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Sony ZV-1 review: Vlogging champ



Sony has been working hard on its video chops over the past five years or so. Its high-end full-frame Alpha series is a firm favourite in the video-making community, while smaller cameras like the A6600 have sought to offer similar capabilities in a much more compact form.

With features like fast autofocus, advanced real-time face- and eye-tracking, you’d have thought that’s where it ends. Apparently not. There’s one specific breed of video-maker that Sony wants under its wings: vloggers.

Enter the Sony ZV-1. This powerful, very compact and functional camera offers all the tools you need – whether you’re just starting at vlogging, or a seasoned pro who needs some extra tools.

Design

  • Dimensions: 105.4 x 60 x 44mm / Weight: 294g
  • 3.5mm, Micro-USB, mini HDMI out/in
  • Flip-out rotating screen

Sony says it designed the ZV-1 from the ground up for vloggers. That means the appearance is quite different from the RX series, the latter designed predominantly for stills shooting. So the ZV-1 may be a very similar size to the RX100, but it’s certainly not the same.

The design is minimal, crafted from a subtly textured black plastic. Unlike the RX100, the ZV-1 has a rubber grip sticking out of the left side. It’s quite narrow, but that’s so there’s enough of a gap between it and the lens to give you somewhere to put your thumb when shooting yourself front-on.

While the grip isn’t large enough to get a proper grip on when shooting the other way around, it does help add a bit of ‘stickiness’ when holding the camera. We felt like we were less likely to lose grip or drop it.

That’s not the only element of the camera’s design that makes the ZV-1 more tuned to a vlogger’s needs. Sony has put a proper flip-out touchscreen on this video-focused camera, which is so much better than any of the ones that flip over the top of the camera (like in the RX100 series).

Having the screen flip out to the side of the camera means it’s at the same level as the lens and – more importantly – means it can never be blocked by any accessories you might want to mount to the top of the camera, on the hotshoe, or plugged into the ports on the opposite side.

The screen also acts as a sort-of power button. Flipping the screen out of its shut state automatically powers up the camera, ready for shooting. It’s really useful, especially when you just want to open up the display and capture the shot, without having to search for the small on/off button on the top edge. That’s a good thing, because with the included wind-killing deadcat in place, the on/off button is covered by the deadcat’s fluff.

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The top itself is mostly flat. There are no protruding buttons or dials, but it still manages to squeeze in five functional buttons: on/off button, a mode button, a big movie button (with a bright red ring around it), the usual shutter button (with zoom dial surrounding it to control the lens), plus a dedicated button for switching background defocus on.

The inclusion of background defocus is yet another vlogger-targeted feature. Those who want to create a bokeh effect – that’s the soft, melty background blur called by its proper name – while speaking to the camera can do so at the press of a button.

Battery and SD Card access is achieved by opening the door on the underside of the camera. It’s not a great placement for anyone who likes to mount their camera to a tripod. We’ve often found access blocked in these instances, so we have to unmount the camera to get to the memory card. Still, this camera is designed to be used primarily handheld.

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For the pro user who wants to be able to capture audio from a dedicated microphone, Sony has included a 3.5mm port on the right, just above the Micro-USB port and mini HDMI, each of which is covered in its own individual plastic door. 

Lastly – as if any further evidence that this is a vlogger’s camera was required – there’s no viewfinder. You just get the screen. The space normally taken up by a pop-up viewfinder in the RX100 has been replaced by a three capsule mic system and shoe mount – which is hidden by quite a large mesh grille.

Processing, tracking and smart exposure

  • Real-time eye and face tracking (with human and animal modes)
  • Instant bokeh and face smoothing modes
  • 315 autofocus points

A lot of what makes Sony’s cameras so appealing is the brains running the show. In the ZV-1 there’s the Sony BIONZ X image signal processor. It’s similar to the one you’ll find inside the top-end A9, which means that all of the super fast, super smart auto-focusing and tracking you find higher up the Sony camera chain are present in the ZV-1. 

The joy of the sensor is that you stick the camera in intelligent auto (iA) mode, or auto movie mode, and the brains of the camera will generally suss out what’s going on in the scene pretty quickly and adjust settings to match. If that’s you recording a vlog to camera, it’ll automatically focus on your eye and then base the exposure of the entire frame on ensuring that your face is well lit and natural looking. 

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Having tested this in a few different lighting situations, both indoors and outdoors, with bright backlighting and even with our face shaded by an over-hanging tree, the results are surprisingly good. It does seem to take a second or two to adjust and expose, but when we stood in shade that covered our face, it still managed to pull out the details and make our face clearly visible. Similarly, with bright light shining on our face, it adjusted to tone it down. You can see the before/after in the image above.

As you’d expect, in extreme contrasting conditions like this the background can end up looking bleached out and overexposed, but the priority for the vlog is seeing the person clearly, so that’s what you get. Sony says this works regardless of skin colour and ethnicity. 

You can – if you want – also enable skin smoothing modes, and adjust how much smoothing you want. If you want your skin looking all natural, with all of your pores and wrinkles on show, you can have that. Likewise, if you want to hide them for that smoother airbrushed look, you can do that too. 

Another major feature is the instant background defocus mode. So how does this work? Watching the lens mechanism when you press the dedicated mode button, we could see the ZV-1 mechanically switching to a wider aperture. Checking image metadata from stills we took in the same scene, but having switched background defocus on and off, revealed as much to be true. The defocus setting has the aperture set to f/1.8 by default, then adjusts exposure time and ISO sensitivity accordingly.

