Sony ZV-E1 Review | Photography Blog

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Sitting at the head of the ZV range, the Sony ZV-E1 is a 35mm full-frame mirrorless camera designed to be the ultimate all-round compact hybrid option for video content creators and vloggers.

Literally taking the A7S III as its starting point, the ZVE1 principally loses that camera’s viewfinder and adds a better built-in mic, improved stabilisation and enhanced vlogging modes to a smaller, lighter and crucially cheaper alternative.

It shares the same 12.1 megapixel resolution Exmor R CMOS sensor, BIONZ XR image processor, up to 4K/120p 10-bit video recording, 10fps burst shooting rate, 5-axis image stabilization, AI-based Real-time Tracking AF and vari-angle LCD touchscreen as the A7S III.

This full-frame mirrorless camera is aimed squarely at filmmakers, but it is also a highly capable low-light and action shooter for stills photography, provided the limited 12.1 megapixel resolution meets your particular requirements.

The Sony ZV-E1 is available in white or black, priced at around £2350 / $2200 / €2250 in the UK, USA and Europe respectively. It is made in Thailand.

Ease of Use

Sony ZV-E1

For such a feature-rich camera, the Sony ZV-E1 is impressively compact, measuring 121.0 x 71.9 x 54.3mm. Its magnesium alloy body only weighs 483g / 1 lb 1.1 oz with the battery and memory card installed, which is 216g less than the A7S III, a considerable weight saving.

This is predominantly down to the ZV-E1 not having a viewfinder, only a rear LCD screen, whereas the A7S III has both, with its EVF being an impressively specced 9.44M dot resolution with 0.9x magnification.

So if you typically use a viewfinder for the majority of your shooting, then the A7S III will be a much better fit than the ZV-E1, especially as the screen on the smaller camera can be hard to see in bright sunlight.

On the other hand, if you never use the viewfinder on the A7S III or any comparable camera, then you’ll appreciate the considerably weight saving afforded by its removal on the ZV-E1.

The lack of an EVF is obviously a big compromise for stills photographers, less so for vloggers who will be more than happy using just the rear LCD screen to compose.

Sony sent us the weighty FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM wide-angle zoom lens for the duration of this review, but thanks to a decent-sized handgrip the ZV-1 II feels comfortable to hold for long periods, although not as comfortable as the A7S III which has a larger grip.

Sony ZV-E1

Although not particularly deep, the sculpted hand grip is relatively wide and comfortable to hold on to, which combined with the sizable rear thumb rest makes the ZV-E1 feel secure enough even when shooting one-handed.

The body is weather-sealed to be dust and moisture resistant so it can be counted upon in adverse conditions. It has a plastic, or polycarbonate, body, which has been chosen to keep the cost of the camera down, but in hand the body seems solid; all the components fit very nicely together, there are no creaks or weak looking joints, with everything feeling well designed and assembled.

One very important difference between this camera and the A7S III is that the latter model is larger and features a ‘heat dissipation’ design.

This helps to extend the recording times when recording 4K video at the higher 60fps and 120fps frame rates, especially in warmer environments.

The ZV-1 E1 is both smaller and doesn’t have a built-in heat-sink, so recording lengths will be shorter than on the A7S III before the overheating warning kicks in. Sony state that the ZV-E1 offers up to an approximate 60-minute recording time at 4K/60p quality.

Controls are set out logically enough, although there are a lot fewer of them than on the larger A7S III. This camera more closely resembles the ZV-E10 model, rather than any of the A-series cameras.

Sony ZV-E1

For example, there’s no shooting mode dial, second exposure dial or an exposure compensation dial on top of the camera.

The Shooting Mode dial has been replaced with a Mode switch on top of the camera with three options – Stills, Video and S&Q (slow-motion video).

You then have to dip into the menu system or use the touchscreen icons to change both the shooting mode and exposure compensation, and the rear scroll wheel less effectively replaces a second exposure dial.

The lack of a shooting mode dial may seem like a big deal, but for videographers this is often a rarely used dial which will largely be set in the same position depending on their preferred mode.

It definitely takes a few seconds longer to switch modes using the dedicated switch and menu system, but it certainly isn’t a deal breaker unless you’re constantly changing between shooting modes.

For video, the ZV-E1 is very much like a miniature version of the A7S series cameras. Virtually all of the key video specifications that are found much further up the range are here.

