Walmart employees are out to show its anti-shoplifting AI doesn’t work

Customers and staff cluster around grocery store self-check lane.

In January, my coworker received a peculiar email. The message, which she forwarded to me, was from a handful of corporate Walmart employees calling themselves the “Concerned Home Office Associates.” (Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, is often referred to as the Home Office.) While it’s not unusual for journalists to receive anonymous tips, they don’t usually come with their own slickly produced videos.

The employees said they were “past their breaking point” with Everseen, a small artificial intelligence firm based in Cork, Ireland, whose technology Walmart began using in 2017. Walmart uses Everseen in thousands of stores to prevent shoplifting at registers and self-checkout kiosks. But the workers claimed it misidentified innocuous behavior as theft and often failed to stop actual instances of stealing.

They told WIRED they were dismayed that their employer—one of the largest retailers in the world—was relying on AI they believed was flawed. One worker said that the technology was sometimes even referred to internally as “NeverSeen” because of its frequent mistakes. WIRED granted the employees anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the press.

The workers said they had been upset about Walmart’s use of Everseen for years and claimed colleagues had raised concerns about the technology to managers but were rebuked. They decided to speak to the press, they said, after a June 2019 Business Insider article reported Walmart’s partnership with Everseen publicly for the first time. The story described how Everseen uses AI to analyze footage from surveillance cameras installed in the ceiling and can detect issues in real time, such as when a customer places an item in their bag without scanning it. When the system spots something, it automatically alerts store associates.

“Everseen overcomes human limitations. By using state-of-the-art artificial intelligence, computer vision systems, and big data, we can detect abnormal activity and other threats,” a promotional video referenced in the story explains. “Our digital eye has perfect vision, and it never needs a day off.”

In an effort to refute the claims made in the Business Insider piece, the Concerned Home Office Associates created a video, which purports to show Everseen’s technology failing to flag items not being scanned in three different Walmart stores. Set to cheery elevator music, it begins with a person using self-checkout to buy two jumbo packages of Reese’s White Peanut Butter Cups. Because the packages are stacked on top of each other, only one is scanned, but both are successfully placed in the bagging area without issue.

The same person then grabs two gallons of milk by their handles and moves them across the scanner with one hand. Only one is rung up, but both are put in the bagging area. They then put their own cell phone on top of the machine, and an alert pops up saying they need to wait for assistance—a false positive. “Everseen finally alerts! But does so mistakenly. Oops again,” a caption reads. The filmmaker repeats the same process at two more stores, where they fail to scan a heart-shaped Valentine’s Day chocolate box with a puppy on the front and a Philips Sonicare electric toothbrush. At the end, a caption explains that Everseen failed to stop more than $100 of would-be theft.

False positives

The video isn’t definitive proof that Everseen’s technology doesn’t work as well as advertised, but its existence speaks to the level of frustration felt by the group of anonymous Walmart employees, and the lengths they went to prove their objections had merit.

In interviews, the workers, whose jobs include knowledge of Walmart’s loss-prevention programs, said their top concern with Everseen was false positives at self-checkout. The employees believe that the tech frequently misinterprets innocent behavior as potential shoplifting, which frustrates customers and store associates, and leads to longer lines. “It’s like a noisy tech, a fake AI that just pretends to safeguard,” said one worker.

The coronavirus pandemic has given their concerns more urgency. One Concerned Home Office Associate said they worry false positives could be causing Walmart workers to break social-distancing guidelines unnecessarily. When Everseen flags an issue, a store associate needs to intervene and determine whether shoplifting or another problem is taking place. In an internal communication from April obtained by WIRED, a corporate Walmart manager expressed strong concern that workers were being put at risk by the additional contact necessitated by false positives and asked whether the Everseen system should be turned off to protect customers and workers.

Before COVID-19, “it wasn’t ideal, it was a poor customer experience,” the worker said. “AI is now creating a public health risk.” (HuffPost reported last week that corporate Walmart employees were concerned about Everseen’s technology putting store associates at risk amid the pandemic.)

Good for sales

When COVID-19 reached the United States, Americans rushed to stock up on food and household essentials at Walmart, and sales soared. Workers soon began falling sick; at least 20 Walmart associates have now died after contracting the coronavirus, according to United for Respect, a nonprofit that advocates for retail workers and that is crowdsourcing COVID-19 infection rates and working conditions at Walmart stores across the country. Last month, United for Respect said hundreds of Walmart employees participated in a national strike demanding safer working conditions and better benefits.

A spokesperson for Walmart said the company has been working diligently to protect customers and its workforce and believes the rate at which associates have contracted COVID-19 is lower than that of the general US population. They denied that false positives caused by Everseen were a widespread issue and said the company had not considered turning the system off due to concerns about COVID-19.

“We assess our technology regularly, and as evident with the large scale implementation of Everseen across the chain, we have confidence it is currently meeting our standards,” the spokesperson said in an email. Just prior to the start of the pandemic, Walmart said it made significant improvements to its Everseen system, which resulted in fewer alerts overall. The spokesperson declined to answer questions about what the updates may have entailed.

