the first full-frame camera dedicated to vloggers, with professional shooting capabilities

Sony has announced the new ZV-E1 vlogging camera, the most powerful in its vlogging range, which has hardware comparable to the most powerful cameras in its portfolio. It appears to be, on a hardware level, a top of the range camcorder (with small photo capabilities), with significant changes in construction and software to simplify the way it operates. Of course, the price is commensurate with the capabilities.

ZV-E1 uses A7S III hardware in a simplified body

If the Sony ZV-1 and 1F were compact vlogging cameras with a 1″ sensor, and the ZV-E10 of 2 years ago proved to be an interchangeable lens camera with an APS-C “crop” sensor, the next camera in this series could only make the transition to Full Frame. And the ZV-E1 borrows some of the most powerful components from Sony’s mirrorless camera/video range, putting the power of an A7S III or FX-3 in the hands of vloggers.

We’re talking a 12-megapixel Full Frame sensor with internal stabilization (IBIS), capable of shooting in 4K at 30 or 60 frames per second from the factory, and Full HD in slow motion at 120 frames per second. With only one SD card slot available, this camera won’t be able to offer all the advanced shooting features of the A7S III, but video quality will be identical across 1080p and 4K shooting modes, which can be recorded at bitrates up to 600 Mbps ALL-I.

Sony ZV-E1 top

Of course, there’s 10-bit, S-Log3 neutral color profile shooting with up to 15 stops of dynamic range, which we also find on professional cameras. The back-illuminated sensor allows an ISO range of 80 to 102,400 (extended to 409,600), so we’re looking at excellent low-light performance too. As with the A7S III, this model has a dual-ISO sensor, with native ISO at 640 for highlights and 12,800 for low light. So, even at night, you’ll get footage without image noise.

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Shooting capabilities comparable to Sony’s ‘Pro’ models

A big advantage of the Sony ZV-E1, however, is its small size, but this can also turn into a disadvantage. At just 483 grams, it’s significantly lighter than the A7S III, its larger “brother”. As a result, a few components disappear: the OLED viewfinder and the CPU cooler cooling system. So in 4K at 60 frames per second, you won’t be able to shoot for more than 30 minutes because of the temperature. Fortunately, the camera’s small body doesn’t mean small batteries. The ZV-E1 uses the same batteries found in Sony’s professional models, which promise 570 frames on a single charge or 4K recording at 60 FPS for 95 minutes (total, not continuous).

Many of the camera’s functions can now be controlled directly from the touchscreen, as there aren’t as many physical buttons. In addition to the already familiar modes like “product showcase” or “blurry background” that the ZV-1 and ZV-E10 have, the new ZV-E1 also gets crop tracking capabilities, as well as a 1.5x digital zoom via crop without loss of quality. So you can turn any lens into a small zoom that zooms in another half the focal length of the lens. And even features like compensation for “focus breathing” are included in this camera, something the A7S III doesn’t offer either.

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Sony ZV-E1 ports

Stabilization has three modes, standard, which uses sensor movement only, SteadyShot Active, which does a small crop and also uses the sensor and software for better stabilization, and SteadyShot Dynamic, which does a 1.5x crop but provides near perfect stabilization comparable to a gimbal. With very wide lenses, you could use the camera on dynamic mode for vlogging on the move without any problems.

On the connectivity front we have audio jack for monitoring sound and attaching a microphone, USB-C for charging or connecting to a PC, and a microHDMI, which can be used for recording to an external device like an Atomos Ninja. There’s also an integrated 3-capsule microphone that can be set to pick up sound from the front, back or all directions, and even incorporates a dynamic mode that switches between microphones automatically.

ZV-E1 price is high, but still more affordable than other comparable models

Sony also promises to ship a few firmware updates for the ZV-E1 that will increase the camera’s capabilities, something that’s not exactly typical for the company. The first update will add 4K shooting at 120 frames per second, something the A7S III and FX-3 offer from the factory, and another update will allow slow motion shooting in Full HD at 240 frames per second.

The price is US$2,200 for the body variant and US$2,500 for the 28-60 f/4-5.6 kit lens variant. This lens isn’t very wide, though, so it doesn’t exactly seem suitable for vlogging on the move. In Romania, the camera is already listed on specialty stores at 13,299 and 14,799 lei for the kit lens version. In comparison, its “cousin”, the A7S III, launched in 2020 still costs 20,199 lei in the body version.

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