This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.
Sony's newly introduced VLOGCAM ZV-1 digital camera for video bloggers.
Many of you must be aware that YouTubers have been posting reviews of the camera all over the place since it was first announced.
In recent years, Sony's RX100VII and RX0II compact digital cameras, as well as the Alpha series of digital SLR cameras, have been promoted more and more as being geared toward video, which is probably a sign of the growing demand for video.
While it's easy to take photos as well as videos and upload them to YouTube and Instagram if you have a smartphone, it's also true that if you're looking for quality, you'll want to use a dedicated camera.
I gave this camera, dubbed VLOGCAM, a test run.
The exterior of the VLOGCAM ZV-1 is very similar to the RX100 series, or almost identical.
On the left is the RX100VII and on the right is the VLOGCAM ZV-1.
From a distance, it is hard to tell the difference in style.
When you actually hold it in your hand, you'll notice that unlike the RX100 series, which has a strong metallic feel with strong edges and a flat impression, the RX100VII has a rounded design and is made of a plastic material.
Despite its small size, it has a good grip and, combined with its light weight, it feels easy to hold.
And the main difference is the top surface of the camera.
The RX100 series could take video, but the main focus is just still photography.
The viewfinder, flash, mode dial, and shutter button are the main features of the camera.
On the other hand, the VLOGCAM ZV-1 is specialized for video recording, so the microphone and multi-interface shoe are located in the center of the camera.
The mode dial is now a push-button system, and the record button and custom button (C1) are large and easy to press.
The control ring found on the RX100 series is also gone.
So, what does the VLOGCAM ZV-1 do well?
One of them is the microphone that takes up a lot of space on the top surface of the unit.
There are three directional capsule microphones inside, and they firmly pick up the audio in front of the camera.
Although 4K-quality video is now available for smartphones as well as cameras, it's hard to find a built-in microphone with such high performance.
You can even attach a windscreen so that you can prevent wind noise.
Audio is very important in video recording, especially when shooting outdoors where the wind blows, so many people who are particular about sound quality go out of their way to attach an external microphone with a windscreen.
The VLOGCAM ZV-1 has a huge advantage in being able to record good quality audio with its built-in microphone, which is included from the start.
Another is the Variable Angle LCD Monitor, which opens sideways and has a rotating mechanism.
The 180-degree rotational range of motion makes it easy to take selfies, and also allows you to shoot from both high and low angles in a comfortable shooting position.
The power turns on and off automatically as the LCD monitor opens and closes, so you can take pictures in a single action and save a little battery power.
You can also use it to easily protect the LCD monitor by turning it closed.
There's also a large recording light on the front, so you'll know exactly what you're recording and you'll never forget to shoot.
One of the best features for video recording is Real-time Tracking and Real-time Eye AF (for people).
Just touch the subject on the screen and the camera continues to capture it. If it's a person, the camera continues to focus on the eyes even during video recording, so all you have to do is focus on your visual expression.
It takes away the hassle and lets you enjoy shooting.
Image stabilization, an essential feature for video recording, is still in place.
By turning on the Active Mode, which combines optical and electronic modes, you can shoot a fairly stable image with minimal camera shake, even when you're walking around with the camera in hand.
However, it's not enough to prevent the camera from moving too much, so it's probably best to rely on the gimbal for active shooting.
Apart from such standard video functions, the interesting thing about "VLOGCAM ZV-1" is that it is specialized in VLOG shooting and has extremely easy-to-understand functions.
Rather than the usual "tweaking the camera's settings to suit the situation" that is often associated with conventional cameras, the ZV-1's simplicity is pursued by "simply pressing a button to do what you want to do".
It reduces the number of mistakes that you know about, but it was a hassle, or you accidentally forgot.
One of the first of these is the Blur Background button.
If you want to take a picture with a blurred background and immediately know the combination of aperture (F value), focal length, shooting distance, and distance from the background, you are honestly a camera enthusiast or a hobbyist.
In general, unless you are consciously aware of this, it may be difficult to understand how to narrow or widen the depth of field by either opening the aperture (f-number) or stopping down the aperture to take pictures.
Well, the Blur Background button lets you create a blur with a single button press.
