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Sony announces ZV-1 compact with serious video smarts

The Sony ZV-1 is a 20.1-megapixel, RX100-like digital compact camera with a 1-inch size sensor (stacked CMOS) designed for easy, high quality video up to 4K – although you can probably take the odd still photograph with it as well!

Sony ZV1 selphie
OK Selfie! (That little furry pom-pom is the wind screen – one of a series of genuinely useful features for video shooters)

Weighing in at under 300g, it has a selection of genuinely useful features for shooting video, going by the specs. No local pricing has been provided, but in the US it is set at US$799 – so with GST included, probably somewhere north of $1300 in Australia

Lens is a Zeiss 1.8-2.8/24-70mm zoom (35mm equivalent) with image stabilisation.

It has an ergonomic, comfortable grip plus a 3-inch vari-angle LCD screen with recording lamp, for even easier selfie-shooting.

Sony says the ZV-1 is all about vloggers and their close relatives, ‘content creators’, with intuitive controls for video creation. A directional 3-capsule microphone utilises technology from Sony’s video camera systems to deliver high quality sound with noise reduction in full-stereo. In addition, it’s equipped with a wind screen to reduce wind noise in outdoor conditions. There’s a 3.5mm input jack for external microphones.

Real-time Eye AF, developed for the Alpha series, locks on and tracks subjects using AI-based subject recognition technology to detect eye information in real-time, even when shooting 4K movies. Real-time Eye AF for animals is not available when shooting video.

Sony ZV1 grip
Sony ZV-1 with optional Bluetooth grip.

For the older, spottier demographic, ‘Soft Skin Effect’ enables you to reduce skin wrinkles and marks while ensuring you preserve skin-tones and the sharpness of eyes and mouths. Skin tones are optimised for both movies and stills to deliver ideal subject emphasis, while a face priority AE algorithm detects the face and adjusts the exposure to ensure it is depicted at optimal brightness, even during selfie-shooting scenes with large light-dark changes.

Of more interest to all demographics is the ‘Bokeh Switch’ which apparently adjusts the aperture for a shallower depth of field and consequent blurred background effect. Clever, that.

Another setting – Product Showcase Setting – enables the focus to shift rapidly from your face to a product or object being held up to the lens without having to hide your face. Sony says this is just the thing for product review videos.

The camera will be available locally from mid-June.

The Sony press release teases out some of those video-focussed features:

SYDNEY, 27 May 2020 – Sony today has announced the new pocket-sized digital camera ZV-1 (hereafter referred to as “ZV-1”) – a lightweight, compact “all-in-one” solution. Designed from the ground up for vloggers, content creators and casual video shooters, the ZV-1 combines easy-to-use features with uncompromising imaging technology, making this the perfect tool for content creators of all skill levels.

“Sony’s new ZV-1 was purpose-built to specifically meet the needs and demands of vloggers and content creators,” said Jun Yoon, Head of Digital Imaging, Sony ANZ.  “We are always listening to our customers, and this dedicated camera is the result of direct feedback from our extended creative community.  Featuring an innovative design plus many new technologies, settings and modes, it will allow video content creators and casual video shooters to make content in ways they have never been able to before. The ZV-1 aims to let the subject shine in any environment. Every single feature is optimised for any type of daily video creative expression.”

The ZV-1 features a 1.0-type stacked Exmor RS® CMOS image sensor with DRAM chip and 24-70mm F1.8-2.8 ZEISS® Vario-Sonnar T* large-aperture lens to create beautiful background bokeh (background blur), allowing the subject to stand out from the background. The camera utilises Sony’s leading-edge autofocus system, Real-time Tracking, which tracks subjects with high accuracy and incredible speed. The ZV-1 also includes the latest-generation BIONZ X™ image processor with front-end LSI, delivering high resolution as well as low noise for superior image quality. It also combines this exceptional imaging technology with high-quality and versatile audio options. The ZV-1 is Sony’s first compact camera with a side-opening Vari-angle LCD screen, making it easier to compose your shots in selfie mode while connecting external audio accessories. To meet any video need, the ZV-1 contains advanced video features including 4K movie recording and in-body image stabilisation.

Quickly Switch Between two modes of Background Bokeh
The ZV-1 offers a simple solution to easily switch between two levels of background bokeh while recording. Using the new Background Defocus function, users can rapidly adjust the optical aperture between more and less background defocusing blur without losing focus on the subject. Located on top of the camera, this Bokeh button is easily accessible and makes selfie shooting operation a breeze.