The spokesperson also noted that there are a number of different reasons an associate might intervene during a self-checkout transaction, like when a customer has problems with their credit card. The company said it has taken a number of steps to ensure people are protected during these interactions, including regularly cleaning self-checkout kiosks and providing employees with protective equipment. In addition, workers are given handheld devices that allow them to handle most interventions from a distance, the company said.


Everseen declined to answer questions about its technology. In a statement, a spokesperson said the company “accurately and effectively identifies potential theft [sic] is why retailers have successfully deployed it at thousands of locations to date, with many more installations planned.” They added that Everseen typically accounts only for less than 10 percent of total interventions at self-service checkouts. In a separate statement, the spokesperson said “Everseen is committed to helping its customers deliver the best possible experience for shoppers and store associates, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Self-checkout offers the benefits of a generally contactless shopping experience, allowing for proper social distancing and avoiding manned-lanes in busy stores with limited staff available.”

But the Concerned Home Office Associates said their worries about Everseen long predate the pandemic. Emails obtained by WIRED show that other corporate employees raised issues about the technology failing to prevent theft in both 2017 and 2018. The employees said they were particularly vexed by Walmart’s continued investment in Everseen because NCR Corporation, which makes the majority of Walmart’s registers, had acquired an Everseen competitor called StopLift. They considered the acquisition an endorsement and were confused as to why StopLift’s technology wasn’t being further explored.

What’s more, the workers said an internal Walmart research and development group, the Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL), created its own anti-theft software they believed was more accurate than Everseen’s, according to information they were given internally. One Walmart employee said the technology, the existence of which was previously reported by The Wall Street Journal, is now being tested in roughly 50 stores.

Walmart declined to answer questions about its internal anti-theft software but did not dispute WIRED’s reporting. “At an enterprise level, there are a number of tests happening at any given time across our footprint of nearly 5,000 stores,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “The goal of IRL is to build AI capabilities that can be transferred to additional stores. We regularly test capabilities built internally in a small number of stores.”

Rising shrink

Everseen’s technology was designed in part to help solve a persistent problem with self-checkout. While allowing customers to scan and pay for their own items cuts down on labor costs for retailers, it has also led to more inventory loss, or “shrinkage,” due to shoplifting, employee theft, and other problems. “Theft through self-checkout lanes is exponentially higher than through traditional checkout lanes,” says Christopher Andrews, a sociology professor at Drew University and the author of The Overworked Consumer: Self-Checkouts, Supermarkets, and the Do-It-Yourself Economy.

In the past, Walmart and other retailers relied on weight sensors to prevent shoplifting through self-checkout, but those were prone to error and frustrated customers. Some stores are now turning instead to firms like Everseen, which promise to reduce shrink and increase customer satisfaction by relying instead on surveillance cameras and machine vision. Everseen has said that it works with a number of major retailers. Amazon uses similar technology in its Amazon Go convenience stores, where a network of cameras automatically log the products customers take. (Amazon is now licensing its “Just Walk Out” tech to other companies.)

Value of self-checkout

During the coronavirus pandemic and its aftermath, self-checkout may become even more important for stores, as customers look for low-risk ways to shop. NCR corporation said it’s now helping retailers modify its equipment to be as touchless as possible: for example, by reconfiguring machines so that customers can insert a debit or credit card without needing to press the “credit card” payment option. “It is fascinating to see self-checkout become poised as a public health strategy, in addition to things like cashless payment,” says Alexandra Mateescu, a researcher at the nonprofit institute Data & Society, who has written about the effects of new technology on retail workers.

“Self-checkout is just one of the ways that we’ve offered customers solutions to get the items they need safely during this time, in addition to other options like delivery, pickup, touchless payment at the register and shopping online,” the Walmart spokesperson said in a statement. “Customers are using this option now, as much as ever, and we will continue to work hard to ensure the in-store experience for our customers is safe, affordable and convenient, as well as safe for our associates.”

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Apple doubles memory upgrade cost for entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro

Apple has made it more expensive for customers to upgrade the memory on the 13-inch MacBook Pro, with the price of the option doubled on the entry-level model as part of a change quietly made on Saturday.

On Friday, buyers of the entry-level model of the refreshed 13-inch MacBook Pro were able to upgrade the memory on the device from 8 gigabytes to 16 gigabytes for $100. In an update first spotted by Reddit users on Saturday, the cost of the upgrade has gone up to $200.

The change in pricing is not just limited to standard customers in the United States, as the Education Store pricing for the same upgrade has also increased from $90 to $180. Customers in other countries are also affected, with UK customers now paying 200 for the upgrade instead of 100, and in Canada the same upgrade has increased to $250.

Apple has previously made adjustments to pricing of its products and upgrade options, altering them based on fluctuations in exchange rates and of the components themselves. The pricing can go down as well as up, such as in the SSD upgrade price drops observed in July 2019.

At this time, it seems that only the entry-level model of MacBook Pro is being affected by price changes. Given it uses different memory from the unaffected higher-specification variants, it is probable that Apple is altering the price due to the high demand for that particular type of memory.

