We just started testing cameras, and our test bench v0.7 is rather simplistic, so we decided to launch without text in the test boxes. If you have any suggestions on what to improve, let us know here. As we gather your suggestions, we plan on making more frequent changes to our methodology and we'll be able to add text to the reviews in the near future.

Sony ZV-1 Camera Review

Tested using Methodology v0.7
Reviewed May 06, 2021 at 09:55 am
Sony ZV-1 Picture
7.5
Travel Photography
7.9
Landscape Photography
7.3
Sport & Wildlife Photography
8.6
Vlogging
7.2
Studio Video
5.9
Action Video
Body Type
Compact
Mirrorless
Yes
Sensor Size
1-inch
Tested Lens
Built-In Lens

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.

Our Verdict

7.5 Travel Photography

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.

Pros
  • Compact, lightweight design.
  • Sharp, bright, fully articulated screen.
  • Amazing image quality.
Cons
  • Short battery life.
  • Some controls are sluggish to respond to inputs.
7.9 Landscape Photography

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.

Pros
  • Compact, lightweight design.
  • Sharp, bright, fully articulated screen.
  • Amazing image quality.
Cons
  • Short battery life.
  • Some controls are sluggish to respond to inputs.
7.3 Sport & Wildlife Photography

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.

Pros
  • Fast continuous shooting speed.
  • Amazing image quality.
Cons
  • Slow buffer clearing speed.
  • Some controls are sluggish to respond to inputs.
8.6 Vlogging

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.

Pros
  • Compact, lightweight design.
  • Excellent overall video stabilization performance.
  • Sharp, bright, fully articulated screen.
  • Exceptional autofocus performance in FHD and 4k.
Cons
  • Short battery life.
  • Middling video quality in FHD.
7.2 Studio Video

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.

Pros
  • Compact, lightweight design.
  • Exceptional autofocus performance in FHD and 4k.
Cons
  • Unintuitive menu system.
  • Middling video quality in FHD.
5.9 Action Video

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.

Pros
  • Compact, lightweight design.
  • Excellent overall video stabilization performance.
Cons
  • Middling video quality in FHD.
  • Limited selection of frame rates in 4k.
  • Not weather-sealed or impact-resistant.
  • 7.5 Travel Photography
  • 7.9 Landscape Photography
  • 7.3 Sport & Wildlife Photography
  • 8.6 Vlogging
  • 7.2 Studio Video
  • 5.9 Action Video
  1. Updated May 07, 2021: Corrected input error in 'Sensor Type' field in 'Sensor' box.
  2. Updated May 06, 2021: Review published.
  3. Updated May 04, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
9.2
Design
Portability
Height 2.4" (6.0 cm)
Width 4.2" (10.6 cm)
Depth 1.7" (4.4 cm)
Volume
17.1 in³ (279.8 cm³)
Weight
0.64 lbs (0.29 kg)
Weight With Lens
0.64 lbs (0.29 kg)
7.0
Design
Build Quality

Update 05/10/2021: Removed mention of a flash mechanism in the text.

  • Made of plastic
  • Control wheel has some slack
  • Power on/off, C1, and Mode buttons on top of camera are slow to respond to inputs, as is the zoom dial
  • Record button is large and offers good physical feedback
  • Screen mechanism is solid
  • Input and output compartment is covered by flap
  • SD card and battery compartment is covered by a solid hinged door

Design
Body
Water Resistance
No
Rugged
No
Hot Shoe
Yes
Customizable Button
Yes
Command Dial
1
Tripod Mount
Yes
Lens Mount
No Lens Mount
Built-In Flash
No
Design
In The Box

  • Sony ZV-1 camera
  • Wind sock for mic
  • 1x Sony Np-BX1 battery
  • USB-A to Micro-USB cable
  • Startup Guide

7.5
Design
Ergonomics & Comfort
Hand Grip: Small Hand
Yes
Hand Grip: Medium Hand
Yes
Hand Grip: Large Hand
No
Hand Grip: Extra-Large Hand
No