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As for the auto-tracking and autofocusing, that’s as fast and accurate an experience as it is on any of Sony’s modern cameras. That’s thanks largely down to the 1-inch sensor featuring both phase-detection points on its surface, use in conjunction with contrast-detection autofocus. We recorded our cats, then messed around with touching to focus on the screen, and the camera was quick to detect changes and lock in on the newly selected area. 

For the mobile generation, those who share more videos on vertical-centric platforms like TikTok, Sony’s latest camera automatically detects when it’s shooting video in portrait mode and at stays in vertical mode once it’s transferred onto a device for sharing. 

Those who shoot product-based videos, or make-up tutorials, or other types of videos where you’re often bringing products close to the lens to show it briefly and then move it away, there’s also a product-specific mode you can switch it to.

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When activated, you can hold your product – whether it be a lipstick, a Lego figure, a phone, or whatever – up to the camera, and it’ll quickly focus on it, blurring you out in the background, then quickly switching back again to focus on your face when you remove the product from the frame. There is a little bit of focusing noise as the adjustment happens, but it’s not especially loud, and if you’re talking at the same time, it’s not all that noticeable. 

Audio power

  • Three capsule mic
  • Wind/noise reduction features
  • Included windshield/deadcat 
  • 3.5mm input

With video, the image is only one part of the story. Sony’s additional effort in the ZV-1 was to include a built-in microphone system that’s good enough to use on the fly without any additional mic equipment. And, for the most part, that effort has paid off. 

Recording video and speaking to camera results in clear and loud audio. It wasn’t the nasty, muffled type of sound you’d perhaps expect to get from a camera’s own microphone. We tested it in a few different scenarios and found our voice was clear and pronounced and had enough natural timbre to it that it didn’t sound flat and broken. 

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Of course, using a professional microphone will yield better results, and you can either use the 3.5mm input for that, or use a hotshoe adapter to connect up an XLR cable.

The ZV-1 also comes with a dedicated deadcat – a small fluffy ‘wind-shield’ – that attaches to the hotshoe and covers the mic grille. We tested this out on a particularly blustery day and while you could hear the wind it never resulted in any tearing sounds, regardless of how bad the wind got. 

Now, there is also a wind reduction feature that you can enable within the camera’s menus, but this is more of an ambient noise killer than a dedicated wind noise filter. It essentially switches off the two wide mic capsules, leaving only the central one picking up your voice. The difference is stark – it doesn’t completely kill traffic or wind noise, but it does reduce it. The downside to this filter, however, is that it can make the sound seem quite flat.

Video pro

  • 4K at 30fps/1080p at 60fps
  • Slow motion modes
  • Multiple picture profiles – ideal for colour grading
  • Proxy support

This isn’t just a camera for people who want to pop a camera on a tripod and shoot a TikTok dance in vertical, full-automatic mode. Sony knows what video creators want, and so has included a bunch of features to try and keep those people happy too. 

Sadly, one of those features isn’t 4K video at 60 frames per second. The ZV-1 maxes out at 30fps at its full resolution setting, but it can shoot up to 60fps in 1080p.

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It’s also pre-loaded with a bunch of preset picture profiles – which you can customise – that allow you to shoot with a variety of different S-log, cine and gamma profiles. So if you want to you can set it to a nice, flat, desaturated profile giving you the scope to colour grade it to your liking.

You can also enable proxies, which are supported by the likes of Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro, enabling fast editing and rendering without losing detail in the final product. 

You’ll need to do a bit of digging into settings with the camera set to the manual video mode in order to choose one of these options. It took us a little while to figure a lot of those menus – as there’s a lot in there. 

One of the most useful settings to enable, we found, was adjusting the the focus speed. With the camera set to ‘touch focus’, then changing the focus speed to slow, it allowes for automatic slow pull focus effects. That’s useful if you want to add a bit of extra motion to a frame where nothing is moving.

It takes stills too

  • 20-megapixel 1-inch size CMOS sensor
  • 24-70mm (equivalent) zoom lens
  • 24fps burst mode

It may be a ‘vlogger camera’ but you can take pictures with the ZV-1 too – and the results aren’t half bad.

It still uses that same eye-tracking, fast autofocusing tech too. Pointing at a pet with the animal tracking on locks quickly onto an eye and focuses. Even if that cat’s eye is half-shut because the cat is inevitably asleep. 

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We found the results to be detailed, with good colour and dynamic range in good light. Sometimes they might come out a bit too contrasty in automatic mode, but there are enough opportunities to adjust settings, including switching off a lot of the automatic scene suggestions.

Perhaps the only thing that makes this less versatile as a stills camera is the zoom length. It only has a 3x optical zoom (a 24-70mm equivalent), which isn’t anywhere near as versatile in that regard as the RX100 (which has an 8.5x, 24-200mm optic). 

A note on battery life

Being a small camera means quite a small battery capacity. Sony claims the ZV-1 can get you up to 45 minutes of recording.

Having tested this at 4K video resolution, we find that rather ambitious. We didn’t get close to 45 minutes capture in our own use, but then a lot of our time testing was spent digging through menus, playing with different settings, and testing different features – all of which eats into battery life.

Thankfully, it’s one of those cameras that’s convenient to keep topped up. You just need to plug it in with the Micro-USB cable, so plug it into a power supply at home when you’re done or keep a battery pack with you when out and about.

Verdict

The way we see it, the ZV-1 could fulfil two needs. It’s a great step up in video and audio quality for those who would normally use the front-facing selfie camera on their smartphone. It’s also a great, compact secondary camera for those who shoot more professionally, but need a pocketable and compact tool that still has a lot of the features you need (like mic in, picture profiles and proxies). 