How to use Telegram on your mobile without taking up much space or downloading applications

The most common way to use a mobile service is to download its application, but with Telegram it is not essential: you can access your account, exchange messages and chat in groups. without downloading your app. The Telegram website works perfectly for this; with the possibility of installing the progressive web application directly from the page.

Telegram has various apps in the Google Play Store, from the official one to numerous clients developed based on the TDLib library, an open-source multiplatform library that Telegram offers to developers. Installing any of those applications opens the door to the use of the messaging platform, but its installation is not essential to use Telegram, the website can also be used from the browser. And there is another very practical way to use Telegram without going to Google Play: install your progressive web application from the web page.

The Telegram website is perfectly adapted

Telegram Telegram as a progressive web application (PWA)

Contrary to what happens with the WhatsApp web service, which needs to connect with the mobile application, On Telegram, his page works independently and as a client, both on computers and in the mobile browser. Thanks to that you can access the Telegram page using Google Chrome, Brave, Microsoft Edge or another browser to chat with all your contacts. In this way you save space on your phone without losing notifications or most of the Telegram functions.

Telegram: 45 tips and tricks to get the most out of an app that is not only for messaging

In the browser, the platform works correctly, but our recommendation is that install your progressive web app. Despite what it may seem, you should not install an app itself since you only need to anchor the direct access of the Telegram website to your desktop. Nothing else is required to access the messaging platform.

Open the Telegram web page in your browser ( East must be compatible with progressive web applications or PWA: Google, Chrome, Brave, Opera, Samsung’s browser, Brave or the latest Microsoft Edge. Most browsers can install PWA applications.
Access the options menu of your browser and click on ‘Add page to start’.
Telegram will be installed as a progressive web application, it will not be a simple direct access: you can use it as if it were just another app.

Telegram Telegram

Using web-based Telegram saves a lot of space on the phone (of 49.55 MB that occupies its official application to 301 KB), it does not lose the application aspect, notifications are still received the same and it allows sending messages one by one and also in groups. It does have certain limitations, those of the web.

Limitations of using Telegram as PWA

We have already seen that the space saving is remarkable since Telegram as a progressive web application does not reach half a MB busy, but the disadvantages also exist. If you use the platform to send and receive messages, you don’t need much more than its web app. On the contrary, if you manage groups or perform advanced Telegram functions, then the PWA will be too short.

Here you have what you cannot do and what you can do with Telegram installed as direct access to the web.

What you can’t do

What you can do

Register a new account
Open secret chats
Send animated GIFs from a bot
Send animated stickers
Schedule messages
Send silent messages
Send location
Send surveys
Send contacts
Send video clips
Send bot content
Customize the interface
Adjust advanced options
Sign in with your account already created
Send formatted messages
Send files and photos
Send voice memos
Send stickers and emojis
Forward, reply and delete messages
Consult and participate in groups and channels
Consult and edit contacts
Edit group options

Western Digital gets sued for sneaking SMR disks into its NAS channel

Hattis Law isn't pulling any punches in the allegations made in its class-action lawsuit, specifically calling WD out not only for using SMR technology in less-than-ideal devices, but flatly accusing them of outright deception in the process.
Enlarge / Hattis Law isn’t pulling any punches in the allegations made in its class-action lawsuit, specifically calling WD out not only for using SMR technology in less-than-ideal devices, but flatly accusing them of outright deception in the process.

All three of the surviving conventional hard drive vendors—Toshiba, Western Digital, and Seagate—have gotten caught sneaking disks featuring Shingled Magnetic Recording technology into unexpected places recently. But Western Digital has been the most brazen of the three, and it’s been singled out for a class action lawsuit in response.

Although all three major manufacturers quietly added SMR disks to their desktop hard drive line-up, Western Digital is the only one so far to slip them into its NAS (Network Attached Storage) stack. NAS drives are expected to perform well in RAID and other multiple disk arrays, whether ZFS pools or consumer devices like Synology or Netgear NAS appliances.

In sharp contrast to Western Digital’s position on SMR disks as NAS, Seagate executive Greg Belloni told us that there weren’t any SMR disks in the Ironwolf (competitor to Western Digital Red) line-up now and that the technology is not appropriate for that purpose.

“Seagate only produces NAS drives that are CMR,” Belloni says. “We do not have any SMR drives in our Ironwolf and Ironwolf Pro drives, which are NAS solutions […] we don’t recommend SMR for NAS.”

Hattis Law has initiated a class action lawsuit against Western Digital, accordingly. The lawsuit alleges both that the SMR technology in the newer Western Digital Red drives is inappropriate for the marketed purpose of the drives and that Western Digital deliberately “deceived and harm[ed] consumers” in the course of doing so.

Although Western Digital's 4TB SMR disk performed adequately in light duty tests, it performed miserably when used to replace a disk in a degraded four-disk RAIDz1 vdev.
Enlarge / Although Western Digital’s 4TB SMR disk performed adequately in light duty tests, it performed miserably when used to replace a disk in a degraded four-disk RAIDz1 vdev.