  • Small textured handgrip is designed to provide a secure hold when the camera is pointed at you in a selfie position, so holding the camera in normal operation can be slightly awkward, especially for users with large hands
  • Some buttons can be hard to reach when the camera is held in a selfie position
  • Touchscreen can only be used to adjust focus points, actuate the shutter, or track subjects
  • Fn button lets you quickly access frequently-used functions or features
  • Using the microphone wind sock can obscure the power on/off button
  • Easy to adjust aperture, shutter speed, or ISO despite single control dial

6.5
Design
Menu System
Guide Mode
Yes
App Name
Imaging Edge Mobile

  • Most functions are difficult to find within the menu system
  • Navigation is difficult with physical click wheel
  • Interface is a little more intuitive when configured to Tile Menu
  • Camera has a guide mode to help explain the effects of certain features
  • C1 and C2 buttons as well as the back wheel can be remapped to different functions, and you can fully configure the Fn quick menu interface

Design
Viewfinder
Type
No Viewfinder
Advertised Coverage
N/A
Advertised Resolution
N/A
Advertised Magnification
N/A
8.6
Design
Screen
Screen Articulation Type
Fully Articulated
Screen Max Brightness
740 cd/m²
Advertised Resolution
0.92 million dots
Size
3.0" (7.5 cm)
Touchscreen
Limited

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.

Design
Sensor
Sensor Type
Stacked BSI CMOS
Advertised Effective Pixels
20.1 MP
Processor
BIONZ X
Extended ISO Minimum
80
ISO Minimum
125
ISO Maximum
12,800
Tested Firmware
Ver. 2.0.1

Update 05/07/2021: Changed 'Sensor Type' result from 'BSI CMOS' to 'Stacked BSI CMOS'.

5.6
Design
Battery
Battery Type
Sony Np-BX1
USB Charging
Yes
Use When Charging
Yes
Advertised Battery Life In Photo
260 photos
Tested Battery Life In Video
51 min
7.0
Design
Lens
Lens Type
Built-in
Maximum Aperture
1.8 - 2.8
Max Aperture (Full Frame Equivalent)
f/4.9
Minimum Focal Length
9 mm
Maximum Focal Length
26 mm
Max Focal Length (Full Frame Equivalent)
70 mm
Luminance
78.7%
Light Falloff
62.4%

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.

Photo
Photo
Photo Features
JPEG File Format
Yes
RAW File Format
ARW
Shutter
Electronic and Mechanical
Minimum Shutter Speed
30 s
Maximum Shutter Speed
1/2,000 s
Silent Shooting
Yes
HDR
No
Focus Peaking
Yes
Zebra Pattern
Yes
Histogram
Yes
Time Lapse
Yes

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.

7.6
Photo
Shooting Speed
Low Speed Continuous
4 fps
High Speed Continuous
20 fps
Silent Shooting Continuous
20 fps
Raw Buffer Size
81 RAW Photos
JPEG Buffer Size
10,000 JPG Photos
Buffer Empty Time
30 s
6.6
Photo
Autofocus
Advertised Coverage
65%
Advertised Focus Points
315
Manual Focus Assistance
Yes
Face Detection Distance
191" (485 cm)
Eye Detection
Yes
Face Tracking Success Rate
40.4%
Object Tracking Success Rate
62.1%

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.

6.6
Photo
Image Stabilization
In Body Image Stabilization
No
Minimum Shutter Speed Achieved
1/30 s
8.5
Photo
Image Quality
Dynamic Range At ISO 100
9.16 f-stops
Color Accuracy (dE2000)
7.9
JPEG SNR 18% At ISO 800
38.88 dB
JPEG Sharpness At ISO 800
2.089 pixels
JPEG SNR 18% At ISO 1600
37.95 dB
JPEG Sharpness At ISO 1600
1.977 pixels
JPEG SNR 18% At ISO 3200
34.66 dB
JPEG Sharpness At ISO 3200
2.306 pixels

ISO Setting Sample Photo
ISO 100 Photo
ISO 200 Photo
ISO 400 Photo
ISO 800 Photo
ISO 1600 Photo
ISO 3200 Photo
ISO 6400 Photo
ISO 12800 Photo