However, photographers might not flock to it. There’s no viewfinder, battery life is short, and the zoom is limited.

On the whole, the ZV-1 seems to nail Sony’s vision. It’s nimble, lightweight and powerful. With its advanced processing capabilities, fast autofocus and real-time tracking, combined with the impressively clear audio capture and the useful flip-out screen, it really is a great option for vloggers. 

Also consider

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Canon PowerShot G7 X III

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Sony RX100 VII

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Best vlogging camera? Panasonic G100 v Sony ZV-1 v Canon G7 X 3



Traditional camera makers are shooting to become king for an expanding market sector: vlogging cameras. Where YouTube is king, more makers are looking for better ways to capture themselves and their surroundings in better quality.

We pick three of the best options out there – the Panasonic Lumix G100, Sony Vlog Camera ZV-1, and Canon Powershot G7 X III – to help you decide which makes best sense to buy and why.

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Size & Portability

  • Panasonic Lumix G100: 115.6 x 82.5 x 54.2mm; 412g (with 12-42mm lens)
  • Sony Vlog Camera ZV-1: 105.5 x 60 x 43.5mm; 294g 
  • Canon PowerShot G7 X M3: 105.5 x 60.9 x 41.4mm; 304g

Small is sometimes mightiest. While all three of these cameras are small, it’s the Sony that will most likely feel lightest and most portable. There’s not a huge amount in it.

Sensor Size & Lens

  • Panasonic Lumix G100
    • Sensor: 20MP Micro Four Thirds
    • Lens: Interchangeable lens mount
      • 12-32mm kit lens (24-64mm equivalent)
  • Sony Vlog Camera ZV-1
    • Sensor: 20MP 1.0-inch Exmor RS CMOS
    • Lens: 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 equivalent
  • Canon PowerShot G7 X M3
    • Sensor: 20.1MP 1.0-inch stacked CMOS
    • Lens: 24-100mm f/1.8-2.8 equivalent

However, there’s a big reason for the variance in size: sensor size and each lens’ focal length.

Both Sony and Canon models have fixed-in-place zoom lenses, while Panasonic’s G100 is a system camera with interchangeable Micro Four Thirds lenses – which makes it potentially much more versatile (and a bit larger and heavier by comparison).

All three of these cameras house sensors that are larger than an entry-level compact, which bodes well for quality. The Sony and Canon both use stacked 1-inch size CMOS sensors. The Panasonic has the larger scale sensor, however, which ought to mean greater potential when it comes to background blur and overall quality.

The kit Panasonic G100 comes with a 12-32mm pancake zoom – which delivers a 24-64mm equivalent zoom. That’s the same on the wide-angle as the 24-70mm of the Sony ZV-1 and the 24-100mm of the Canon G7 X III. Note that the Canon can zoom the furthest – i.e. make farther away subjects look closer-up in the frame.

Audio, Mic Input

  • Panasonic Lumix G100: OZO Audio by Nokia (audio tracking / positioning), 3.5mm mic input, micro HDMI out
  • Sony Vlog Camera ZV-1: 3.5mm mic input, micro HDMI out, deadcat wind-shield included
  • Canon PowerShot G7 X M3: 3.5mm mic input, micro HDMI out

A big reason to buy a dedicated camera for video is for its audio abilities. All three of these cameras offer a 3.5mm microphone input, so you can connect an accessory microphone as you please – whether that’s a directional shotgun mic, a wireless mounted mic, or any other number of possibilities.

However, you won’t necessarily always want to use a microphone. It’s here that Sony comes up trumps by including what’s called a deadcat in the box – a fluffy microphone cover that sits up top and stops wind noise from creating those ‘tearing’ sounds.

The most advanced of the lot, however, is Panasonic’s Lumix G100. For the first time in a camera this includes OZO Audio by Nokia, which utilises the three onboard microphones to record in a directional format – you can define whether you want behind, in front, or subject tracked to be sound isolated. That’s the real big winner: the system’s autofocus includes face detection which can be audio synched, so as the subject moves through the frame the OZO tech will use the right proportion of microphones to channel that audio isolation. Very clever.

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Screen & Viewfinder

  • Panasonic Lumix G100: 3-inch 1,840k-dot vari-angle touchscreen LCD; built-in 3,680k-dot EVF
  • Sony Vlog Camera ZV-1: 3-inch 921k-dot vari-angle touchscreen LCD; no EVF
  • Canon PowerShot G7 X M3: 3-inch 1,040k-dot vertical tilt-angle touchscreen LCD; no EVF

Traditional cameras aren’t great for vlogging on account of their fixed screens. All three of these cameras, however, offer mounted LCD screens that can be repositioned: the Canon’s flips forward vertically; the Sony’s and Panasonic’s are side-mounted and therefore offer even more versatile position potential. 

In terms of screen resolution the Panasonic is far and away the most resolute – although at arm’s length we doubt you’ll notice a huge difference in this, and actually more dots on screen is just more of a battery drain.

Of the three cameras only the Panasonic has a built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF). This is more for shooting still images or shielding from sunlight to better judge exposure and composition – so certainly has its use cases.

Video Credentials

  • All models: Up to 4K at 30fps
    • Panasonic: Up to 9mins 59secs
    • Sony: Up to 5mins due to avoid overheating
    • Canon: Up to 9mins 59secs
  • Panasonic Lumix G100: 1080p at 60fps (29m 59s maximum)
  • Sony Vlog Camera ZV-1: 1080p at 120fps (29m 59s maximum)
  • Canon PowerShot G7 X M3: 1080p at 120fps (29m 59s maximum)

Being vlogging targeted, all three cameras cater for 4K resolution at 30fps maximum (and with 100Mbps in all cases, ensuring there’s enough data for optimum quality). However, the Sony can only record for half the time compared to the other two to avoid overheating – and even then the Canon and Panasonic max out at 10 minutes at this resolution.

