, you can see the improvements—it has a side flip-out screen, brings back the Multi Interface Shoe, adds a significantly better audio system, and offers some under-the-hood features that will make recording video a breeze.

The ZV-1 Is a Compact with a Vlogger Makeover

One look at the spec sheet should make you realize that a lot of the RX100’s DNA has returned in the ZV-1—which is good! The ZV-1 uses the same sensor and processor combination as the RX100 VII, which is a 20.1MP 1"-type Exmor RS stacked CMOS and the BIONZ X processor with front-end LSI. Basically, that means it's sharp and fast. It also unlocks some a9-like features, such as Real-time Eye AF and Real-time Tracking in video.

Sony ZV-1 Digital Camera
Sony ZV-1 Digital Camera

Another thing lifted from the RX100 series—specifically from the pocketable Mark V version—is the ZEISS 24-70mm-equivalent f/1.8-2.8 lens. Its fast aperture helps in low-light shooting and getting the shallow depth-of-field look in your photos and videos. The lens also has Optical SteadyShot image stabilization to help smooth out your shots, and it can combine with digital stabilization for a much more advanced Active SteadyShot mode.

Beyond those key features, the ZV-1 takes on a whole new external appearance. It is lighter than RX100-series cameras and has a larger, more pronounced grip that should make one-handed operation easier. The biggest update is the 3.0" side flip-out touchscreen, which is exactly what most content creators would choose if they were designing a camera. And, there is a large REC button on the top and a tally light on the front to help solidify the camera’s positioning as a compact video creation tool.

Looking at the top of the camera reveals a few other tweaks. The big change to the middle is a brand-new directional three-capsule microphone. It has been optimized for audio coming from the front of the camera and will help isolate your subject’s voice while reducing background noise. The ZV-1 even comes with a windscreen that slides into the Multi Interface Shoe.

Oh yeah, and it has a hot shoe. Everyone can identify the benefits of a Multi Interface Shoe on a vlogging camera. You can mount all your extra accessories, whether might be a wireless receiver or a light, and you can use it for dedicated attachments such as the Sony ECM-XYST1M Stereo Microphone. It’s also offset to the side of the camera. A standard 3.5mm microphone port is available, too, for even greater mic compatibility.

High-Quality 4K Video and Fast AF

In terms of video, there should be few surprises here. The ZV-1 is going to match up with the highly regarded RX100 VII. It will record in UHD 4K at up to 30p while doing a true downsampling of the sensor to create detailed footage. The larger 1"-type sensor will help minimize noise in low light, and the ZEISS optics and fast aperture will further benefit the video-quality pipeline. Sony has also eliminated the video record limit for 4K shooting with select settings, and there is a micro-HDMI port for those choosing to use an external recorder as opposed to in-camera recording to an SD memory card.

Setting the ZV-1 apart from the rest is Sony’s inclusion of its advanced Picture Profiles. These let you tune the look of your footage in numerous ways. Pros will immediately gravitate toward options like S-Log3/2 and HLG, both of which are found on Sony’s professional cinema cameras. HLG, especially, will appeal to creators, because it helps unlock an Instant HDR workflow. Additionally, Sony has again tweaked the color science for improved skin tones.

Where the ZV-1 excels is going to be in the autofocus department. The RX100 VII’s tech is impressive and can track subjects with ease, even in Movie Mode. Highlights for vlogs and content creators have to be Real-time Eye AF for humans and Real-time Tracking AF. Both of these can be tuned for speed and sensitivity to optimize performance for different situations. It’s something that has to be seen to understand just how good it can be.

Another speedy feature is a Super Slow-Motion option. Again, this is a feature we have seen before but greatly appreciate seeing again. It allows for recording in up to 960 fps for extreme slow-motion capture. It’s a niche feature that can be a lot of fun.

Dedicated Features for Content Creation

Making the ZV-1 even better for vlogs and other content is Sony’s continual addition of new features to improve the filmmaking experience. Sony took the time to tune the ZV-1 to an impressive degree.

One of the most interesting is the Product Showcase Setting. If you have watched a YouTube review of a product, you’ve seen how it goes. The presenter holds the item in front of their face and then the camera eventually (hopefully) shifts focus to the item. The Product Showcase Setting optimizes AF performance so that it will quickly and smoothly switch between an individual’s face and the object placed in front of the lens.

