sony zv 1 alongside samsung galaxy s21 fe

Calvin Wankhede / Android Authority

From Sony to Xiaomi, smartphone manufacturers are more and more dabbling in one-inch camera sensor {hardware}. However as somebody that doesn’t purchase flagship smartphones, I had resigned to simply accept that it might be years earlier than the expertise would trickle right down to my pocket. That’s till I noticed I may skip the wait and purchase a extra succesful point-and-shoot digicam as an alternative. The Sony ZV-1, as an example, makes use of the identical one-inch sensor because the cutting-edge $1,799 Xperia Pro-I and prices lower than half as a lot.

When you take a look at Sony’s advertising for the ZV-1, it’s clearly aimed toward aspiring content material creators and videographers. However it’s equally succesful in non-video modes too. Sony packs the identical one-inch sensor within the photography-focused RX100. In different phrases, though it lacks some auxiliary options like an digital viewfinder, pop-up flash, and mode dial, the ZV-1 nonetheless has the identical succesful imaging {hardware}.

The truth is, the ZV-1’s 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 lens arguably gives higher low-light efficiency than the zoom-biased 24-200mm f/2.8-4.5 lens on the RX100 VII. The brighter aperture additionally signifies that the ZV-1 can produce stronger bokeh behind your topic.

Little did I do know a point-and-shoot digicam can be one in all my most underwhelming tech purchases of 2022.

Finally, although, the tipping level for me was Sony’s asking value. At $749, the ZV-1 is a whopping $450 cheaper than the newest RX100 and over a grand lower than the Xperia Professional-I. That issue was sufficient to persuade me and earlier than lengthy, I had unboxed Sony’s finest moveable digicam. However little did I do know that it might find yourself being one in all my most underwhelming tech purchases of 2022.

About this text: I purchased the Sony ZV-1 for my very own use in early 2022 and examined it over the previous yr.

Transportable doesn’t imply handy

sony zv 1 peeking through bag pocket

Calvin Wankhede / Android Authority

I spent the primary few weeks with the Sony ZV-1 brushing up on the fundamentals of manual photography. I discovered the best way to rapidly steadiness ISO, shutter pace, and aperture utilizing the digicam’s buttons and dials. It didn’t flip me into a talented photographer however nailing these fundamentals allowed me to seize higher pictures than the digicam’s automated modes.

Quick ahead to a few months in the past and I discovered myself planning an impromptu journey to Vietnam with my companion. This was my first actual alternative to make use of the Sony ZV-1, so naturally, I excitedly carried it alongside. Simply days earlier than leaving, although, I additionally traded in my LG Wing for a Samsung Galaxy S21 FE. The previous had a famously mediocre digicam system, so I used to be curious to see how properly a 2022 sub-flagship smartphone would carry out towards Sony’s finest.

Throughout the first day of touchdown in Hanoi and trying out the native sights, we had been inundated with sightseeing suggestions. Nearly each traveler we met sang praises of the Hà Giang province in northern Vietnam, so we determined to hire a bike and discover the world. However right here’s the place I bumped into my first roadblock with the ZV-1 — we solely had sufficient house in our backpack to suit three days’ price of garments and each day necessities. I wasn’t notably eager on strapping an costly digicam to the again of a mud bike both. So ultimately, I had no selection however to depart the digicam behind in our suitcase on the lodge.

With out water resistance and dirt safety, taking the ZV-1 off the overwhelmed monitor made little sense in comparison with utilizing my cellphone.

However I rapidly found that even when I had carried the digicam one way or the other, utilizing it might’ve been dangerous enterprise. On the very first day, we rode via a foggy mountain go and ultimately bumped into full-blown rain. The ZV-1 isn’t weather-sealed, so I wouldn’t have been in a position to {photograph} something with out risking the digicam. I had no such worries about my IP68-rated smartphone, in the meantime, and used its cameras at each viewpoint. I even had it mounted on the bike’s handlebar for navigation your complete time.

By the tip of that first day, the ZV-1 was little greater than an afterthought in my thoughts. I had seen a few of the most breathtaking views of my life and the S21 FE captured all of it, usually performing higher than I anticipated. And with restricted daytime, I additionally appreciated having the ability to press the shutter button and rapidly get again on the street — zero fidgeting with buttons or dials crucial.

I discovered myself reaching for the ultrawide lens very often, which is one thing I wouldn’t have been in a position to do with the digicam. The ZV-1’s 24mm minimal focal size is a good start line, nevertheless it lacks the grandeur that the FE’s 13mm wider area of view delivers for landscapes.

