Sony ZV-1 Review

July 6, 2020 | Richard Sibley |


The Sony ZV-1 is a completely new compact camera designed from the ground-up for vloggers. With the majority of 6-12 year old children now aspiring to be a vlogger, Sony feel that the time has come to launch a unique product that specifically caters to the needs of YouTube creators.

Sony want you to use the ZV1 instead of a smartphone - apparently 73% of vloggers currently use a phone. Sony claim that you can get better professional quality video with smooth bokeh by simply hitting the dedicated Bokeh button on top of the camera. The ZV1 changes the physical aperture to do this, making it as wide as possible, and uses ND filter too, rather than simulating the effect.

Sony also point out that the selfie cameras on mobiles are usually the worst quality,another advantage for the ZV1, while the large windshield on top of the Z-V1 and the mic input on the side combine to provide much better audio.

Finally, the Sony ZV1 has built-in wi-fi/bluetooth and apps for sharing to mobile phone, including a proxy option for quicker lower-quality sharing.

Available in the first week of June, it will be competitively priced at £700 in the UK, almost half the price of the RX100 VII, making it a great B-camera for the A7-series.

The GP-VPT2BT Bluetooth wireless remote commander will be available in the UK for half-price at launch. It features a C1 button which can turn also turn on the ZV1's Bokeh function.


The Sony ZV1 will feature Fast Hybrid Auto Focus, with 315 phase AF points and contrast AF and with changeable focus speed and sensitivity. The camera quickly switches between the main subject and the background if the subject leaves the frame.

Sony's renowned Real-time Eye AF for video for stable eye tracking is on-board, along with the brand-new Face Priority AE technology, which sets the auto-exposure based on a face, therefore always keeping faces bright even in dim/dark conditions. The ZV1 also features new skin tone optimisations and enhanced colour reproduction for faces.

Image Stabilisation

SteadyShot Active Mode is a brand new stabilisation mode that's apparently 11x better than standard OIS, which works in both 4K and 1080p shooting modes.


A directional 3-capsule microphone for 3-channel sound is found on top of the ZV1. It also sports a wind reduction design with a detachable Dead Cat wind shield provided in the box. Clear voice isolation is great for recording your voice and not the background, and there's also a dedicated hotshoe for an external microphone.

Easy to Use

The Sony Z-V1 is designed to be easy to operate, even for complete beginners. There's a dedicated C1 button for switching between Bokeh and Clear backgrounds, and another button for the the unique Product Showcase function which automatically shifts the focus to things that you hold up to the camera in just 0.03sec.

The ZV1 weighs a mere 294g and features a prominent body grip for a comfortable hold. There's a large movie button on the top and a record light on the front of the camera (can be turned off).

ND Filter

The Sony Z-V1 has a 2-stop ND filter built-in, which can work automatically and is very important for video to achieve the correct shutter speed.

Tilting LCD Screen

The 180-degree screen can be twisted up and down and sideways, folded in to protect it when not in use, an can also be used to turn the camera on and off.

Pro Features

The Sony ZV1 is not just for beginners - there's a whole host of features aimed at pros, including picture presets including S-log profiles (both S-Log2 and S-Log3), HLG format video, and super slow-motion and timelapse modes.


The Sony Z-V1 offers easy sharing with your smartphone via the Imaging Edge Mobile app, youcan use the Movie Edit add-on app to edit your footage, and the Imaging Edge Desktop software is also available.

Battery Life

Battery life is quoted at 45 minutes for recording video. You can optionally power the camera out in the field via a USB powerbank, or simply swap in another battery.

Video Format

The Sony Z-V records MP4 /AVCS format video with no recording limits at all based on either EU tax rules or heat. There is no pixel binning, with a 1.7x crop applied from 14 megapixels to 8 megapixels for 4K. There's also a vertical video shooting mode for Instagram and TikTok.

Stills Photography

The ZV1 uses exactly the same sensor as the RX100 series with 20.1 megapixels, the same Bionz X processor from the RX100 VII,and the same 24-70mm F1.8-2.8 lens from the RX100 IV. The ISO range runs from 80-12800.

