I’m in the back of a safari truck in a wildlife reserve, Panasonic Lumix G9 II with Leica DG Elmarit 200mm F2.8 Power OIS lens in hand, wowed by the giraffes scattered across a bush-filled hillside. It's an unseasonably hot 30C in the UK (that's 86F), and for a moment I’m taken back to my days living in Kenya, where these kinds of trips are the thing you do, if you can afford it.
On this occasion, however, the camera gear that I have in hand is a whole lot better. There’s a giraffe that's mostly obscured from view by the tree it's feeding from. I lift the G9 II’s 3.69m-dot viewfinder up to my eye and immerse myself in the closer view that the wildlife and sports lens affords me (it has an effective 400mm focal length), and despite the giraffe being mostly obscured, the camera’s animal-detection autofocus locks onto the subject.
I take a photo, not because the moment looks particularly great, but because I’m keen to see if the new tracking autofocus I see in the live view is accurate, despite the super-challenging test. It turns out that it is, and I’m not even using the giraffe-tracking autofocus (I jest; ‘AI-powered’ autofocus has broadened the subjects cameras can recognize, but we’re not quite at 'savannah creatures' just yet). The Lumix G9 II has come on leaps and bounds from its 5-year-old predecessor, the Lumix G9.
The body-only list price of the G9 II is $1,599 / £1,699, which is pretty reasonable considering what the camera is capable of. It's also available as a kit with the Leica Vario Elmarit 12-60mm F2.8-4 lens for $2,199 / £2,249, or with the standard Panasonic version of the 12-60mm for $1,799 / £1,899. There’s also a new DMW-BG1E vertical grip that's priced at $309 / £309.
Panasonic also announced two redesigned lenses alongside the Lumix G9 II: the Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm F4.0-6.3 II ASPH, which costs $1,499 / £1,499, and the Leica DG Vario Elmarit 35-100mm F2.8 Power O.I.S, priced at $1,099 / £1,099. Panasonic did not provide Australia pricing for any of this gear at the time of writing.
Shipping for all new items is listed as from November 2023.
Features and performance
Phase-detection autofocus with animal eye AF
New L2 processor engine
Up to 60fps with continuous AF
I’m a fan of Panasonic and OM System (formerly Olympus) Micro Four Thirds (MFT) camera systems, especially for wildlife and sports. The half-size system has some exceptionally fast flagship cameras, like the Lumix G9 II, and sharp telephoto lenses that are much smaller and cheaper than full-frame equivalents, which make long stints in the outdoors all the easier, like the 200mm F2.8 I had during a sneak peak of Panasonic’s latest photography-first MFT camera.
The Lumix G9 II has five years of advances on its predecessor, headed by a faster 25.2MP sensor, up from the 20MP in the G9. That extra detail is very welcome, and the minimum I'd expect from a serious camera in 2023.
There’s also a faster processor – Panasonic says its 2x faster than the previous-gen engine, with less rolling shutter. We don’t have the technical detail beyond that – it’s not information that Panasonic divulges,– but the improvements are particularly welcome for a camera that will often be found in the middle of fast-moving action.
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For my half-day with the Lumix G9 II, the new phase-detection autofocus and its many subject-tracking modes were my main interest. You can pair animal subject tracking, which includes eye AF, with zonal autofocus areas, customizable to horizontal and vertical coverage. It took a lot of experimentation, and setting the camera up to switch between custom setups quickly in order to respond to the changing subjects, but once you get to grips with what the G9 II is capable of, it feels like no subject or scenario is beyond its reach. That said, I only used the camera in bright daylight, and I'll be interested to see how the system performs in low-light scenarios when testing it for my in-depth review.
Continuous shooting is up to a blistering 60fps with continuous autofocus, if you use the electronic shutter. This is the shutter type that's susceptible to the adverse effects of rolling shutter, which is especially obvious in images of fast-moving subjects or, or footage captured with extreme camera movement; however the G9 II has a faster sensor with more control over rolling shutter distortions.
I didn’t have enough time with the G9 II to gun it using the high-speed drive mode to see how effectively rolling shutter is controlled, but the mechanical shutter is immune to such distortion, and can shoot at up to an impressive 14fps, sustained for sequences longer than I’ll ever likely need to shoot for.
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Lumix S5 II-style body
8-way directional joystick
Faster 3.69m-dot EVF
The G9 II is a departure from the MFT Lumix G cameras, instead taking its design cues from the Lumix S5 II – a full-frame Panasonic mirrorless camera from 2023 that I've used quite a lot. It's look and form factor is a little different, with squared-off edges, while its comprehensive custom controls now also include a responsive 8-directional joystick. However, the change in feel and control layout won't be too great a leap for those thinking of upgrading from a Lumix G model.
The G9 II handgrip is particularly comfortable, and I say this having used the camera with the relatively chunky 200mm F2.8 lens, while its DSLR-style dimensions are large for a MFT camera, and the body feels particularly robust.
Viewfinder resolution remains the same as the five-year-old G9, at 3.69m dots, while the LCD touchscreen's resolution has almost doubled to 1.84m dots. For me, more important than viewfinder resolution is the viewfinder refresh rate – it can make all the difference between a laggy real-time view or a heavenly blackout-free experience, and both the viewfinder and monitor are blackout-free during burst shooting.
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25.2MP sensor with 100MP High-res multi-shot mode
5.7K / 60p and 4K / 120p video
New Leica Monochrome color profile
Single-shot photos in the MFT sensor format can’t quite match the resolution of larger-sensor cameras, but 25.2MP is perfectly adequate, and enough reason for a Lumix G9 user to upgrade.
The High-res shot mode combines multiple photos into one to increase that resolution to 100MP, and Panasonic says you can now use this mode handheld (without blurring), thanks to the faster engine. I tried the mode out, and the handheld results were usually blurry, but I’m confident that further testing and experimentation with this mode will yield sharp results, with the caveat that it's for still subjects and a steady hand, or a tripod.
Video recording has been dramatically improved from the G9, and the G9 II offers practically every shooting mode that the GH6 does, and we rate that camera as one of the best video cameras. What you don’t get in a photography-first camera like the G9 II is cooling fans, and so record times are limited by comparison.
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There are a bunch of new color profiles too, for both photo and video. We get a new Leica Monochrome profile, V-Log pre-installed (in the past, Panasonic charged a premium for a code to unlock V-Log), and real-time LUTs, where you can upload your own color profiles. Most people associate real-time LUTs with video recording, but this feature can be used for photography, too. For example, you can load a custom Adobe Lightroom color profile directly into the G9 II.
Just about every aspect of the G9 II has been improved over the five-year-old G9, giving G9 users plenty of reason to upgrade, while also encouraging non-users to enter the system for the first time, especially if wildlife and sports photography are their thing. Sensor resolution is improved, although it doesn't compete with flagship full-frame alternatives, whereas video recording modes are highly competitive, including 5.7K ProRes raw to an external SSD, supported by a fast processor and Panasonic's most effective phase-detection autofocus.
I also think the G9 II's sensor format and lens selection is better suited to wildlife and sports photography than full-frame, for most people. Our in-depth review will reveal more about the G9 II in real-world use, especially how it fares in low light. But first impressions from a half-day with the G9 II are highly positive.
By combining a 26MP APS-C sensor with AI-powered subject recognition in a body built for shooting on the move, the Sony A6700 lands as a compelling hybrid for hobbyists who value power and portability in equal parts. We gave its predecessor four stars in our full Sony A6600 review, and the A6700 is a shoo-in for a top spot in our round-up of the best travel cameras.