Helping automate the video process are a couple of new features. The Face-Priority Auto-Exposure (AE) function will use the ZV-1’s advanced face detection tech and make sure the exposure always prioritizes the face. This means that as you walk and talk in changing light, no one will lose track of what is most important: you! Also, something great for beginners is a Background Defocus function. This is simple; it will automatically set the aperture to provide either more or less depth of field without having to think about it.

Another new addition is a Skin-Softening function. This should help you look camera-ready any time and anywhere you want. Of course, since everyone is already beautiful in their own way, you can always turn it off.

As with nearly every new camera, the ZV-1 does have built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. This allows it to transfer photos to your phone easily via Sony’s Imaging Edge Mobile app. It also means it will support the Movie Edit add-on app, which can help edit and crop your video for various social media platforms and perform impressive digital image stabilization.

Pick It up with an Accessory Kit

Anyone can get started in vlogging with the ZV-1, and to make the jump easier, Sony has developed the Vlogger Accessory Kit. Including the GP-VPT2BT Shooting Wireless Remote Commander Grip and a 64GB SDXC Memory Card, you’ll have everything you need to start your own YouTube channel. At launch, Sony is offering this kit at discount when purchased with the ZV-1, so now is a great time to jump in.

If you want to know a few other recommended accessories, I would say to absolutely pick up a couple spare batteries. Then consider compact lighting and audio gear, such as the RØDE Wireless GO or Aputure MC RGBWW LED Light. And, be sure to check out B&H’s video hands-on review for a first look at the ZV-1.

Sony Vlogger Accessory Kit
Sony Vlogger Accessory Kit

Are you a vlogger who is excited about the ZV-1? Anything in particular catch your eye from the feature list? Let us know in the Comments section, below!



When using in 4K recording mode, is there still an issue with the battery overheating? If so, how long can one typically record without the overheating issue becoming problematic?

Touch screen, yet?

I would be cautious of extremely long recording times, and with default temperature warning settings in 4K you will be limited to 5 minutes by the camera. However, if you set the temperature power off option to "High" you will disable this limit. I've seen reports of upwards of 45 minutes before the camera stops recording, but there are a lot of factors to consider here. I would say 30 minutes would be a safe guess without having actually tested myself.

The other Q/A thread mentions the ZV-1 works with the RMT-P1BT remote via blue tooth.

1)Does the ZV-1 have power optical zoom controllable by the RMT-P1BT?

2) Or does the RMT-P1BT only control a digital zoom with the ZV-1?

It is a power optical zoom lens and should be controllable with the RMT-P1BT.

I have multiple questions that have been eating away at me. How does this camera compare to Canon G7X Mark 2? Also Is the ZV-1 camera good for making  videos indoors because that's all I do as a Youtuber but with a little vlogging if I wanted to. I need something compact, Great quality, flip out screen, less expensive. I am not new to YT but I dont care to much about the changing of the lens. Does it Zoom well enough for beauty vids, hauls etc. Thanks

Great question! I think the ZV-1 has an advantage, namely in it's autofocus and vlogger-specific functions. However, the G7X Mark II makes a compelling argument for the price, and the Mark III offers better AF than the Mark II. If you can afford it, I think you would be happier with the ZV-1 and the lens on it should be plenty good for your type of work.

Is that hand grip a 3D gyro (like an osmo)?

The grip is a simple hand grip, though it does have Bluetooth connectivity so you can control the camera via buttons on the grip. It has settings to start/stop recording, zoom in and out, and a few more things. It also can become a tripod!

Great review! I'm interested in streaming with this camera. Do you need a dummy battery to connect to a wall outlet for continuous power?

For continuous power you would have to use the micro-USB input. It's something I have done with the RX100 VII with good results. I don't believe this is a dummy battery option.

Also, just a heads up, the announced Sony streaming option isn't going to available until July at the earliest so for now you will need to use the HDMI output and a capture device on your computer.

Thanks for the great video review.  It looks like a fantastic all in one content creator.  Do you have any thoughts on whether you could set this camera up sideways to shoot 9x16?  Then it really would be an incredible tool for modern video production.

So, the camera will tag the metadata if you hold the ZV-1 vertically. Meaning if you transfer it to your phone it'll properly display.

Does it have the ability to attach a wrist strap?  I haven't been able to tell from the product info I've seen.

Yes! There is a strap lug on the grip side and it comes with a small thin wrist strap. It's small, so I wouldn't guarantee all straps will work.

Can I use this camera kit to broadcast as webcam on Zoom, Skype or Facebook live videos?

Unfortunately not directly from the camera. You would need to purchase an HDMI capture device for your computer and then use the ZV-1's micro-HDMI output to feed the image into your computer.