4K video can be recorded up to 120fps at 10bit 4:2:2 and 280Mbps from a full-pixel readout without binning. There’s also 4K I (all-intra) recording up to 60fps with a bitrate of 600Mbps.

Sony ZV-E1

Full HD can be shot at up to 100/120fps, depending on whether you are shoot PAL or NTSC format. The Slow and Quick (S&Q) mode gives you easier access to the camera’s slow- and quick- motion video options (frame rates range from 1fps to an impressive 240fps in 1080p mode for 10x slower playback), as selected in the S&Q Settings option in the main menu system.

All of the Picture Profiles are present and correct, meaning you can match the footage shot with the ZV-E1 with cameras such as the A7S III, making it an ideal accompaniment for those who may be using those cameras in more of a studio environment.

The ZV-E1 also features Sony’s S-Log 2 and 3 gamma and HLG curves which enable it to record greater dynamic range, providing you’re prepared to colour grade the recording in post-production.

Proxy recording is also available, allowing low resolution 1280 x 720 resolution footage to be recorded alongside 4K or Full HD footage. This is great for those who may be editing video on older computers. Simply edit using the lower resolution proxy files, then switch to the full resolution 4K files when it comes to the fine-tuning and export.

A recording lamp (tally light) is also provided on the front face of the ZV-E1’s body for an at-a-glance indication of the current video recording status, and a red color recording alert square is displayed on the LCD screen too (both can be turned off).

Live streaming is possible directly from the ZV-E1 simply by connecting it to a computer or compatible mobile device via USB, eliminating the need for a video capture card. This allows the camera’s video and audio capabilities to be used for live social media and video conferencing. Both the UVC and UAC standards are supported for improved picture and sound quality during streaming.

Sony ZV-E1

The top-plate also sees the inclusion of a large, slightly protruding one-touch video record button. This is large enough to easily find in a hurry and is marked with a red ring to more readily identify it against the shutter button.

The ZV-E1 even has a built-in zoom lever which encircles the shutter button. Although it only works with Sony’s Power Zoom lenses, it’s still quite a handy feature to have on such a video-centric camera, providing an alternative to using the zoom ring on the lens itself.

If you don’t have a Power Zoom lens attached, by default this lever activates Sony’s Clear Image Zoom digital zoom technology (if enabled).

Also on top of the camera, alongside the red video button, there is a Background Defocus button, which doubles up as the first of several customizable C buttons.

For vloggers the aim of this button is to switch between having the background blurred or clear. In photographic terms it is switching the aperture between the largest available for the attached lens and a stopped down value.

It is a useful button to have available for video, but even for photography it is something we would use to make a quick, rather drastic aperture change.

Sony ZV-E1

Finally, also located on top of the ZV-E1 are a large three-capsule direction microphone and a Multi Interface hot-shoe.

The shoe allows for any standard accessories to be mounted, with microphones and LED lights being the most obvious. However, the Multi Interface part allows for compatible to Sony accessories to work intelligently with the camera and also draw power where needed, which means that you can mount and use Sony flashguns.

Sony’s range of stereo microphones can also be used, with the audio sent through the Multi Shoe rather than requiring a 3.5mm cable to be plugged into the side of the camera.

The rear of the camera is almost identical to the ZV-E10, with the now familiar directional control dial placed around a central selection button. Around this sit 4 other buttons to access regularly used feature including ISO speed, exposure compensation and the burst shooting settings.

The ZV-E1 has a 3-inch widescreen LCD monitor with 1.04m-dot resolution and it has a vari-angle design that’s hinged to the side of the camera.

It can be flipped out to the side and rotated forwards by 180 degrees, making it perfect for vlogging and selfies. You can also fold it against the back of the camera to help protect it when you just want to carry the camera loose in a bag or pocket.

Sony ZV-E1

Despite being a video-centric camera the ZV-E1’s display is a 4:3 aspect ratio, meaning it is not maximised for 16:9 and it does feel small.

However, it is bright in almost any lighting condition and subject tracking AF is very reliable so you may not need to look too closely to check for sharp focusing.

Active filmmakers will still probably want to add an external monitor, not least of which to increase the display size.

Sony have also implemented touch sensitivity on the screen, which makes functions like focus point selection much easier and more intuitive, especially given the lack of a rear AF joystick.