Hattis’ position is strengthened by a series of tests that website ServeTheHome released yesterday. The results demonstrate that although Western Digital’s new 4TB Red “NAS” disk performed adequately as a desktop drive, it was unfit for purpose in a ZFS storage array (zpool).

Although Western Digital does not, to the best of our knowledge, have an official policy regarding replacement of Red drives unknowingly purchased with SMR, several readers have shared their individual success stories of getting Western Digital’s customer care department to replace such disks with non-SMR disks free of charge.

Those interested in all the details may view the full text of Hattis Law’s class action lawsuit here.

Apple fails appeal of 10M euro iPhone battery slowdown fine in Italy

Apple has failed to overturn a 10 million euro ($11.1M) fine levied against it in 2018 by Italy, after a court rejected an appeal against the findings of an investigation over iPhone slowdowns caused by software updates.

In October 2018, Italy’s antitrust regulator the Autorit Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) issued Apple a fine, following a probe into complaints about device slowdowns. The allegations, which were also made against Samsung at the time and involved a reduction in performance instigated by software updates, to improve overall device stability.

Apple’s 10 million euro fine was formed by two components. The first 5 million euros was the same as levied against Samsung, but Apple had a second 5 million euro fine for failing to advise to customers how to properly maintain or replace their iPhone batteries.

In filings discovered by setteBIT on Twitter and first reported by iMore, Apple’s attempt to appeal the judgment was rejected by the Regional Administrative Court for Lazio. Apple offered in its complaint a number of areas it objected to, including claims there were not enough technical tests of alleged damage, a lack of proof, misrepresentation of facts, and a serious error in logic by the investigators, among other issues.

Despite Apple’s protestations, the court believed the regulator was right in its consideration that information relating to battery usage and wear should have been made available to consumers. The court also rejected complaints about the regulator’s practice in the investigation and prosecution, and ultimately denied Apple the overall appeal.

As part of the ruling, Apple is also due to pay the costs of the appeal’s judgment, amounting to 7 thousand euro ($7,773).

Following the discovery of the iOS update throttling, Apple apologized for the decision to implement such a measure, instigated a program that temporarily reduced the cost of out-of-warranty battery replacements from $79 to $29, then added Battery Health options as part of a later update.

Best Medium Format Camera – Improve Photography

If you’re serious about your photography and struggle with restricted and cropped frames, you’re probably considering a medium format camera. That’s why you’re here after all, and we don’t blame you. Wherever tech and art cross over, you’ll find a whole new language of specs and jargon that can confuse even seasoned professionals.

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Fortunately for you, we have a list below where we’ve looked through the medium format camera market and found a variety of MFCs of different power levels and, yes, different price tags thanks to the healthy secondhand market that these powerful cameras have. 

We’ve even gone so far as to add a buyers’ guide that goes through the aspects of these cameras that we considered when ranking them, and which ones are best to have in MFCS. With any kind of tech, it’s best to educate yourself on them so that you know what kind of tool you need for the job, and then spot the good and the bad deals for yourself.

In a hurry? This is our winner!

Our rating:

Fujifilm GFX 50S 51.4MP Mirrorless Medium Format Camera (Body Only)

  • 43.8mm x 32.9mm, 51.4 MP CMOS sensor, boasting Approx. 1.7x the area of full frame sensors + x processor Pro
  • Operating temperature -10°C – +40°C (+14°F – +104°F)C.Compact and lightweight body with high rigidity due to the adoption of magnesium alloy
  • Detachable 3.69M-dot organic EL electronic viewfinder
  • 2.36M-dot, three-directional tilting, Touchscreen LCD
  • Newly developed large diameter g mount with excellent robustness and durability.Operating Temperature:-10°C – +40°C (+14°F – +104°F)C

If you don’t want to miss any photo ops, then we have you covered. We have our top choice for an MFC right here with the Fujifilm GFX 50S Mirrorless Medium Format Camera. 

It’s not the most powerful MFC, so if you’re buying purely on raw megapixel power then you’ll probably prefer our number two option instead, but we found that the Fujifilm product straddled a line of power and affordability for the average consumer, which is something that’s hard to come by in this market.

See why we chose the GFX 50S MFC below:

  • The CMOS image sensor is the star of any MFC, and this one clocks in at a respectable 51.4 megapixels. It’s also optimized by the X-Processor Pro, a Fujifilm image processing engine that improves color reproduction and bit conversion ability.
  • Between a detachable 3.69M-dot electronic viewfinder and a 2.36M-dot touchscreen LCD, you’re the one firmly in control of this easy-to-use camera that’s capable of achieving impressive coverage in your photography, no cropping necessary.
  • All the tech is housed in a sealed body that’s made with lightweight, high-rigidity magnesium alloy. The sealing allows it to stave off water, snow, dust, and temperature extremes.