Focus on the Subject You Want
The ZV-1 makes it easier than ever to shoot product reviews and similar video content. Gone are the days of placing a hand behind an object to prompt the camera to bring it into focus thanks to a new Product Showcase Setting, which allows for quick and smooth focus transitions between the subject’s face and the object placed in front of the lens.

Building on the leading-edge technology developed for α™ (Alpha brand) and RX series cameras, this new compact camera includes advanced autofocus (AF) allowing it to lock on and track subjects with high accuracy and speed while recording. For maintaining focus on the intended subject or subjects in busy environments, Real-time Eye AF and Real-time Tracking AF for video allows the ZV-1 to seamlessly switch focus between multiple subjects while controlling the AF speed and tracking sensitivity.

Prioritize Your Face
Extreme changes in lighting, like walking outside on a sunny day and suddenly moving from a bright location into shade, are no problem for the ZV-1 thanks to the new Face Priority autoexposure (AE) function. It detects and prioritizes the subject’s face and adjusts the exposure to ensure the face is depicted at an ideal brightness in any environment. This AE technology also suppresses an abrupt change in exposure if the subject quickly turns away from the frame to eliminate unexpected blown-out or extremely dark shots. In addition, the camera features a new advanced color science that has been re-engineered to optimize skin tones for any subject in both still and video modes.

Crystal Clear Audio
High quality content requires clear, excellent audio quality, and the ZV-1 is well-equipped to produce just that with reliable and versatile audio options. The ZV-1’s onboard mic features Sony’s latest Directional 3-capsule Mic which was designed for forward-directional audio capture, allowing for clear capture of the subject’s voice while minimizing background noise, especially when operating in selfie mode. For added flexibility, the ZV-1 also features an industry standard mic jack (3.5mm) and Multi Interface Shoe™ (MI shoe) making it easy to connect a wide range of external microphones. The ZV-1 is also supplied with a wind screen[iv] accessory that fits on the MI shoe to minimize wind interference.

Design and Functionality Optimized for Vlogging
The ZV-1 was designed with content creators and vloggers in mind. This compact, lightweight (approx. 294g / 105.5mm x 60.0mm x 43.5mm) camera is the first Sony compact camera with a flip-out, tiltable LCD Screen, allowing creators to simplify their setup by utilizing the MI shoe for optional external mics without the need of an additional mounting bracket.

Comfortably operate the ZV-1 with one hand thanks to the easy-to-hold comfortable grip and a large movie REC button located on the top of the camera for quick access to video recording, as well as a recording lamp on the front of the camera that indicates if the camera is actively recording.

The ZV-1 also includes advances in image stabilization, ensuring steady video even when shooting hand-held while walking. When recording in HD (Active mode), optical and electronic stabilization methods are combined to reduce shaking up to 11 times[v] that of standard SteadyShot™ image stabilization. When shooting 4K video using Optical SteadyShot (Active mode), there is improvement in stabilization effect of up to 8 times that of standard SteadyShot. The ZV-1 is also compatible with the GP-VPT2BT Shooting Grip with Wireless Remote Commander, offering additional stability and comfort combined with cable-free Bluetooth® connectivity.

Class-Leading AV Features
Despite the small form factor there are a multitude of pro-level movie making capabilities, including:
– 4K movie recording with full pixel readout and no pixel binning in high bit rate XAVC S™ codec.
– Industry standard 3.5mm microphone input
– Hybrid Log-Gamma (HDR) / S-Gamut3.Cine / S-Log3, S-Gamut3 / S-Log3
– Interval Shooting[ix] for stunning time-lapse videos
– Super Slow Motion[xi] recording at up to 960fps
– Compatibility with ‘Movie Edit add-on’ from the “Imaging Edge™” mobile application for image stabilization while editing. Highlight ability to edit aspect ratios for IG etc.

Live Streaming with the ZV-1
Transform the ZV-1 into a webcam by connecting it to a PC via USB, which allows content creators to interact with their followers in real-time while also utilizing the advanced imaging technology and unique features of the ZV-1. Sony’s new PC software will be available in July 2020.

New Vlogger Accessories Kit
Sony will also be introducing a Vlogger Kit (ACCVC1), which includes a GP-VPT2BT Shooting Grip with Wireless Remote Commander and 64GB Ultra High Speed Media Card. The grip is compatible with a variety of Sony cameras.

Pair this kit with an external microphone (sold separately), such as Sony’s Stereo Microphone (ECM-XYST1M), for a convenient and simple vlogging setup.


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