After weeks of leaks and speculation, Sony has finally announced the Sony ZV-E1 – its premium vlogging and content creation camera aimed at YouTubers, streamers, and social media stars.
It describes the Sony ZV-E1 as the "ultimate content creation experience" camera, and it is easy to see why, offering E-mount lenses combined with a full frame sensor, the very latest in video specs as well as groundbreaking AI technology from Sony's much more premium Alpha and Cinema camera range.
• The ZV-E1 could be one of the best YouTube cameras when it launches
The ZV-E1 has a body that resembles a mashup of the Sony ZV-E10 and Sony 7C cameras, and according to Sony the ZV-E1 takes the crown (from the A7C) as the world's most compact and lightweight full frame interchangeable lens camera. The ZV-E1 features a more premium and less plastic-y design than previous cameras in the ZV range, and in a first for a ZV body it has weather sealing on par with Alpha cameras like the Sony A7S III.
The ZV-E1 carries some of the buttons over from previous ZV cameras, including the bokeh switch for enhancing background blur, and the zoom toggle that will work with Sony PZ lenses to zoom in and out electronically. The ZV-E1 also has a digital step zoom, which enables footage to be recorded in 4K resolution using a 1.5x digital zoom, or a 2x-4x digital zoom in FullHD. This can turn a 50mm prime lens into a 75mm lens and still output 4K footage.
In terms of sound, the ZV-E1 uses a three-capsule microphone that offers three different modes for sound recording. An all-directions mode records all sound, while a front / rear directional mode will just record sound isolated to that location, with AI noise canceling for other background noise for the cleanest and most professional audio.
The ZV-E1 uses a Sony Z battery, which Sony claims offers better battery life than the A7S III (mostly down to not having a viewfinder), and the camera can also be powered by USB-C power delivery. Finally, the ZV-E1 has a single SDHC / SDXC slot and not a faster but more costly CFexpress card slot.
The Sony ZV-E1 shares the same processor as the A7S III, with a 12MP, back-side illuminated (BSI) sensor, that offers a huge 15+ stops of dynamic range and ISO from 80-102,400, which can be extended up to 409,600. This is paired with the Bionz XR processor and a separate dedicated AI chip, both from the latest Sony A7R V, that will power the autofocus and AI features of the ZV-E1.
All the impressive autofocus features from the A7R V are present and accounted for in the ZV-E1, including person and animal subject recognition that can track human bodies down to arm and leg movements. This enables the camera to focus on subjects even when they are facing away or partially obscured.
For video specs, the ZV-E1 is capable of 4k60p with no pixel binning, although the ZV-E1 will receive a free firmware update sometime after release that will enable 4K 120p and FullHD 240p footage. The camera is capable of shooting in S-Log and in 10-bit 4:2:2 all-intra internally. For external recording, it can be hooked up to an external monitor using a microHDMI – but is not capable of external RAW footage.
For video streamers who want to use this camera for live video, the ZV-E1 is capable of 4K 30p or FullHD 60p via a USB-C connection.
See our Sony ZV-1 vs ZV-1F vs ZV-E10 vs ZV-E1 comparison guide
Sony claims that the ZV-E1 is the best tool for "perfect in-camera content", and offers more controls and creative options to get footage that is immediately useable than ever before. The camera menu has been redesigned from previous ZV cameras, taking the best aspects of the Alpha and FX bodies to offer more one-touch controls for shooting settings as well as a My Style quick menu for fast tweaks.
The ZV-E1 offers the fastest way to get color-toned footage directly in the camera, offering in-built Cinematic Vlog settings; these preset LUTs can combine five 'looks' and four 'moods' to adjust the feel of the footage. The ZV-E1 enables users to load their own LUTs onto the camera that can be applied directly during in-camera processing.
The ZV-E1 offers a new Frame Stabilizer mode, which will maintain selected subject framing using a variable digital zoom and crop, even while the camera moves. The ZV-E1 will use AI to track the subject and keep them in a fixed position in the frame using flexible cropping. The ZV-E1 also offers a new Dynamic Active mode, which is an enhanced digital stabilization that attempts to stabilize the whole scene with a fixed crop.
The ZV-E1 is also capable of Auto Framing a subject using a digital crop, which is useful for vlogging and interviews. As the subject moves around a frame, the camera will crop and adjust the frame so that the subject remains in the center. This can work for multiple subjects, too, with the camera able to automatically switch between subjects, or this can be done manually by tapping the screen or using the companion app.
All crop modes have a lot of fine-grained control, with options for the size of the crop as well as how quickly the crop will change between subjects. However, cropped footage will not be recorded in 4K, but will default to FullHD, with a crop never going above 4x digital zoom. If you also want to record the original 4K footage, the ZV-E1 enables 4K footage to be recorded externally via HDMI, while the cropped footage is recorded internally – these can be combined in editing to give the illusion of a multi-camera setup.
For recording with multiple people, the ZV-E1 can also dynamically switch its aperture value when it detects multiple faces so that they are all clear and in focus, which is useful for subjects entering and exiting the frame.
Availability & pricing
Available starting in April, with pricing from $2,199/£2,350/AU$3,799 body only, and $2,499/£2,600 in a kit with the 28-60mm lens (an Australian kit price hasn't been confirmed yet).
Stay up to date with all the latest from Sony with our guides to the best Sony cameras and the best Sony lenses. Or for more video-related guides, you can find the best cameras for vlogging and the best hybrid cameras.