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Sony ZV-1 Review - Compact camera with a special talent for video


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The Sony ZV-1 sets a new record in our test center: No other compact camera can hold a candle to it in the field of image quality. The innovative concept of focusing on the needs of vloggers and hanging the 3.0-inch display on the right-hand side also scored points. In order to make selfie filmmakers completely happy, we still see room for improvement, for example the long overdue touch control via the display.

Test data for Sony Vlog camera ZV-1 Specification

Product: Sony vlog camera ZV-1
Resolution in the center at ISO min: 1,710 line pairs
Resolution in the corners at ISO min: 1,426 line pairs
Resolution in the center at ISO 400: 1,707 line pairs
Resolution in the corners at ISO 400: 1,399 line pairs
Resolution in the center at ISO 800: 1,695 line pairs
Resolution in the corners at ISO 800: 1,385 line pairs
Resolution in the center at ISO 1600: 1,593 line pairs
Resolution in the corners at ISO 1600: 1,311 line pairs
Texture / detail accuracy at ISO min: 91 percent
Texture / detail fidelity with ISO 400: 88 percent
Texture / detail fidelity at ISO 800: 85 percent
Texture / detail fidelity at ISO 1600: 82 percent
Noise at ISO min: 1.44 VN (0.9 VN1, 1.8 VN3)
Noise at ISO 400: 1.73 VN (1.8 VN1, 1.1 VN3)
Noise at ISO 800: 1.82 VN (1.1 VN1, 1.9 VN3)
Noise at ISO 1600: 2.20 VN (1.9 VN1, 1.1 VN3)
Vignetting (wide angle / telephoto): 0.3 / 0.5 f-stops
Distortion (wide angle / telephoto): -0.1 / -0.2 percent
Max Chromatic Aberration (Wide Angle / Tele): 0.16 / 0.18 pixels
Expert assessment: attention to detail at ISO min: good (1.5)
Expert assessment: attention to detail at ISO 400: good (1.5)
Expert assessment: attention to detail at ISO 800: good (2.3)
Expert assessment: attention to detail at ISO 1600: satisfactory (3.0)
Image sensor type: CMOS
Image sensor size: 1 inch
Image size: 5,472 x 3,648 pixels
Minimum sensitivity (ISO min): 80
Maximum sensitivity (ISO max): 12,800
Display: 3.0 in
Display: Touchscreen: Yes
Display resolution: 1,228,800 subpixels
Swiveling display: 2 axes
Adjustable display brightness: Yes
Spirit level: 2 axes
Viewfinder: No
Optical zoom: 2.7 times
Minimum focal length: 24 mm
Maximum focal length: 70 mm
Optical image stabilizer: optically
Luminous intensity lens (wide angle): 1.8
Luminous intensity lens (telephoto): 2.8
Manual mode: Yes
Panorama program: Yes
Minimum shutter speed: 1 / 32,000 s
Maximum shutter speed: 30 s
White balance: 1 preset, manual white point
Image formats: JPEG, RAW + JPEG
Recordings: 300 photos
Video: maximum battery life: 76 minutes of video
Video resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels
Video: Container Formats: MP4
Video: Codecs: H.264
Video: Maximum length: 29 minutes
Video: max resolution: 2160p / 30; 1080p / 120
Memory card: SDXC / Memory Stick PRO Duo
Internal memory: -
Hot shoe: Yes
GPS receiver: No
Waterproof: -
Switch-on time (up to 1st picture): 2.5 s
Release delay wide angle (with autofocus): 0.26 s
Release delay Tele (with autofocus): 0.28 s
Period between two images: 0.3 s
Burst speed: 25.0 frames per second
Series picture sequence: 170 images
Others: 0
Camera class: Creative camera
Maximum resolution: 20.0 megapixels
Battery name: NP-BX1
Price replacement battery: 30 euro
Dimensions: 106 x 60 x 44 mm
Weight: 294 grams
Test date: 05/07/2020


Sony ZV-1 Vlogger Camera: The first of its kind
Vlogging is on everyone's lips, Youtubers and influencers are the dream jobs of an entire generation. So it's only logical if a camera manufacturer like Sony brings a special vlogging model onto the market to meet the needs of the young target group. The ZV-1 presents itself as a fully designed model for making selfie videos. Tried and tested, high-performance technology should ensure the image quality, while the design of the camera is geared towards the needs of all self-filmmakers. Our detailed test clarifies whether Sony has succeeded in a stroke of genius.

 

Sony ZV-1 DISPLAY
The first glance at the rather inconspicuous case doesn't reveal much; the relationship to Sony's compact camera series RX100 is clearly visible. Dimensions and weight roughly correspond to the sister models, the small bulge on the front is new. This protrusion for the right hand slightly improves handling in conventional operation, but unfortunately a bit annoying when filming in selfie mode.

Speaking of selfies: The 3.0-inch monitor, which is hung on the left, can be folded forward 180 degrees without the accessories on the hot shoe making it difficult to see it, as is the case with the fold-up version. All connections on the narrow right side of the housing - whether micro-HDMI, a USB port and the 3.5 mm socket for an external microphone and do not get in the way of the monitor.

Another useful feature is a small red LED on the front, which signals whether the recording is currently in progress. Nevertheless, we would have wished that more functions than just shifting the focus could be operated via the display and especially with regard to the target group of smartphone switchers. The navigation in the very extensive settings menus and even in the freely configurable “MyMenu” turns out to be simply impractical in selfie mode without a touch interface. A touch-sensitive quick menu would have made operation much easier here.

