Another Vlogging Camera

Sony added the ZV-E1 to its lineup of vlogging-oriented cameras while I was offline, this time making a full frame version centered around the same image sensor as in the FX3 and A7S.

That image sensor is a 48mp one that is binned to 12mp to make for high quality 4K video (up to 60P on the current camera, 120P to be added later as a paid firmware update in some regions). 5-asix sensor stabilization is also built into the US$2200 body. However, you don’t get a viewfinder, so you have to use the articulating LCD to compose.

Most of the specifications on the video side would be considered high end—10-bit 4:2:2, for example—so this new model sits at the top end of Sony’s vlogging video cameras. The 12mp image sensor is delivering a full frame 4K with red, green, and blue data at every pixel (though be aware that any crop mode involves upscaling). 

Strangely, there are some simplifications, such as refering to white balance as color and exposure compensation as brightness in some of the on-screen options (the menus get it right). Personally, I consider it dangerous to try to simplify this way, as brightness and color have other contexts, and the simple user modes start to conflict with the nomenclature in the advanced modes. 

I suppose Sony’s thinking here is that the advanced videographer would have bought the FX3, so they need to simplify for the entry user that’s more likely to buy the less expensive camera. Still, this is “old Sony” and as far as I’m concerned a regression to the old NEX experimentation that eventually was abandoned. Sony’s naming conventions have been, and still are, arcane, conflicting, and often duplicious in ways that just make things worse even for long-time users.

There’s a lot of creator/influencer bits to the options in this camera. My problem with directly catering to that audience is that everything is highly faddish with those folks. Maybe today they want wider screen, moody/filtered fixed options, but the problem with that is that as soon as those catch on, they want something else to stand out. It would be far better to have a better “style editor” in the camera than fixed styles, perhaps with a few presets.

There’s a lot of “AI” in the ZV-E1, including some new abilities such as keeping a subject centered (via cropping, which means pixel scaling). 

Overall, Sony seems to be trying to lock up the video camera adaptions of the mirrorless cameras before Canon and others get there. It will be interesting to see how well they can hold serve on multiple fronts. 

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