If you’re looking for Full HD recording to up your recording time, save on bandwidth, storage space, and editing processing pressures then all three cameras can cater for that too.

Slow-motion is best handled by the Sony, with Full HD at 240fps/480fps/960fps available. The Canon offers 120fps slow-motion. The Panasonic’s spec sheet says 120fps sensor output is possible too – but that in-camera capture is 60fps.

Stabilisation

  • Panasonic Lumix G100: 5-axis hybrid stabilisation (4-axis for 4K video)
  • Sony Vlog Camera ZV-1: Steadyshot for Movie hybrid stabilisation
  • Canon PowerShot G7 X M3: 5-axis Advanced Dynamic IS & Auto Level

Stabilisation is important when it comes to video. Although you may wish to buy a handheld gimbal for extra stabilisation for those ultra-smooth video results.

All three cameras offer hybrid stabilisation systems – that’s to say there’s optical lens-shift working in tandem with electronic stabilisation (using a portion of the sensor as a buffer to counter motion). We’ve not tested these three side by side so can’t say which is best of the bunch.

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Conclusion

The big question: which one to choose? Well, if price comes into the equation then the Sony is the priciest of the lot. That might be a bit of a surprise when the Panasonic offers a more advanced audio isolation system, has a larger sensor size, and interchangeable lenses.

If size is your biggest concern then the Sony is the lightest of the bunch, which helps in terms of portability. It’s also got the most muscle when it comes to slow-motion options – although its 4K capture is more time-limited than the other two.

The decision, as they say, is yours.





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Sony ZV-1 is an all-new breed of vlogging camera



Sony has designed an all-new camera from the ground up to be the last word in the world of enthusiast/professional vlogging cameras. It’s called the ZV-1 and it’s compact, lightweight, but features a tonne of features vloggers and video makers will find really useful. 

The design of the camera is all focused around making it easy to hold and easy to film yourself. The small grip on the front has enough of a gap between itself and the lens, that you can place your thumb there in order to hold it while pointing it at your face. It also has a bright red LED on the front that flashes while recording. 

Unlike some of Sony’s other camera offerings, the movie/video recording button is prominently placed on the top, right near the camera shutter button. 

For those who have complained in the past about Sony’s lack of a proper flip-out screen, it even has one of those.

The display can be flipped out to the side so you can see yourself on screen when filming, but likewise, it rotates, and can be held at various angles when viewed from the back or up top. You can even flip it over to have the screen facing the camera’s body when shut, to protect it. 

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The top of the camera features a three-capsule mic setup which Sony says can give you clear, good quality audio whether you want to set it for wider ambient capture, or a focus on your voice. It even comes with a custom-made deadcat to kill wind noise that fixes into the shoe mount.

Of course, some vloggers and video makers will want to use their own dedicated microphones, and so there’s also a 3.5mm mic input, but also the capability to plug in an XLR mic via a hot shoe adapter if you need that.  

It’s arguably the video processing that makes this ideal for vloggers, combined with the auto focussing and tracking capabilities that Sony is renowned for. 

Like a lot of its recent high end cameras it has real-time eye and face tracking, as well as fast autofocus based on phase and contrast detection. However, it’s programmed to base its frame exposure on the person’s face that’s in the shot. 

What that means is that you can be talking to camera, walking under bridges, into darker or brighter settings and it’ll continuously adjust the exposure to ensure your face stays looking well exposed and natural. And that’s not dependent on ethnicity either, it can detect and adjust for different skin colours and shades. 

If you’re a vlogger that needs to bring products to the frame – like makeup tutorials or consumer electronics hands-on videos – you can switch the camera to Product Showcase mode, and it’ll automatically pick up the product in the shot and focus quickly on that, and then focus back on your face when you remove it from the frame. 

For TikTok and Instagram Stories users, the camera automatically detects when it’s shooting video vertically, and will transfer that video in portrait mode to your phone, without auto-rotating to landscape. 

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It shoots 4K video at 30 frames per second, or 1080p up 60fps, but also features a super slow motion capability and can shoot at 240, 480 and 960 frames per second. You can even shoot in different Log settings, for those who want to colour grade later on in the edit, and it supports proxies. 

Inside, Sony’s equipped the camera with a 1-inch 20-megapixel 4:3 CMOS sensor. 4K videos oversample a 16:9 14MP frame down to 8-megapixel, without cropping it and it’s equipped with EIS and OIS for stability during shooting too. 

It has 315 autofocus points, and can shoot still bursts up to 24fps, and then displays those bursts in clusters within the gallery on the camera. 

The battery is good for 45 minutes of video recording time, or 260 still photo captures, and can be charged by plugging the camera into a microUSB cable. That – of course means – if you’re going out for an extended period, you can take a battery pack with you and plug it in to keep it topped up between shooting. 

The Sony ZV-1 will be available to buy in June 2020 for £700 in the UK.





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The very best of the Sony World Photography Awards 2020



The Sony World Photography Awards are a highlight of the photography scene every year, inviting photographers of all types to submit their best images in a variety of categories and genres to be judged against each other.

Countless photos are submitted, and the final shortlists and winners are almost always jaw-dropping, whether for their beauty or harshness, or any number of other reasons. This year’s main awards have just been announced, and we’ve gathered together some of our favourite images from the lists for you to browse right here. Prepare to be amazed.

