Sony has launched a successor to its popular compact ZV-1 vlogging camera, the ZV-1 II, which addresses a big issue with the past model. Namely, it has a new wider lens that lets you fit your entire face into the frame with e-stabilization turned on, addressing the biggest complaint I and others had with the ZV-1. It also offers new settings that provide a more cinematic look, but otherwise, the camera is largely a rehash of the previous model.
As before, the ZV-1 II has a 1-inch (16mm diagonal) stacked BSI sensor borrowed from Sony's RX100 V, just like the original ZV-1. The body is unchanged and the controls are the same, and it has a nice flip-out display as before — but no electronic viewfinder.
The built-in 3-capsule microphone deliver better sound quality than the built-in mics on most cameras, and it has a 3.5mm microphone jack (but no headphone port, sadly) and multi-interface shoe that supports select Sony mics.
The biggest addition is a new 18-50mm (35mm equivalent) f/1.8-4 lens that's wider than the 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 lens on the past model. With the latter, the ZV-1 was barely wide enough with electronic stabilization off. With e-stabilization enabled, it was effectively too tight for vlogging unless you have super-long arms. The new lens is now equivalent to 23mm with stabilization on, which is wide enough, though just barely.
There are some drawbacks, though. While the ZV-1 had optical stabilization on the lens that was good for handheld shooting (but not vlogging), the ZV-1 II is lacking that function. And of course, you lose 20mm of zoom range, and the new lens is also slower at the 50mm end. So buyers will need to choose between the new model's wider field of view or the longer and faster lens on the original ZV-1.
Video is largely unchanged, with 4K limited to 30fps despite the fast stacked sensor. While you do get S-Log2 and S-Log3 shooting modes, it only supports 8-bit and not 10-bit video, so the log modes won't considerably improve dynamic range. What's new is the Cinematic Vlog setting first introduced with the ZV-E1. It uses a 2.35:1 aspect ratio for that CinemaScope feel, and quick access to filters, looks and more.
As before, you get Sony's Product Showcase setting that quickly shifts focus to objects presented to the camera, along with a Bokeh Switch that instantly opens the iris as much as possible to blur the background and put the emphasis on the subject. Sony promises fast autofocus via its Hybrid AF system, that uses AI to lock onto your subject's eyes, whether they're people or animals. It also has a handy built-in ND filter that reduces exposure by three stops to allow for better background bokeh on sunny days.
The new ZV-1 II will be available in June 2023 for $900, more expensive than the $800 price for the ZV-1 at launch. Once it hits stores, Sony may discount the ZV-1 (it currently sits at $748), giving potential buyers something extra to think about.