The new Sony ZV-E1 is a compact mirrorless full-frame system camera designed for content creators and vloggers.
It’s the new flagship offering of Sony’s established ZV line of vlog-centric cameras, with a similar 12-megapixel backside-illuminated full-frame sensor as the pro-focused FX3 and AI autofocus smarts from the A7R V to reduce the friction in creating high-quality video content.
Becca Farsace, one of my colleagues, spent a week with the camera and tested many of its vlog-centric automated features, which you can read about in her review above.
Sony ZV-E1 specs
Of course, there’s the monetary friction of the ZV-$2,199.99 E1’s body-only price or $2,499.99 in a kit with a 28-60mm f/4-5.6 zoom lens when it launches in the first half of this year.
The top of the ZV-E1 has a nice physical mode switch and a built-in microphone, but there is no electronic viewfinder.
The ZV-E1 is the new ultracompact champ in Sony’s Alpha lineup, with a compact size and weight of just 483 grams that’s designed to easily travel (when not attaching the biggest, heaviest Sony FE lenses, of course).
The jack-of-all-trades A7 IV weighs 659 grams, while the former “small for full frame” champion, the A7C, weighs 509 grams.
For that svelte stature, sacrifices must be made, and the most notable for many will be the lack of an electronic viewfinder — without even an external option — and the limitation to just one SD card slot.
But that’s perhaps forgivable if you usually have the camera’s articulating screen pointed at you during filming, or if you’re the type to shoot directly to a fancy external recorder like an Atomos Ninja V (though you’re doomed to do so with a Micro HDMI port).
Aside from the standard 4K 4:2:2 10-bit filming modes that go up to 60fps, the ZV-E1 can shoot in 1080p FHD at up to 120fps — with 4K / 60 and 1080p / 240 modes coming later via a firmware update.
It lacks 8K recording, but that seems like a logical omission rather than making the camera larger for thermal reasons or melting its internals when it inevitably overheats.
The S-Log3 flat color profile and S-Cinetone, which continue to trickle down from the super high-end Sony Venice world, are also supported by the ZV-E1.
S-Cinetone has become a popular profile among content creators seeking a cinematic look with minimal effort, and the ZV-E1 is all about providing shortcuts to dynamic and dramatic effects.
Many controls, for example, can be dialed in with smartphone-like taps on the ZV-three-inch E1’s articulating touchscreen, and Cinematic Vlog mode easily adds a sense of drama by switching to a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and enabling S-Cinetone color.
With its five-axis in-body image stabilization and Dynamic Active stabilization — cropping into the image to further correct for camera movement — you can capture some emotionally compelling run-and-gun footage without the added cost or heft of a gimbal.
The ZV-E1 also includes a built-in three-capsule mic that dynamically adjusts to pick up the main presenter while minimizing ambient noise, and it supports UVC for simple livestreaming (or webcam use) up to 4K / 30p via its USB-C port.
The AI-based subject recognition on the ZV-E1 can even be used for framing and composition decisions, cropping your image to one of multiple detected subjects in view, similar to Apple’s Center Stage webcam feature.
Of course, giving a camera that much directorial control over your videos is risky if you don’t want to risk it botching a take or making your footage look incredibly generic.
While much of Sony’s ZV-E1 is focused on making the small and nuanced complications of solo operation content creation easier, it also includes a tally light, a zoom lever beneath the shutter button, a claimed 15 stops of dynamic range, and ISO sensitivity settings up to 409,600.
And, unlike previous ZV models, the ZV-E1 employs the far superior NP-FZ100 batteries, which last a respectable amount of time, and is the first Sony camera to include a screen reader accessibility function.
To read our blog on “Manchester City and Sony intend to create their own Metaverse,” click here