Best Medium Format Camera – Comparison Table

Best Medium Format Camera – Reviews

Our Pick

Fujifilm GFX 50S 51.4MP Mirrorless Medium Format Camera (Body Only)

Our rating:

Our first camera is the Fujifilm GFX 50S Mirrorless Medium Format Camera. The body-only version, specifically, but you’ll see on the product listing that there is a selection of lenses you can get the camera with if that’s what you need. This reached the top spot since it’s a powerful MFC that won’t be too harsh on the wallet, something that Fujifilm are fond of doing with their high-performing cameras.

As for the actual features this model has, you’ll be pleased to know the GFX 50S carries a large 51.4-megapixel CMOS sensor that should be enough firepower for most photographers’ needs. 

All of that firepower needs to be pointed in the right direction, however, which is where the X-Processor Pro comes in. It’s an image processing engine which optimizes the sensor performance, particularly in how it reproduces color and converts to 8-bit TIFF format. It also ensures a minimal shutter release time lag and shortens shooting intervals between consecutive frames to snap as accurate a photograph as possible.

There’s also a detachable 3.69M-dot electronic viewfinder that uses five lens elements to make sure you maximize coverage. It also offers a diopter adjustment range of -4m-1 to + 2m-1. All of these features are handily managed by a tilting 2.36M-dot touchscreen LCD control panel.

It has a lightweight and high-rigidity magnesium alloy body that makes it easier to hold without sacrificing durability. Speaking of durability, the body is also sealed to proof against weather like rain, snow, and even sand and dust. This includes a robust operation temperature from -14-degree Fahrenheit and +104-degree Fahrenheit (-10 to +40 degrees Celsius).


  • Powerful 51.4-megapixel CMOS sensor
  • X-Processor Pro image processing engine optimizes sensor performance
  • Detachable 3.69M-dot organic EL electronic viewfinder helps achieve full coverage
  • 2.36M-dot tilting touchscreen LCD
  • Lightweight, high-rigidity magnesium alloy body


  • The battery life can be underwhelming
Hasselblad H6D-100C Medium Format DSLR Camera, Gray

Our rating:

At the second spot is one of the higher-end models on this list, the Hasselblad H6D-100C Medium Format DSLR Camera. It’s a powerful camera with its large 100-megapixel CMOS image sensor that is capable of capturing wide, open shots, which is the main draw to medium format cameras for many professional photographers out there. 

It is on the pricier side of the market though. It’s not the most expensive MFC you’ll find by any means, but it can be too much for some.

The camera is capable of 4K recording at 25 frames per second, too, which produces crisp video results that are sure to impress. Managing the H6D-100C is easy and intuitive thanks to its touchscreen control panel that makes accessing camera functions simple. That said, photographs are where this camera shines since its autofocus system works best when it’s covering still subjects.

As for the body of the camera itself, it’s sealed to weatherproof the vulnerable tech inside from water and dust. Part of that weatherproofing is also an increased survivability when it comes into contact with hot or cold temperatures.

Embedded in that casing are multiple ports such as USB 3.0, microphone, and headphone jack supports that add extra functionality to these cameras, making sure you get as much value as you can for the money. 

It’s the cost that netted it this position on the list but make no mistake, if you need an MFC that’s capable of some heavy lifting then you’re best with this one.


  • Powerful 100-megapixel CMOS image sensor
  • 4K recording resolution at 25 frames per second
  • Weather sealed to protect against the elements
  • USB 3.0, microphone, and headphone jack support
  • Intuitive touchscreen control scheme simplifies camera functions


  • Autofocus system is only suitable for still subjects
  • On the pricier side, as a higher-end camera model
Pentax 645z Medium Format DSLR Camera Body Only

Our rating:

At the midpoint in our list is the Pentax 645z Medium Format DSLR Camera Body. The fact it’s just a body yet again means you can have a lot of choice in what lens you use, and the same goes for most of the medium format cameras in this list.

It sports a large 51.4-megapixel CMOS image sensor that’s capable of capturing more than twice as much detail as non-medium format DSLR camera models. In addition to that, the wide shots that this camera can capture are sharpened by the real time scene analysis sensor, an 86,000-pixel sensor that scans your prospective shots before and during photography.

Its maximum continuous shooting speed is three frames per second, which is more than serviceable for a medium format camera, though not the fastest out there. Whilst shooting you can also have a live view of what your camera is capturing thanks to an LCD panel that you can tilt to your viewing preferences.


  • 51.4-megapixel CMOS image sensor
  • Real time scene analysis using 86,000-pixel sensors
  • Three frames per second maximum continuous shooting speed
  • Tilting LCD panel allows you a live view of your photography


Hasselblad X1D-50c (Body Only) with 3' LCD, Silver (H-3013901)

Our rating:

The next camera we have is the Hasselblad X1D-50c, a product from a name with proven credentials when it comes to high-performance cameras. In fact, this camera is the first mirrorless digital medium format camera that was introduced to the world. It’s compact, too, enabling medium format photography to become more portable than it had been before.

On the spec front, this camera is sporting a 50-megapixel CMOS image sensor that’s capable of an 8272×6200 top resolution. It reports its image captures through a 920K pixel touchscreen display that shows in 24-bit RGB color, allowing you to see what you’re recording in crisp, color-accurate detail.

