The Sony ZV-1 is a compact camera designed for vlogging. It does an excellent overall job of smoothing out camera shake in FHD and 4k and has a fully articulated screen that can pivot to face you. It's not a bad choice for still photography either, as it offers amazing image quality and has a fast continuous shooting speed. Its battery life can be quite short depending on your usage habits, it has a confusing menu system, and it exhibits a noticeable rolling shutter effect in FHD and 4k video.
The Sony ZV-1 is good for travel photography. It offers excellent image quality out-of-the-box, with a reasonably wide dynamic range and very little noise or softness even at higher ISO levels, which is good if you're shooting in darker environments. It also features a face metering priority mode, which adjusts exposure metering to compensate for different lighting conditions and focuses metering on the subject's face, though we don't currently test this feature. You can use its lens' built-in ND filter if you want to shoot in brighter environments at a slower shutter speed or wider aperture, though note that we don't test for this either. It's also lightweight and very compact, which is good for extended shooting sessions. Unfortunately, depending on your choice of settings and usage patterns, its battery life is rather short. Its autofocus system can also sometimes struggle with tracking subjects' faces.
The Sony ZV-1 is very good for landscape photography. The camera offers a wide dynamic range, and images are reasonably sharp and low in noise, even at higher ISO levels. The lens' built-in ND filter gives you a bit of added flexibility with your choice of aperture or shutter speed in brightly lit environments, though it's worth noting that we don't test this feature. On the downside, the lens exhibits a noticeable amount of light falloff that makes the corners of your shot darker than the middle. While its plastic construction feels decently sturdy overall, some of its controls can be a little sluggish to respond to inputs. Thankfully, its lightweight design makes it easy to carry to remote shooting locations.
The Sony ZV-1 is decent for sports and wildlife photography. Image quality is excellent overall, and its maximum shooting speed is very fast, which should help you capture clear stills of fast-moving subjects. Unfortunately, it takes a long time to clear its buffer, leading to prolonged interruptions in shooting if you fire off several long bursts. Its autofocus system can struggle with tracking moving objects, and the built-in lens' max focal length may not be sufficient for capturing close, clear shots of far-away subjects, like players in a soccer stadium. Some of its controls can also be a little slow to respond to inputs, which can be frustrating if you're trying to capture a brief moment.
The Sony ZV-1 is an excellent choice for vlogging. The camera's compact, lightweight design makes it easy to carry around handheld for long periods, and the camera's ergonomics are well-suited for operating it when held at arm's length in a selfie position. The screen can fully articulate to face you as you record, and the camera smooths out camera shake to an amazing degree. The autofocus system can track faces without an issue and features a couple of dedicated modes for product and animal vloggers, too, not to mention a quick depth of field switch function. On the downside, the camera offers middling video quality in FHD, with plenty of noise visible in dark environments and a very noticeable rolling shutter effect that can distort subjects when panning rapidly. Its battery life is also rather short, depending on your usage patterns, and it can overheat during long recording sessions.
The Sony ZV-1 is a satisfactory option for studio video. Video quality in 4k is good, particularly in well-lit environments, but FHD video can look somewhat soft and grainy. Thankfully, its autofocus system delivers an exceptional overall tracking performance even as subjects move through the frame. The camera is also fully capable of recording in Log format to conserve a wider range of detail in high contrast environments and features a clean HDMI output, allowing you to use an external recorder without any overlays getting in the way. There's also a stereo mic port, allowing you to use an external microphone but no headphone jack to help you monitor the audio in your recording a little more easily. Its menu system isn't especially intuitive, either.
The Sony ZV-1 isn't designed for action video. While it's small and lightweight, it isn't meant to be attached to a helmet or chest rig and isn't advertised as being weather-sealed or impact-resistant, though note that we don't currently test for that. It's also incapable of recording at more than 30 fps in 4k, so you can't record smooth action video in this resolution. However, it does an excellent job of smoothing out camera shake and can record at up to 120 fps in FHD, which should allow for smooth action footage or slow-motion video.
Update 05/10/2021: Removed mention of a flash mechanism in the text.
Note: This camera can configure to turn on automatically when the screen pivots from its cradle. You can also configure the camera to turn off automatically when the screen articulates to face inwards against the camera body in its cradle.
Update 05/07/2021: Changed 'Sensor Type' result from 'BSI CMOS' to 'Stacked BSI CMOS'.
Note: This camera's lens features a built-in ND filter that effectively reduces the amount of light captured by the camera. This can be helpful if you wish to shoot at a large aperture or a slow shutter speed in a brightly lit environment without over-exposing your image. This filter can be engaged and disengaged through the Fn menu. We didn't test the performance of the camera with this filter engaged.
Note: This camera has a 'Beauty Effect' feature that allows you to apply a filter intended for portraits that smooths the skin of subjects' faces and applies selectable color tones, but we don't currently test this feature.
Note: This camera has a few specialized autofocus modes and features for different use cases, though we don't currently test these functions. You can configure the 'Subject Detection' mode to track people or animals, like a cat or dog. Also, this camera uses a hybrid autofocus system with 315 points that cover roughly 65% of the frame; there are 425 contrast-detection points.
Note: This camera comes with a wind sock for the onboard mic that's meant to reduce the amount of wind noise in your recording. However, we didn't test the camera with this attachment fitted in place.
Note: This camera features several specialized autofocus modes and features for different use cases. 'Product Showcase' is intended for product vloggers and quickly switches focus to inanimate objects within the frame. The 'Subject Detection' mode can be configured to track people or animals, like a cat or dog. By default, the C1 button activates the 'Background Defocus' function, which instantly adjusts the lens aperture from f/1.8 to f/5.6 or vice versa, which is good if you want to quickly shift between having a deep or shallow depth of field. However, it's worth noting that we don't currently test these features.
Note: This camera features several specialized autofocus modes and features for different uses. 'Product Showcase' is intended for product vloggers and quickly switches focus to inanimate objects within the frame. You can configure the 'Subject Detection' mode to track people or animals, like a cat or dog. By default, the C1 button activates the 'Background Defocus' function, which instantly adjusts the lens aperture from f/1.8 to f/5.6 or vice versa, which is good if you want to quickly shift between having a deep or shallow depth of field. However, note that we don't currently test these features.
Note: This camera can record for a maximum of five minutes when recording at 120fps.
The Sony ZV-1 is available in two color variants: 'Black' and 'White'. We tested the 'Black' variant, and you can see its label here. We expect the other color variant to perform similarly overall.
If you come across another variant of this camera, let us know in the discussions so we can update our review.