The Sony ZV-E1 was released within the last month or so and it's one of the smallest full frame cameras that you can get - It boasts high quality auto-focus and industry professional stabilisation which produces a highly impressive image quality like that of a camera almost twice its price. But does it really live up to all the hype? And is it a good value for money, or too expensive for vlogging? In this review, we'll be going over the features, performance and all the footage we captured with the ZV-E1 to assess its value for vloggers as well as potential drawbacks for anyone looking to purchase it for themselves.
We purchased the Sony ZV-E1 to get the best and smallest camera for travelling, but also to be able to use it professionally as well. It's small when compared to something like the Sony A7S-3, weighing in at just 483g with the battery (compared to 700g of the AS7-3) it walks the perfect balance between functionality and portability. It might not be as lightweight as the ZV1 (weighing just 294g with batteries) or as powerful as the A7S-3, but it really offers a great compromise for creators looking for a small camera that doesn't forfeit performance. Whether it's being used by a traveller or a professional content creator, the compact size and performance of the ZV-E1 makes it a very appealing choice.
One of the standout features of the Sony ZV-e1 is the dynamic stabilisation, a feature that not even the AS7-3 has! In fact, we believe this is one of (if not the) only cameras around at the moment with this feature. Footage captured with the ZV-E1 shows a significant improvement in stabilisation, though some minor pulls from left to right can sometimes occur which almost seem like the camera is over-compensating. For the sake of our Youtube review, we added no post-editing stabilisation in order to showcase purely the camera's own capabilities.
Another new feature that the ZV-E1 introduces us to is the CiniVlog feature. CiniVlog allows users to essentially choose a preconfigured look for their footage with a simply tap on the screen, the look is "baked" into your footage and complete with black bars to give it a more cinematic look straight out of the camera, without the need for any post-production colour correcting. It's a good way to ensure proper framing before editing takes place and we were actually quite surprised with how good it looks! Normally when editing our videos we like to add the bars ourselves so we weren't sure we'd use this feature that much, but that being said, it's a super cool looking feature and does take some of the workload off once in post-prod.
Throughout our Youtube review of the ZV-E1, we only used the built-in microphones on the camera. We did enhance the audio in Adobe Premiere, using our Editors Keys microphone vocal plugins so we'll let you decide which audio sounds better: with or without! But the built-in microphone sounds great and would do a brilliant job of recording clear audio if you're out and about. And if you're looking to elevate the audio quality on the ZV-E1 even more, there's option for an external microphone input so you can connect your own shotgun mic, or even a classic dead cat mic would work.
Now lets talk about some of the negatives of the ZV-E1. It's a small one for us, but may be a big one for you or any potential vlogger - lack of an electronic viewfinder (EVF) may disappoint any videographers who reply on this feature. While many creators who mainly use the digital display may not see this as such a major drawback. Another big downside is that, straight out of the box, the ZV-E1 doesn't shoot any 4K at 100fps, which for many would be a big deal breaker. Sony have announced a firmware update around June time which should patch this limitation, so we're going to keep our eyes out for that. In the meantime, users will have to make do with 50fps slo-mo footage and 100fps in HD. The HD still offers great quality footage, perhaps with a slight reduction in sharpness.
For almost anyone who's looking to purchase a camera, battery life is going to be a major deciding factor for them, especially if they're going to be spending hours on end shooting and gathering footage on the go. The ZV-E1's battery performance is quite respectable, delivering around 570 pictures or around 95 minutes of video. We used the camera for a full day of shooting in York, and another full day of shooting in Manchester as well as through the week and experienced no overheating issues - the battery on the ZV-E1 is pretty much the same as an A7III or A7SIII as it uses the same battery.
Some say that the battery does drain a little faster, and perhaps we noticed this a little bit, but at the same time we were changing settings, using the touchscreen a lot as well as the built-in microphone. Overall we had no problem at all with the battery life, and it's super easy to pick up spares for the ZV-E1, as it takes the same battery as other Sony. It's always recommended to carry extra battery packs with you on longer shoots in order to ensure an uninterrupted shoot. You can also utilise some power-saving practices such as optimising setting and minimising unnecessary usage to help maximise the battery life even more.
Picture quality is of course an essential for any camera, but let's not forget the importance of crisp and clear audio as well! We personally found the ZV-E1 microphone to be pretty impressive for such a small camera, be sure to click on the video below to hear some sound samples and judge for yourself!
The Sony ZV-E1 does come with a kit lens, but it's still encouraged to consider the possibility of addition lens options for the camera. Investing in additional lenses can significantly enhance the versatility and options available for the camera to work with. The ZV-E1 is compatible with a wide range of E-mount lenses so there's plenty of room to experiment with different lenses and perspectives.
When it comes to capturing a sharp and in-focus image, autofocus plays a large and pretty crucial role. The ZV-E1 boasts some very impressive autofocus capabilities, its speed, performance and accuracy whilst shooting in different environments and scenarios are rather commendable. The camera does extremely well at tracking fast-moving objects and subjects, as well as that it also handles tricky lighting conditions remarkably well - all thanks to its advanced autofocus systems. Seemingly it can capture a reliable and stable image or video with a very impressive and reliable autofocus.
Price and Value
For many videographers and content creators, it's pretty understandable that price can be a pretty huge factor in deciding on a new camera, as well as what features it has and how well that camera performs. The Sony ZV-E1 is specifically aimed at vloggers and begins around £2300 for the body only, which can be a steep price for some, especially anyone who's looking to get started in vlogging or content creation. And we would say that if you are maybe starting off in the vlogging hobby, then maybe start with a different camera that's a bit cheaper in order to get to grips with the whole process of shooting etc, before you splash out on a £2300 camera like the ZV-E1.
But when you consider what this camera can do and all of the features that come packed into it, as well as the image quality, dynamic stabilisation and autofocus as well, the price tag is actually quite tame when compared similar cameras like the A7SIII which even uses the same image sensor as the ZV-E1, but costs more than £3500. While some downsides do exist with the camera, we'd argue that everything that's included with and offered by the Sony ZV-E1 would justify its price tag. The camera is a wise investment for anyone who's looking for a portable yet powerful video capture device.
To conclude, the Sony ZV-E1 has proven itself to be a highly impressive and versatile camera with no shortage of features and capabilities that certainly make it a compelling choice for anyone looking to get into vlogging or content creation. It boasts a compact size, dynamic image stabilisation and a super advanced autofocus system that even rivals Sony's other cameras and certainly other cameras within the same price range. Yes, it does have some limitations like the absence of an electronic viewfinder or some constraints on the 4K slow motion, but the camera's overall performance and versatility make it to be a very worthy investment for anyone who picks one up. Whether you're a travel vlogger, a budding Youtuber or just someone looking for a professional, powerful yet compact camera - the Sony ZV-E1 promises a high quality and powerful performance which creates the perfect platform for visual expression. What are your thoughts on the Sony ZV-E1? Let us know in the comments below and check out our review on Youtube!