Sony has announced the latest model in its vlogging camera range, with the Sony ZV-E1 taking things a step up from previous models by including a 12MP full-frame sensor previously seen in the firm’s video-specialist Sony Alpha A7S III. It follows on from the interchangeable lens, APS-C sensor Sony ZV-E10 and the fixed zoom Sony ZV-1. Like these previous models, the ZV-E1 features a relatively compact body, with a fully articulated screen but no viewfinder, and simplified controls designed to be easy to use for non-expert users. However, it comes at a premium price: $2300 / £2350 body-only, or $2600 / £2600 in a kit with the compact FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 zoom lens.

Indeed, the ZV-E1 is a curious mixture between top-quality imaging hardware and beginner-friendly features. Its 12MP full-frame BSI CMOS sensor offers a standard sensitivity range of ISO 80-102,400 and provides native 4K output without any pixel binning. It can shoot 4K 60p video using Sony’s S-Cinetone profile, in 10-bit, 4:2:2 colour, and with All-I encoding for ultra-high quality footage. Sony says 4K 120p and Full HD 240p recording will be added via a firmware update in June 2023.

The Sony ZV-E1 also borrows the sophisticated subject detection autofocus system that we saw in the recent Sony Alpha A7R V. Powered by its own AI processor, this is capable of recognising humans, animals, birds, insects, airplanes and vehicles. The camera boasts a variety of advanced focusing features, including user-customisable AF Transition Speed and Subject Shift Sensitivity Settings, along with breathing compensation with Sony lenses.

Sony ZV-E1 front

The Sony ZV-E1 places a 12MP full-frame in a compact body, with a fully articulated screen. Image credit: Sony

User-friendly features carried over from previous ZV models include a Bokeh Switch, which toggles between shooting with the lens wide open for a defocused background, and stopped down for extended depth of field. Meanwhile Product Showcase mode will temporarily shift focus onto an item held out in front of  the presenter. New to the ZV-E1 is Multiple Face Recognition, which will automatically stop the lens down when a second person enters the frame, to keep both sharp.

Sony has also included some new AI based features which aim to frame videos automatically. A Framing Stabilizer option crops into the full sensor output and tracks the subject as they move around. Meanwhile, the Auto Framing mode ‘automatically crops into the frame to keep the subject in a prominent position’, according to Sony. A new Cinematic Vlog setting allows users to combine 5 looks with 4 moods, or alternatively shoot in black & white.

Other features include a three capsule stereo microphone, which now boasts directional recording to focus specifically on voices either in front of, or behind the camera. Microphone and headphone sockets are built in, along with USB-C and micro HDMI. The camera records to a single SD card slot (which unlike Sony’s recent A7 models, won’t accept faster CFexpress Type A cards).

Photographers hoping for a compact full-frame body with excellent low-light performance are, however, likely to be disappointed by the Sony ZV-E1. It lacks a mechanical shutter, so is unlikely to be well-suited to stills shooting.

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