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  • Cost $1099.00

Sony ZV-1 Digital Camera

Camera

Rating

Rating: 8.6 / 10
Value for money 1.6 / 2
Picture quality 1.6 / 2
Weight 1.9 / 2
Ease of use 1.7 / 2
Versatility 1.8 / 2

Sony ZV-1 Digital Camera Review

As a blogger I find that on any given two week hiking trip I average about 1600 photos. Having said that this was a pattern for me even as a standard hiker. The opportunity to take heaps of photos is one of the biggest advantages of digital photography.

Over the past five years I have owned three Sony compact cameras with the Sony ZV-1 Digital Camera being my third and latest purchase. My previous two models have both been the RX100 Mark I, liking the simplicity, size and price of that entry level model. I like having my camera in an easy to get to location and find that the pocket system in the Kuhl Radikl Pants that I now wear allows me to store a compact camera in one of the leg pockets. This storage option does put a bit of stress on the camera and I managed to ‘kill’ the first one (my fault) through rough handling while my second version is still happy and cheery after three years and many thousands of photos.

With so many camera options on the market my criteria for choosing a camera has always been:

  • Must take good quality images that could be printed in A4-A2 size
  • Compact size – must fit comfortably into my pants pocket or the pocket of the hip belt on my pack
  • Weather resistant
  • Could be used in automatic or manual mode
  • Affordable – wasn’t going to require me to mortgage my house to purchase it
  • Feel’s good in my large male hands

Finding a camera that meets all of the above criteria is a very hard ask and I have found myself sacrificing water resistance for image quality.

Image quality

If this is going to be your first camera purchase then the key thing you need to keep in mind is that ‘you get what you pay for’. What isn’t obvious when you look at compact cameras is the sensor size – this is what provides the image quality and why some cameras that almost look identical, are much cheaper. The larger the sensor the better potential image quality. If all you ever do is look at images on a phone or computer, post small images to the internet, or print a standard size photo, then a large sensor camera is probably something you may not need. If however you want to produce images that can be printed from A4 to A3 size or bigger, then small sensor cameras are not going to be all that useful. When you compare the image quality on compact cameras the difference between small and large sensor cameras is really obvious, particularly if you are looking at the images at a larger size. The photo just looks much finer and a much better quality.

The Sony ZV-1 Digital Camera has a large sensor and also has an impressive resolution of 20.1 MP providing some great quality images from this compact camera.

While I am comfortable using photoshop I was always taught to take the best image possible to limit the amount of editing. Usually I will only adjust the image brightness or crop the image if needed. I have my camera set on the medium quality images and in previous Sony versions I have owned, I  have never used the flash which is a good thing because the Sony ZV-1 doesn’t have one! There is an option to get a separate flash unit which attaches to the hot-shoe but at $449 AUD RRP its not cheap.

Compact size

This is the big one for me. I love my Nikon SLR cameras and when choosing to take macro shots or arty photos this is my go-to camera. However at 1+ kilogram including the lens, its heavy and I find it annoying to unpack every time I want to take a photo, particularly in wet weather.

This is where the Sony compact cameras win out. For me it fits in my pants pocket and will fit into the pack hip belt pockets on larger packs. This allows me to quickly and easily get the camera out in a matter of seconds so I can keep on snapping to my hearts content. When powered down, the lens retracts and the whole camera is very small. One reason I had previously avoided going for one of the higher grade versions of the Sony RX-100 was the additional bulk of the fold-out view screen. In the past I had always opted for simple as its less of an issue when you take a camera into a dirty environment as we do when we hike. This camera was physically bigger (see image below), particularly when compared to my RX100, and in fact its bigger than any of the RX range but it comes with a small hand grip which makes it easier to get out of the pocket in my pants leg than my smaller previous versions.

Weather resistant

This is the main weakness of this camera. While I do get this camera out in light rain I wouldn’t attempt to use the Sony ZV-1 Digital camera in heavy rain as I think it would be temping fate. I do own an Olympus waterproof camera \ and while it copes with being in the water, I still have a preference for better image quality.

