TGIFriday: a quick take on the Sony ZV-1 II

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

Sony announced the Sony ZV-1 II Ultra Wide-Angle Zoom Vlogging camera in May of 2023. We got a loaner for use during the recent Watches & Wonders Geneva 24. Here is our impressions on the tiny camera.

The camera was first released in May 2023, and has caused quite a storm among bloggers, YouTubers and the like since the launch. The little camera, yes its tiny measuring only approx. 105.5 x 60.0 x 46.7 mm and weighing less than 300g, it fits into a jacket pocket easily. It is so light that it is easy to forget that it in the pocket.

And comes in handy and ready to use all the time as you are more likely to have it with you than a larger camera.

TGIFriday: a quick take on the Sony ZV-1 II

The Sony ZV-1 II has a retail price of SGD 1,199 inclusive of GST.

The sharp eyed may have noticed from the photograph above that we had to tape up the red recording indicator when the video mode is selected and recording is started. For watch videos, this light can be visible on the shiny surfaces.

The sensor is a 1 inch type sensor with 20.1 megapixels, and the little camera is equipped with a permanently attached Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 18-50mm f/1.8-4 lens.

This is a very sharp lens offering a very wide angle perspective, and a reasonably wide fully open apertures. The wide angles enables the camera to be very useful for group selfies, small interior spaces. The camera features facial recognition and is able to recognise multiple and automatically adjust to keep all faces sharp and clear.

The Patek Philippe booth in WWG 24. Photographed with ZV-1 II at 16.5mm focal length f/4.

The screen can tilt, and can be completely swung so that the entire LCD is visible from the front of the camera, making it very useful for vlogging and selfies. Flipping the LCD screen automatically turns on the camera and it is ready to shoot. The camera can shoot stills as well as 4K video. Autofocus is decently fast and accurate. The camera features human and animal face detection. There is also a product presentation mode, where if an object is placed over a face, the camera will select the object to focus on. This is useful for presenting products. Overall, the autofocus is good but not at the level of the Sony A7RIV that we tested earlier.

At its widest lens setting of 18mm and with the camera held as far as my hand will allow, this is the frame coverage.

The microphone is found on the top plate and features a 3 capsule design. In auto mode, the camera recognises where the main sound source is coming from and is able to automatically switch the direction of the microphone to face the front, rear or omnidirectional. In manual mode, the user can switch from front facing, rear facing or omnidirectional. The microphone is relatively sensitive, and picks up the sound of the lens as it zooms. See the Rado video clip below.

A dead cat windshield is also provided, though when mounted, it occupies the hot shoe. So when an external flash is needed for still photography, one would need to swap out the windshield for the flash attachment. In video use, this flash hotshoe is not needed. In our use, the microphone works well as intended.

Active image stabilisation is also provided and we found it to be not as good as using a gimbal like a DJI Ronin attachment, but is quite useful for hand held shooting while walking.

The walkthrough of the Rado novelties were shot on the Sony. The sound of my voice is from the built in microphone, with windshield on, and set in automatic mode.

Our use case as a direct to social media video camera

We tried to use the ZV-1 II to support our WWG adventures, but found that this was not the best tool for the job. We ended up using our iPhones as we were directly uploading the footage to social media platforms on the go. To use the ZV-1 II, the video files would need to be transferred from the camera to phone for upload. This is an additional step and takes too long. So for us during WWG, and our run and gun direct upload use case, shooting directly from the iPhone was far more efficient.

Colour grading is needed for this footage. The Horizon Blue of the IWC dial is rendered with a more greenish overtone in this video clip than it appears in life. This is probably due to the colour grading. For example, the shirt in the clip above is pure white, but appears with a warmish tone.

Quality of the images, both stills and video from the ZV-1 II is better than from those taken with the iPhone. The noise performance, especially in low light environments and high ISO is superior with the Sony’s 1 inch sensor compared to the tiny sensors in iPhones. We had only the iPhone 15 (base model) and iPhone 13 Pro for comparisons . Of course, the Sony affords more creative control over the video production, but this can be approximated with using an app like the (free) BlackMagic Camera App on iOS. This app offer creative control (like frame rate, ISO and shutter angle) and usual videography tools (like focus peaking and focus point selection, zebra, false colour, digital horizon, framing). We do note that as new iPhone 15 Pro Max supports full LOG via Apple ProRes recording up to 4K at 60 fps with external recording (using an external USB C attached SSD for example), and when coupled with the BlackMagic Camera App may be a viable competitor to the ZV-1 II.

Here is a short film, done in one take introducing Rydis Sylva RS10 shot using the ZV-1 II in automatic video mode. In this simple one take, one camera video, the ZV-1 II excells. But do note the light striping due to pulsing of the floor lights and the shutter angle. The sound was also recorded by the Sony on its in-built microphone.

Concluding thoughts

Overall, a rather fun camera to use. In the field, it is unobtrusive. It is light and small enough to carry around everywhere.

A quick walkthrough of the Ba111od CHPTR_Δ. The Sony is mounted on a small tripod, and pointing on the table top. Video is shot in 4k, with sound of my narration recorded by the built-in microphone in automatic mode.

The camera is excellent for a beginner filmmaker or short video maker looking for a simple but high quality solution which offers more control than using an iPhone. Though as we noted, the Pro Max solutions offered by iPhone with the BlackMagic Camera app may approach the video quality and control.

We can envision that using the ZV-1 II would be an excellent fit for those looking to do vloging and lifestyle content which will require more post-production work for consumption on long form media like YouTube. We also feel that the ZV-1 II would be a useful B cam, and can be used to supplement a main camera, which can be another ZV-1 II or a mirrorless camera in a more production oriented video environment.


Comments are closed.