When you press the button, the camera alternates between Background Blur: Defocused, which softly blurs the background, and Background Blur: Crisp, which clearly shows you and the background.
What the camera is actually doing is fixing the aperture at maximum aperture value (maximum f/1.8) and f/5.6. and so on. But the user doesn't have to worry about it; it's so easy to instantly change the background blur with a single button.
Even though it's simple, just being able to change the aperture with a flick of the dial, instead of having to turn the dial around and around to change the aperture, is intuitive and useful on set.
Secondly, when shooting a review video to introduce an item you have in your hands, you often end up with your face in focus, even though you want to focus on the item.
You'll often see this on YouTube as well, where people try to focus on an item by hiding their face with their palms behind it.
This is where the Product Review Button comes in handy.
When you press the Product Review Settings button, Face & Eye Detection is turned off and the camera no longer follows the face, so the focus switches smoothly, even when the item is highlighted in the foreground.
Essentially, it's just a camera function that prioritizes the ability to focus on the face that is the star of the picture, so you can turn that feature off by opening a menu or something, but it's a pain in the ass. Or you may not know what it is, so you just leave it there.
It's very nifty in the sense that it's a one-button solution to that.
There are other features that I thought were great when I was shooting around.
Even when the light is backlit, or when there's a big difference between light and dark when you're suddenly moving from a bright place to a dark place, Face Priority AE recognizes your face and automatically adjusts the exposure for you.
When the brightness of the surroundings changes, the camera will change the exposure, so you can avoid the accidental discovery that your face is still dark when you keep taking pictures.
The one thing I've learned to appreciate again is the Beautiful Skin Effect that reduces wrinkles and blemishes around the eyes and mouth in three selective stages.
It's easy to think that it doesn't matter how good your skin looks for males, but that's not true.
Considering the fact that your face will be shown in the video, it's important that the video looks as good as possible for the viewer.
If it's a still image, you may be able to correct it later, but if it's a video, it's nearly impossible to do so, so it's better to use the Beautiful Skin Effect proactively.
What's nice is that it can also be used as a webcam by connecting it to a PC via USB, using the PC software that will be released in July 2020.
With demand for telework, it's become a trend to use hand-held cameras as web cameras, and Sony has finally caught on.
If you can use features like the impressive blurred background and Face Priority AE to brighten up your face as a webcam, you should definitely do it.
However, it's not entirely wonderful, and there are a few things I'm not happy about while using the VLOGCAM ZV-1.
The 24mm focal length is too narrow to include a full background, and I would often have to reach out to get the whole picture in, trying my best.
I would have preferred a slightly wider focal length of 16mm or 20mm.
The Vari Angle LCD is easy to use, but the buttons on the back of the camera are hard to operate when taking selfies.
It's a touch screen, and I want to be able to operate the functions by touching the screen.
Also, the battery drains unusually fast.
This may not be a problem when shooting still images, but when shooting video, I can't deny the feeling that the battery runs out of power very quickly because I am constantly shooting.
Given the compact size of the camera, it's not possible to build in a large-capacity battery, but I would have preferred to have one or two spare batteries.
You can connect a mobile battery to power and charge the camera, so if you're going to be shooting for long periods of time, you'll probably want to bring these extra items with you.
Another complaint is that the interface is still MicroUSB instead of USB Type-C.
It is nothing but a pain to have to take out a MicroUSB cable now, even though the connection terminal with the company's camera peripherals is still MicroUSB.
I wish they had used USB Type-C for the latest model.
There are certainly a few things I would like to complain about, but as a VLOG shooting camera, it's very well made.
It places a strong emphasis on audio recording, which is very important in video recording.
And thanks to its excellent autofocus, which tracks the subject in precise and fast focus when you touch it on the screen, you can concentrate on the composition of the picture or on the subject you want to talk about.
Unlike still images, movies record the passage of a certain amount of time and often cannot be redone, so even if you realize after shooting that you messed up the settings, it's too late.
That's why I think that Blur Background and Product Review Settings are so important.
It's a very well thought out camera that does a simple and important job of improving video quality and preventing mistakes, and the VLOGCAM ZV-1 will be a powerful weapon for people who want to start taking video.
This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.