© Pablo Albarenga, Uruguay, Photographer of the Year, Professional competition, Creative, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Seeds of resistance

The overall winner of Sony’s competition this year is Pablo Albarenga, a photographer whose series documents the threat posed against environmentalists in Brazil who are trying to protect habitats and areas from deforestation and damage.

They’re pictured literally laying down their lives, contrasted with the area they protect in a stitched-together amalgam. 

© Pablo Albarenga, Uruguay, Photographer of the Year, Professional competition, Creative, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Testament

This is another from Albarenga’s series, and showcases another of his chosen details – the landscape on the right has the first signs of deforestation at play in it, shining a spotlight on exactly how the environments these citizens care about could be threatened so gravely. 

© Sandra Herber, Canada, 1st Place, Professional competition, Architecture , 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Bleak

The winner of the Architecture section, Sandra Herber, has created an amazing series of images by simply and sparsely photographing fishing huts on Lake Winnipeg, in the cold of winter. The freezing conditions positively chill you as you look but the individual character of each hut is also manifest. 

© Sandra Herber, Canada, 1st Place, Professional competition, Architecture , 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Vibrant

We love the painted fish on this hut from Sandra Herber’s series – it’s a splash of vibrant colour in a landscape that’s largely monochromatic, and sets off the isolation of the hut really nicely. 

© Jonathan Walland, United Kingdom, 2nd Place, Professional competition, Architecture , 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Looming

Jonathan Walland’s photos of buildings look like something created in a laboratory – he cleverly dials back all colour and focuses only on the building in focus to create a sort of silhouette of their shape and lines, which strips them down to their architectural essentials. 

© Jonathan Walland, United Kingdom, 2nd Place, Professional competition, Architecture , 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Contrast

This, another from Jonathan Walland’s series, shows that even when a building is constructed with a more modern aesthetic, and curved lines, Walland can still distil it into an essential form, something that looks like the very first sketch its designer might have come up with. 

© José De Rocco, Argentina, 3rd Place, Professional competition, Architecture , 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Big brother

José De Rocco’s series came third in the Architecture bracket, and features stark images of buildings framed in such a way that their surface details become the story of the image itself. 

Take the side of this supermarket – its red tiling dominating the frame but that security camera also drawing the eye inescapably. 

© Dione Roach, Italy, 2nd Place, Professional competition, Creative, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Grunge

Dione Roach took second place in the Creative category for this series, boldy titled Kill Me With an Overdose of Tenderness, which collages together snapshots from the online world in a punk-rock aesthetic that applies a grungey layer to our sometimes clinical social media channels. 

© Luke Watson, United Kingdom, 3rd Place, Professional competition, Creative, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Objets d’art

The items photographed by Luke Watson in this series are all recovered from conflicts, some as old as the First World War, and repurposed into rudimentary pinhole cameras.

It’s a repurposing that prompts you to think about the object’s original intended use, and the creative potential that countless everyday items therefore implicitly carry with them. 

© Luke Watson, United Kingdom, 3rd Place, Professional competition, Creative, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Patched up

This helmet from Luke Watson’s series is another starkly clean image demonstrating how something can be given a new lease of life. The tech world is particularly shabby when it comes to re-use, so this is a challenging photographic idea. 

© Hashem Shakeri, Iran, Islamic Republic Of, 2nd Place, Professional competition, Discovery, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

The medium is the message

The bleached-out landscapes from Hashem Shakeri’s series Cast Out of Heaven showcase a large-scale housing project near Tehran, but do so with the harsh sunlight and blanched building making for a stunning, heavenly sort of environment. 

This image of a blank advertising hoarding has something distinctly dystopian about it, too. 

© Hashem Shakeri, Iran, Islamic Republic Of, 2nd Place, Professional competition, Discovery, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Picture-book

This image is another example of how interesting Shakeri’s photos are – the focus is shared by multiple levels of depth in the image, with the huge blocks in the foreground just as detailed as those behind, all of them huge to the point where it’s actually quite hard to grasp a real sense of scale. 

© Hugh Kinsella Cunningham, United Kingdom, 3rd Place, Professional competition, Discovery, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Disinfect

Hugh Kinsella Cunningham’s photos showcase the experience on the ground dealing with Ebola in the DRC – carefully stained in a dark-room while being developed, adding to the palpable sense of threat you get from looking at images of so deadly and transferrable a virus.

© Chung Ko, Hong Kong, 1st Place, Professional competition, Documentary, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Playing their part

The Hong Kong protests have inspired many over the last year or so, and have also started to offer blueprints for other protestors around the world. Chung Ming Ko’s images of protestors are dramatically lit and carefully framed to humanise them. 

© Didier Bizet, France, 2nd Place, Professional competition, Documentary, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Intimacy

The phenomenon of lifelike dolls being used by people as emotional aids has been around for a while, and unfairly lambasted without sufficient empathy, and Didier Bizet’s photos go to great lengths to remind people that these dolls are not toys or oddities, but almost always more complex figures. 

© Youqiong Zhang, China Mainland, 3rd Place, Professional competition, Documentary, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

The reality behind the label

Youqiong Zhang explores the ethics and realities of mass-production in Africa in their series, which showcases just what a factory looks like and is actually like to work in, without dehumanising or overlooking the experiences of its workers. 

© Robin Hinsch, Germany, 1st Place, Professional competition, Environment , 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Her environment

Robin Hinsch showcases some of the devastating impact of industrial exploitation and fossil fuel extraction in the Niger Valley. It contrasts the brutality of the environment that oil extraction leaves behind with the citizens being forced to live in the shadow of fossil fuels. 