Thankfully, you can finally use the touchscreen to navigate both the main menu and quick menu settings, unlike on the similarly-specced ZV-E10 model and many earlier Sony cameras.

The ‘Delete’ button also acts as the ‘Product SC Set’ custom button, which by default is set to access the Product Showcase mode. This is an autofocus mode that alerts the camera to switch focus from a person’s face to an object that may be held up in front of the camera.

Sony ZV-E1

It is a popular YouTube technique for when wanting to show an item to the viewer, but on cameras with slower autofocus it can leave the focus fixed on the presenter’s face with the product out of focus, and vice versa. The Product Showcase mode solves that issue, adding another plus point for vlogging with the ZV-E1.

By default, the Fn button activates the Sony ZV-E1’s Send to Smartphone Wi-Fi function when in playback mode. This works in conjunction with Sony’s Imaging Edge Mobile app and lets you transfer a full resolution JPEG image.

Of course, you’ll have to connect your smart device first, but this is a pretty painless process. Sony lets you scan a QR code displayed on the ZV-E1’s monitor and this automatically enters the SSID password on your smartphone so you don’t need to type it manually.

There’s also a low-power, low-bandwidth Bluetooth 4.2 data connection is available on the ZV-E1. This lets you connect your camera to a smart device even when the camera is turned off for easier transfer of images. The Bluetooth connection can also be used to sync GPS location data from your smartphone.

The Sony ZV-E1 uses the latest menu design from the Alpha A7-series cameras, rather than the one found on some of the older A6000-series models. It has a more logical structure, although as is traditionally the way with Sony’s menu system, it’s still pretty complicated.

Usefully the option to customise the Function Button Quick menu remains, and it can have two different versions depending on whether you are shooting stills or video.

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There is also the MyMenu screen, where you can add any other the Menu settings to your own personalised Menu Screen, and there is also the option to make this the default screen that pops up when the Menu button is pressed.

So although there is an almost overwhelming amount of features in the ZV-E10, between the Function Menu and the My Menu you should be able to access everything you need relatively quickly and efficiently.

‘Steadyshot’ sensor-shift 5-axis stabilisation is either on or off for stills photography, while for video there is a choice between standard, active, dynamic active or off. Sony claims the ZV-E1 offers up to 5 stops of stabilisation for photos, depending on the lens, which is 0.5 stops less than on the A7S III.

For video, standard stabilisation just uses sensor-shift IBIS and doesn’t introduce a crop factor. Active steadyshot continues to use sensor-shift IBIS but with a broader coverage that necessitates a slight crop.

Dynamic active is a new mode for the ZV-E1 which applies digital stabilisation to the Active mode and is therefore approximately 30% more effective, at the expense of a much greater crop that really requires a very wide-angle lens to be used for arms-length vlogging. There are examples of all four stabilisation modes for video in the Sample Images section of this review.

Active image stabilisation for video is pretty good, and dynamic is even better. You’ll get relatively smooth run-and-gun footage although vibrations from footsteps are still there a little, especially at slower frame rates. We also didn’t really see any warping in the corners of stabilised wide angle shots when walking with the camera.

Sony ZV-E1

Overall, the in-camera stabilisation can be relied on for videos with smooth movement, but for the more extreme movements with the ZV-E1, we’d still opt for a gimbal.

On the left side of the ZV-E1 are three port doors. We really appreciate how you only need to open the door for your needed port, thus keeping all other ports protected.

Crucially, these doors all fix into an open position rather than flapping around – that’s a frustration with many other cameras.

The top and bottom doors house four external ports – mini-HDMI, USB-C and the all important 3.5mm microphone and headphone inputs.

The HDMI-out allows for external video recording which will allow you to squeeze every bit of detail out of the sensor, although attaching any external device kind of defeats the point of this being a small vlogging camera. Still, it is a useful option to have if only to playback video or images directly from the camera.

The USB-C port allows for power to be supplied to both keep the ZV-E1 going with a battery installed, or to charge the battery when the camera is not in use.

It also provides UVC / UAC output for use as a standard USB webcam, supporting up to 4K/30p quality and activated simply by connecting the camera directly to a PC witha cable, with no additional software required.

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The middle door protects the single UHS-II memory card slot. This is another key difference between the Zv-E1 and the A7S III, which has dual card slots that both support faster, albeit more expensive, CFexpress Type A cards as well as UHS II SD cards.