Could be used in automatic or manual mode

I also own two Nikon DLSR cameras and when I’m using these most of my photography is done in manual mode. However with my Sony ZV-1 Digital camera I mainly use the automatic modes. If I’m taking photos of wildlife its usually as they are moving away from me quickly and I don’t have time to adjust the settings. In addition the macro mode on this camera in automatic is also very good so I tend not to see the need to go into the manual mode. The reason and one of the weaknesses with this camera is it lacks a manual viewfinder instead opting for a digital screen. When you are in the full sun its very hard to see your image on the LCD screen so automatic does a good job.

The Sony ZV1 camera varies from the RX range with the camera modes being changed electronically rather than by the wheel on top of the camera. This new adjustment is fairly easy to get used to after but it is slower to adjust if you are trying to quickly change modes.

Video

For me this is probably the biggest reason for a move away from the Sony RX100 Mk1. Over the past year I have been doing more and more with video footage and I airdrop videos from my phone onto my laptop on a weekly basis. I prefer to get the camera out and do everything on the one device via the memory card. This camera shoots 4k and while that hasn’t been an issue for me its the way the camera industry is heading.

The Sony ZV-1 is a vlogging camera (video blogging) and comes with its own internal microphone on top of the camera and the world’s smallest ‘dead cat’ which attaches to the camera’s hot shoe. The video mode has its own large button on the top of the camera whereas my older RX100 Mk1 has a small button at the rear of the camera that is a bit harder to find without looking. Another bonus with the camera is the ability to attach a corded microphone and in doing so the camera’s internal microphone switches off. Given the impact of even the slightest breeze when outdoors  I find that using a lavalier microphone (lapel) you can often shelter out much of the wind noise by using your body as a barrier. This also means the camera can be further away from your body. The other thing I appreciate with this camera is the flip out screen so if I’m sitting this camera on a rock or using my small Joby GripTight™ ONE Micro Stand I can have the screen facing me so I can see very clearly where I am in the frame.

I will still continue to use my phone for some images particularly when I’m posting to social media but this camera will make getting videos onto my laptop an easier prospect.

Wasn’t going to require me to mortgage my house to purchase

The Sony ZV-1 is not a cheap camera. These days you can purchase compact SLRs for the same price. Having said that the Sony ZV-1 is still very good value for money and is compact which suits me because when I use the SLR I tend not to get my camera out as often. At the time of writing this post, this camera was $1,099 AUD RRP but if you look around you’ll find it on sale. This is by no means a cheap camera as compact cameras go but when you start looking at cameras with 1″ sensors then you aren’t going to be getting too much cheaper anyway.

Feels good in the hands

The Sony ZV-1 feels like a quality camera when you handle it, has a compact aluminium body and even though I have large hands it is easy to use and to access the controls. The big plus over my older RX100 is that is has a small; hand grip on the righthand side of the camera which makes it easier to hang onto particularly if you have big hands

Bibs and bobs

This camera isn’t really just a camera. Sony has developed a range of accessories to suit the keenest of bloggers and vloggers including:

  • A wireless microphone
  • A stereo microphone that fits the hot shoe
  • Lavalier microphone
  • A gun zoom microphone
  • A shogun microphone
  • A clip on monitor shade
  • Various tripods and handgrips
  • Various battery charge options
  • A rubberised cover to protect this camera from the weather

If you were to get carried away and purchase this as a full on system, you could very easily spend more on the accessories than the purchase of the camera. In my case I have many of these accessories for my SLR and given I don’t take all the extra paraphernalia out bush I’m happy with just the base camera.

This camera also comes as a kit and price-wise if you are planning on buying these pieces separately, the kit price saves you some money.

Why did I upgrade?

I have been very happy with the Sony RX100 range which continues to improve with each new release and I still have my Sony Rx-100 Mk 1 which now sits with Gill when we do our walks together. As mentioned above my main reason for the upgrade was the video ability and over the coming months I expect to get more and more use out of this function as I become more familiar with this particular model.