© Álvaro Laiz, Spain, 2nd Place, Professional competition, Environment , 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Hand-crafted

This image might be hard to decode initially, but once you realise that it’s a series of pelts stiched together into one piece, things become clearer. Álvaro Laiz’s series shines a light on the life of the Chukchi on the Bering coasts. 

© Luca Locatelli, Italy, 3rd Place, Professional competition, Environment , 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Modern forest

It’s sometimes hard to remind yourself that so much agriculture in the modern world isn’t out in the open but in enormous warehouses like this one, carefully monitored to ensure even growth – it’s like a bizarre, managed version of a forest, as captured by Luca Locatelli.

© Luca Locatelli, Italy, 3rd Place, Professional competition, Environment , 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Who needs the sun?

Another of Luca Locatelli’s images, this showcases how smaller plants are grown in banked shelves of lit-up beds – it’s taking farming to the next level, and again is a photo that obviously forces us to reconsider how we think about the source of even our plant-based food.

© Ronny Behnert, Germany, 1st Place, Professional competition, Landscape , 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

World in miniature

We can’t get our heads around this photo – nothing we do stops it looking like a miniature set from Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs. Ronny Behnert’s images are framed with a great distance and white out the oceans around the Torii pictured to create surreal, serene landscapes. 

© Florian RUIZ, France, 2nd Place, Professional competition, Landscape , 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Off-putting

There’s a lot of interesting facets to the photos submitted by Florian Ruiz, not least the fact that they are subtly stitched together from various images, giving them that slightly off, wobbly look. The industrial landscape pictured is near Xinjiang in China, a dried-up salt lake where the dust blows around like the Old West. 

© Chang Kyun Kim, Korea, Republic Of, Shortlist, Professional competition, Landscape , 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

A memorial

The final image we’ve selected comes from Chang Kyun Kim, who has taken a haunting look at some of the remaining sites of Japanese concentration camps in the US from the Second World War, where buildings are still standing testament to the imprisoning of so many innocents. As Chang Kyun Kim observes, most were in locations so harsh and unwelcoming that nothing has been built there to replace them. 





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The shortlist for the Sony World Photography Awards 2020



Sony’s annual photography awards are always a superb excuse to drink in some absolutely unbelievable photographs, spanning all sorts of categories and subject matters, and the 2020 shortlist is no exception to that rule.

That list of contenders was recently unveiled for the Open category of the awards, which is the section that’s open to all comers and entrants. The winners won’t be unveiled until early June, but until then we’ve got plenty of time to enjoy browsing the amazing selection of photos.

Massimo Crivellari, Italy, Shortlist, Open, Architecture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Clean lines

There’s something hugely satisfying about the lines of colour and texture in this wintery photograph, with the various strata of the building drawing the eye differently, while the two shuttered windows actually look much like a pair of heavy-lidded eyes themselves.

Wen Lu, China, Shortlist, Open, Architecture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Divided

The division between metropolis and green space is rarely as clear and obvious as in this aerial picture taken in Guangzhou, China. The clustered, crowded buildings are mirrored by the overgrowth of the trees and plants, with that clear dividing road between the two. 

Alexandre B. Lampron, Canada, Shortlist, Open, Architecture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Bridge to nowhere 

This cove in Newfoundland has countless fishing baskets waiting to be used on a pier, piled up in their multitudes. The prominence of timber in the construction of the pier makes this photo have an almost historical feeling to it. 

José María Pérez, Argentina, Shortlist, Open, Travel, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Painterly

It’s almost inconceivable to us that this is a photograph, not a painting, so gorgeous and smooth is the imagery. There’s no overbearing sharpness or clarity here, just superb colour and a wonderfully chosen point of view. 

Kai Hornung, Germany, Shortlist, Open, Landscape, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Land to sea 

This Icelandic vista has a mind-blowing range of colours and textures to take in, as water runs out to sea over various types of rock and silt, taking on peculiar and memorable tones as it does so. The ripples on the surface of the water in the middle of the frame are extremely pleasing, too. 

Jessica Chappe, United States of America, Shortlist, Open, Motion, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Timeless

This rower’s pose, fashion and hairstyle all combine to make her seem somehow out of time – it’s credible that this photo could have been taken in any of the last multiple decades, we’d argue. It’s a superb portrait capturing her taking a breath as she works. 

Stanislav Stankovskiy, Russian Federation, Shortlist, Open, Creative, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Eerie

This looks like a nice, simple exploration of light and darkness until you look more closely through the car’s windows and see that there’s far more to interpret. What are those otherworldly lights? What’s going on inside the car? All these are up to your imagination. 

Martina Holmberg, Sweden, Shortlist, Open, Creative, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Silhouettes

The historical techniques used to take this photo shine through in the soft, monochromatic look of it. The contrast between the far cow, viewed from the side, and its closer friend looking directly into the lens, is nice, while the seascape in the distance is enigmatic. 

Mahesh Lonkar, India, Shortlist, Open, Culture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Jubilation

This action shot from the Palkhi Festival in Pandharpur, India, is bustling with energy and happiness, the sole drummer rising above the crowd to steal your focus while the foregrounded clapping hands frame the entire shot. 

Marc Le Cornu, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Open, Motion, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Swirl

The setting sun provides gorgeous lighting for this motion-capturing shot of a boat being piloted with a bit of fun in mind, and the endlessly random ripples and eddies it leaves in its wake are eye-catching. 

Sergio Carrasco , Mexico, Shortlist, Open, Culture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Ablaze with colour

The day of the dead is a well-known festival, but its costumes and pageantry don’t get any less entertaining to observe, as this extraordinarily colourful costume demonstrates. The look she’s serving the camera with could scare anyone. 