Sony Press Release

Sony Expands Range of Vlogging Solutions with Introduction of Vlog Camera ZV-1 and FDR-AX43 Compact 4K Handycam

Vlog Camera ZV-1 introduces a newly developed concept specifically addressing the needs of video content creators and AX43 is a new compact 4K Handycam with advanced image stabilisation technologies

Sony today announced the new pocket-sized vlog camera ZV-1 (hereafter referred to as ZV-1) – a lightweight, compact “all-in-one” style solution. Designed from the ground up for content creators and vloggers, the ZV-1 combines easy-to-use features with uncompromising imaging technology, making this the perfect tool for any content creator at all skill levels.

“Sony’s new ZV-1 was purpose-built to meet the needs and demands of today’s video creators,” said Yann Salmon Legagneur, Director of Product Marketing, Digital Imaging, Sony Europe. “This camera is the result of direct feedback from our extended community who do not want to compromise with hybrid products, so we have designed this new model for those who put content creation first. It features an innovative design and introduces many new technologies, settings and modes that allow creators 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 creator’s daily vlogging.”

The ZV-1 features a 1.0-type stacked Exmor RS® CMOS image sensor with DRAM chip and 24-70mm[i] F1.8-2.8 ZEISS® Vario-Sonnar T* large-aperture lens creating beautiful background bokeh (background blur), allowing the subject to stand out from the background. The camera locks on and tracks subjects with high accuracy and speed using Sony’s leading-edge autofocus system. The ZV-1 also includes the latest-generation BIONZ X™ image processor with front-end LSI delivering high resolution as well as low noise for superior image quality. It also combines this exceptional imaging technology with high-quality and versatile audio options. The ZV-1 is Sony’s first compact camera with a side-opening Vari-angle LCD touchscreen, making it easier to compose your shots in selfie mode while connecting external audio accessories. To meet any video need, the ZV-1 contains advanced video features including 4K movie recording[ii] and in-body image stabilisation.

Meeting the Needs of Today’s Content Creators

Quickly Switch Between two modes of Background Bokeh

The ZV-1 offers a simple solution to easily switch between two levels of background blur (bokeh) while recording. Using the new Bokeh Switch function, rapidly adjust the optical aperture between more and less background defocusing blur without losing focus on the subject. Located on top of the camera, this Bokeh button is easily accessible and makes self shooting a breeze.

Focus on the Subject You Want

The ZV-1 makes it easier than ever to shoot product reviews and similar video content. Gone are the days of placing a hand behind an object to prompt the camera to bring it into focus thanks to a new Product Showcase Setting, which allows for quick and smooth focus transitions between the subject’s face and the object placed in front of the lens.

Building on the leading-edge technology developed for α™ (Alpha™) and RX series cameras, this new compact camera includes advanced autofocus (AF) allowing it to lock on and track subjects with high accuracy and speed while recording. For maintaining focus on the intended subject or subjects in busy environments, Real-time Eye AF[iii] and Real-time Tracking for video allows the ZV-1 to stay locked on the subject’s eye / face or seamlessly switch focus between multiple subjects while controlling the AF speed and tracking sensitivity when needed.

Prioritise Your Face

Extreme changes in lighting, like walking outside on a sunny day and suddenly moving from a bright location into shade, are no problem for the ZV-1 thanks to the new Face Priority autoexposure (AE) function. It detects and prioritises the subject’s face and adjusts the exposure to ensure the face is depicted at an ideal brightness in any environment. This AE technology also suppresses an abrupt change in exposure if the subject quickly turns away from the frame to eliminate unexpected blown-out or extremely dark shots.

Natural Colour

The ZV-1 features advanced colour science re-engineered to optimise skin tones. To enhance emphasis on the subject’s face – especially when shooting in selfie mode – the ZV-1 creates a smooth and natural complexion, while also maintaining sharp images of the mouth and eyes in both videos and stills.

Crystal Clear Audio

High quality content requires clear, excellent audio quality, and the ZV-1 is well-equipped to produce just that with reliable and versatile audio options. The ZV-1’s onboard mic features Sony’s latest Directional 3-capsule Mic which was designed for forward-directional audio capture, allowing for clear capture of the subject’s voice while minimising background noise, especially when operating in selfie mode. For added flexibility, the ZV-1 also features a standard 35mm mic jack (3.5mm) and Multi Interface Shoe™ (MI shoe) making it easy to connect a wide range of external microphones. The ZV-1 is also supplied with a wind screen[iv] accessory that fits on the MI shoe to minimise wind interference.