The X1D-50c also has decent peripheral support, having USB 3.0 support, a microphone, and headphone jacks, allowing you to get as much functionality out of the camera as possible by pairing it with other tech.


  • The first compact digital medium format camera, making it more portable than other options
  • 50-megapixel CMOS sensor supports an 8272×6200 resolution
  • 920K pixel touchscreen display with 24-bit color
  • Peripheral support with USB 3.0 support, headphone jacks, and a microphone


  • Lacks a built-in flash unit
Pentax 645D 40MP Medium Format Digital SLR Camera with 3-Inch LCD Screen (Body Only)

Our rating:

Last but certainly not least is what could be considered the budget option of this list, another Pentax camera, 645D 40MP Medium Format DSLR to be exact. This listing, like the rest, is for the body only so that you can match it with different lenses for different performances.

This camera is packing a 40-megapixel CCD sensor, which is humble compared to some of the other cameras on this list but is by no means one to turn your nose up at. The top resolution this model is capable of is a very wide 7264×5440, great for high resolution imaging and large printing applications.

For the lowered price, you get an 11-point SAFOX IX+ autofocus system that helps this camera perform better in different light levels by sensing the area’s light wavelengths and adjusting accordingly. This makes the Pentax 645D a great budget option for those in search of a versatile medium format camera.

It also supports both SD and SDHC memory cards in a dual slot configuration, so you’ve got both data storage options covered. The body of the camera itself has a fixed back, meaning that it can’t accept digital camera backs to achieve different resolutions, adding versatility. Whilst this is uncommon with medium format DSLR models, the upside to this closed back model is that it’s fully weather sealed, able to resist heat, cold, and dust.


  • A 40-megapixel CCD sensor capable of a 7264×5440 top resolution
  • 11-point SAFOX IX+ autofocus system uses a light wavelength sensor to improve focus speed in a variety of light levels
  • Dual slot SD and SDHC memory card support
  • Sealed design resists rain, snow, and dust


  • Limited to 50,000 shutter actuations 
  • Fixed back means that other digital camera backs

Best Medium Format Camera – Buyers Guide

How to find the best medium format camera

Buying medium format cameras is a significant investment, so you want to make sure you have the right kind for the photography you have in mind. Medium format cameras allow photographers to capture larger, crisper images, and come in digital and non-digital variants. We’d recommend grabbing a digital one where possible since they have a larger sensor and benefit from higher ISO settings.

Below we’ve got a breakdown of the types of medium format cameras and the features you’ll find in them, along with which features and properties we think are best. These include the image sensors, aperture, lenses, and whether they have ISO settings.

Types of Medium Format Cameras

Since medium format camera (MFC) can be a broad term, it’s no surprise that there are a few types of cameras within that group. These are, in the order we’ve written about them, twin lens reflex (TLR), SLR, viewfinder, and rangefinder.

Twin lens reflex MFCs use two objective lenses that are the same focal length, one being the standard photographic objective lens and the other being the view lens. The view lens connects to the viewfinder and most TLR MFC’s focal lengths are fixed. They tend to use a leaf shutter system, meaning they’re quiet to use, operate at high speeds and don’t suffer from much shutter vibrations.

MFC SLRs are the same as your standard SLR cameras, but instead they have larger film sizes and are much more flexible in terms of their wide range. This makes these the go-to for close ups and telephoto photography where you need sharp composition with very wide angles.

Viewfinders are lightweight cameras with fixed leaf shutter systems, and the MFC variants of them tend to be older models. Some of them are folding cameras, which makes them easy to store and carry for traveling but aren’t usually a photographer’s main MFC.

There are a few other kinds of viewfinder MFCs like press-style and miniview cameras, as well as monorail studio cameras that are capable of perspective control movements that make them ideal for photographers looking to capture city environments. Which ones you get will ultimately depend on your photography requirements and style.

Finally, for those with more niche and specialized needs, there are cameras like panoramics or torpedo cameras that reach up to a 6x24cm range, some of them allowing 360-degree imaging.

Rangefinder MFCs are much smaller than TLRs, making them best for point and shoot photography. They’re quieter and perform well in dimmer lighting, but this comes with the downside that they have limited focusing ranges, and their lenses rarely exceed 200mm for the sake of them being more compact. You’ll find most of these have fixed lenses, but there are body only variants that allow you to swap out lenses of your choice for the situation.

Image Sensors

Medium format cameras could be described as heavy hitters when it comes to their image sensors. This is because medium format cameras are designed to take in long, wide scenes, and so don’t crop images like other cameras do. Instead MFCs can go all the way with large, full-frame sensors that are capable of soaking in the entire shot.

The two main types of solid-state image sensors you’ll see with MFCs are CMOS and CCD sensors. CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) are named for their construction, where the hardware is based on a foundation of silicon wafer.

CCD sensors are Charge-Coupled Devices that are more power hungry and light sensitive than MOS image sensors. The way they shutter is also different, too, with CCD’s supporting a global shutter whereas CMOS use a rolling shutter.