On a spec sheet peppered with improvements, Real-time Recognition AF is worthy of note. Driven by the same Bionz XR processor seen on the Sony ZV-E1 and Sony A7R V, it’s capable of accurately recognizing and tracking a variety of targets in the real world, including humans, animals and vehicles.
Paired with a 759-point phase detection array, plus five-axis optical image stabilization, the result is a neatly proportioned camera that can produce sharp, balanced stills in most conditions, even when shooting handheld.
Noise does begin to creep in at higher ISOs, especially north of ISO 6400, but not enough to be an issue if you’re only sharing on social. The metering system also has a habit of underexposing scenes on overcast days, but that’s something you can manually compensate for.
The A6700 is marketed as a hybrid, and I found that it broadly has the video skills to back up its stills abilities. 4K 60p footage is oversampled from 6K without pixel binning, with 10-bit depth and 4:2:2 color sampling to match its video-focused FX30 and ZV-E1 cousins. The resulting clips are as crisp as you’d expect beneath clear skies.
Less impressive is the 1.6x crop applied to 4K 120p slow-motion footage, and I also found that the in-body image stabilization didn’t eliminate wobble when recording while walking. That said, the availability of subject-recognition AF and auto-framing – which automatically crops to track you – makes it straightforward to capture sharp video.
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The A6700 also benefits from revised handling versus the A6600, including a deeper grip that makes it more comfortable to shoot with for extended periods. I didn’t get to test it with a telephoto lens, but the body strikes a great compromise between size and ergonomics. It feels like a camera you could trust to take a few knocks on your travels.
Direct-access control has been meaningfully improved too, with the addition of a front dial, a dedicated dial for switching between still, movie and S&Q modes, as well as several buttons, all of which can be usefully assigned with custom functions – a win for hobbyists who want the option to switch settings quickly when shooting in the street.
And it’s not just the physical setup that’s changed: Sony has revised the menu system for the A6700, with the aim of making it easier to navigate with the vari-angle touchscreen. While the main interface is generally straightforward enough to use, though, I found that there was still a fairly steep learning curve when it came to locating certain settings within the depths of the menus.
Sony lent me its tidy 10-20mm F4 wide angle lens for my review of the A6700, which I found a little limiting creatively. But a major benefit for consumers is that the camera uses Sony’s E Mount, an established system with a huge catalogue of compatible glass, including plenty of compact options that would team well with the camera for a travel-friendly setup.
If video is your focus, you’ll likely get better results from something like the Fujifilm X-S20. But if you want a compact APS-C hybrid with a capable sensor and the ability to automate autofocus on the fly, the A6700 is well worth considering.
Sony A6700: Price and release date
£1450 body-only ($ / AU$ price TBC)
Announced July 2023
Available from Sony stores and authorized retailers TBC
Sony announced the Sony A6700 on July 12, alongside a new shotgun microphone. The camera will set you back £1450 body-only, while the mic costs £349.
That’s essentially the same as what the Sony A6600 cost when it launched in 2019. At that time, we though it was a steep asking price for what the camera offered, but you’re getting a whole lot of upgrades with the A6700, including cutting-edge autofocus and refined handling. Given current inflation, we think that price tag looks more reasonable this time around.
It still hits shelves at a higher price than some of its closest rivals, though. While the Fujifilm X-S20 doesn’t have the class-leading AI skills of the Sony A6700, it has a comparable APS-C sensor and is capable of recording 6K 30p video, yet comes in a good slice cheaper than the A6700.
Slightly closer in price – but still less expensive – is the Canon EOS R7, one of the best mirrorless cameras for stills photography. It doesn’t offer 4K 120p video recording like the Sony A6700, but it does have a higher resolution sensor and dual card slots.
Price score: 4.5/5
Sony A6700: Specs
Sony A6700: Design
Refined grip is more comfortable in the hand
New dials and buttons improve direct-access control
Menu system remains confusing for beginners
Like the A6600 before it, the A6700 is a tightly packaged APS-C camera with flat sides and a viewfinder over to the left. It might not win any design awards, but the neat proportions make it a tidy camera to travel with. That’s still true even with its slightly larger dimensions: it’s deeper than the A6600, but this increase doesn’t make it feel bigger in the hand. It helps that the payoff is a deeper, more ergonomic grip, which makes the A6700 a comfortable camera to carry and use for full days of shooting. It’s also a well-built one, with a sturdy feel bolstered by weather sealing.
What further sets the A6700 apart from its predecessor is the addition of new direct-access controls. Beneath the main mode dial now resides a second dial for switching between stills, video and S&Q (for slow-motion and time-lapse shooting). On the front of the grip lives a further control wheel, which takes care of aperture by default. These are joined by a dedicated video record button on the top plate, an AF ON shortcut on the back and a C1 button on the outside of thumb rest.
Taken together, the updated control array unlocks greater customization options for hands-on hobbyists. Provided you’re prepared to dive into the menu system, each button’s function can be reassigned for swift access to your preferred settings for both stills and video. The more pronounced thumb rest does make the rightmost dial a bit trickier to reach, while the front wheel is a fairly slender thing to scroll with your forefinger. The menu button can also be a stretch to get at with your thumb. Broadly, though, the revamped controls are relatively well laid-out and enhance the camera’s usability.
Sony has also upgraded the touchscreen on the A6700. Slightly sharper at 1.04m dots, it’s now a vari-angle number with a full touchscreen interface, versus the tilt-only display that could only really be used to set AF points on the A6600. On the whole, the screen complements the user experience. Visibility is a little limited in direct sunlight, but the articulating setup offers useful flexibility when framing.
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The software itself is a mixed bag. You can swipe in and out at the sides of the display to show and hide shortcuts, while swiping up reveals two rows of virtual buttons that can be customized for quick access to your favorite settings. These icons are just about big enough not to feel cramped, but it’s still easy to hit the wrong one when operating in the wild.
In what feels like a recurring gripe for Sony cameras, though, it’s the menu system that holds the A6700 back. Sony has changed the main menu to a grid layout that’s more accessible at a glance, but you have to scroll or tap across twice to reach it. The overall structure has also been revised into vertical columns, but accessing any settings not listed in the main grid can still feel like a labyrinthine task. Even headline features such as auto-framing are buried several levels deep.
This is a shame, because the A6700 is otherwise a lovely camera to handle and shoot with. Not everyone will love the off-centre position of the OLED EVF, yet it feels like the best way to both frame and review images in the field. The viewfinder has the same 2.36m-dot resolution as before, but benefits from a welcome boost in brightness.
Design score: 4/5
Sony A6700: Features & performance
AI-powered subject detection and auto-framing
Rapid and reliable AF across 759 phase-detection points
IBIS works better for handheld stills than video
What its menus might lack in clarity, the Sony Alpha A6700 makes up for with cutting-edge performance. Harnessing the same AI chipset as the Sony ZV-E1 and A7R V, it delivers best-in-class subject tracking. Pre-select a target for Real-time Recognition AF to detect, or tap on the touchscreen to select an object: either way, it will lock on with remarkably sticky precision, even as your subject moves around the frame.
In bright conditions, the system is rapid and reliable. Real-time Recognition only works if you’re framing a subject that features on its list of presets, which includes humans, animals and insects, as well as cars, trains and aircraft. In future, we will surely see cameras that can switch between these targets themselves, based on what you’re aiming at. For now, the abilities of the Sony A6700 are at the forefront of AI-driven autofocus.
