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Announced Sony ZV-E1 – compact full-frame AI mirrorless camera for vloggers

Announced Sony ZV-E1 – compact full-frame AI mirrorless camera for vloggers

Sony has just announced a compact full-frame E-mount mirrorless camera with many exciting features: the Sony ZV-E1. Among the exciting features, one can find footage recording internally in 4K at 60p in 4:2:2 10-bit all inside SDHC/SDXC memory cards, which is particularly interesting for filmmakers and content creators. Plus, a free future firmware update will unleash the potential of this little beast in 4K120p and HD240p resolution. So let’s take a closer look at the rest of the features offered by the new Sony Hybrid Camera!

Now targeting Sony’s product suite at videomakers is very clear: For vloggers, you can get the ZV-1, ZV-1F, or ZV-E10 cameras. If you want to push things even further, you have the Sony a7 IV mirrorless camera or the Sony FX30 cinema camera. Moreover, the Sony FX3 and a7S III are ideal for freelancers and individual filmmakers. Finally, the FX6 / FX9 and even the VENICE 2 are Sony’s high-end cinema cameras for professionals.

But what if you combine multiple product groups into a new professional vlogging camera called the Sony ZV-E1? Let’s find out!

Sony ZV-E1 – form factor

Sony ZV-E1 vlogging camera. Image credit: CineD

First, the Sony ZV-E1’s compact and lightweight form factor can be considered a legacy of the A7C. In fact, the ZV-E1 measures just 121mm wide and 72mm high, 54mm deep and weighs 483g/1,06lbs. With such a small size, it will be easy to carry around in your bag all day long. However, if you have large hands, you may have a pinkie in the air while shooting, because the fist is relatively small.

Sony ZV-E1 touch screen instructions on the back
Touch screen buttons and numbers on the ZV-E1. Image credit: CineD

You’ll find a vari-angle LCD touchscreen on the back of the camera but no viewfinder. You’ll also find a new “zoom” button on the back of the camera that you can use with the zoom lever. This button will turn on the Clear Image Zoom function which digitally enlarges the footage without losing quality. In 4K, you can zoom in up to 1.5 times and twice in Full HD.

Sony ZV-E1 hot shoe and model name
MI Hot Shoe Mount on ZV-E1. Image credit: CineD

At the top left of the camera is a Sony MI Hot Shoe Mount compatible with the company’s cable-free microphones. Also, you’ll find an improved after-light and 3-capsule microphone that allows you to choose the front/rear/Omni front/rear/omni built-in or external microphone orientation in the camera menu.

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Sony ZV-E1 bokeh switch button
“Bokeh Key” button to control your depth of field. Image credit: CineD

Below the on/off switch on the top right, you’ll find a still/movie/S&Q toggle switch. There’s also a zoom lever, a dedicated record button, and a dial for adjusting aperture/shutter settings, for example. You’ll also find two cool buttons in this area: a “bokeh key” button and a button dedicated to product photography. As its name suggests, the bokeh switch allows you to open/close the aperture to isolate a subject. After that, the camera will automatically compensate for the change in exposure by adjusting the shutter speed and ISO.

Sony ZV-E1 product shooting button
The View Product button limits the AF area. Image credit: CineD

The Show Product button will be useful for vloggers / YouTubers who hold a product in front of the camera and want to focus on it instead of their face.

Connection ports, inputs and outputs

Sony ZV-E1 ports and one SD card slot
ports and one SD card slot on the ZV-E1. Image credit: CineD

On the right side of the Sony ZV-E1, you’ll find a 3.5mm audio input, a headphone jack, a USB-C port that supports Power Delivery, an SDHC/SDXC card slot, and a micro HDMI output port. Unfortunately, this micro HDMI port does not support any RAW output.

Also, the camera has built-in wireless (WiFi 2.4 and 5GHz) for connecting your smartphone and transferring files via the Creators’ Cloud app. For live streaming, you can use the USB-C output port to live stream 4K30p and FHD60p content.

Sony NP-FZ100 battery for the ZV-E1
The ZV-E1 uses the same NP-FZ100 batteries as the Alpha cameras. Image credit: CineD

Finally, the camera is powered by NP-FZ100 batteries, similar to those used in the FX30/FX3, with a battery life of 95 minutes.

image sensor

The Sony ZV-E1 mixes and matches the Alpha and ZV cameras
The ZV-E1 uses the best of other Sony cameras. Image credit: CineD

The latest Sony ZV-E1 looks like a combination of the ZV series’ easy-to-use VLOG functionality, the a7S III’s 12MP image sensor, the a7R IV’s BIONZ XR and AI chipset, and the compact form factor of the A7C.