Lior Yaakobi, Israel, Shortlist, Open, Motion, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Taking the plunge

There’s nothing quite like the pure joy of a dog enjoying playtime, and this shot also shows off the sheer chaos that groups of pooches can foster. There’s a lot going on, but the core of the image is that dog frozen mid-dive as it jumps back into the pool, clearly for neither the first nor the last time. 

Alec Connah, United Kingdom, Winner, Open, Motion, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Boom

Planned demolitions make for satisfying viewing in video form, provided everything goes right, but this amazing frame shows that they can be just as awesome in photographic form. The setting sun is the perfect ingredient to tie it all together with great colour. 

Marco Minischetti, Italy, Shortlist, Open, Landscape, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Contrast

It took us absolutely ages to work out what on earth was happening here, but once you clock that the blurred orange sheen in the top of the frame is falling snow, things start to make more sense in terms of perspective. 

Peter Li, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Open, Architecture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Sanctified

This image is a stunning evocation of the quiet resonance of places of worship, helped by the clean quality of its morning light and the total lack of people in the frame. It looks like a truly calm space in which to think. 

Rosaria Sabrina Pantano, Italy, Winner, Open, Architecture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Ominous

This mind-bending sculpture is very real – it’s called 38° Parallelo by Mauro Staccioli, and the black and white photography here makes it stand out all the more from the natural landscape in which it’s set. 

Lloyd Lane, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Open, Motion, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Crashing wave

Those of us in the UK know this sort of image all too well from annual storms battering our coastlines, but this is a particularly artistic version, with the cracks in the sea wall catching the eye once you look away from the wave itself. 

Rachel Brooks, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Open, Natural World & Wildlife, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Luminous

If you know much about fish you might be confused by what’s poking out of this little guy’s mouth. Sadly for him, it’s a tongue-eating parasite, so not exactly the happy-go-lucky photo you might have first taken this for. 

filippo borghi, Italy, Shortlist, Open, Natural World & Wildlife, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Seeing right through you

Staying with the ocean, this negative image of a bizarre octopus was taken at night, but looks for all the world like a still from a laboratory environment. It’s completely weird in a really captivating way. 

Caroline Paux, France, Shortlist, Open, Natural World & Wildlife, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Midair dogfight

Seagulls can be mighty possessive of any potential food, as we know all too well from trying to eat chips at the seaside, but the way these three are fighting over an utterly helpless starfish is amazing. The timing required to get this shot beggars belief. 

Hsiang Hui, Sylvester Wong, Malaysia, Shortlist, Open, Landscape, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Still and serene

With this photo, meanwhile, it must have been more about patience, waiting for a lack of disturbance to be able to capture the totally still landscape and these stunning dancing mangrove trees in Indonesia. 

Lorena Zschaber , Brazil, Shortlist, Open, Portraiture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Red

This Brazilian dancer’s hair, hat and skin tone combine wonderfully to make a delicate palette for this image, while the way her hair blocks her face creates a shield of anonymity. 

Kai Hornung, Germany, Shortlist, Open, Landscape, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Fantasy forest

This looks for all the world like a shot straight out of Tolkien’s Fangorn Forest, not a lane in Tenerife, but the latter is the reality of the situation. That mist is perfect for evoking memories of countless fantasy novels. 

SATHEESH CHANDRAN, India, Shortlist, Open, Culture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Redder

This frame is simply saturated in subtly different shades of red, a portrait of a Theyyam ritual in India. The costume is elaborate, delicate and hugely complex.

Julia Wimmerlin, Ukraine, Shortlist, Open, Natural World & Wildlife, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Parenting

Not all portraits of parenthood require humans, and the bond between this baby Orangutan and its mother is clear to see at a glance. The amusing grimace on mum’s face is a picture of perseverance, meanwhile.

Justin Keene, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Open, Portraiture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Historically new

We love this portrait of a young man in South Africa, his oversized jacket seeming to say a lot about the expectations he’s been saddled with, while the arid landscape behind him is chastening, too.

Daniel Heilig, Hungary, Shortlist, Open, Street Photography, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

The void

We find this image almost menacing, as a result of that yawning black void creeping down from the top of the frame as these men blithely take selfies and take photos on their phones.

Katie Farr, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Open, Creative, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Negative landscape

This photo captures an Alpine landscape using infrared technology to present a colourscape unlike anything any human eye would normally see, and leaving you with the impression of an almost alien landscape. 

Guofei Li, China, Winner, Open, Natural World & Wildlife, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Groom with a view

Another beautiful shot of parenting in action, this mutual grooming by a young cheetah and its mother showcases the duality of big cats – terrifying hunters one moment, and adorable oversized fluffballs the next.

Peter Brooks, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Open, Street Photography, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Silent witnesses

This shot of Extinction Rebellion protestors on the London Underground feels like an impactful statement on modern times – not least because of the fact that they’re being quietly ignored by most of the commuters in the shot. 

Alex Kydd, Australia, Shortlist, Open, Natural World & Wildlife, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Absolute squad

This huge gang of rare cownose rays, on the Ningaloo Reef off Australia, produces an amazing image where the group almost appear to be moving as one seething ball of ray.

Kaitlyn Kamperschroer, United States of America, Shortlist, Open, Travel, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Flat earth

We love this jaw-dropping photograph for how it draws your eye to the horizon, where you’re confronted with the immediate rise of that range of mountains at the back of the frame. It’s an amazing landscape, that’s for sure. 