It isn’t foolproof, as I found when it ignored a sheep I was photographing. Woolly subjects aside, though, it’s a system you can trust to focus for you, even when you’re shooting fast and from the hip. I found its eye-tracking skills particularly good at locking on, regardless of how much I tried to make it break focus.
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All of this speed and accuracy is deployed across an expanded array of 759 phase-detection and 425 contrast-detection points. With both the AF-ON and shutter buttons held down, it will continue tracking subjects around the frame while firing off mechanical bursts at 11fps. The 59-raw-shot buffer fills quicker than you might think, but the A6700 at least offers UHS-II card compatibility for speedier transfer rates – although there’s only one slot.
Helping to net sharp stills is the five-axis image stabilization system. Sony claims that an enhanced algorithm provides up to five stops of stabilization for photography, and I certainly had no issues capturing crisp handheld images with the A6700. Active SteadyShot stabilization is also available for video, although I wasn’t as impressed with the results. It effectively levelled handheld clips when I was stood static, but it’s simply not as good as Sony’s Dynamic stabilization when it comes to counteracting wobble while walking. It might be because I’m heavy-footed, but I wouldn’t use it to replace a gimbal.
What the A6700 might be able to replace, though, is your film crew. Like the Sony ZV-E1, it can automatically crop in while recording to compose the scene around your subject. There are three auto-framing settings, with the most aggressive cropping in the closest. It’s an incredibly useful option for content creators shooting solo, as it effectively replicates the inputs of a real camera operator. Helpfully, the A6700 shows the auto-frame as a moving outline within the wider scene, so you know how much space you have to work with. What you can’t do is use Active SteadyShot and Auto Framing at the same time, so the former will make the most sense with a tripod.
I was also impressed by the battery life of the A6700, which continues the A6600’s legacy of strong longevity. Like the ZV-E1, it uses the same FZ-100 battery as the FX3 and A7S III. Real-world results will depend on your combination of stills and video, but a full tank proved more than enough for a full day of photography, interspersed with a few 4K clips. Helpfully, the cell charges in-camera using USB-C, so you don’t need to add another charger to your travel bag.
Features and performance score: 4.5/5
Sony A6700: Image and video quality
Crisp, balanced results in most conditions
Tendency to underexpose on overcast days
Noise can be an issue north of ISO 6400
At 26MP, the APS-C sensor inside the A6700 pretty much matches the benchmark for modern mirrorless cameras. There are rivals with higher resolutions, such as the Canon EOS R7, but most hobbyist cameras hover around the 26MP mark – and that’s plenty for the average enthusiast.
It certainly shoots sharp in use, with no shortage of detail. On the whole, the A6700 produces crisp, balanced results, with decent dynamic range and accurate color reproduction. Like many APS-C cameras, sunny days are when it thrives, delivering rich but realistic images with plenty of depth.
In overcast conditions, the A6700’s metering system does have a habit of slightly underexposing images. You can still pull detail out of the shadows in the edit if you’re using Sony’s lossless compressed RAW format, and it’s worth enabling the Dynamic Range Optimizer to help balance the light and dark parts of a scene. All the same, you’ll want to keep an eye on exposure compensation when shooting on a cloudy day.
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Like the A6600, the A6700 is also a reliable performer after dark. Lower lit scenes come out balanced and sharp, even with multiple light sources in the picture. Improved algorithms also mean it’s more effective at focusing in dim conditions, rarely relying on the illuminator to lock on to subjects.
An expanded ISO range of 50-102400 for photography gives the A6700 useful stills versatility on paper, but crank it anywhere north of ISO 6400 and noise quickly becomes noticeable across the image. This grain will be very evident on larger prints in particular. For sharing low-light shots on social, though, it’s less of an issue. Happily, there’s still plenty of detail beneath the noise, with little of the smoothing that can so often smudge shadows on APS-C cameras.
I’ve covered the limitations of Active SteadyShot stabilization for video above, but it’s not the only factor which restricts recording on the A6700. 4K 120p slow-mo is a fantastic addition, but it’s limited by a 1.6x crop that means you’ll need a wider lens to make the most of it. Super 35mm 4K isn’t completely uncropped either, although the factor is marginal at 1.04x.
Shoot longer clips and you’ll also run into the A6700’s recording limits. You can set the auto power-off temperature to ‘standard’ or ‘high’. With the latter selected, the A6700 displayed an overheating warning after 38 minutes of recording 4K 60p video indoors. For capturing short travel clips and b-roll on the fly, this time cap shouldn’t be a major issue. But without the cooling vents of the ZV-E1, this isn’t a hybrid for serious videographers or vloggers who like to record for longer.
Audio out of the camera is very usable, with more tonal depth than you’d expect from a built-in pickup. When walking and talking outdoors, it clearly captured my voice without too much interference. If you do want a more professional setup, you have the option to use the A6700’s microphone and headphone ports, or stick Sony’s new XX shotgun microphone on top of the camera.
Launched alongside the A6700, this hot-shoe-mounted accessory features eight modes for directional audio pickup, plus noise-suppression settings that effectively minimize the impact of factors like wind. It’s a lightweight, compact tool that I can see appealing to travel vloggers who want a streamlined solution for targeted audio capture.
Image and video quality score: 4/5
Should you buy the Sony A6700?
Buy it if...
Don't buy it if...
Sony A6700: Also consider
If our Sony A6700 has inspired you to think about other options, here are three more cameras to consider…
How I tested the Sony A6700
Because of its credentials as an enthusiast travel camera, I took the Sony Alpha A6700 on a trip to the south of France for testing. It travelled with me for a fortnight, during which I shot hundreds of stills in all sorts of scenarios. These included candid portraits, daylight landscapes and evening street scenes in Bordeaux. I paid particular attention to how well the A6700 detected subjects in busy urban areas, how comfortable it felt in the hand during full days of shooting, and how its battery held up in the real world.
I was also keen to check out the recording chops of the A6700. To do this, I shot tens of videos, including numerous handheld vlog-style clips to assess the effectiveness of the A6700’s image stabilization for video footage. I pushed the camera to its limits in terms of recording times, to see how well it handles heat, and also tested how effectively it works with Sony’s new XX shotgun microphone.
On the whole, the Sony Alpha A6700 performed well throughout these tests – a fact reflected by the score I’ve awarded it. It’s not a perfect camera, but I found it a fundamentally enjoyable one to shoot with.
It’s no longer the case that people want a camera just to take pictures – we’re all now content creators and potential vloggers, and that means any new camera has to be a hybrid device that can do photo and video equally well.
Given its tech heritage it was no surprise when Sony launched its pocket sized ZV-1 vlogging camera in 2020, mid-pandemic, and when we were all desperately seeking ways to connect with the outside world without leaving the house.
Now here comes the ZV-1 II, an almost identically pocket-sized, if still rather boxy-looking, refinement of its predecessor. The original model was notable for kicking off a series of ‘video-first’ cameras from Sony aimed primarily at vloggers of varying skill levels. And with some rival manufacturers only now launching their first dedicated vlogging alternatives three years on, this second iteration feels timely.
The obvious question is ‘what’s changed?’ Well, initially at least, the answer is ‘not much’. Despite the three-year gap separating them – a veritable age in tech terms – the core of the ZV-1 II is exactly the same as its predecessor. That means it incorporates a 20.1 megapixel back-illuminated 1-inch Exmor RS CMOS sensor twinned with a Bionz X processor.
Alongside 20MP stills, videographers again get 4K resolution video at 30fps. Maintaining the status quo is perhaps excusable given the intended destination for most users’ videos will be YouTube, and especially so when rivals’ vlogging cameras, such as the also-new Canon PowerShot V10, also feature a one-inch chip and identical video spec.
