Sony ZV 1 Camera Review | The best pocket vlogging camera for YouTubers

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The Sony ZV-1 is the most powerful pocket vlogging camera you can buy right now. It takes the best video features of the Sony RX100 series, including its class-leading autofocus system, and combines them with design tweaks that make it ideal for shooting YouTube videos at home or on the move.

Its main strength is the combination of a bright 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 lens with Sony’s Real-time tracking and Real-time Eye AF systems. Together with the ZV-1’s 1-inch sensor, which is larger than those in today’s smartphones, these make it easy to shoot high-quality vlogs with pleasing background blur and consistent focus.

The inclusion of a 3.5mm microphone port means it’s relatively easy to add good-quality audio to match your videos, while a hotshoe lets you mount accessories like a shotgun mic or LED light without needing a bracket to support them.

This is particularly useful because, while the ZV-1’s three-capsule internal microphone is an improvement over the built-in mics found in the RX100 series and other compact cameras, it still falls short of offering audio that matches the quality of its video. You do at least get a windshield bundled with the camera, which is essential for when you’re shooting in breezy conditions.

The ZV-1 isn’t perfect, and you might want to consider other options, depending on your needs. Its SteadyShot stabilization is passable for walking videos, but falls short of the smoothness offered by the DJI Osmo Pocket, GoPro Hero 8 Black, or larger cameras like the Olympus E-M5 Mark III. Its strongest stabilization also adds a slight crop that can make the resulting focal length slightly tight for handheld shots, though we didn’t find this to be a major issue.

Despite the inclusion of renamed shortcut buttons for beginners, the ZV-1 also isn’t the most user-friendly camera for those upgrading from smartphones. Aside from letting you tap to focus, its touchscreen doesn’t work with menus like the handy ‘Fn’ grid, and it settings remain labyrinthine; a beginner-friendly section for video newcomers would have been nice.

The flipside to this complexity is that the ZV-1 is absolutely packed with features, including a built-in ND filter, autofocus sensitivity options, and profiles like S-Log2 for those who like to color-grade their videos; Sony is also promising live-streaming software for Windows users from July 2020. All this makes it incredibly powerful for a compact camera, and ensures that it’ll grow with you as your skills improve.

The ZV-1’s size means there are naturally other compromises, including the lack of a headphone jack and average battery life, while the absence of an electronic viewfinder means those looking for a stills camera should also look elsewhere. But the ZV-1 packs in more power and video features than any other pocket camera, making it an ideal take-anywhere camera for shooting content for your YouTube or other social media channel.

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