Calvin Wankhede / Android Authority

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

For those who take a look at Sony’s advertising for the ZV-1, it’s clearly aimed toward aspiring content material creators and videographers. But it surely’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}.

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

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

In the end, although, the tipping level for me was Sony’s asking worth. At $749, the ZV-1 is a whopping $450 cheaper than the most recent 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 transportable digital camera. However little did I do know that it will find yourself being one in every of 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

Calvin Wankhede / Android Authority

I spent the primary few weeks with the Sony ZV-1 brushing up on the fundamentals of guide images. I realized the right way to rapidly steadiness ISO, shutter pace, and aperture utilizing the digital camera’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 digital camera’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 digital camera system, so I used to be curious to see how nicely a 2022 sub-flagship smartphone would carry out in opposition to Sony’s finest.

Throughout the first day of touchdown in Hanoi and testing 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 motorbike and discover the realm. However right here’s the place I bumped into my first roadblock with the ZV-1 — we solely had sufficient area in our backpack to suit three days’ price of garments and every day necessities. I wasn’t significantly eager on strapping an costly digital camera to the again of a mud bike both. So ultimately, I had no selection however to depart the digital camera behind in our suitcase on the resort.

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

However I rapidly found that even when I had carried the digital camera in some way, utilizing it will’ve been dangerous enterprise. On the very first day, we rode by way of 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 digital camera. 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 the complete time.

By the top 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, typically 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 highway — zero twiddling with buttons or dials essential.

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 digital camera. The ZV-1’s 24mm minimal focal size is an honest start line, but it surely 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 digital camera market exactly due to their comfort and flexibility. However the vital 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 a lot of the journey, even as soon as I had entry to the digital camera once more. Simply see the snaps from the Galaxy S21 FE under.

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

Once I was lastly unencumbered by weight and climate restrictions, I took the ZV-1 to a theme park and pit it in opposition to the S21 FE. I totally anticipated the digital camera to return out forward in a side-by-side comparability, but it surely was typically exhausting to choose a winner.

Wanting on the above samples, it’s clear that Samsung’s post-processing has the tendency to go a bit overboard with saturation and sharpening, significantly in sections with dense foliage. Nonetheless, the ZV-1’s dynamic vary straight out of the digital camera can’t compete with the multi-frame HDR processing of contemporary smartphones. You may treatment a few of these issues for those who shoot in RAW with both machine, however the very last thing I wish to do whereas on trip is to lug round my laptop computer and edit photographs.

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

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

Calvin Wankhede / Android Authority

I’ll additionally admit that selfies taken with the ZV-1 virtually all the time seemed higher than my smartphone’s tiny digital camera, and correct framing was potential due to the totally articulating display. Likewise, movies look noticeably higher with extra element, depth of area, and 0 over-sharpening. The ZV-1’s vlogging heritage implies that it even has Digital Picture 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 worth. For context, I picked up my Galaxy S21 FE for simply $500 on sale. It’s not the most effective digital camera telephone in the marketplace, however I’m greater than glad with it. Wanting again, I might’ve gladly sprung the additional $200 or so for a Pixel 7 if I had identified how a lot I might use its cameras.

Some extent-and-shoot isn’t for everybody

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 may most likely make it occur with an overcoat or cargo shorts, however I discovered it borderline inconceivable whereas sporting denims — even with out the grip accent I exploit. That’s an instantaneous compromise because you’re pressured to hold round a bag always. And by that time, why not get a barely bigger APS-C digital camera as an alternative? The legendary Sony A6000, for instance, is just not solely rather more succesful but in addition considerably cheaper.

See additionally: The most effective cameras for images inexperienced persons

The ZV-1 makes a number of usability compromises too. There’s little or no grip in comparison with bigger cameras, for instance, which suggests it sits quite precariously in your hand. I’ve since added a third-party grip, but it surely considerably inflates the digital camera’s measurement and weight. While you additionally contemplate the shortage of water resistance, Sony’s clunky smartphone companion app, and the dated micro-USB charging port, you get the sensation that the additional trouble merely isn’t price it.

Level-and-shoot cameras find yourself in an ungainly place; not as transportable as a telephone or as highly effective as an APS-C digital camera.

That’s to not say the Sony ZV-1 is a nasty digital camera. 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 images exists, you’ll be able to acquire practically the identical outcomes from a telephone with out breaking the financial institution. And for those who handle to nail shot composition, you’ll obtain an amazing take care of even a modest smartphone digital camera.

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

Sony ZV-1

Stable worth • Good focus

A strong starter or vlogging digital camera, 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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