Last words

While I’ve never been tempted to upgrade to the newer models in the RX 100 range I had been aware of the Sony ZV-1 for a number of months and when I saw one for sale at a very good price, I didn’t hesitate and made the purchase.

Features

  • 294 gram weight including memory card
    • Much lighter than equivalent quality large format cameras
  • Compact size
    • Ultra-slim aluminium body 105.6 x 60 x 43.5mm
    • This camera will fit into most pants pockets making it easy to access quickly to catch that great shot
  • Image size 20.1 megapixels
    • Good quality images that can be enlarged
  • ISO (you will need a tripod, or a stable surface for nighttime shooting)
    • Auto
    • 100
    • 200
    • 400
    • 800
    • 1600
    • 3200
    • 6400
    • 12800
    • 25600
  • Focal length
    • 24-70mm
  • Max aperture
    • F1.8-2.8
  • Memory: SD memory cards
    • Easily available storage available in most towns if you run short
  • Maximum Resolution
    • 5472 x 3648 providing great pictures in a little package
  • RAW image capability
    • This is Sony’s version of RAW
  • Multi shot mode
    • 10 frames per second
  • Optical zoom 32.7X
  • Digital zoom 11X
  • Autofocus
    • Contrast detect (sensor)
    • Phase detect
    • Multi-area
    • Center
    • Selective single-point
    • Tracking
    • Single
    • Continuous
    • Touch
    • Face Detection
    • Live View
  • 3″ LCD screen – fold out
    • Touch screen
  • Video mode that records sound
  • Battery Life
    • 260 shots ( I usually get much more than this when out in the field)
  • Removable battery
    • Lithium ion

We like

  • Easy to find in most major camera stores
  • A high quality all purpose blogging camera
  • Comfortable for larger hands as well as smaller hands
  • Able to be built into a full-on blogging/vlogging kit
  • RAW capability, although these days I only use this in certain circumstances
  • An excellent easy to use video camera
  • I’ve come to love the foldable screen as it saves me from having to contort myself into weird position when taking photos low to the ground

We don't like

  • The cost. For a compact camera its not cheap but as the saying goes ‘you get what you pay for’
  • Lack of viewfinder. The main visual access point of this camera is the rear LCD screen and while this is OK in low light, on bright sunny days it is hard to see exactly what you are shooting and what the outcome is without finding a shady spot to review the image
  • Macro and artistic shots aren’t quite as good as with an SLR but when I’m serious about taking macro shots I tend to use a high quality dedicated lens anyway

Best uses

This is a great compact camera for those weight conscious hikers who want high quality images and video footage without the extra bulk and weight of SLRs

Sony ZV1 (Black). Also comes in white but they’re not that common

Sony ZV1 hot shoe and microphone

Sony ZV 1 with dead cat. Being outside in windy conditions means I’m more likely to use a lavalier microphone which will shut down the camera’s microphone. The dead cat attaches to the camera’s hot shoe

Sony RX100 vs Sony ZV1 front view

Sony ZV1 vs Sony Rx100 Mk 1. The ZV1 is bigger than any of the cameras in the RX range but only marginally. In the ZV1 on the lefthand side, the hand grips are visible and these actually make it easier to get the camera out of my pants pocket

Sony ZV1 hot shoe and microphone

Sony ZV1 with flip screen partially open

Sony ZV1 with view screen flipped out

Sony ZV1 battery and memory card casing. The screw thread, used to mount this camera onto a tripod or gimble, is also visible

Sony ZV1 battery

Sony ZV1 with lens extended

Buy one

You can purchase the Sony ZV-1 Camera family from Camera Pro

Disclosure: Some of the above links are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Please note that our affiliations do not influence, in any way, the independence of our reviews. If we don’t like a product, you’ll hear about it from us!

If you have used the Sony ZV-1 Camera or if you have questions, we’d like to hear from you. Post your comment or question below

Investment

$1099 AUD RRP but usually available cheaper

Other versions

The following price are the best available in store at the time of review. Cheaper deals are usually available online.

Disclaimer

This review was done with product purchased by the Australian Hiker from a retail store

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