This means that the ZV-E1 only supports maximum bit rates for video up to 600Mbit/s. It also lacks the 16-bit RAW video output over HDMI of the A7S III.

Under CIPA’s testing conditions the battery life is quoted as being between 95-140mins of video or 570 stills, depending on how many other operations you are doing, zooming, power the camera on and off etc.

Special mention has to go to the latest Bionz XR processor (that Sony claims provides up to 8x the processing power of the Bionz X processor) and the 759-point hybrid phase/ contrast detection autofocus system that covers 93% of the frame.

For photography, you essentially have unlimited continuous high shooting up to 10fps using the electronic shutter, with continuous tracking AF/AE for up to 1,000+ JPG or compressed RAW files.

So regardless of whether you choose to shoot in RAW or JPEG, the camera will keep shooting until the card fills up or battery runs out. There is no delay in processing those 10fps images either, the ZV-E1 is ready to shoot again immediately after stopping the prior sequence.

Sony ZV-E1

Over numerous 10fps sequences with continuous AF, we tracked the movement of a person whose distance from the camera wavered and focusing was sharp in all of the shots. In other tests where the subject jumped in and out of the frame quickly, autofocus performed flawlessly.

Note that, unlike the A7S III which has both a mechanical and electronic shutter, the ZV-E1 only has an electronic shutter, reflecting its video-first focus.

This means that if there is any skewing from rolling shutter present or banding due to the flickering of artificial lights, you can’t switch to the mechanical shutter to help avoid it.

Eye detection AF sticks like glue even when the subject’s face turns away from the camera and back again. Every aspect of continuous AF delivers with unerring speed and reliability for photography and video; subject tracking, face and eye detection for humans and for animals (photo only) is incredibly good.

Unlike the A7S III, the ZV-E1 can additionally recognise a human via its pose as well as its eye and face. So if the person’s head is turned away from the camera, it will still accurately detect the subject as human based on its AI deep learning.

Animal and bird detection has been expanded from just being able to recognise the eye on the A7S III to the eye, head and body on the ZV-E1.

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New to the ZVE1 is the ability to recognise airplanes, cars, trains and insects. We tested it on a range of subjects including birds, cars, insects and of course humans, and were blown away both by how quickly the subject was recognised and by how tenacious the camera was in tracking it.

With a wealth of customisation options for each different subject, you really can fine-tune what is already a very capable out-of-the-box system to suit your own specific requirements.

The ZV-E1 also offers the clever Auto Framing feature which uses the camera’s AI-based subject recognition technology to automatically crop the frame to keep the subject in a prominent position when shooting movies, even when the camera is mounted on a tripod.

Other features offered by the ZV-E1 but not by the A7S III include Breathing Compensation, which eliminates the small change in the field of view when changing the focus point from near to infinity, and the CineVlog mode.

This new video mode allows you to choose from a range of different cinematic Looks and Moods and combine them in your own particular style. The resulting video is automatically shot in the widescreen Cinemascope aspect ratio (2.35:1) at 24fps with black bands above and below the image for a true cinematic feel, all by simply selecting the Cinematic Vlog option.

The speed of AF transitions can be manually adjusted, with 7 levels of speed. We have especially appreciated this newer feature for slower and smoother (and therefore more natural) AF transitions because Sony systems are capable of being too quick as to feel unnatural in video. The same goes for AF subject shift sensitivity, with five levels of speed.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 12 megapixel Extra Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 12Mb.


With its full-frame back-illuminated sensor and 12.1 megapixel resolution, the Sony ZV-E1 has an incredibly good handle over unwanted noise.

Its native sensitivity range for RAW and JPEG images covers ISO 80 to ISO 102,400 (that’s more than 11EV), and can be extended to cover ISO 40 to ISO 409,600 – that’s a range greater than 14EV.

Below are some 100% crops that show the levels of noise for each ISO setting. All in-camera noise reduction settings are set to off and no noise reduction has been applied post capture either.

Close viewing these sample images at 100%, we have observed clean and crisp detail in high contrast areas in images up to ISO 6400, at which point a very fine grain begins.

At ISO 25,600, grain looks more noisy. Select the native ISO range cap of ISO 102,400 and images are still perfectly usable although, understandably detail in the extended high ISO settings is tonally flatter and mushed by noise.

