I was pretty dang impressed by the Sony ZV-E1. It does a whole lot of things right, and offers some pretty mind-blowing tech that could genuinely change the way that a lot of people shoot.
BUT, the Sony ZV-E1 misses one pretty enormous trick that would have been truly game-changing. And the really galling part is that it came this close to what wouldn't just have been a slam dunk, but a LeBron James on a breakaway slam dunk.
I'm talking about the new camera's Auto-Framing mode, which makes the ZV-E1 act in many ways like one of the best PTZ cameras. While static on a tripod, it crops into the full frame video in order to follow you around the screen by tracking your face – so as you walk around, the frame pans with you and creates the illusion of dynamic camera movement even when it's locked down.
Pretty clever, right? Well, even more clever is the fact that it can save this cropped footage to the memory card while exporting the full, uncropped footage to an external recorder. So you'll have the cropped "broadcast version" along with the raw footage.
And that's pretty great for solo content creators, who can now create more dynamic video with camera moves. However, it misses an enormous opportunity to apply that trick to an even more useful application: vertical video. And I'm not the only one who thinks that; I was watching Gordon Laing's review of the ZV-E1 over the weekend, and he made the exact same point:
As it stands, Auto-Framing only enables you to create cropped-in 16x9 footage that follows you around the screen. But with so much video now being created for vertical display, especially for the likes of TikTok and Instagram, it would have made SO much sense for Auto-Framing to offer a 9x16 mode that follows you around the frame.
What makes this even more of a rimshot is the fact that the Sony ZV-E1 is being hyper-marketed as the "ultimate content creation experience". That is literally the tagline being used to sell this camera.
And yet, what really would have been the ultimate cheat code for content creation would be the ability to record vertical video, with Auto-Framing that tracks you around the frame, and export the original 16x9 footage to use for conventional widescreen displays.
Perhaps it will come in a future firmware update, and Sony is simply saving the feature for a rainy day. Because it was such an obvious use of the tech that I really can't believe nobody thought of it aside from me and Gordon.
And for a camera promising the ultimate experience for content creation, it really feels as big a miss as LeBron blowing that breakaway slam.
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