The Alpha ZV-E1 is Sony’s first full-frame interchangeable-lens vlog camera

Are you ready to vlog to your full potential? Thanks to the ever-increasing accessibility of gear, software, and know-how, more people than ever are creating high-quality, innovative works of art. Sony’s ZV / vlog camera series—including the ZV-1, ultra-compact ZV-1F, and APS-C ZV-E10—is aimed squarely at creators who want top quality in accessible, portable bodies. Well, ladies and gentlemen, the latest entry in the ZV line brings the most impressive set of features yet!

The ZV-E1, available in the beginning of May, features a 10.1 MP full-frame sensor, all the creative control enabled by E-mount lenses, and an AI processing unit that promises some very powerful features. The high-end video feature set and large-pixel, full-frame sensor draw obvious comparisons to the α7S III, though the body itself more closely resembles the miniaturized α7C.

Read on for more sweet deets, or hit the button below to pre-order your very own vlog monster today. (You can also pre-order in-person at a Mike’s Camera near you, of course!)

First of all, just in case you’re not sure why a full-frame sensor is such a big deal, let’s go over the benefits of having a larger space for image capture:

  • Better low-light sensitivity, especially on a 10.1 MP sensor (as opposed to the α7R V, for example: 61 MP is impressive resolution-wise, but each pixel is only about 16% the size of one on a 10.1 MP sensor, and it’s individual pixel size that improves not only low-light quality but quality of capture generally)
  • Dramatically improved control over bokeh / background defocus

Coupled with the outrageous max ISO of 409,600, it’s safe to say that the ZV-E1 would make a proper companion for videography in a trendy night club or at a beach bonfire.

Video features

The ZV-E1‘s top video spec at ship date will be 4K 60p, but Sony has promised a free firmware update that will enable 4K 120p video (not available in all world regions, unfortunately, but North America should be good to go).

Physical boons for video include a tally lamp on the front of the camera (so your subject knows you’re rolling) as well the Intelligent 3 Capsule Microphone. When you need a lean setup, this microphone should be sufficient for capturing vlog narration and atmospheric details. A dead cat is included to block wind interference and the 3 capsules can be adjusted to vary the directionality of the microphone’s recording.

Color- and tone-wise, Sony has claimed a solid 15+ stops of dynamic range while recording in 10-bit 4:2:2 with an S-Log3 profile. That’s more than enough to keep whoever does your color grading busy and creatively free! And if nobody got time for that, Sony has developed a rather innovative Cinematic Vlog Settings toner for out-of-camera creations you’ll be proud to show off. Just combine a LOOK with a MOOD and hit record! CHIC x FOREST, CLEAN x OCEAN, FRESH x GOLD, S-Cinetone x AUTO, and more—or just plain MONO for black-and-white recording.

The ZV-E1 is capable of in-camera timelapse recording, as well, which is one of my favorite features. It changes your whole perspective to observe the world move from a more macro level of observation, and I think everyone should try it.

What’s this about AI?

Perhaps the biggest standout of the ZV-E1‘s feature set is the AI processing module. It won’t generate images without your input (yet), but it will provide robust assistance in a few rather clever ways. The foundation of these features is the AI unit’s ability to recognize human poses and use the identification of humans in the frame and their positioning to guide the application of cropping and focusing systems.

Sony’s Active Mode software stabilization feature is present and accounted for, but the Dynamic Active Mode goes a step further. The ZV-E1 will identify the subject of the scene and crop more aggressively but with some level of awareness of what’s going on in the scene, thereby enabling greater stabilization.

Similarly, the Auto Framing feature allows you to tap a subject and let the camera choose a crop—a crop which will dynamically follow the subject around. This could be useful in a number of ways: recording yourself? Set the camera up to cover the whole scene and let the AI track you for more pleasing style. Worried about hand shake? The camera doesn’t have to move when the tracking is happening in software! You can even switch between two subjects in the same uncropped frame by gently tapping each one as needed.

Physical features + connectivity

Thoughtful, intuitive controls are a hallmark of the vlogging camera—sometimes, you don’t care about the math behind the relation of aperture size and focal length, you just want the dang background to be fuzzy and pretty. There’s a button for that! In addition to Background Defocus, the ZV-E1 features a zoom lever (for use with power zoom lenses only); a dedicated video record button as accessible (or more) as the shutter release; a switch for rapid shifting between still, video, and S&Q (“slow and quick”) modes; and a button that engages Product Showcase mode. Product Showcase is a game-changer for anyone who likes to show things off to an audience (e.g. any review channel), as it tells the camera to expect sudden subject shifts from a person talking to something smaller and closer to the camera. Expecting this, the autofocus tracks accordingly… no more unsightly hunting!

A fully-articulated vari-angle LCD allows for maximum operator flexibility. Whether you’re recording yourself, holding a gimbal below sight-line, or trying to get above a crowd, you’ll never have to lose your visual… nor will your audience, as the ZV-E1 is fully functional as a streaming camera and connects seamlessly to your mobile devices for instant or near-instant broadcast.

All that, plus the camera is made from recycled materials with an eye toward reducing plastic use. How neat is that? If it’s neat enough, don’t forget to pre-order yours today to ensure that you’ll be among the first creating with this ingenious new creative partner.

Sample images

Product gallery

Available in black or white.

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