The Sony ZV line seems to have always been targeted at creatives who care more about vlogging than cinematic compositions. This was evident in not only the sensor size and ergonomics of previous cameras but also the price. It was affordable and did what it needed. It was the perfect tool for those needs. Until now, no ZV camera has cost more than a few hundred dollars.
That has changed with the Sony ZV-E1, which comes with a price tag of $2,198.
What changed? A few things, one being that creatives will find a full-frame sensor found in the FX3 and the AI-based features of the A7R V. It's an impressive piece of tech, to say the least, but is it necessary?
Features Worthy Of The Price
The Sony ZV-E1 comes with the same 12.1MP Full-Frame CMOS Exmor R Sensor you will find in the Sony FX3. A camera that’s almost $2000 more. This means creatives will be able to capture amazing low-light images with the claimed 15+ stops of dynamic range. Whatever you plan on shooting, this is a stunning sensor to have at your disposal.
Creatives will also find Sony’s 5-axis stabilization, which is a blast to use, as well as the AI-based auto-framing and AF assist that was released with the A7R V. The ZV-E1 also include a built-in mic and something called "Cinematic Vlog," which we'll touch on later.
A full-frame, AI autofocus vlog cameraCredit: Sony
When it comes to recording options, content creators will see the usual fair found in other Sony cameras. There will be 4K up to 120p and full HD up to 240p, which uses the full sensor readout without pixel binning. Internally, you can expect 10-bit 4:2:2 with both of these modes. It's all things that filmmakers have come to expect from their cameras.
For color, S-Cinetone will allow creatives to match the other Sony cameras on offer and customize their image with color and gamma controls. However, S-Log3/S-Gamut3.Cine is also included for increased flexibility in post.
The new Cinematic Vlog setting aims to bring a film-like vibe to your video by simply choosing a Look and Mood:
All in all, this is basically a paired-down Sony FX3 or A7S III aimed square at folks who point that camera at themselves instead of a subject. While you won’t get things like CINE EL mode, which you can find in the FX3, it’s a powerful set of features in a small package that's sure to impress.
One Hot Potato
But here’s where things get a little hot. Taking the likes of the FX3 and A7S III and making them more compact really cranks up the heat.
While online reviews don’t show the camera having terrible thermal problems, if you end up running this camera at 4K for over an hour, the camera will end up shutting down due to heat. Gerald Undone did some solid tests to show what the ZV-E1 is capable of. Here are his results:
Sony ZV-E1 overheating chartCredit: Gerald Undone
Is that a deal breaker? Well, that depends on what kind of content creator you are. If you’re just vlogging and want that sweet, sweet 4K full-frame and autofocus, you’re probably safe. But there is a world where this camera just won’t be able to handle the heat it produces, especially if you live in a hot climate where your ambient temp is well over 72°F.
Do Content Creators Need It?
Do a quick search through the YouTube landscape, and you’ll see this camera labeled as the perfect kit for vloggers. B&H also states this is designed for content creators. Sony’s own website even calls it a vlog camera.
But at $2,198? Sure, you’re getting a solid set of features that are found in Sony’s more expensive camera, but that’s still around $1500 more than what other ZV’s had initially cost. For a camera that’s marketed to non-tech-focused creatives, the Sony ZV-E1 sure has a lot of tech inside it. Is that bad? Not at all. The question is, do you need it?
Whatever your needs are, I’m of the opinion that a lot of these features might not be what you need for vlogging or content creation. Sure, the full-frame sensor is incredible, and the AI-assisted features are killer, but that’s like bringing an F1 car to your local track day. It just feels like overkill.
- Designed for Content Creators
- 12MP Full-Frame Sensor
- UHD 4K 120p / FHD 240p / 10-Bit 4:2:2
- 5-Axis SteadyShot Image Stabilization
- 15+ Stops Dynamic Range
- AI Auto-Framing
- Multi-Face Recognition, Time-Lapse
- Product Showcase Setting
- S-Log3, S-Gamut3
- S-Cinetone, User LUTs
- Extended ISO 80-409,600
- Internal Mic + Inputs, USB Streaming
What this camera would be great for is getting these features and tools into the hands of budget filmmakers. Those are the folks who may get better use out of them. But having said that, the Sony FX30 is more affordable and more equipped for that kind of work. Even saving up a little more and getting an FX3 would be a better use of your funds.
The Sony ZV-E1 is definitely a nice camera. But who needs to vlog in S-Log3/S-Gamut3.Cine at 4K60?
What do you think? Is the Sony ZV-E1 your dream camera? Let us know in the comments!