So why should we be considering the ‘new’ ZV-1 II, and not merely searching out a good deal on an existing ZV-1? To answer that question we spent a few days shooting with the ZV-1 II in advance of the release announcement. So does the newbie deserve to take on its predecessor’s one-time mantle of the best new vlogging camera currently available? Read on to find out.
Sony ZV-1 II: Price and release date
$899 / £870 / AU$1,349
Available from mid-June 2023
Given all that’s changed globally in the three years since the ZV-1’s launch, it’s unsurprising if disappointing that the Sony ZV-1 II is now a more expensive purchase than its predecessor.
Pricing for the new camera, which has promised mid-June 2023 availability, is $899 / £870/ AU$1,349, compared with the 2020 launch pricing for the ZV-1, which was a slightly more reasonable $749 / £699 / AU$1,299.
Additionally, Sony tells us there will be a promotional offer around the launch of the ZV-1 II for those who want to buy the directly compatible GP-VPT2BT wireless shooting grip to improve stability, which many will want to do, as there’s no in-body image stabilization here. Just for reference, the same Bluetooth grip controller was offered alongside the ZV-1 for $138 / £170 / AU$249, so we’d expect that pricing to stay the same.
We reckon this accessory will prove useful given there’s no stabilization in the camera itself, only Sony’s ‘Active’ electronic stabilization, as found on the ZV-1, which essentially performs a crop so the image appears less shaky. Its manufacturer also – and rather creatively it has to be said – makes the point that since the SV-1 II’s zoom now starts out wider than its predecessor, that should help footage appear a little smoother. The theory is that the wider angle of view should prevent any camera shake from looking as pronounced as it might with a tighter frame.
Price score: 3.5/5
Sony ZV-1 II: Specs
Sony ZV-1 II: Design
Improved touchscreen operability
More flexible microphone performance
A bit larger than its predecessor, but lighter at 292g
Broadly the size of a packet of cards, if a little fatter because of its camcorder-style flip-out-and-twist LCD screen at the back, the ZV-1 II sees Sony take the old ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach.
Sony has given this new model the ‘II’ suffix rather than simply calling it the ZV-2 to underline the connection to the original and popular ZV-1 model, which will continue to be sold for an unspecified time alongside this second iteration.
Feeling reassuringly solid when gripped, the ZV-1 II is only a hair’s breadth larger than its forebear at 105.5 x 60 x 46.7mm, as opposed to the original’s 105.5 x 60 x 43.5mm. At the same time it’s actually marginally lighter at 292g, compared with 294g for the ZV-1.
this camera may have only used a smartphone before for capturing stills and video. By comparison with the average camera phone the ZV-1 II is still two or three times the thickness, and too big and bulky for the pocket of a pair of jeans. It does, however, slip conveniently into the pocket of a jacket.
While Sony has packed a lot in here, we missed the likes of an eye-level viewfinder – particularly when taking 20 megapixel stills, and in those instances when bright sunlight renders detail and menu options on LCD screen a little harder to critically ascertain than otherwise.
On top of this we can envisage the Sony GP-VPT2BT wireless shooting grip being a near-essential purchase for those who want greater hands-free flexibility as well as improved stability, particularly when recording pieces to camera while walking, or even just when taking selfies.
Design score: 4/5
Sony ZV-1 II: Features & performance
Battery is good for only 45 minutes of recording
No mains adapter or USB-C cable provided
Most manufacturers have been working hard to improve their cameras’ autofocus performance in recent years, with the goal being to make their systems not only increasingly fast but also increasingly accurate. It’s no surprise, then, that the Sony ZV-1 II’s AF has been tweaked in the interim, although said adjustment is only to enable it to recognise animals when in movie mode, not just the usual of human faces.
Multi-face recognition, as introduced on the ZV-E1, also makes an appearance here, ensuring that the aperture automatically changes to provide a bigger depth of field if someone new enters the frame while recording is in progress, therefore keeping each person sharply in focus.
While such features have been added, rather stingily Sony omits to include a mains adapter for charging, something admittedly it hasn’t included with its cameras for a while, and worse still hasn’t bothered to include the USB-C cable required for charging its slender battery in situ. Given the price of the camera itself, we feel this really is unacceptable.
For its part, the manufacturer cites ‘sustainability’, suggesting that USB-C cables are now commonplace, and therefore it’s likely owners will already have one in their homes. We’re not quite sure if we buy that one.
Once you do manage to get it charged, the battery is good for around 45 minutes of recording, or 260 shots, which is adequate if hardly earth shattering. Disappointingly, again, battery life hasn’t been improved over that of the ZV-1.
Features and performance score: 4/5
Sony ZV-1 II: Image and video quality
4K video resolution at up to 30fps
Improved video AF now recognizes animals
With the same 20.1 megapixel 1-inch Exmor RS CMOS sensor as its predecessor and the same Bionz X processor too, we weren’t expecting a marked difference from the ZV-1 II’s output. A slightly adjusted if limited focal range this time around does allow for different choices when it comes to composition and framing, and while a new ultra-wide 18mm setting introduces the risk of barrel distortion and a fisheye-type effect, happily these don’t appear too pronounced.
The default aspect ratio for stills is 3:2, though the standard digital camera ratio of 4:3 is also selectable, as are 16:9 and 1:1. The ZV-1 II can record raw files separately or in conjunction with JPEGs, or you can opt for highest-quality Extra Fine JPEGs on their own. While stills are rich in both detail and color in the main, if we’re being picky we did notice occasional instances of purple fringing along high-contrast edges – where the dark branches of a tree meet a featureless sky, for example – though this is only noticeable if you’re actively looking for it. Generally, results aren’t quite as impressive as you’d get from either a DSLR or a mirrorless camera with a larger APS-C or full-frame sensor, although we have to weigh this against this camera’s size and portability, and its positioning as a jack-of-all-trades device.
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While some will bemoan the fact that this second generation model’s video capability of 4K resolution and up to 30 frames per second capture rate, capped at 25fps if shooting in PAL format, hasn’t altered from the original SV-1, this is more than sufficient for the online vlogging community the ZV-1 II is aimed at. Those looking to live-stream content can do so via USB connection to a computer or Sony Xperia smartphone, with Bluetooth connectivity offering the ability to link up with the Sony Creator app and download future software updates.
With the Sony ZV-1 II’s new ability to recognise and track not just human faces, but also animal ones, so we decided to test it out on an excitable dog darting about the frame, and the results were impressive.
Naturally great video is nothing without great sound to accompany it, and while we found the built-in omni-directional microphone located atop the lens to be more than capable, you can additionally attach an external optional ECM-B10 shotgun mic for more professional audio. Otherwise, to prevent breezy conditions from adversely affecting audio capture when shooting outdoors, a ‘dead cat’ style fluffy windshield is included in the box, and slides easily into place via the camera’s vacant hotshoe. There’s no headphone jack on the device for monitoring audio as it’s being captured, though.
We liked how the bright f/1.8 maximum aperture lens allows for some creative shallow depth-of-field effects, with sharp subjects and creamily defocused backgrounds – the so-called ‘bokeh effect’ – enabling the sharpest part of the frame to really pop. The aperture can also be adjusted via the touchscreen. In operation, the zoom is both smooth and silent, so there’s no unsettling jerkiness when altering framing during filming. Likewise, the built-in microphone doesn’t noticeably pick up noise from the zoom mechanics as it adjusts. On a practical note, as the optical zoom is fairly limited in terms of its 18-50mm range, it means you do have to get fairly close to subjects when shooting video or stills. Ultimately the ZV- II is best suited to portraits and group portraits, in catering for the vlogging fraternity.