Global shuttering is when the entire frame is captured at once, making them better for capturing moving objects or wider vistas where you want minimal change in object positions in the frame.

ISO Settings

Meaning International Standards Organization, ISO in photography is a quantified measurement for how sensitive a given camera is to light. The higher the ISO settings, the more sensitive and capable a camera is when photographing in low-light conditions.

For medium format cameras, this depends on the type of photography that you have planned. Since they offer a very high standard of performance and often come with high price tags, it’s assumed that medium format cameras will be used in a controlled setting where the light can be managed separate from the camera.

They also tend to be used on tripods and not handheld, so have long shutter speeds that don’t work well with high ISO settings. This means a lot of MFCs have little or no variability in their ISO settings.

If you want some variable light performance in a medium format camera, then you should go for a digital one, and make sure it has the right ISO capabilities you want beforehand by looking into the product.

Last Updated on 2020-05-30 //Source: Affiliate Affiliates

25 technologies that have changed the world


Apple’s Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone on Jan. 9, 2007, calling it a “revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone,”

Photo courtesy of Apple

If 1995 seems a long time ago, that’s because it was. The DVD player was the hot new entertainment device, mobile phones were bulky and did little besides place calls, and accessing the internet was a novel (and slow) experience confined to desktop computers. It also was the year CNET began publishing news and reviews.

Technology has changed immensely in the 25 years since then. One could argue that it’s continued to improve our lives, keeping us more connected to information, entertainment and each other. You also could argue just the opposite, but either way, there are a few gadgets and technologies that have changed our lives and the world forever. Here are 25 influential advancements from the past quarter century.

Apple iPhone

Though it wasn’t the first smartphone, Apple really got the ball rolling with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. Social media, messaging and the mobile internet wouldn’t be nearly as powerful or universal if they hadn’t been freed from the shackles of the desktop computer and optimized for the iPhone and its dozens of competitors.

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Armed with powerful features and able to run thousands of apps, they squeezed more functionality into one device than we’d ever seen before. The mobile revolution also brought the death of point-and-shoot cameras, dashboard GPS units, camcorders, PDAs and MP3 players. Now we use smartphones to shop, as a flashlight and sometimes even to call people. It’s tech’s version of the Swiss Army knife.

Now, 13 years after the iPhone’s introduction, more than 3.5 billion people around the world use a smartphone, nearly half the Earth’s population. You may even be using one to read this article.


Wi-Fi has become essential to our personal and professional lives.



The smartphone and the internet we use today wouldn’t have been possible without wireless communication technologies such as Wi-Fi. In 1995 if you wanted to “surf” the internet at home, you had to chain yourself to a network cable like it was an extension cord. In 1997, Wi-Fi was invented and released for consumer use. With a router and a dongle for our laptop, we could unplug from the network cable and roam the house or office and remain online.

Over the years, Wi-Fi’s gotten progressively faster and found its way into computers, mobile devices and even cars. Wi-Fi is so essential to our personal and professional lives today that it’s almost unheard of to be in a home or public place that doesn’t have it.

Internet of things illustration

The internet of things allows consumer devices to connect and share information without human interaction.

James Martin/CNET

Internet of things

Brett Pearce/CNET

Wi-Fi hasn’t just allowed us to check email or escape boredom at the in-laws, it also made possible a ton of consumer devices that connect and share information without human interaction, creating a system called the internet of things. The term was coined in 1999, but the idea didn’t start to take off with consumers until the past decade.

Today, there are tens of billions of internet-connected devices around the globe that allow us to perform smart home tasks such as turning on our lights, checking who’s at our front door and getting an alert when we’re out of milk. It also has industrial applications, such as in health care and management of municipal services.

Spending on internet of things technology is expected to hit $248 billion this year, more than twice the amount spent three years ago. In five years, the market is expected to top $1.5 trillion.

Sonos One

Voice assistants tell you the weather forecast, play music and help water your lawn.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Voice assistants

For many consumers, the heart of the smart home is a voice assistant such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant and Apple’s Siri. In addition to being a prerequisite for controlling devices in your home, their connected speakers will tell you the weather, read you the news and play music from various streaming services, among thousands of other “skills.”

There were more than 3.25 billion voice assistant devices in use around the world in 2019, and that number is expected to more than double to 8 billion by 2023. But they also present a privacy headache, since the devices are essentially internet-connected microphones that transmit your conversations to servers at Amazon, Google or Apple. All three companies have admitted to using human contractors to listen to select conversations from the voice assistants in an effort to improve their software’s accuracy.


Bluetooth has allowed us to hold telephone conversations while keeping both hands on the wheel.



Another wireless communication technology that has proven indispensable is Bluetooth, a radio link that connects devices over short distances. Introduced to consumers in 1999, Bluetooth was built for connecting a mobile phone to a hands-free headset, allowing you to carry on conversations while keeping your hands available for other uses, such as driving a car.

Bluetooth has since expanded to link devices like earbuds, earphones, portable wireless speakers and hearing aids to audio sources like phones, PCs, stereo receivers and even cars. Fitness trackers use Bluetooth to stream data to mobile phones, and PCs can connect wirelessly to keyboards and mice.