7.3
Photo
Luminance Noise
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 100 40.44 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 200 39.1 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 400 36.81 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 800 34.4 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 1600 31.51 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 3200 28.51 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 6400 26.8 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 12800 23.58 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 25600 N/A
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 51200 N/A
Sample Gallery
Sample Gallery
The Skate Park

Format Link
JPEG Photo
RAW Photo

Sample Gallery
The Polish Church

Format Link
JPEG Photo
RAW Photo

Sample Gallery
The Studio

Format Link
JPEG Photo
RAW Photo

Sample Gallery
The Stairway

Format Link
JPEG Photo
RAW Photo

General Video
General Video
Video Feature
Full HD Video
Yes
4k Video
Yes
6k Video
No
Clean HDMI Output
Yes
Advertised Max Chroma Sampling Over HDMI
Not Advertised
Advertised Max Bit Depth Over HDMI
N/A
Log Picture Profile
Yes
Recording Light
Yes
General Video
Audio
Audio Test Sample
Audio Recording
Stereo
Microphone Level Display
Yes

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.

General Video
Video Exposure Assistant
Zebra Line
Yes
Histogram
Yes
Waveform
No
General Video
Recording Format And Compression
MP4 H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC
No
MP4 H.265 / HEVC
No
MOV H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC
No
MOV H.265 / HEVC
No
AVCHD H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC
Yes
All-I Compression
No
4k Video
6.0
4k Video
4k Frame Rate
240 fps In 4k
No
120 fps In 4k
No
60 fps In 4k
No
30 fps In 4k
Yes, with a Crop
24 fps In 4k
Yes, with a Crop
Crop At Max Available fps
1.12 x
9.7
4k Video
4k Video Autofocus Performance
Eye Detection In 4k
Yes
Face Detection In 4k
Yes
Face Tracking In 4k
9.4
Object Tracking In 4k
10

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.

8.5
4k Video
4k Video Stabilization
In Body Video Image Stabilization In 4k
No
Walking Test In 4k
9.33 pixels/frames
Running Test In 4k
13.10 pixels/frames
Crop
1.15 x
5.7
4k Video
4k Internal Recording
Bitrate Maximum In 4k
96 Mbps
Bitrate Minimum In 4k
56 Mbps
Chroma Sampling In 4k
4:2:0
Bit Depth In 4k
8 bits
Record Time Limit 5 min
Overheat Recording Interruption
Yes
7.5
4k Video
4k Video Quality
Low Light Capability In 4k
7.0
Test Scene Extract In 4k
8.5
4k Rolling Shutter
4.49°
Full HD Video
9.5
Full HD Video
FHD Frame Rate
240 fps In FHD
No
120 fps In FHD
Yes
60 fps In FHD
Yes
30 fps In FHD
Yes
24 fps In FHD
Yes
Crop At Max Available fps
1 x
9.5
Full HD Video
FHD Video Autofocus Performance
Eye Detection In FHD
Yes
Face Detection In FHD
Yes
Face Tracking In FHD
8.9
Object Tracking In FHD
10

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.

9.1
Full HD Video
FHD Video Stabilization
In Body Video Image Stabilization In FHD
No
Walking Test In FHD
3.77 pixels/frames
Running Test In FHD
6.25 pixels/frames
Crop
1.16
8.3
Full HD Video
FHD Internal Recording
Bitrate Maximum In FHD
93 Mbps
Bitrate Minimum In FHD
13.5 Mbps
Chroma Sampling In FHD
4:2:0
Bit Depth In FHD
8
Record Time Limit 780 min

Note: This camera can record for a maximum of five minutes when recording at 120fps.

5.7
Full HD Video
FHD Video Quality
Low Light Capability In FHD
6.0
Test Scene Extract In FHD
7.1
FHD Rolling Shutter
6.62°
Storage And Connectivity
Storage And Connectivity
Storage
Card 1 Slot
SD Card UHS-I
Card 2 Slot
No 2nd Card Slot
7.8
Storage And Connectivity
Input / Outputs
USB
Micro USB
HDMI
Micro (Type D)
Headphones
No
Microphone
Stereo
Wi-Fi
Yes
Bluetooth
Yes

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

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.

Discussions