Videographers should also note that, in terms of differentiation from the ZV-1, the new camera inherits and incorporates a Cinematic Vlog setting from Sony’s ZV-E1. This offers a variety of ‘looks’ including Classic, Clean, more saturated Chic, Fresh and Mono (B&W) settings. A ‘creative look’ color profile is carried over from the existing ZV-E10 too; essentially this provides smartphone filter-like mood-enhancing image processing, with the selectable moods in question here being Auto, Gold, Ocean and Forest.
Image and video quality score: 4.5/5
Should you buy the Sony ZV-1 II?
Buy it if...
Don't buy it if...
Sony ZV-1 II: Also consider
If our Sony ZV-1 II review has you considering other options, here are three more cameras to consider...
How I tested the Sony ZV-1 II
As subsequent iterations of cameras normally add more than a sprinkling of improvements over their predecessors we were very interested in zeroing in on the practical uses for the new features, such as the ZV-1 II’s optical zoom lens starting out wider than the original, but ending slightly shorter at the telephoto end. The best use of the zoom we found was either for landscape type shooting or for pieces directly to the camera. We also wanted to check out the sound quality of the microphone, particularly when ‘walking and talking’ as many vloggers considering this camera will be doing, and outdoors not just inside the studio. A variety of shooting scenarios were therefore undertaken, the camera generally proving itself capable of as a jack-of-all-trades device.
Sony needs little introduction as a major player in the mirrorless camera market. Not only did the company release the first-ever full-frame mirrorless camera with the A7R, it also briefly laid claim to having the world’s smallest and lightest full-frame mirrorless camera with the Sony A7C when it was announced in September 2020, before that honor was taken by Sigma with its fp and fp L models. This camera is completely different to other full-frame Sony cameras, with looks and handling more comparable to the A6000 series of APS-C cameras. And while the A7C may not be one of the best cameras available, it could comfortably be one of the best travel cameras currently available.
While from the outside the A7C looks like a slightly larger Sony A6600, the internals are almost identical to those of the Sony A7 III. Much of the performance is identical, and both cameras feature the same 24.2MP full-frame BSI Exmor R CMOS sensor, which is capable of producing excellent image quality. Continuous shooting is available at up to 10fps, which is pretty impressive for a camera that’s aimed at vloggers and content creators.
Sony A7C Specs:
Sensor: 24.2MP full-frame BSI Exmor R CMOS sensor (35.6 x 23.8mm) AF points: 693-point hybrid AF Video: 4K up to 30fps Viewfinder: 2.35m-dot Memory cards: SD, SDHC, SDXC, UHS-I/II LCD: 2.95-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 921k-dot Max burst: 10fps Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB-C Size: 124.0 x 71.1 x 59.7mm Weight: 509g (with battery and SD card)
With those users in mind, the A7C is capable of capturing 8-bit 4K video at up to 30fps. While this is sufficient for producing videos for sharing on YouTube, it’s a little underwhelming, and possibly rules the camera out of a professional video workflow. That said, you can capture Full HD video at up to 120fps for slow-motion footage, although this is only going to be attractive if you typically output videos at 1080p.
The A7C is an intriguing option that will likely divide opinion. It may be a couple of years old now, but it can still hold its own against the competition and remains Sony’s smallest and lightest full-frame camera. It’s arguably a bit too expensive for what it is, however, at £1,850.00 / $1,799.99 / AU$2,399.00 body-only.
Let’s take a closer look at what it has to offer so that you can make up your own mind about whether this is the Sony camera for you.
Sony A7C release date and price
Announced in September 2020
Costs £1,850.00 / $1,799.99 / AU$2,399.00
Launched alongside the FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6 kit lens
The Sony A7C was announced in September 2020. The camera body is available with a silver top plate, which was the only option at launch, or in all-black which is arguably the more appealing of the two options.
The price of the A7C has naturally come down since its launch, and it’s now available body-only for £1,850 / $1,799.99 / AU$2,399. The camera shares many features, and indeed its sensor, with the Sony A7 III, which has now been superseded by the A7 IV; the A7 IV isn’t a great deal more expensive than the A7C, but offers much more in terms of performance and handling.
The A7C was released alongside the FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6, a compact lens that’s the perfect partner for the camera on account of its size and weight; typically for a kit lens it has a variable maximum aperture and a limited focal range, and there are many vastly better FE optics available to be paired with the A7C, although they’re mostly a lot bigger than the 28-60mm.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Sony A7C: design
Follows the APS-C A6000-series design
Vari-angle LCD screen
Weighs just 509g body-only with a battery and SD card
Measuring 124.0 x 71.1 x 59.7mm, and weighing just 509g with a battery and SD card, the A7C was the smallest and lightest full-frame camera at the time of its launch, which is impressive given that the A7C is, to all intents and purposes, a smaller and lighter A7 III. The smallest full-frame mirrorless camera title has since been claimed by the Sigma fp and fp L models, but where the Sony A7C does have the edge is that it features a built-in viewfinder – more on that later.
The small and lightweight body means it’s best to pair the camera with smaller FE lenses that naturally balance well with it. This isn’t a huge compromise, because while you could shoot sport and wildlife with the A7C, it’s more suited towards travel, landscape, portrait, and street photography. For sport and wildlife, there are much more capable models available in the Sony A-series lineup, most notably the Sony A1 and Sony A9 II.
The first thing you notice about the A7C is that it looks like the Sony A6600. This is a rangefinder-style design, with the electronic viewfinder positioned at the top-left of the camera’s rear, the LCD touchscreen below, and several direct-access controls to the right. On the top of the camera, you’ll find the mode dial, exposure compensation dial, video record button, and shutter button on the top of the small grip.
The overall design, which includes a small and awkward-to-use viewfinder, alongside the 2.95-inch vari-angle touchscreen and top-mounted shutter button, suggests that the A7C is designed more for use with the LCD screen than with the viewfinder. The EVF is clear enough in use, but the display is simply too small for a full-frame camera and is uncomfortable to use. In bright conditions especially, it’s better to have than not, but a larger viewfinder with increased magnification would make a world of difference here.
Conversely, while the 2.95-inch vari-angle touchscreen only has a resolution of 921k dots, it’s comfortable to use for shooting both photos and video. Plus, it can be swung outwards to change the angle, and rotated forwards, making it ideal for vlogging. This is also useful for general video shooting and, of course, for stills, enabling you to comfortably shoot from high or low angles.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Sony A7C: features and performance
Real-time AF tracking and Eye AF
Up to 10fps continuous shooting
5-axis in-body image stabilization
While the A7C is undoubtedly a camera that’s capable of producing excellent image quality, the feature set is, on the whole, rather underwhelming. The features on offer can’t be complained about, but there’s nothing that makes this camera stand out or gives it the ‘wow’ factor. To put it bluntly, if the A7C was a car it might be a Toyota Corolla; it’s dependable, and does everything you need it to do, but it’s far from being exciting.
For the many photographers who make minimal use of all of the bells and whistles their cameras have to offer, this will be ideal. That said, let’s take a look at a few areas where the A7C provides features that even the most demanding photographers would be happy with, and the first is autofocus performance, with 693 hybrid AF points covering approximately 93% of the frame.