In those identical raw and JPEG images at high ISO settings, we prefer the look of the RAW files. Detail is a little crisper given there is no aggressive noise reduction, plus JPEGs exhibit chroma noise (which in general here is more noticeable than luminance noise).

Perhaps even more impressive is the camera’s handle over noise in video files. It has what we call a dual gain sensor where there is a second gain step for a lower noise readout.

The base ISO 80 in standard colour mode and ISO 640 in the picture profile S-Log 2 or 3 mode gives the cleanest looking image. Noise is reduced again once that second gain is applied (at ISO 2000 in standard colour mode and ISO 16,000 in S-Log 2 or 3).


ISO 40 (100% Crop)

ISO 40 (100% Crop)

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ISO 50 (100% Crop)

ISO 50 (100% Crop)

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ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

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ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

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ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

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ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

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ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

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ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

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ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

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ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

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ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

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ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

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ISO 51200 (100% Crop)

ISO 51200 (100% Crop)

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ISO 102400 (100% Crop)

ISO 102400 (100% Crop)

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ISO 204800 (100% Crop)

ISO 204800 (100% Crop)

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ISO 409600 (100% Crop)

ISO 409600 (100% Crop)

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File Quality

In the ZV-E1 both HEIF and JPEG formats are available, although you can’t select both at the same time. Whichever format option you select can then be captured independently or simultaneously with RAW.

Thanks to a higher compression efficiency, HEIF files are smaller than JPEGs even though they contain significantly more data. How much more? Well, HEIF files are 10-bit whereas JPEG files are 8-bit. It’s a heck of a lot more tonal detail and wider colour gamut.

In HEIF format there are 10-bit 4:2:2 or 4:2:0 options, while JPEG file sizes are Extra Fine (12MP), Fine (5.1MP) or Standard (3MP). An Uncompressed RAW format image will take up about 15MB of hard drive space, and there are additional Lossless Compressed and Compressed options too.

Full resolution photos are 4240×2832 pixels – that’s a printed image size of 14.1×9.4in at 300ppi, or 17.6×11.8in at 240ppi without interpolation. You won’t be printing billboards from images taken with this camera, though they do look great on screen at your typical 25% size and on social media posts.


Low light is where the Sony ZV-E1 is really in its element. With a wide ISO 40-409,200 sensitivity range and excellent autofocus sensitivity, the ZV-E1 is up there with the best low-light shooters.

Beyond the shutter speed range of 1/8000sec to 30 seconds is a bulb mode for long exposure photography. To find bulb mode you need to be in manual exposure mode and turn the dial beyond the maximum 30 seconds setting.

It’s also possible to shoot in the silent electronic shutter mode where there are no vibrations that may adversely effect quality in long exposure images.


Dynamic Range Optimizer

Sony claims that the Sony ZV-E1 boasts a dynamic range up to 15EV, depending on the camera settings and which colour profile is in use. That claim is referring to the video colour profile S-Log3 when shooting at the low sensitivity setting (ISO 640).

As for photos, we are again impressed by the wide dynamic range, especially using the minimum ISO 80 setting. We can see more detail in highlights like the shine on a face in a portrait.

There is a ‘D-Range Optimiser’ too, with up to five strength levels plus auto. Of course, there are further exposure bracketing options too in order to further widen the dynamic range by up to +-3EV. Ideally the camera should be mounted to a tripod to ensure those bracketed shots are lined up for editing later.

Creative Looks

There are 10 Creative Look preset effects that you can use to change the look of your images which are available when shooting JPEG and/or Raw files.

There are ten creative look presets – Standard (‘ST’), Portrait (‘PT’), Neutral (‘NT’), Vivid (‘VV’), ‘VV2’, ‘FL’, ‘IN’, ‘SH’, Black & White (‘BW’) and Sepia (‘SE’).





















Picture Profiles

The Sony ZV-1 II offers a range of Picture Profiles which are available when shooting JPEG and/or Raw files.

In addition to the creative looks, there are picture profile primarily designed for video use. By default, the ten parameters (PP1-PP10) are set to cover the following in-camera gamma profiles; Movie, still, Cine1-4, ITU709, ITU 709 (800%), S-Log-2, S-Log3 and HLG1-3), with manual control over numerous parameters including black level, colour mode and saturation.

