Those holding their breath for Sony to update its A6000 line of digital cameras are coming dangerously close to running out of air. Today, the company announced yet another addition to its ever-growing line of cameras targeted at video content creators, specifically vloggers, with the ZV-E1: its first to feature a 35mm full-frame sensor.
If the $800 Sony ZV-1 and the $500 Sony ZV-1F were targeted at hobbyist vloggers, the new $2,200 ZV-E1 is going after those who’ve been in the game for a while. It’s looking to be a compelling mid-range alternative to Sony’s higher-end Alpha cameras, including the Sony A7S III, from which the new ZV-E1 takes its 12MP sensor.
Given its performance is a considerable step-up over Sony’s previous ZV cameras, it’s easier to think of the new ZV-E1 as a stripped down version of the A7S III that’s optimized for both video, as well as portability, as the ZV-E1 is small enough to hold and use one-handed for selfie recording (made even easier when you flip its three-inch screen flipped 180-degrees to face forwards).
The ZV-E1 represents most of the A7S III’s guts despite being stuffed inside a smaller ZV body, which means that there’s no electronic viewfinder to look through on the back—just the LCD for framing shots, or an external monitor. However, Sony has introduced a handful of new features for the ZV-E1 to justify its existence alongside the A7S III. It’s got 5-axis in-body stabilization that should help keep shots steady even when pushing the zoom limits of larger E-mount lenses, while a new “Dynamic active Mode stabilization” promises to be “30% more effective” than Sony’s existing stabilization modes when the subject is walking and talking with the camera bouncing around in hand.
The ZV-E1 also takes advantage of its larger full-frame sensor through an AI-powered Framing Stabilizer mode that, like the auto-framing capabilities of Apple’s Center Stage, can intelligently recognize subjects and digitally crop and reframe shots in real time so the framing of on-camera talent is always ideal. Users can adjust how quickly the auto reframing follows a subject, or have it simply zoom in and out at predefined intervals to help make a static shot feel more dynamic. The camera can also record the reframed version of the footage to a memory card, while feeding the full uncropped image from the sensor to an external recorder connected over HDMI (sadly, the camera’s compact body only offers a microHDMI port).
As with Sony’s previous ZV cameras, the ZV-E1 includes a dedicated button for activating bokeh and defocusing the background, with the effect being even more pronounced now, while AI facial recognition will automatically adjust or reduce the bokeh effect if multiple people are detected in a shot, ensuring both faces are in focus. And the ZV-E1 carries over the easy product showcase capabilities, so when a vlogger is holding up a product they’re promoting in a video, the focus automatically shifts to the object.
There’s little doubt the Sony ZV-E1 will produce beautiful video, with 4K shooting capabilities at 24fps, or up to 120fps, 10-bit 4:2:2 recording maxing out at 600Mbps data rates, and an easy cinematic look using Sony’s S-Cinetone feature. But priced at $2,200 on its own, or $2,500 with a bundled 28-60mm F4.5-5.6 zoom lens, it does sit in a price bracket closer to Sony’s powerful video-focused $3,900 FX3, or Blackmagic’s Pocket Cinema Cameras that offer 6K video recording at a similar price point.
The ZV-E1 should launch this May.