Autofocus locks positively onto subjects most of the time thanks to 693 phase-detection and 425 contrast-detection AF points; the number of active points is naturally reduced when shooting in APS-C mode. Then there’s Real-time AF tracking, where the camera uses AI to track moving subjects for both photos and video. Another useful AF feature is Real-time Eye AF for both humans and animals, which performs well, and makes shooting portraits at wide apertures incredibly easy.
When it comes to performance, 5-axis in-body image stabilization provides up to five stops of compensation for both photos and video. For stills, you can shoot handheld at shutter speeds of up to five stops slower than you would normally for a given lens/focal length. For video, image stabilization helps to provide smoother footage when shooting handheld.
For photographers who enjoy shooting at high frame rates, the A7C offers up to 10fps continuous shooting. Sony claims that you can capture around 215 continuous shots when shooting in JPEG Extra Fine, or around 45 uncompressed raw files. Another potentially useful feature, and one that’s more commonly found in professional cameras, is wireless tethering to a computer over 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi. This allows you to transfer images for instant viewing and/or editing, which can be useful when shooting in a studio.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Sony A7C: image and video quality
24.2MP full-frame BSI Exmor R CMOS sensor
Video features could be better
Excellent high-ISO handling
There’s one area where no one is going to be complaining about the A7C, and that’s image quality. Photos can be captured in 14-bit raw, with compressed and uncompressed options available, alongside JPEG. Dynamic range is good, particularly at the base ISO of 100, with the camera able to capture detail throughout reasonably high-contrast scenes. Dynamic range, like all cameras, naturally reduces as ISO levels are increased, with the best results in a wider sense up to ISO 1600.
The native ISO range covers ISO 100-51,200, with an expanded range of ISO 50-204,800. In terms of noise handling, the A7C is a great performer with usable results up to ISO 25,600. ISO 12,800 is markedly better, with the best results at ISO 100-1600, although even up to ISO 6400 images retain impressive levels of detail, with low color and luminance noise.
Video quality is good overall, as you’d expect from a Sony A-series camera, but it’s not breathtaking, and some of the specs in this area are mediocre at best, especially when you consider that the camera is aimed at vloggers and content creators. On the plus side, the A7C offers S-Log2, S-Log3 and HLG modes as well as both microphone and headphone sockets.
As you’d expect, you can shoot video at up to 4K, but this is limited to 8-bit, 30fps at 100Mbps. This is perfectly adequate for producing videos for YouTube, but it wouldn’t stand up in a professional workflow. 10-bit 4K at 60fps or higher would be beneficial, but to put this into perspective even the new Sony A7R V only offers this level of video, which also seems lacking for such a high-end camera. On the plus side, 4K video is oversampled 6K, and you can shoot at up to 120fps in Full HD to capture slow-motion footage.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Should I buy the Sony A7C?
Buy it if....
Don't buy it if....
Sony A7 IV
The Sony A7 IV will cost you a bit more at £2,399 / $2,498 / AU$3,499, but for your money you get a newer 33MP sensor, and 4K video up to 60fps in 10-bit. It’s a slightly bulkier camera that weighs more, but the onboard technology and the handling are significantly better. Plus, the viewfinder is leagues ahead of the A7C’s, and the vari-angle LCD screen provides the same level of convenience.View Deal
If you’re looking for a small and lightweight camera that punches well above its weight, the Fujifilm XT-5 is worth considering for both photography and video. The 40.2MP BSI X-Trans sensor is APS-C, but Fujifilm cameras are well known for being able to match, and in some cases exceed, the performance of full-frame mirrorless cameras. The body-only price is the same as the A7C, but it’s packed with the latest Fujifilm technology. View Deal
How I tested the Sony A7C
I tested the Sony A7C over several days, with a focus on travel and the outdoors, to put the camera through its paces in situations it’s been designed for. I took photos in a variety of lighting conditions in order to test factors such as dynamic range, autofocus, ISO handling and, of course, how easy and comfortable the camera is to use for its intended purpose, alongside more general shooting.
Most shooting was handheld as this fits with the travel aspect of the camera while necessitating the use of a variety of settings to achieve correct exposures. Photos were taken in different shooting modes according to the subject being photographed – for example, Shutter Priority for panning shots and Aperture Priority for general shooting. I used several different lenses to assess how well they balanced with the A7C’s lightweight design.
With nearly 30 years of photographic experience and 15 years working as a photography journalist, I’ve covered almost every conceivable subject, and used many of the cameras that have been released in that time. I’ve also used and reviewed almost every full-frame Sony A-series camera since the launch of the A7R, so I have first-hand experience of the development of the system.
The Sony ZV-1F is designed for anyone who wants to create quality video content, but doesn’t perhaps have the most advanced camera knowledge. It’s neat, fits easily into a pocket, and offers great 4K video footage, making it a brilliant choice for beginner vloggers.
It’s ideal for anyone wanting to move away from shooting video on their smartphone, and will absolutely hold its own if you’re wanting to make the move into videography to upload to YouTube or social media.
Canon EOS R6 II specs
Sensor: 20.1 Megapixel 1" CMOS AF points: 4,897 point Dual Pixel CMOS AF II, 100% coverage Video: UHD 4K at 24, 25, 29.97 FPS, HD at 24, 25, , 29.97, 50, 59.94, 100 LCD: 3-inch LCD vari-angle touchscreen, 921,600 Dot Memory card: Single Slot: SD/SDHC/SDXC Max Burst: Up to 16 fps Connectivity: Micro-HDMI Output, 1/8" / 3.5 mm TRS Stereo Input, USB-C Input, USB-C (USB 2.0) Data Output (Shared with Power Input), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Size: 105.5 × 60 × 46.4mm Weight: 256 grams (Battery and Memory Card)
You can adjust the settings on this camera as little or as much as you’d like; you’ll get fantastic results either way. It features Intelligent Auto modes, which read the scene you’re shooting and makes the decisions for you like how bright the picture is, or you can set it to manual mode where you have control of all the settings and exposure levels.
Photography is possible, but it plays second fiddle to video. If you do want to delve into the menus and you’re new to Sony, be warned that its cameras take getting used to; many users can be overwhelmed and confused by the dense menus. Much of the time it's easier just to set the custom buttons to what you want, then stay out of the menus as much as possible.
Other than that this is an incredibly intuitive little camera. It will turn on as soon as you flip the screen open, making it very quick and easy to get recording, and it has three main modes – video, S&Q (Sony’s ‘slow’ and ‘quick’ in-camera modes for videos such as timelapses and slow motion), and photo — all accessible with just the press of a single button on the top of the body.
Image stabilization is super impressive, while the face and eye tracking is second to none, as is standard for Sony cameras.
Sony claims you can easily transfer all your images and videos over to your smartphone or computer using its Imaging Edge smartphone app – but anyone who's actually used this app will tell you it’s… not great. If Sony could put as much effort into its app as it does in its cameras and autofocus, then it would make sharing your images an awful lot easier.
This is definitely a camera for vloggers rather than photographers, though, as it doesn't have raw capture capabilities. Also, its lens isn't interchangeable, and while the 20mm lens is decent for video, it limits your photography options somewhat.
Sony ZV-1F: release date and price
Benefits from optional accessories like the GP-VP2BT grip
Cheaper in the US
Accessory bundles not available in all regions
The Sony ZV-1F was released on October 17 2022, and you can buy it now for £550 / $499 / AU$845.
An accessory and travel bundle that includes memory cards, a flexible tripod, a pouch to keep your camera safe and dust free, and cleaning supplies is available on Amazon US priced at $598, but it didn’t appear to be available in the UK or Australia at the time of writing.