Let’s start with the image sensor. Since it has the same as the a7S III, you’ll get impressive low-light performance with a maximum ISO of 409,600 and a constant 12-stop dynamic range according to our lab testing of the a7S III.

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The camera features 5-axis image stabilization (IBIS). Also, the new “Active Dynamic Mode” will combine IBIS and electronic image stabilization for more stability in your shots. According to Sony, in Active Dynamic mode, “together with a wide-angle lens, handheld shooting is possible even in fast-walking scenes that would be difficult without a gimbal.”

recording modes

Sony ZV-E1 10-bit 4:2:2 recording mode
10bit 4:2:2 on ZV-E1. Image credit: CineD

The Sony ZV-E1 can record internally at 4K60P in 10-bit 4:2:2 All-Intra. According to Sony, your footage using the image sensor will be recorded in full-frame 4K resolution without pixel binning. However, as I mentioned, there is no RAW output via the micro-HDMI port.
Also, a free future firmware update will unlock the camera’s full potential with the addition of 4K120P and FHD240P recording modes.

Sony ZV-E1 appearance options
CineVlog mode on with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Image credit: CineD

The ZV-E1 features an interesting “cinematic vlog setting” that bakes in 2.35:1 black bars as cinematic slices into 16:9 footage.

Image features

Selectable picture profile S-Cinetone on Sony ZV-E1
Image profile 11 with the S-Cinetone Gamma setting. Image credit: CineD

In terms of picture profiles, you get the classic S-Log 3 / S-Cinetone and four more: Clean / Chic / Fresh / Mono.

The ZV-E1 is one of the first cameras to feature four additional “mood” settings that you can choose to change the hue of your photo. These moods include:

  • Auto: Perfect colors for the environment
  • Gold: warm colors
  • Ocean: great colors
  • Jungle: Vintage/Nostalgic Colors
Sony ZV-E1 mood options
Select different mood options. Image credit: CineD

In total, you can get 17 different in-camera looks by combining a picture profile (Sony calls it a “look”) and a mood, except for the mono black and white photo profile which cannot be mixed with a color mood session.

Autofocus offers

In terms of autofocus performance, modes, and features, the Sony ZV-E1 is extremely well-equipped with the BIONZ XR processing engine and dedicated AI processing unit found in the a7R V, a7 IV, a1, and a7S III. Here’s all you’ll get:

  • Focus map and AF assist
  • Focus compensation
  • AF target shift sensitivity settings and AF shift speed
  • Subject recognition: animal, bird, insect, car/train/plane, and humans

In terms of humans, the camera can recognize “human status, based on artificial intelligence and using deep learning technology.” In short, the camera should recognize the subject even from behind or when his face is covered.

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As a camera for vloggers, it must be hard to get blurry shots with the ZV-E1. But the AI-based and vlogging features don’t end here.

Sony ZV-E1’s AI and vlogging features

Sony has put a lot of “AI” features into the ZV-E1. First, there is the Auto Framing mode. For example, when shooting an interview or a musical performance, the camera can identify subjects in the frame and automatically crop the image to “keep the subject in a prominent position.” You can customize the level of cropping (full/medium/small crop) and frame tracking speed. So why is this interesting?

With an external recorder, you can record the full, uncropped image. Then, the ZV-E1 can record a second cropped clip internally. This way, you have two clips with different crop levels, which can come in handy for quick turnaround interviews, for example. This mode will work best for stabilization shots using the ZV-E1 on a tripod.

The next AI-based feature is what Sony calls a “frame stabilizer.” This mode automatically maintains the subject’s position in the frame while image stabilization is applied in Dynamic Active mode. So, if you’re following a hand-walking person, the subject will always be in the middle of the road.

Price and availability

Sony ZV-E1 will be available in April 2023 for $2,198. The kit is also available with the Sony FE 28-60mm F / 4-5.6 for $2,498.

I think this is an excellent offering for vloggers and YouTubers who work with tight deadlines or for content creators who are looking for a compact camera body but don’t want to sacrifice any features.

For more information, please visit the Sony website here.

What do you think of this compact mirrorless camera ZV-E1? Would it be a great addition to your collection or as an everyday builder? What feature are you most excited about? Feel free to tell us in the comments below!