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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.

Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson is the Cameras Editor for TechRadar at Future. He writes and oversees reviews of the latest camera gear on TechRadar and looks after all the photography tutorials. Mark was previously Digital Editor (Cameras) at Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine.