It's taken a long time for the big camera manufacturers to fashion the perfect vlogging camera, and many would argue it still hasn't arrived – but it looks like Sony is going to have a good crack with the rumored Sony ZV-1.
Described as a "compact selfie camera" by Sony Alpha Rumors, which claims to have received some leaked images and specs, the ZV-1 so far appears to be a video-oriented take on a Sony RX100-style camera.
That seems to include things like Sony's latest autofocus tech, along with some features that we haven't seen on any Sony cameras so far. But what else could we expect from a Sony ZV-1 and what features would we like to see?
Here's everything we know so far, plus our thoughts on what it needs to rise to the top of our best vlogging cameras guide.
Sony ZV-1 release date and price
So far, all we know about the Sony ZV-1 is that it's likely to be announced on May 26. According to the Sony Alpha Twitter account, this is when Sony will be launching a "new compact camera".
The launch is due to take place on May 26 at 10am ET / 3pm BST, which is midnight on 27 May AEST.
There's no news yet on when it might ship or how stock could be affected by the global pandemic, but we should hear more about that during the event.
We also don't have any idea of pricing yet, but can speculate based on Sony's current compact cameras. The ZV-1's rumored design, lens and autofocus suggest it'll closely follow Sony's RX100 line – in particular, the RX100 V and before. This is because, like those cameras, it's expected to have a 24-70mm f/1.8-f/2.8 lens.
If that's the case, the ZV-1 could come with a relatively hefty price tag – the Sony RX100 V, for example, still has an official sale price of $850 / £900 / AU$1,400, although it can currently be found for less than that.
That said, the leaked images of the camera suggest the ZV-1 won't have an electronic viewfinder, which would help bring the price down considerably. We're hoping this means its price could be in the ballpark of one of its main rivals, the Canon G7X Mark III, which you can currently find for $700 / £650 / AU$1,099. But we'll have wait for the official launch on May 26 to find out.
Sony ZV-1 news and leaks
Some apparent leaks from Nokishita and Sony Alpha Rumors have revealed much of what we can potentially expect from the Sony ZV-1.
The apparent press text leak from Nokishita describes the Sony ZV-1 as being a 20.1MP, 1-inch compact camera that can shoot 4K video and is "designed for vloggers and content creators".
As the silhouette in Sony's event poster shows, the ZV-1 will have a side-hinged screen, which is ideal for vlogging. And the Nokishita leak suggests this will be joined by a 24-70mm zoom lens, which is the same focal range as earlier RX100 cameras like the Sony RX100 Mark V. This may disappoint some who were hoping for a wider lens, but we've found previous RX100 cameras to be fine for handheld vlogging.
If the leak is correct, it looks like the ZV-1 will also have some features for vlogging beginners, including a 'Bokeh Switch' (which presumably changes the aperture, rather than adding any computational trickery) and 'Product showcase' for YouTubers who like doing product review videos. It will apparently also come with a three-capsule microphone and a 3.5mm input jack for those who want to add an external microphone.
One feature we particularly like on the RX100 VII, which is the latest model in that series, is the autofocus. Its Real-time Eye AF works in video mode, and it sounds like that could also be the case in the ZV-1, with the leaked specs stating it will include "existing Real Time AF and Real time Eye AF". We're taking that to mean the latest versions of that autofocus tech, which is among the best around.
That Nokishita leak followed what appeared to be the first leaked images of the ZV-1 from Sony Alpha Rumors (above).
These suggest it will have a similar design to the Sony RX100 series, with a few changes – changes like a very large video recording button and that side-flipping screen, which is more suitable for vlogging than the vertical flip-screen on the Sony RX100 VII.
Overall, this design and feature set would make the rumored ZV-1 a potentially excellent compact vlogging camera. If it does indeed combine Real-time Eye AF for video and the RX100 Mark V's 24-70mm f/1.8 to f/2.8 lens, that would be a fine combination that could see it go ahead of the Canon G7X Mark III in our list of the best vlogging cameras.
What we want to see in the Sony ZV-1
Those are all of the rumored features for the Sony ZV-1 so far, but what would we ideally like to see in a compact vlogging camera?
1. Microphone and headphone jacks
The Sony RX100 VII finally brought the microphone jack to Sony's compacts for the first time, so we very much hope the Sony ZV-1 does the same.
The rumors suggest that it will come with an "improved mic" (presumably compared to the RX100 series), but the ability to plug in an external microphone is still a must for a vlogging camera.
As good as the ZV-1's on-board microphone might be, it would struggle to beat a lavalier lapel mic that's closer to your face or something even bigger for really professional audio. A headphone jack would also make it much easier to check your sound levels during playback.
2. Livestreaming to YouTube
A very smart feature on the Canon G7X Mark III (above), which currently sits second in our list of the best vlogging cameras, is the ability to stream directly to YouTube over Wi-Fi.
That feature, which was something of a precursor to Canon's beta software that lets you turn some of its cameras into webcams, is a potentially great one for YouTubers who like to shoot a mix of pre-recorded videos and livestreams.
It hasn't been seen on any Sony cameras yet, but we hope the ZV-1 includes an equivalent to boost its potential.
3. Active SteadyShot stabilization in 4K
One of the most important features for any vlogging camera is stabilization – it doesn't matter how good the sensor or video quality is if the footage is too shaky.
While it's unlikely to be able to match the gimbal-based stabilization of the DJI Osmo Pocket, we hope the Sony ZV-1 includes Active Steadyshot stabilization that works when you're shooting 4K.
While it would mean a slight crop of your footage, the combination of optical and software stabilization would make handheld walking footage much more usable.
- Read our guide to the best vlogging cameras you can buy right now
- These are the best compact cameras in the world
- Check out our in-depth DJI Mavic Air 2 review