The handling of a vlogging camera like the Sony ZV-1F is enhanced with optional accessories like the GP-VP2BT grip (£170 / $139.99 / AU$249), which gives more stability when vlogging. This grip can be used both as an extension of your arm and as a mini tripod.
Price Score: 4/5
Sony ZV-1F: design
Small and lightweight at just 256 grams
Optimized for auto rather than manual shooting
You’ll likely need to use a grip if you don’t have small hands
The Sony ZV-1F probably isn’t going to be the best-designed camera you’ve ever come across, but it does have some great features which lend themselves to the types of shooting you’d likely be doing with this camera.
Part of the beauty of the Sony ZV-1F is its small size — it weighs just 256 grams and measures 10.5 x 6 x 4.6cm, making it incredibly easy to travel with, or to just stick it in your pocket when you’re out and about and want to access it quickly.
That said, while nobody wants to lug a heavy camera around all day, its small size could be a disadvantage, depending on the user. It’s a tiny little camera, and it doesn’t have the biggest front grip, meaning it could be fiddly to hold onto if you don’t have small hands. You can alleviate this potential issue by using it with the aforementioned GP-VPT2BT grip, however, that does involve spending more money.
The Sony ZV-1F has been built with partly recycled plastic material as part of Sony’s Road to Zero environmental plan, and the fibers of the windscreen are made exclusively from recycled polyester.
It’s designed to be dust-proof and moisture-resistant, but it isn’t weather sealed. This does make it a less than ideal proposition for traveling as, obviously, you can’t control the weather, but – unless you’re a storm chaser – you probably won’t be using it much in wetter weather anyway, so it’s not a huge deal breaker for us. Additionally, if you’re looking at this camera after handling some top-of-the-line stills cameras, it’s going to feel plasticky and flimsy in comparison.
On the top of the camera is a button to switch between photo, video, and S&Q shooting modes, a video record button and a camera shutter button with a zoom toggle, and a Background Defocus button (great for showcasing products). On the back of the camera body there are the standard function, menu, playback and delete buttons, along with a control wheel via which you can access the ISO, timer, drive modes and exposure compensation — although these can all be reprogrammed to perform other functions.
Sony ZV-1F: features and performance
Decent eye and face tracking for humans and animals
For such a small camera, the Sony ZV-1F can actually do quite a lot once you delve into its settings and features. Although the Intelligent Auto mode works a treat, you can also shoot fully in manual if you want to, as well as in Aperture and Shutter Priority, plus a few other modes.
There’s also a Background Clear/Defocus button on the top of the camera, which is great for showcasing products or focusing on a certain person in your shot. In photography terms, this is basically a quick and easy way to change your aperture to create a nice bokeh effect. You can also change the aperture manually when the camera is in the right shooting mode, with the available range running from f/2 to f/8.
When I was out reviewing this camera, I was very impressed and pleasantly surprised with how effective SteadyShot is, particularly when shooting video. When I looked back at the footage it was obvious that I was walking around with the camera, but those movements didn’t ruin the footage and overall it did seem very smooth. Matters would be improved even further if you were to use the camera with a gimbal.
I’m primarily a stills photographer with little video experience, so I’m very much in the target audience for the ZV-1F. At a Christmas market, I found it’s quick to take out when needed, and switches on as soon as you flip the screen out, so I was able to start shooting almost instantly.
One frustration every photographer is familiar with: you see something happen that you want to capture, but by the time you’ve got your camera out of your bag, done the bag up again, turned the camera on and selected the right settings, the moment you wanted to shoot is long gone; so this was a nice change. I’m also quite a clunky walker, and I noticed just how good SteadyShot was when the video footage wasn’t going all over the place.
Even in the dark, Sony’s incredible autofocus was brilliant. One odd limitation of this camera is that it uses an older contrast-detection system, rather a hybrid setup that includes both contrast- and phase-detect technology, which makes it slightly less reliable than its predecessor.
Having said that, when I was walking around the market I noticed the AF automatically recognizing and tracking people’s faces as they walked across the frame, even when they weren’t looking directly at the camera. There’s animal recognition too, although when I tested this on a couple of camera-shy black cats it didn’t seem to detect and track their faces unless I focused myself by tapping on the screen, so it seems that its effectiveness depends on the lighting, and the color of the animal you’re working with.
Features and performance 4/5
Sony ZV-1F: image and video quality
Better suited for daytime or well-lit shooting
Can only shoot JPEG images
Good audio, but you’ll need an external mic for the best results
While it’s not the most powerful, all-singing all-dancing camera in the world, the Sony ZV-1F does actually produce great image and video quality. It has a 1-inch sensor with 20.1MP resolution which isn’t bad at all, and can record 4K video and slow motion in Full HD with its wide and sharp 20mm lens.
We found that the ZV-1F performed better during the day than in lower-light situations, so that’s something to keep in mind if you’re planning on shooting content at night. Looking at the footage we shot of a Christmas market, overall the camera handled the contrasting light levels pretty well.
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You can see in our sample images and videos that well-lit subjects and scenes were captured very well, although with the occasional blown highlights; the darker skies had noticeable noise and grain - something we’d expect from a 1-inch sensor.
The ZV-1F is designed to capture your voice clearly, whether you’re shooting inside or outdoors. It’s perfect for recording dialogue, as it features a built-in directional three-capsule microphone. It also comes with a windscreen to eliminate any muffling from winds, which can make or break a video. We found the sound was captured very well for casual day-to-day vlogging, but for anything more professional you’ll definitely need an external mic for better audio quality.
Another thing worth noting is that when it comes to photography, this camera can only shoot JPEGs. While the images that came out of it were very good, you don’t have as much detail, or editing headroom, as you get with raw files. That said, if you just want to snap quick images that you can upload quickly with little or no editing, this camera will be absolutely fine.
Image and video quality 3.5/5
Should I buy the Sony ZV-1F?
Buy it if...
Don't buy it if...
If our Sony ZV-1F review has you wondering about alternatives, here are three rivals to consider:
If you’re buying into Canon’s EOS R mirrorless system, you might well be weighing the do-it-all EOS R6 II against the more expensive and high-powered EOS R5. Plenty chose the original EOS R6 for its price, low-light capability, burst shooting and video features, and the R6 II removes one remaining barrier – the original model’s 20MP resolution.
The Mark II’s resolution increase will may not make much difference to the detail rendition, but it’s an important psychological bonus which puts the Canon on a par with rivals like the Lumix S5 (and now the S5 II), Nikon Z6 II and Sony A7 III (though not quite the A7 IV).
The R6 Mark II’s burst mode frame rates are doubled to 40fps with the electronic shutter but stay at 12fps with the mechanical shutter, and while the AI-powered AF subject recognition has been extended with more subject types, the original was pretty good already.
Canon EOS R6 II specs
Sensor: 24.2MP full frame CMOS AF points: 4,897 point Dual PIxel CMOS AF II, 100% coverage Video: 4K UHD up to 60p, FHD up to 180p Viewfinder: OLED 3.69m-dot LCD: 3-inch vari-angle touch 1.62m-dot Memory card: 2x SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-II Max Burst: 12fps mechanical shutter (1,000+ JPEG, 110 RAW/1,000 CRAW), 40fps electronic shutter (190 JPEG, 75 RAW/140CRAW) Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Mic, Headphone, HDMI Type D, USB 3.2 Size: 138.4 × 98.4 × 88.4mm Weight: 670g (inc. battery and SD card)
For video, the original 30-minute recording limit has been scrapped and Canon reckons the R6 II can shoot for over 40 minutes at 4K 60p, and up to 6 hours at 4K 30p. It also has Canon C Log 3 and can capture 6K ProRes RAW over HDMI.