Now, I do know what you’re most likely considering. Smartphones have obliterated the point-and-shoot digicam market exactly due to their comfort and flexibility. However the necessary bit right here is that I by no means felt just like the ZV-1 would’ve produced a dramatically higher picture. This meant I continued counting on my smartphone for many of the journey, even as soon as I had entry to the digicam once more. Simply see the snaps from the Galaxy S21 FE beneath.

Smartphone vs point-and-shoot: Does the devoted digicam win?

After I was lastly unencumbered by weight and climate restrictions, I took the ZV-1 to a theme park and pit it towards the S21 FE. I totally anticipated the digicam to come back out forward in a side-by-side comparability, nevertheless it was usually laborious to choose a winner.

Trying on the above samples, it’s clear that Samsung’s post-processing has the tendency to go a bit of overboard with saturation and sharpening, notably in sections with dense foliage. Nonetheless, the ZV-1’s dynamic vary straight out of the digicam can’t compete with the multi-frame HDR processing of recent smartphones. You possibly can treatment a few of these issues in case you shoot in RAW with both system, however the very last thing I wish to do whereas on trip is to lug round my laptop computer and edit pictures.

The ZV-1 has the potential to ship higher pictures, however who desires to edit pictures on trip?

Zoom was the one uncommon space the place I all the time most popular having the ZV-1 available. However I anticipated that because the S21 FE solely has a middling 3x telephoto sensor. I’d count on the periscope {hardware} you’d discover on a Pixel 7 Pro or Galaxy S22 Ultra to fare a lot better. However, I nonetheless discovered the smartphone zoom got here in helpful typically, like after I needed to learn the textual content on a museum exhibit from distant.

galaxy s21 fe zoom shot of a museum exhibit carried by the United States Armed Forces during the Vietnam War

Calvin Wankhede / Android Authority

I’ll additionally admit that selfies taken with the ZV-1 virtually all the time appeared higher than my smartphone’s tiny digicam, and correct framing was attainable because of the totally articulating display screen. Likewise, movies look noticeably higher with extra element, depth of area, and 0 over-sharpening. The ZV-1’s vlogging heritage signifies that it even has Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS), a characteristic many cheaper Sony cameras have lacked for years.

Selfies and video captured on the Sony ZV-1 did look higher than my smartphone.

However on the finish of the day, none of those wins assist justify the ZV-1’s $750 asking value. For context, I picked up my Galaxy S21 FE for simply $500 on sale. It’s not the best camera phone on the market, however I’m greater than glad with it. Trying again, I’d’ve gladly sprung the additional $200 or so for a Pixel 7 if I had recognized how a lot I’d use its cameras.

Some extent-and-shoot isn’t for everybody

P30 Pro vs RX100 vs Pixel 4 camera app

My largest disappointment with the ZV-1 is that though it’s one of many smallest cameras in the marketplace, it’s not very handy. It doesn’t even all the time slot in your pocket. You possibly can most likely make it occur with an overcoat or cargo shorts, however I discovered it borderline unattainable whereas carrying denims — even with out the grip accent I exploit. That’s a right away compromise because you’re pressured to hold round a bag always. And by that time, why not get a barely bigger APS-C digicam as an alternative? The legendary Sony A6000, for instance, just isn’t solely rather more succesful but in addition considerably cheaper.

See additionally: The best cameras for photography beginners

The ZV-1 makes just a few usability compromises too. There’s little or no grip in comparison with bigger cameras, for instance, which suggests it sits fairly precariously in your hand. I’ve since added a third-party grip, nevertheless it considerably inflates the digicam’s measurement and weight. If you additionally think about the dearth of water resistance, Sony’s clunky smartphone companion app, and the dated micro-USB charging port, you get the sensation that the additional problem merely isn’t price it.

Level-and-shoot cameras find yourself in a clumsy place; not as moveable as a cellphone or as highly effective as an APS-C digicam.

That’s to not say the Sony ZV-1 is a foul digicam. I’m certain that somebody with extra ability and persistence may extract extra worth from it than I did. However in a world the place computational photography exists, you possibly can receive practically the identical outcomes from a cellphone with out breaking the financial institution. And in case you handle to nail shot composition, you’ll obtain an ideal take care of even a modest smartphone digicam.

Trying again now, I most likely ought to’ve purchased an action camera or drone as an alternative of the Sony ZV-1. Both of these would’ve added a complete new dimension to how I look again at my journey. Or maybe it’s higher to easily not purchase any devoted pictures gear and journey lighter. Both means, I now have a newfound appreciation for the cameras on fashionable smartphones.

Sony ZV-1

Sony ZV-1

Strong value • Good focus

A stable starter or vlogging digicam, though it does not have all of the bells and whistles.

The ZV-1 delivers a 20.1MP one-inch sensor, eye autofocus, and even a product showcase setting for YouTubers.

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