Skip to main content

The Sony ZV-1 is the best compact vlogging camera you can buy – here's why

Sony ZV-1
(Image credit: Future)

The big camera manufacturers have been inching their way towards making the perfect vlogging camera for YouTubers in the last couple of years – and now Sony might have just cracked it with the new Sony ZV-1.

In our Sony ZV-1 review we praised its combination of class-leading autofocus, a bright 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 lens, and design touches like the side-flipping screen and 3.5mm microphone port.

The ZV-1 is based on Sony's popular line of RX100 compact cameras, and is a mix of the best video-friendly features from the RX100 Mark V and RX100 Mark VII.

This includes its bright lens, which is more suitable for vlogging than the dimmer 24-200mm lens in the RX100 Mark VII, plus Sony's latest Real-time Eye AF and Real-time tracking. As our reviews says, "together with the ZV-1's 1-inch sensor, which is larger than the ones in today's smartphones, these make it easy to shoot high-quality vlogs with pleasing background blur and consistent focus".

We also praised the inclusion of a built-in ND filter for shooting smooth video in bright conditions, and a hotshoe, which lets you mount accessories like an external microphone on the camera without needing a bracket.

Slightly less impressive was the Sony ZV-1's Steadyshot stabilization for video, which still lags slightly behind pocketable rivals like the GoPro Hero 8 Black and DJI Osmo Pocket – you can see how it compares to its rivals in our comparison video below.

Its slight crop also makes the focal length a little tight for handheld vlogging, although we still found this to be fine in most situations.

Pocket YouTube powerhouse

A couple of other factors that saw the Sony ZV-1 fall short of full marks were its limited touchscreen functionality – a longstanding issue on Sony cameras – and average battery life, which sees it shoot 45 minutes of 4K video. For stills shooters it's also worth pointing out that the ZV-1 lacks the electronic viewfinder and lens control ring found on its RX100-series cousins.

Despite these quibbles, we were hugely impressed by the Sony ZV-1's all-round vlogging game and it now sits just behind the Olympus E-M5 Mark III in our list of the best vlogging cameras

The main reason why it's edged ahead of the Canon G7X Mark III is because it offers superior autofocus and a more convenient side-flipping screen for a similar price. The Sony ZV-1 is available to buy now for $749 / £699 / AU$,1299, with shipping expected to start "in early June", according to Sony.

You can also buy a shooting grip with an integrated wireless remote for the camera, the Sony GP-VPT2BT, which we found useful. This is available now and costs $138 / £170 / AU$249.

The G7X Mark III does uniquely offer the option of YouTube livestreaming, but Sony has also announced some new software (for Windows 10-only initially) that will soon enable you to livestream with the ZV-1 without needing a video capture card. 

This will apparently be available in July, and we're looking forward to trying it out, not least because the ZV-1 would also potentially double up as a great webcam.