Instead, Sony relies on a more classic operating concept with buttons, most of which can be freely assigned a variety of functions. The mode dial has been replaced by a small »Mode« button; the now much larger video shutter button also moves to the top. In addition, we find a freely assignable button with which one can access a new function by default: At the push of a button, the background becomes blurred and the focus is now on the face of the vlogger.

The Sony manufacturer calls this gimmick "Background Defocus". The permanently installed and stabilized Zeiss lens has a pleasantly bright light for this purpose: With f / 1.8 in the wide angle and f / 2.8 in the telephoto, the best possible exposure options are available. Only the focal length range of 24 to 70 millimeters and calculated in the 35mm format - doesn't quite fit a vlogging camera. The filmmaker's face just barely fits into the frame when the camera is held with an outstretched arm. A few millimeters more in the wide angle would work wonders here and open the view for the viewer further.

A large microphone now takes up a large part of the upper side, more precisely the area of the flip flash on the cameras of the RX100 series: Equipped with three micro capsules, the directional pickup delivers very good audio quality. Ambient noises are reliably suppressed; The scope of delivery even includes a practical slip-on windscreen.

 

Sony ZV-1 sets a new record
In terms of image quality, the ZV-1 surpasses the previous front-runner RX100 V; especially when it comes to the resolution in the corners of the image: 1,710 line pairs in the center and 1,426 line pairs per image height at the edge with ISO 125 correspond to an increase of five or almost 15 percent in direct comparison. The cameras finally approach each other beyond the ISO range. When it comes to the "dead leaves" measurement aimed at the details, the ZV-1 is always ahead so impressive.

Up to and including ISO 800, recordings from the ZV-1 are very clear and almost free of annoying interfering pixels. In low-light conditions and ISO 3,200, the noise becomes visible and causes a slight loss of detail. You should only go to ISO 6,400 and higher in an emergency; here the grain is very strong and therefore disturbing.

 

Sony ZV-1 - Entirely in the name of the moving image
Filmmakers and vloggers place different demands on cameras than photographers, both in terms of operation and technical aspects. When it comes to the latter, Sony doesn't compromise. Regardless of the video resolution selected, what is known as oversampling is used: the camera always reads a large part of the sensor area, or more precisely: a 14 MP equivalent. The processor then calculates the resolution to the appropriate format; in the case of UHD clips, this corresponds to around eight megapixels. Video images from the ZV-1 are characterized by a high level of detail.

The UHD clips with 25 fps and a data rate of 100 Mbit / s should also satisfy influencers who are used to quality. The popular frame rate of 24 fps is also available. But only then when the camera changes from the European PAL mode to the NTSC standard for North America and Asia. The switchover takes a little while and requires the ZV-1 to be restarted. Unpleasant side effect: With our test camera, some of the previously defined settings were reset at the same time. 

The ZV-1 records full HD videos at up to 120 fps in NTSC mode or 100 fps in PAL setting. When it comes to slow motion, the compact has even more to offer: the sensor delivers a full 1,000 images per second if required; Converted to a base frequency of 25 fps, this corresponds to one fortieth of the actual speed.

A fascinating gimmick, but unfortunately not more, because: The operation is complicated. First, the filmmaker has to set the focus and put the camera on standby by pressing a button. Only then can the recording, which lasts around two seconds, be started. Great for a reproducible sequence of movements, but not very suitable for spontaneous motifs.

The prerequisite is that the shutter speed is set to 1/1000 s or faster. If there is little ambient light available, the ISO value increases and creates a lot of noise in the images. In general, the super slow motion shows significantly less detail and sharpness compared to conventional video material from the ZV-1, because: Instead of the entire area, only a small part of the image chip is read out here; missing image information is interpolated.

On the other hand, it is practical that different recording modes are available in the menu: This allows the recording to be started after, before or during the video shutter release. Use the super slow motion sparingly, the function sucks the battery empty in no time at all: Every little thing can be adapted to the needs of the filmmaker.  For example, you can use the proxy function to record videos with the high-resolution clips at 720p.  This relieves the computer on average.

 

The Sony ZV-1 has everything a vlogger needs
But back to the classic video modes. The NP-BX1 battery with its capacity of 1,240 mAh guarantees almost 80 minutes of video recording and sufficient, but not overwhelming. But the ZV1 burns a real firework of equipment: No matter whether it is a time-lapse automatic, flat HLG image profiles, a switchable ND filter or even professional functions such as an overexposure warning using a zebra pattern, time code for synchronizing several devices and a clean HDMI -out - almost nothing to be desired here.

Sony has even thought of a proxy mode: In parallel to the high-resolution UHD or Full HD clips, videos are recorded in 720p if required. This trick increases the working pace considerably - so the clips can also be edited on less powerful computers without any loss of speed. The "Dual-Rec" function is just as practical: In addition to filming, still images with a resolution of up to 17 MP can be saved. The perfect tool for creating what is known as a thumbnail, the small preview image for the finished video on platforms like YouTube.

Anyone who thinks that the ZV-1 puts an excessive strain on a tight budget in view of this range of services is wrong: With a purchase price of around 800 euros, Sony is making a very tempting offer here. For only 100 euros more, the camera is available as a kit with the sensational GP-VPT2BT Bluetooth handle and a real accessory recommendation! However, if you, as a photographer, are now considering using the ZV-1 instead of the RX100 VII due to the significant price difference, then we strongly advise against it: Sony's new one is clearly a video camera that can also take photos.

The super slow motion also has a submenu: In addition to the source and target frame rate, the timing for the two-second recording is set.  To get started, it is recommended to release the shutter at the end: the camera then records retrospectively.

Advantages:

  • Fantastic picture quality
  • Comprehensive video functions
  • Very good auto focus

Disadvantage:

  • No touch menus
  • Relatively short battery life

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