Milosz Wilczynski, Poland, Shortlist, Open, Travel, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Frozen wave

This ice cave is so smooth and shiny that it almost looks like a riptide wave that’s been frozen in time. The two hikers leaving it give you valuable context on just how massive it is, too.

ignacio alvarez barutell, Spain, Shortlist, Open, Culture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Smiling in the rain

There’s nothing like a rainy day at a festival to showcase human spirit – conditions that should breed misery bounce off people having the time of their lives, like these girls capturing the moment with a selfie. 

Sawamaru Pokiru, Japan, Shortlist, Open, Portraiture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Poise

The look this girl is giving the camera just screams power, while the amazing outfit she’s wearing is nearly limitlessly interesting to look at. Her hair is stunningly made up, while lens-flare style bubbles on the frame are a great, odd touch. 

Igor Kryukov, Russian Federation, Shortlist, Open, Still Life, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Unstill life

This still life looks like it must have taken ages to organise, if the cat’s body language is anything to go by. It’s offbeat and coy, that banana taped to the wall a possible reference to the great modern art story of 2019. 

David Swindler, United States of America, Shortlist, Open, Creative, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Gradient

This mountainous landscape, photographed from above, reveals an amazing range of colours emanating from the river carving out a valley in the middle of the frame. 

Craig McGowan, Australia, Winner, Open, Landscape, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Reflecting on it

We’re entranced by the beauty of this shot, from the gentle slope and that still iceberg to the slightly rippling reflections of them both. It’s got a strong environmental message to hit home with, as well.

Ted Lau, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Open, Culture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Colourful

This unbelievable display is created by some 17,300 students in North Korea, moving as one, just as the regime directs them. It’s an astonishing site, beautifully captured, while the fact they’re creating a rainbow feels grimly ironic. 

Indranil Aditya, India, Shortlist, Open, Street Photography, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Fighting the good fight

Firefighting often feels like pushing back against a powerful inanimate beast, but the blackness of this photograph also makes the fight look more hopeless than it is. The gushing black smoke and blackened rooftop are opressive.

Justin Chui, Hong Kong, Shortlist, Open, Architecture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Silicon valley

You could be forgiven for thinking this was a picture of a microchip or some other piece of technology, but it’s actually the side of a building, artfully shot to remove its context and look like something it isn’t.

Kunkun Liu, China, Shortlist, Open, Still Life, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Clear light

This study of light and colour has a variety of enticing textures and shades to give up, with that strong shaft of light beaming through its centre at an angle. 

Marcin Giba, Poland, Shortlist, Open, Landscape, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Waterways

This is an image that appears beautiful until you piece together that it’s not a natural phenomenon. It’s actually from a salt mine, showing the impact that human shave on huge landscapes. 

Eleni Rimantonaki, Greece, Shortlist, Open, Architecture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

City 17

The brutalism of this shot, and the architecture it captures, are both memorable. You might assume it’s somewhere more totalitarian or industrialised than the ancient city of Athens, where it was actually shot. 

Anastasia Kaminskaya, Russian Federation, Shortlist, Open, Natural World & Wildlife, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

All the pretty horses

This beautiful shot is perfectly framed with three horses each owning their slice of the photograph, while the colour of the sky and mountains at the top are almost improbably gorgeous. 

Chen Jun, China, Shortlist, Open, Travel, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Paradise on earth

We end with a slice of paradise, an aerial shot of Exuma which makes us yearn for a proper holiday. The blue of the ocean and the white of the sand is utterly transporting. 





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Sony Launches WF-XB700 True Wireless Headphones and WH-CH710N


Sony has released two new sets of Bluetooth headsets: the WF-XB700 Wireless Headphones and the WH-CH710N Wireless Headphones. Both audio devices belong to Sony’s Extra Bass range of speakers and are also the first wireless headphones to have them.

Features of Sony WF-XB700 truly wireless headphones

The WF-XB700 comes with a triple grip ergonomic design that makes them compact and provides a secure and comfortable fit. It will be interesting to see if the WF-XB700 wireless earbuds can meet the Sony Extra Bass criteria.

The price of the truly wireless headphones Sony WF-XB700 is 150 euros

The headphones have a 6-hour battery life, which can be extended up to 18 hours with the charging case. Thanks to fast charging, users will be able to squeeze 60 minutes of music playback with just 10 minutes of charging.

With an IPX4 rating, the WF-XB700 headphones are sweat and water resistant. However, there are no fins, and this could be a problem when using them during intense workouts.

The audio device uses physical buttons for controls and to connect to smartphones for Voice Assistant. Unlike Sony’s previous flagship WF-1000XM3 headphones, the WF-XB700 lacks active noise cancellation. Oh, wow.

The availability of the WF-XB700 headphones on the market is still uncertain.

The price of the truly wireless headphones Sony WF-XB700 is 150 euros. The headphones will come in two color variants: blue and black. The availability of the WF-XB700 headphones on the market is still uncertain.

Features of Sony WH-CH710N wireless noise canceling headphones

Sony’s second release is the WH-CH710N Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones, an upgraded version of WH-CH700N.

headphones have a 6-hour battery life, which can be extended up to 18 hours with the charging case

Dual microphones have been installed in WH-CH710N to improve noise cancellation, with the help of Artificial Intelligence Automatic Noise Canceling (AINC) function.

The WH-CH710N offers 35 hours of backup battery power on a single charge. It also has fast charge where you can get 60 minutes of play for 10 minutes of charge. To make it easier to use, the company has provided an adjustable metal slider. WH-CH710N can connect to your phone’s voice assistant.

These Bluetooth headsets also support NFC pairing.

The price of WH-CH710N is 150 euros. The headphones will come in three color options: blue, black, and white.





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