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Sony Vlog Camera ZV-1 II | Digital camera

Pros

  • Compactness
  • Image quality in photo and video
  • Electronic shutter up to 1/32,000s
  • Face or eye detection and tracking in photo and video
  • Swivel-mounted screen
  • Wifi and Bluetooth
  • Microphone socket

Cons

  • No viewfinder
  • No tropicalisation
  • No headphone jack

Three years later, Sony is revamping its compact vlog, the ZV-1, with a slightly revised formula and a wider-angle zoom. This simplified and modernised product is aimed at the selfie-video enthusiast market, which is now very dense.

Technical Data

Model
Sony ZV-1 II
Effective still resolution
20.1 MP
Objective
x 18-50mm f/1.8 -4
Screen
7.5 cm, , 921600 dots, , Multitouch
Connectivity
Wireless - Bluetooth - USB Type C
Sony Vlog Camera ZV 1 II 2

Overview


In the summer of 2020, Sony opened a new range in its camera catalogue dedicated to vlogging. The Japanese company launched the ZV-1, a compact expert camera that inherited the 1-inch 20MP sensor and 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 zoom lens (24×36 eq.) from the RX 100 series. This camera was without an electronic viewfinder but came with a touch screen on a ball joint, an optimised sound capture system and video functions such as a product presentation aid.

A successful product launched under the £800 mark, which has seen a more affordable version with a fixed focal length, the ZV-1F. Sony also extended this model to interchangeable lens cameras with the ZV-E10 and its APS-C sensor, but especially the ZV-E1 with a 24×36 sensor, which is, in fact, an A7S III in disguise. The vlog formula is then known: an oriented video camera without a viewfinder and with a screen on the ball joint. Even Nikon tried it with the Z 30, an APS-C camera with the abovementioned characteristics. Canon is not to be outdone with the PowerShot V10, a conceptual and simplified camera.

Sony Vlog Camera ZV-1 II 3

ZV-1 II vs ZV-1

Also, seeking to occupy more and more ground, Sony continues on its way and offers a successor to the ZV-1. Soberly named ZV-1 II (or ZV-1 Mark II), it looks like the first model in form and content. The cosmetic or software differences are nuanced with the product, which is still equipped with the same 1-inch 20.1MP sensor, but sees its optics evolve a little, going from a 24-70mm to a wider-angle focal length of 18-50mm. The 18mm focal length is relevant, mainly as it retains the large f/1.8 aperture. However, we need more versatility with a shorter and much less luminous zoom since, at 50 mm, the lens only opens to f/4! As much to say that with a 1 inch sensor, it looks complicated in low light conditions.

It is understandable that Sony is only concentrating on the vlog aspect of the camera, which is quite logical, and that most users will be satisfied with the very wide 18mm angle for most of their videos.

Sony Vlog Camera ZV-1 II 4

Getting started


USB-C at last


With its ZV-1 II, Sony does not turn the tables. Once in hand, it’s hard to distinguish version 1 from version 2. Up close and at a distance, the cameras are almost identical.

To distinguish the differences, you must look under the beast and the caps protecting the shots. Indeed, the ZV-1 Mark II corrects one of the primary defects of the ZV-1, namely the USB port. The ZV-1 Mark II now features a USB-C port instead of the old micro-USB port, which was already an eyesore in 2020.

Off-centre screw thread


The compact camera also makes a small change to its tripod screw thread, which is now offset to the camera’s left. This allows the SD card (UHS-I) and battery to be changed without removing the handle or the tripod. This is a good idea for a product that will often be screwed to a handle. Usually, having the memory card cover underneath the camera is a negative point precisely because of the blocking of the screw thread. Sony has found an interesting answer to a recurring problem on many cameras.

