The Sony ZV-1 II has the lens vloggers wanted all along – at a price

 Sony ZV-1 II camera on a marble table angle front
Sony ZV-1 II camera on a marble table angle front

The Sony ZV-1 sits pretty in top spot of our best vlogging camera guide, and three years after its launch its successor has arrived in the shape of the Sony ZV-1 II.

According to Sony, users of the Sony ZV-1 fed back that its lens is often not quite wide enough for vlogging, and as a result the latest model features an all-new lens with a wider field of view.

So what else is new in this compact entry-level vlogging camera? Let's dig further into the ZV-1 II's headline features to find out.

Sony ZV-1 II price and release date

  • $899 / £870 / AU$1,499 in the US, the UK and Australia

  • Available from June 2023

  • Also available as vlogging kit with GP-VPT2BT grip 

The Sony ZV-1 II is available on its own, or as part of vlogging kit, with the basic kit including Sony’s GP-VPT2BT grip, which costs $138 / £170 / AU$249 if bought separately.

Disappointingly, the Sony ZV-1 II's list price is quite a lot higher than that of the ZV-1 at launch, which was $749 / £699 / AU$1,299, perhaps due to the current global economic situation.

For now, Sony plans to keep the ZV-1 on the shelves alongside the ZV-1 II, in addition to the ZV-1F, which has a fixed 20mm F2.0 lens, and we've written a Sony ZV-1 Vs Sony ZV-1 II head-to-head to highlight the key differences.

Sony ZV-1 II camera outside on a wall
Sony ZV-1 II camera outside on a wall

Sony ZV-1 II lens: Wide-angle wonder

  • Built-in 18-50mm F1.8-4.0 lens

  • 2x zoom rocker extends focal length to 100mm

During a briefing on the new camera, Sony told us that a wider lens topped the wishlist of ZV-1 users, who indicated that the widest 24mm focal length often proved to be not quite wide enough for vlogging. Thus, we have a new lens in the ZV-1 II.

That camera features a 24-70mm F1.8-2.8 lens, whereas the ZV1-II has a much wider 18-50mm F1.8-4 lens that gives more space around the creator who’s self-shooting. The ZV-1F has a fixed 20mm lens, which makes a lot of sense for vlogging, but you don’t get the same versatility for b-roll pickups that a zoom lens gives.

You’ll notice that the telephoto end of the new lens doesn’t extend as far as the ZV-1’s, though, plus the maximum aperture is smaller which could adversely impact image quality in low light. However, the ZV-1 II does also feature a zoom rocker that offers a 2x Clear Image zoom to extend the maximum reach of the lens to 100mm. It’s not an optical zoom, but from experience we’ve never really noticed a drop-off in video quality when using the Clear Image zoom.

Sony ZV-1 II camera in the hand
Sony ZV-1 II camera in the hand

None of these compact vlogging cameras feature in-body image stabilization, and those that want to smooth out walking vlogs without being bogged down by a gimbal will need to use electronic stabilization, which introduces a small crop of the image area – another case for this wider lens.

Lens choice is critical because you can’t swap out the built-in lens of these cameras. If we were to pick one of the ZV-1, ZV-1F or ZV-1 II on lens design alone, the ZV-1 II makes the most sense for vlogging.

Sony ZV-1 II specs and features: Familiar ground

  • 1-inch 20MP sensor

  • Improved touchscreen function

  • Multi-directional built-in mic

Next up on notable changes from the ZV-1 is a fully touch capable screen. It might not sound like a big deal, but for such a small camera whose function relies so heavily on the screen, the limits on the ZV-1 screen were a real downer. Be aware that the ZV-1F already offers full touch function.

The built-in 3-capsule microphone has been tweaked too, and users can now select sound from the front, the rear or auto, while the microphone in the other ZV-1 cameras is auto only. It’s ultimately like having a directional mic and can be useful for scenarios where you know the direction you want to prioritize sound from, but from using this function in the ZV-E1, we're not 100% convinced it’s notably better than the auto setting.

Sony ZV-1 II camera outside on a wall front with windshield attached over mic
Sony ZV-1 II camera outside on a wall front with windshield attached over mic

Sony has also rolled out the ‘cinematic vlog setting’ as found in its flagship vlogging camera the Sony ZV-E1, that gives a choice of baked in color presets instead of fiddling around in post. The feature actually makes a lot more sense in this compact camera suited to users of all skill levels – choose how you like the video to look in-camera and shoot, job done.

The USB port has been updated from micro USB in the ZV-1, too, to USB-C here. Otherwise, there’s not a lot else to report. All three of these ZV-1 cameras are virtually the same size and dimensions, utilize Sony’s 1-inch sensor and same generation BIONZ X processor, with 20MP JPEGs and 4K / 30p 8-bit video. Independent of the lens, image and video quality is the same.

Sony ZV-1 II camera on marble table with screen flipped out
Sony ZV-1 II camera on marble table with screen flipped out

Is the Sony ZV-1 II worth it?

For real world use, the tech in the ZV-1 II is largely unchanged from the ZV-1, save perhaps for the touchscreen. Really, this is all about the new lens, and certainly it’s the most versatile lens of the three ZV-1 cameras for vlogging. Is the price hike justified for a new lens? Debatable. But you'll be able to find out more when our full review of the ZV-1 II lands soon.