In addition LUT files (.cube format) can be imported into the ZV-E1 and assigned to Picture Profiles, allowing you to create specific looks in-camera and minimise post-processing.





















Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Sony ZV-E1 camera, which were all taken using the 12 megapixel Extra Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample RAW Images

The Sony ZV-E1 enables users to capture RAW and JPEG format files. We’ve provided some Sony RAW (ARW) samples for you to download (thumbnail images shown below are not 100% representative).

Sample Movies & Video

This is a sample 4K movie at the quality setting of 3840×2160 pixels at 120 frames per second. Please note that this 16 second movie is 671Mb in size.

This is a sample 4K movie at the quality setting of 3840×2160 pixels at 120 frames per second. Please note that this 11 second movie is 470Mb in size.

This is a sample 4K movie at the quality setting of 3840×2160 pixels at 60 frames per second. Please note that this 11 second movie is 336Mb in size.

This is a sample 4K movie at the quality setting of 3840×2160 pixels at 24 frames per second. Please note that this 11 second movie is 202Mb in size.

This is a sample 1080p movie at the quality setting of 1920×1080 pixels at 120 frames per second. Please note that this 11 second movie is 168Mb in size.

This is a sample 1080p movie at the quality setting of 1920×1080 pixels at 60 frames per second. Please note that this 11 second movie is 101Mb in size.

This is a sample 1080p movie at the quality setting of 1920×1080 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 11 second movie is 101Mb in size.

This is a sample 1080p movie at the quality setting of 1920×1080 pixels at 24 frames per second. Please note that this 11 second movie is 101Mb in size.

This is a sample 10x slow-motion 1080p movie at the quality setting of 1920×1080 pixels at 24 frames per second. Please note that this 106 second movie is 671Mb in size.

This is a sample 5x slow-motion 1080p movie at the quality setting of 1920×1080 pixels at 24 frames per second. Please note that this 53 second movie is 403Mb in size.

Image stabilisation is set to Off. This is a sample 4K movie at the quality setting of 3840×2160 pixels at 60 frames per second. Please note that this 8 second movie is 202Mb in size.

Image stabilisation is set to Standard. This is a sample 4K movie at the quality setting of 3840×2160 pixels at 60 frames per second. Please note that this 6 second movie is 201Mb in size.

Image stabilisation is set to Active. This is a sample 4K movie at the quality setting of 3840×2160 pixels at 60 frames per second. Please note that this 7 second movie is 201Mb in size.

Image stabilisation is set to Dynamic Active. This is a sample 4K movie at the quality setting of 3840×2160 pixels at 60 frames per second. Please note that this 9 second movie is 269Mb in size.

Product Images

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The Sony ZV-E1 delivers almost all of the key features from the A7S III hybrid camera in a smaller, lighter, cheaper, even more video-focused package.

Stills photographers won’t like the lack of a viewfinder or the simplified and less intuitive user interface, but then the ZV-E1 isn’t really aimed at them, even less so than the already video-centric A7S-series.

Instead the ZVE1 is aimed firmly at videographers, especially those of the one-man/woman-band variety, with Sony’s range of vlogging-friendly shooting modes in particular making it easier to use than the A7S III if you don’t have a team behind you.

And if you’re solely focused on video, you probably won’t mind the lack of an EVF, mechanical shutter, second control dial, AF joystick or shooting mode dial, all key controls for stills photographers that the A7S III significantly offers.

So the appeal of the ZV-E1, especially when comparing it to the A7S III camera on which it is clearly based, will largely come down to if and how you shoot video.

Whilst it can obviously be used as a stills camera, and a very good one at that especially in low-light, you’d be much better off jumping up to the A7S III or looking at a more hybrid option like the A7 IV.

It’s not all great news even for videographers though, as the substantially smaller size of the ZVE1 means that it only has a Micro HDMI port and a single SD card slot rather than the full-size port and dual CFexpress slots offered by the A7S III.

And unlike its bigger brother, it also doesn’t have a built-in heatsink, limiting continuous recording times for 4K/60p video to around 1 hour, which could be a deal-breaker for some.

Still, at around 2/3rds the size and weight of the A7S III and some £$800 cheaper, the ZV-E1 certainly offers a lot of bang for your buck, at the time of writing being one of the most affordable cameras to offer 4K/120p and 1080/240p quality video (make sure to upgrade yours!).

