A new breed of camera has recently hit the market, specifically designed for content creators. And the pocket-sized offering from Sony just got an upgrade with the Sony ZV-1M II.
The original Sony ZV-1M was a big hit in the content creator field, but like any camera, there was room for improvement. With the last ZV-1M, Sony took user feedback into consideration in order to give its users a better all-around camera. One of the main requests was for the camera to have a wider lens for use with handheld vlogging. So, with the new Sony ZV-1M II, Sony has opted for a new and updated 18-50mm f/1.8-f/4 lens to do just that. And being that this is a fixed lens camera, I feel that this focal range is a good compromise between giving users a wide enough lens for vlogging while also giving you the ability to take videos and photos with a tighter focal length, all while remaining small and compact. I would have loved the f/1.8 aperture to be constant or for the variable aperture to not be as drastic. But I understand that is probably a limitation caused by the need to keep things small and lightweight.
From here, the camera features a 1-inch stacked CMOS sensor, which is a similar sensor design as found on the Sony a9 and Sony a1. This means that this camera has incredibly fast readout speeds, which give it access to extremely fast and accurate autofocus as well as the ability to capture stills with no rolling shutter. This is important because this camera has no mechanical shutter, and without the fast readout speeds, the performance of capturing stills of moving subjects would be less than ideal. But thankfully, Sony put in one of the better sensor designs available when keeping both still and video capture in mind.
One thing most Sony shooters will miss having as part of this latest release is the inclusion of a built-in image stabilization. My guess is in order to keep the compact size and lower price tag, this was something that needed to be left out. Thankfully, with the recent launch of the Sony ZV-E1 creator camera, Sony has access to great digital stabilization. So while the ZV-E1 paired this great digital stabilization with mechanical and optical stabilization to give buttery smooth footage, the Sony ZV-1M II will exclusively use the digital version. And in use, this digital stabilization worked pretty well, though it used a pretty substantial crop in order to achieve the end results. So while not perfect, it’s better than nothing, and I found it useful and more convenient than needing to bring along a handheld gimbal.
In terms of output, this camera can shoot stills in the expected raw or JPEG format, and for video, you can shoot 4K 30p and up to 120 fps in FHD. The camera also has a button on the top of the camera to toggle from your standard movie recording settings to S&Q settings and then to photo mode. Though, for me, it was a little too easy to accidentally press this button since it was located directly between the power button and the record button. So, on more than one occasion, I found myself recording in 1080p at 60 fps instead of my desired 4K 30p. And unfortunately, on this pre-release model, you can't reprogram this button or turn it off.
All BTS footage in this was taken on the Sony ZV-1M II
Other features include a background bokeh switch and a product showcase switch. The background bokeh switch essentially allows you to quickly set the camera to a shallow depth of field recording mode for a more cinematic setup. The camera also has a built-in 3-stop ND filter, making it easier to maintain a shallow depth of field in brighter lighting conditions. Then, the product feature mode basically gives you the ability to quickly turn off the face and eye-detect focus in order to showcase a product while filming. In the past, you'd have to record and cut to a separate clip or use the product you were showing to block your face. And while both options worked, it could leave the end result feeling a bit awkward. So, having this button to make the required setting changes fast and fluid is definitely nice.
This camera also has a similar style mic that is found on the recent ZV-E1, though I am not certain if it is the exact same or simply a similar design. But this microphone gives you the ability to record higher-quality audio directly from the camera. The dual mic also gives you the ability to have the mic concentrate its efforts to the front of the camera, back of the camera, or both, or you can let the camera decide for you with an automatic mode. And as demonstrated in my quick look at the Sony ZV-E1, this mic, paired with Adobe Podcast Audio, can give more than usable results.
Another small feature that I found myself really enjoying is that if you flip the screen toward the camera and close it, the camera will automatically turn off. Then, when you open the scream and flip it out, the camera will turn itself on. It’s a small feature, and to be honest, it might be on other models with flip screens and I just never noticed. But it made using the camera a lot faster and more intuitive for me. I only wish there was the ability to reprogram the on/off button, since with the screen flip option, I didn't need the traditional on/off button anymore and I would have loved to reassign it to something more useful given the chance.
What I Liked
- Great focal length range for content creation
- Fast, small, light, and easy to use
What I Didn't like
- The photo/video/S&Q button is easy to accidentally hit
- I wish more of the buttons were programmable
Coming in at 292 grams and a set price of $899.99, Sony ZV-1M II is a great camera for content creation. While not as high-end as other Sony offerings, it’s also much cheaper and more compact. I was able to use it on multiple photo sessions by just leaving it in my pocket and pulling it out when needed. I was also more than happy with the quality and ease of use. It’s also a great option for other creators who want to upgrade from their phone, but don't want or need to deal with an interchangeable lens camera system.
Am I crazy or is there no M in the name of this camera?
hmmmm it had the M on the pre-release spec sheet so that's what I went with. But it does seem to not be what's listed on retail sites.