Marginal changes


Other differences include changes to the logos of some of the buttons to make them easier to use. The product presentation button comes to mind. The small handle, formerly made of rubber and then glued to the ZV-1, and the thumb rest are now moulded directly into the compact. The grille covering the microphones on the top edge has a slightly different design. On the menu front, the ZV-1 Mark II incorporates the gesture navigation introduced with the Sony ZV-E1. An option that could find its audience among vloggers.

Sony ZV-1 and ZV-1 II: same battle


For more information about the general ergonomics of the Sony ZV-1 II, we refer you to the ZV-1 test, as there is a substantial similarity between the two devices.

Sony Vlog Camera ZV-1 II 5

Image quality

High sensitivity


The Sony ZV-1 II is equipped with the classic 1-inch Exmor RS CMOS sensor with 20.1MP and Bionz-X processor. Its sensitivity ranges from ISO 80 to ISO 12,800. We would have expected a sensor close to the IMX989 that Sony designs for mobile phones, also 1 inch in size and providing 50MP. For the Model III?

In detail, digital noise is not noticeable before ISO 400, after which it increases to a first detectable level at ISO 1600. It is possible to use images up to ISO 3200 without too much trouble, at the cost of some smoothing. The higher values, however, are too degraded to be usable.

Lens performance


The Zeiss 18-50mm f/1.8-4 zoom lens is wider than the ZV-1, but its optical performance is inconsistent. Here’s how the aperture is structured according to the focal length:

Having a wider aperture is commendable, especially for vlogging, and a wider aperture is appreciated for the separating effect. Still, it should be noted that at 18mm and f/1.8, the sharpness of the image is not very attractive and lacks homogeneity between the centre and the edges. You have to wait until f/2.8 or f/4 to get a sharper image before decreasing from f/5.6. Of course, these considerations apply more to photography than video, where you don’t necessarily want the sharpest possible image.

The full aperture at each focal length lacks sharpness, and in the 35mm and 50mm frame, we’ll settle for blocking the diaphragm at f/5.6, the best value in both cases.

Video mode


4K UHD but still no 60 fps
As with the ZV-1, the ZV-1F, or the RX100 VII before them, the ZV-1 Mark II makes do with 4K UHD and 30 fps, all in 4:2:0 8 bits and 100 Mb/s. This is a far cry from the formats offered by the Leica Q2 or the Fujifilm X100V and light years away from the video performance of cameras like the Panasonic Lumix S5 II or any other video-oriented hybrid.

Autofocus and rolling-shutter


In the video, the autofocus still works well and is even more impressive in video than in stills. Eye tracking rarely fails, and vloggers will be very happy. Rolling shutter is hardly noticeable in 4K 30fps full frame, and it becomes almost non-existent once digital stabilisation is activated. Finally, for more original footage, switching to Full HD and going up to 120 fps for slow-motion video is possible.

Conclusion

The Sony ZV-1 II is a good expert compact and exciting evolution of the first ZV-1. We appreciate the arrival of USB-C and the wider 18mm angle, which is more relevant for vlogging, especially with digital stabilisation. We are more cautious about the lack of framerate higher than 30 fps in 4K and the 1-inch sensor blocked at 20 Mpx. The ZV-1 Mark II is nevertheless an excellent compact for vlogging, with formidable autofocus and many valuable options for video. Creators will get the most out of it.

★★★★★

Sony Vlog Camera ZV-1 II | Digital camera (Vari-angle screen for vlogging, wide angle zoom lens, 4K video, multi-directional microphone)

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Price History

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Current Price -
Highest Price £869.00 May 23, 2023
Lowest Price £640.83 March 4, 2024
Since May 23, 2023

Last price changes

£743.00 March 16, 2024
£640.83 March 4, 2024
£825.55 February 7, 2024
£769.00 February 1, 2024
£825.55 January 31, 2024
5/5 (1 Review)

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Richard Garrett

Richard Garrett

As an expert on the latest techy stuff, the primary focus is PCs and laptops. Much of his time is split between smartphones, tablets and audio, focusing on the latest devices.
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