So overall, the ZV-E1 is worthy of being both the hero camera in the ZV range and a great video camera in its own right, especially for lone operators and vloggers who want the best quality with the minimum of fuss.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 5
Value for money 4.5

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Sony ZV-E1.

The Lumix G9 II is the most capable Micro Four Thirds camera that Panasonic have ever released, but does that mean that you should rush out and buy one? Find out now by reading our in-depth Panasonic Lumix G9 II review, complete with full-size sample photos and videos.

The much anticipated Panasonic GH6 is finally here! But what does this new flagship camera offer, and can it really improve on the best-selling GH5? We find out in our review of the Panasonic Lumix GH6 mirrorless camera, complete with sample photos, test shots, videos and more…

Finally! The new Lumix S5 II is the first ever Panasonic camera to have a phase hybrid detection AF system, answering the critics of its contrast-based DFD system. But does this powerful hybrid photo and video camera have what it takes to beat its main rivals? Find out now by reading our in-depth Panasonic Lumix S5 II review, complete with full-size sample photos and videos.

The new Sony Alpha A7 IV is a new 33 megapixel, 4K/60p video, 10fps burst shooting, cutting-edge auto-focusing hybrid full-frame mirrorless model that pulls no punches in its bid to be the only camera that you need. Find out why we think this is one of the best all-round cameras of 2021 by reading our in-depth Sony A7 IV review…

The Sony A7C II is the second version of a 35mm full-frame camera that’s amazingly almost the same size and weight as a smaller APS-C sensor camera. Find out if they’ve perfected the recipe by reading our Sony A7C II review, complete with full-size sample photos and videos.

It’s been 5 long years since its popular predecessor was launched, but now the new Sony A7S III full-frame mirrorless camera is finally with us! Is this the most capable hybrid 4K video camera available today? Find out now by reading our in-depth Sony Alpha 7S III review, complete with full-size photos and videos for you to download and evaluate…

The Sony ZV-1 II is a second-generation compact camera designed for vlogging, with a wide-angle zoom lens, vari-angle screen, fast auto-focusing, upgraded three-capsule direction microphone, and special vlogger-friendly shooting modes. Read our in-depth Sony ZV-1 II review with full-size sample photos and videos now…

The Sony ZV-1F is an affordable compact camera aimed at vloggers, with 4K/30p video, a vari-angle screen, a wide-angle lens, and a wealth of vlogger-friendly shooting modes. Should you upgrade from your smartphone to the ZV1F? Read our in-depth Sony ZV-1F review to find out…

The Sony ZV-E10 is a new APS-C sensor mirrorless camera that’s clearly targeted at videographers, with a vari-angle screen, fast auto-focusing, three-capsule direction microphone, and a wealth of vlogger-friendly shooting modes. Is this the ultimate mirrorless camera for aspiring YouTube creators? Read our in-depth Sony ZV-E10 review to find out…

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Sony ZV-E1 from around the web.

The tiny Sony ZV-E1 is the most capable ‘vlogging’ camera available, and is overkill for most content creators, but it will likely surface on more serious video productions too, thanks to its clean 4K video image quality in any light, plus superb in-body image stabilization and autofocus. It also offers a simple control layout, and AI smarts that make life easy for modest crews, and hint at how cameras are likely to evolve.

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Sony’s full-frame ZV-E1 camera delivers fantastic results for videos and vlogs thanks to a stabilized sensor, S-Cinetone color, and a number of AI-powered features to assist creators operating without the benefit of a crew.

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The ZV-E1 becomes Sony’s most powerful consumer camera aimed at video content creators, delivering the quality and frame rates of the A7S III in a smaller, more affordable body with the benefits of genuinely improved stabilisation, a better quality built-in mic, and a bunch of cunning modes to make filming easier, especially if you’re a team of one.

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It might be ostensibly designed for vloggers, but the portability, performance and imaging power of the Sony ZV-E1 full-frame camera make it appealing to anyone who wants to make stunning video content. It’s not a great choice for photos, however, and some users will miss having a viewfinder and dual SD card slots.

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The ZV-E1 is almost miraculously small, with dimensions so compact that you forget there is a large image-stabilized full-frame sensor sitting at the center. Primarily a vlogging camera, the 4K video output is excellent, although getting useful handheld footage does require a significant crop. Where the camera really shines is its subject recognition and tracking features, which are probably the best out there right now.

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