The Sony ZV-1 is Sony’s first attempt at creating a dedicated camera for vloggers, operating as the next step up from smartphones but with the same accessibility that has made recent handsets so popular with content creators.
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What we love – bokeh mode, high-end microphone and solid autofocus
When it comes to outdoor vlogging, particularly in busy cities, audio is usually the number one concern and an external mic is essential if you want to pick up your voice clearly. Of course, in having this set up, you have a bulky camera pointing at your face and an even more cumbersome mic sat on top of it. With the ZV-1’s three capsule built-in mic however, there’s absolutely no need to go looking elsewhere.
Taking the ZV-1 through the busy streets of London town, the camera was not only able to hone in on my voice with near crystal-clear clarity, but it also did a fantastic job of ignoring ambient noise. The only thing that even made a dent was a passing group of motorcyclists, but even then I could still make out my voice in the final product.
That same simplicity carries over to the autofocus, which feels like magic half the time – it’s just that good. I’ve had plenty of issues with cameras in the past that just can’t keep up and quickly lose focus on my face as I move between different lighting scenarios, but the Sony ZV-1 more than held its own. With the device’s touchscreen you can also jump to a different focus point almost instantly, which is perfect for those contrasting shots between a wider landscape and an object in the foreground.
There’s also a separate shutter on top of the ZV-1 to activate the dedicated bokeh mode. Similar to portrait mode on phones, this bokeh mode keeps the focus on you and blurs the background in real time, giving a little extra flourish to your videos. Having the option there at all times makes the experience feel seamless, and the ZV-1’s compact size also allows it to be thrown in a coat pocket without hassle.
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What we didn’t like – occasional overheating and convoluted menus
Much to my dismay, the Sony ZV-1 had trouble functioning whilst filming indoors. With a typical vlogger set-up, utilising two softbox lights either side of the camera, the ZV-1 overheated and had to shut down within 25 minutes. That’s hardly ideal if you plan on filming the majority of your content indoors.
Additionally, despite Sony’s intentions to make the ZV-1 an accessible camera for the smartphone generation, the device borrows the same overbearing menus from more traditional Sony cameras. This won’t be an issue for any pros using the ZV-1, but for entry level vloggers, there’s a definite learning curve to understanding every little feature that’s available.
If you’re looking for a compact all-in-one vlogging camera, then look no further than the Sony ZV-1. While the device might not be up to scratch for indoor filming, it’s an absolute beast when taken outside, thanks to its unbelievable mic quality and precise autofocus.