These things are all great, but they are incremental rather than revolutionary improvements, and they make for a pretty expensive camera that’s only worth it if you need everything that it does.
The EOS R6 II is nice to use and captures very attractive stills and video, but the 8-stop IBIS system will not necessarily deliver that in real life and does not have the fluency for smooth camera movements in video. The EOS R6 II feels like one of the better cameras in its class, but not necessarily the best and definitely not the cheapest.
Canon EOS R6 II: release date and price
About the same price at launch as the old R6, which is welcome
Much more expensive in the UK than the US
Seems expensive compared to the Sony A7 IV and Lumix S5 II
New Canon cameras typically arrive with premium price tags relative to the competition and take a while – sometimes a very long while – to move back down to a more competitive price point. Launch price for the Canon EOS R6 II is $2,499.99 / £2,799 / AU$4499 body only, and $3,599.99 / £3,999 / AU$6399 bundled with the RF 24-105mm F4 lens.
It’s no surprise then, that the EOS R6 II immediately looks expensive compared to its rivals. These include the Nikon Z6 II, Sony A7 II and the brand new Panasonic Lumix S5 II, all of which are around $500 cheaper. Indeed, even the 30MP Sony A7 IV currently costs less than the Canon. And if you’re thinking of getting the R6 II and 24-105mm f/4 lens bundle, that’s almost the price of an EOS R5 body.
So is the EOS R6 II good enough to make it worth the extra compared to its direct rivals? At this level, you commit to a system rather than a specific camera, and if you’re starting from scratch you’ll need a lot of trust in the Canon brand to pay the extra for the R6 II. If you’re a Canon shooter, the R6 II might make a logical upgrade for existing kit, but if you already use Sony, Panasonic or Nikon gear, it’s hard to see why you would switch.
Price Score: 3.5/5
Canon EOS R6 II: design
Curved shapes and smooth materials make it nice to handle
Very good EFV and rear display
Some minor control niggles
Canon does make very nice-handling cameras. When other makers seem to be favoring hard-edged rectilinear designs, the EOS R6 II has comfortable curved contours and soft, grippy surfaces. Your little finger is still left dangling at the bottom of the grip and it does feel overbalanced by bigger lenses – we tested it with the RF 24-105mm f/4 – but it’s more comfortable than its rivals.
The three-dial control layout does take some learning, since the dial functions depend on the mode and in some modes two dials do the same thing, but it’s all part of learning a sophisticated camera.
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It would have been nice to have had dedicated ISO and WB buttons, and why doesn’t the stills/video lever on the far left of the top plate have a continuous shooting option? It’s something this camera is especially good at, so it’s a bit annoying to have to dig around the the interface to find it.
And you might wish there was some quick way to disable the subject-recognition system for when you want to choose the focus point – though you could do that with the C1, C2 and C3 settings on the main mode dial.
It does feels as if Canon has gone away from the idea of a camera that has buttons and dials you can see, to a camera you customize and program yourself.
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The EVF offers superb clarity, definition and contrast, though it can also be a bit jittery as you move the camera, and while the vari-angle rear screen is equally excellent, could Canon not have stretched to a 3.2-inch display rather than 3-inch?
If you like cameras with power levers around the shutter release, right where your forefinger is, you won’t like the R6 II’s big Off-Lock-On lever further back on the top plate. There must be some ergonomic reason why you should need one hand to hold a camera and another to switch it on and off. Answers on a postcard.
There’s no status panel on the top plate, but the menu system, although extensive, is very clear and easy to navigate. The video record button on the on the top plate looks to be in a random position but it’s actually quite easy to find with your index finger.
Canon EOS R6 II: features and performance
Really good AI autofocus and tracking
Operation all-round is smooth, responsive and satisfying
We didn’t get Canon’s claimed 8-stops of IBIS
Canon’s latest AI autofocus system is very impressive – mostly because you can set its subject-recognition to auto and let it get on with it. Almost always it figures out what your subject is and focuses on it without you having to do a thing. It’s especially effective with animals and humans, but it’s also very good at identifying cars.
If you choose Zone AF or single point AF, it will still show you what it’s recognized in the EVF or on the rear screen, but it will respect your area/point AF choice, which saves you getting into a fight with the camera over what to focus on.
The eye AF and tracking is very good, and ideal for one-person vlogging crews filming themselves. In our tests it tracked us doggedly as we walked about talking to the camera, and only failed with sudden frame entries for fast and erratic movements. Basically, as long as you’re not deliberately trying to trip it up, it doesn’t put a foot wrong.
It was also excellent for tracking squirrels in our local park. With a squirrel face-on it didn’t quite figure out the eyes, but with the squirrel sideways it got the focus bang on.
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The 8-stop (claimed) IBIS is less convincing. It’s quoted with the RF 24-105mm lens at 105mm, which is just how we tested it. We got an acceptable hit rate at around 4-stops compensation, but pretty poor results after that.
We didn’t find it great for video or long lenses, either. For static filming it’s excellent, but for any kind of camera movement it does too many ‘jump-resets’ for reliable footage in the hands of all but the most skilled operators. We tried it with the RF 800mm f/11 super-telephoto and got the same results – if you can’t keep this lens’s movement under tight control, the stabilizer just jumps from one ‘stable’ position to another, making accurate framing very difficult.
Features and performance 4/5
Canon EOS R6 II: image and video quality
Very attractive color rendering for both stills and video
Excellent high-ISO image quality
24MP resolution enough for most but unremarkable
The JPEGs we got from the R6 II are really attractive. The auto WB seems to judge the lighting and the colors of the scene perfectly, and the evaluative exposure metering seems to know exactly how you would want a scene rendered. We shot both JPEG and raw, but the exposure system and the JPEG rendering proved so effective that the raw files were largely superfluous.
The resolution was no better and no worse than we’d expect from a 24MP full frame camera with an anti-aliasing filter. For resolution, the EOS R6 II is good but utterly unremarkable. At least it’s not at a megapixel disadvantage compared to most rivals, unlike its predecessor.
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The low-light, high-ISO performance is extremely good. We set up a test scene with the same subject shot at a range of ISOs with the camera on a tripod and operated with the self-timer to eliminate any possible shake. The results were very good indeed right up to ISO 6400, when it was possible to start seeing some loss of detail and image smoothing, but it wasn’t until ISO 12,800 when we felt there was any significant quality loss.
This was all done by comparing JPEGs. The danger of comparing raw files is that different raw converters handle noise differently.
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The video quality was very impressive too. We shot 4K 30p and 4K 60p in-camera in standard mode (no log flattening) to see what the R6 II could do straight out of the box. Detail was sharp, the color rendition was rich and natural and the exposure – as with stills photography – gave enough dynamic range for most needs and lighting conditions. The AF kept up well too, with smooth shifts for changing subject distances.
The IBIS was less convincing, failing to properly smooth out walking footage and not handling long focal lengths or smooth camera movements (or as smooth as we could make them) particularly well.
The IBIS could get you out of a hole if you’re shooting handheld and you don’t have your tripod or gimbal but, realistically, you need those supports to really get the best from this or any camera.
Image and video quality 5/5
Should I buy the Canon EOS R6 II?
Don't buy it if...
Don't buy it if...
If our Canon EOS R6 II review has you wondering about alternatives, here are three rivals to consider.