Design and Functionality Optimised for Vlogging

The ZV-1 was designed with content creators and vloggers in mind. This compact, lightweight (approx. 294g / 105.5mm x 60.0mm x 43.5mm) camera is the first Sony compact camera with a side-opening Vari-angle LCD Screen, allowing creators to simplify their setup by utilising the MI shoe for optional external mics without the need of an additional mounting bracket.

Comfortably operate the ZV-1 with one hand thanks to the easy-to-hold comfortable grip and a large movie REC button located on the top of the camera for quick access to video recording, as well as a recording lamp on the front of the camera that indicates if the camera is actively recording.

The ZV-1 also includes major advances in image stabilisation, ensuring steady video even when shooting hand-held while walking. When recording in HD (Active mode), optical and electronic stabilisation methods are combined to reduce shaking up to 11 times[v] that of standard SteadyShot™. When shooting 4K video using Optical SteadyShot (Active mode), there is improvement in stabilisation effect of up to 8 times[vi] that of standard SteadyShot. The ZV-1 is also compatible with the GP-VPT2BT Shooting Grip with Wireless Remote Commander, offering additional stability and comfort combined with cable-free connectivity.

Class-Leading AV Features

Despite the small form factor there are a multitude of pro-level movie making capabilities, including:

• 4K movie recording with full pixel readout and no pixel binning in high bit rate XAVC S™ codec.[vii]
• Industry standard 3.5mm microphone input
• Hybrid Log-Gamma (HDR)[viii] / S-Gamut3.Cine / S-Log3, S-Gamut3 / S-Log3
• Interval Shooting[ix] for stunning time-lapse videos[x]
• Super Slow-Motion[xi] recording at up to 1000fps[xii]
• Compatibility with ‘Movie Edit add-on’[xiii] from the “Imaging Edge™” mobile application for image stabilisation[xiv] while editing Highlight ability to edit aspect ratios for IG etc.

Live Streaming with the ZV-1

Transform the ZV-1 into a webcam by connecting it to a PC[xv] via USB, which allows content creators to interact with their followers in real-time while also utilising the advanced imaging technology and unique features of the ZV-1. This new Sony’s PC software will be available in July 2020.

Pricing and Availability

The Vlog Camera ZV-1 will be available in Europe in June 2020, priced at approximately £700 and €800.


Sony today also announced a new 4K[xvi] Handycam® featuring an acclaimed in-built gimbal mechanism, Balanced Optical SteadyShot™ technology, for capturing smooth, natural and high-quality video footage. The FDR-AX43 has been developed for content creators and vloggers who want their footage to demonstrate a refined quality that will stand the test of time.

The FDR-AX43 is the ideal partner for those who want to capture their travel or family memories but is also an incredibly efficient and versatile tool for content creators as part of their home studio and product review set-up.

The FDR-AX43 implements some of Sony’s most advanced imaging technologies including:

• Balanced Optical SteadyShot with a unique in-built-gimbal mechanism for smooth footage while walking, running or at full zoom
• ZEISS® Vario-Sonnar T* zoom lens with wide angle of 26.8mm[xvii]
• 20x optical zoom and Clear Image Zoom of 30x for 4K / 40x for HD[xviii]
• 1/2.5-type Exmor R™ CMOS image sensor[xix] and BIONZ X™ image processing engine delivering excellent image quality, even in low-light conditions
• High-bitrate shooting (100Mbps for XAVC S™ 4K, 50Mbps for XAVC S HD)[xx]
• Fast Intelligent AF for quick and precise subject capture
• Microphone structure with three mic capsules sound gathering for advanced sound quality[xxi]
• Flip-screen for selfie shooting
• Long battery life (Up to 235 mins continuous recording time with the supplied battery) and power supply from AC adaptor
• New Highlight Movie Maker which creates short movies[xxii] in-camera in 4K or HD resolution without any need for post-production editing. Easily share MP4 movies on social media sites via smartphone.

Pricing and Availability

The FDR-AX43 will be available in Europe in July 2020, priced at approximately £600 and €700.

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