I heard on a YouTube review that Sony is supposed to provide a firmware upgrade this Summer to enable this camera to act like a webcam using the USB Cable. Is this something BHPhoto could confirm?

Sony announced that there is an upcoming computer utility planned for July 2020 that should allow you to use the ZV-1 as a webcam. As of now that is all the information available.

Hello - I wanted to ask about distortion on this camera. I currently have a Canon SL2 and use a 40mm Canon lens (I primarily do vlogging). I found that when I want to use a wider lens like 30mm or 24mm, I notice that my face gets a little bloated up. When I use a 40mm lens or 50 (or above), that distortion goes away, especially because I'm much further away from the lens to keep the same framing. I suspect this is due to distortion. Would I experience the same kind of thing with this camera at a 24mm setting? 

You will notice it, this is just a fact of life when using wide angle lenses close to the subject. Perspective changes like this are actually the result of how close or far you are from your subject, focal length plays a part in that to fill the same amount of the frame with your subject using a wide-angle lens you will need to get a lot closer than with a telephoto lens. Using a selfie stick or grip can help alleviate this problem though and I would recommend checking out our video above for some sample shots. Many of the selfie angles shot by Jake are at the camera's widest setting.

Can this camera output through HDMI and record simultaneously?

How?  When I record it cuts off the HDMI feed on the computer. 

In the menu system under Setup (Toolbox) under 4K Output Select make sure it says “Memory Card+HDMI”. Let me know if that works.

what is the major difference between this camera and the cyber-shot dsc-rx100 vii digital camera. they both take 20MP pictures and this one has a longer record time and supposedly better image stabilization?? What have I missed aside from the dsc-rx100 more flexible user settings?

It really comes down to the design. The sensor and imaging pipeline are very similar to the RX100 series (practically the same as it has the RX100 VIII sensor/processor and the RX100 V lens). So with the design you have a plastic body with a larger, more comfortable grip for one-handed shooting. The fully articulating screen is also a huge benefit, they removed the pop-up EVF and replaced it with the hot shoe, and added an advanced microphone for clearer audio. Those are the biggest points, but there are some other options that are specific to vlogging, such as the Product Showcase feature. Hope that helps!

Hi, do you know if it has clean HDMI out? And does it carry the audio with it? That’s the only sticking point for me!

Yes and yes. The ZV-1 will output a clean UHD 4K signal with audio.

I've been waiting for a good streaming ready camera.  The ZV-1 looks like it is the one.

1) You addressed 4K, will it also output a clean Full HD HDMI with audio?

2) I want to use an external shotgun mic. What is the input impedance of the 3.5 mic in?

3) Does the ZV-1 have an internal level adjustment for an external mic?

1. Full HD also with audio.

2. Not sure, seen good results posted online so far and I would guess it is similar to the RX100 VII and other similar cameras.

3. There is an audio recording level setting in the camera.

Yup! It is 3 stops. It can be manual set to on or off and there is an auto mode that will activate when the camera thinks it needs it.

It says there's no headphone output port, but could you connect headphones via Bluetooth to monitor audio?

No unfortunately. The Bluetooth connection is designed to work with phones for transmitting data, not for real-time audio streaming from the camera during recording.

Sony does not advertise any advanced weather sealing in this model.

This is close to the perfect Carry around.  Now make the 1" sensor APS-C...

I could definitely get behind an APS-C RX-series camera.

Has this camera have image stabilization 

There are both optical and digital stabilization options, including an Active mode that uses both simultaneously.

Could this camera also be used as a webcam (HTML out) ? 

Can it be used with external power?

Hi Lucas,

Unfortunately, no, the ZV-1 will not work natively as a webcam. You would need a capture device connected to your computer and to use the camera's HDMI output.

Hi Shawn, how about the external power that Lucas asked about? Thank you! 

Sorry! Answered in my head and didn't type it out.

Yes, it will support external power via the micro-USB port (though it's a little unclear whether this is just charging the battery while it runs or actually running off the USB power). I use this trick all the time when I use my RX100 VII as a B or C camera and can easily get over an hour shooting with it when also using an external recorder.

How long can you record continuously? My Sony A7s iii max recording time is 30 minutes.

Hi Michael,

It requires a small setting change, but the ZV-1 can record without limits. You'll need to set the [Auto Power Off Temp.] setting to [High] for unlimited recording—or at least until the battery runs dry.

It says "no recording limit" in the description.

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