Between 2012 and 2018, the number of Bluetooth-enabled devices in the world nearly tripped to 10 billion. Today, Bluetooth is being employed in the smart home for uses such as unlocking door locks and beaming audio to lightbulbs with built-in speakers.


VPN helps employees work remotely and helps individuals avoid censorship.

Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images


The virtual private network, essentially an encrypted tunnel for transferring data on the internet, has proven invaluable for both businesses and individuals. Developed in 1996, the technology initially was used almost exclusively by businesses so their remote employees could securely access the company’s intranet .

VPN use has grown in popularity since then, with about a quarter of internet users using a VPN in 2018. Today, other popular uses for VPNs include hiding online activity, bypassing internet censorship in countries without a free internet and avoiding geography-based restrictions on streaming services.


Bitcoin incorporates technology, currency, math, economics and social dynamics.

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images


Bitcoin is the digital cryptocurrency that racked up headlines with its meteoric rise in value a few years back and then its equally breathtaking decline, and it’s another technology made popular by anonymity. It cracked the $1,000 threshold for the first time on Jan. 1, 2017, topped $19,000 in December of that year and then lost about 50 percent of its value during the first part of 2018.

The decentralized currency incorporates technology, currency, math, economics and social dynamics. And it’s anonymous; instead of using names, tax IDs or Social Security numbers, bitcoin connects buyers and sellers through encryption keys.

Computers running special software — the “miners” — inscribe transactions in a vast digital ledger. These blocks are known, collectively, as the “blockchain.” But the computational process of mining for bitcoins can be arduous, with thousands of miners competing simultaneously.


Blockchains work as a secure digital ledger.



Perhaps bigger than bitcoin is blockchain, the encryption technology behind the cryptocurrency. Because blockchains work as a secure digital ledger, a bumper crop of startups hope to bring it to voting, lotteries, ID cards and identity verification, graphics rendering, welfare payments, job hunting and insurance payments.

It’s potentially a very big deal. Analyst firm Gartner estimates that blockchain will provide $176 billion in value to businesses by 2025 and a whopping $3.1 trillion by 2030.

MP3 player

MP3 technology made music more portable



Entertainment has become a whole lot more portable in the past quarter century, in large part due to the introduction of the MP3 and MP4 compression technologies. Research into high-quality, low-bit-rate coding began in the 1970s. The idea was to compress audio into a digital file with little or no loss of audio quality. The MP3 standard that we know today emerged in the mid-’90s, but the first mobile MP3 player wasn’t available to consumers until 1998, when South Korea’s Saehan released MPMan, a flash-based player that could hold about 12 songs.

The format’s popularity took off in 1999, when 19-year-old student Shawn Fanning created the software behind the pioneering file-sharing service Napster, allowing users to swap MP3 files with each other across the internet for free. That activity famously cut into the profits of the recording industry and artists, which filed lawsuits that eventually toppled Napster, but the format helped give rise to the market for streaming music services like Spotify, Apple Music and many others.


Facial recognition helps us unlock devices but also track individuals.

James Martin/CNET

Facial recognition

Facial recognition is a blossoming field of technology that’s playing an ever-growing role in our lives. It’s a form of biometric authentication that uses the features of your face to verify your identity.

The tech helps us unlock devices and sort photos in digital albums, but surveillance and marketing may end up being its prime uses. Cameras linked to facial recognition databases containing millions of mugshots and driver’s license photos are used to identify suspected criminals. They also could be used to recognize your face and make personalized shopping recommendations as you enter a store.

Both activities raise privacy concerns, which range from law enforcement overreach, to systems with hidden racial biases, to hackers gaining access to your secure information. And some systems aren’t always very accurate.

Even so, the market isn’t showing any signs of stalling. In the US alone, the facial recognition industry is expected to grow from $3.2 billion in 2019 to $7 billion by 2024.


On the internet, artificial intelligence  is used for everything from speech recognition to spam filtering.


Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence – simulating human intelligence in machines – used to be confined to science fiction. But in recent decades, it’s broken into the real world, becoming one of the most important technologies of our time. In addition to being the brains behind facial recognition, AI is helping to solve critical problems in transportation, retail and health care (spotting breast cancer missed by human eyes, for example). On the internet, it’s used for everything from speech recognition to spam filtering. Warner Bros. even plans to use AI to analyze its potential movies and choose which ones to put into development.

But there’s also fear that a dystopian future is looming with the creation of autonomous weapons, including  drones, missile defense systems and sentry robots. Industry leaders have called for regulation of the technology to prevent the potential harm from tools like deepfakes, which are video forgeries that make people seem to say or do things they didn’t.


Drones have been used to shoot movie sequences, deliver packages and spray pesticides over crops to protect farms.



Drones have really taken off in recent years. What started out as a hobbyist gadget has transformed industries, with the unmanned aircraft shooting movie sequences, delivering packages to hard-to-reach places, surveying construction sites and spraying pesticide over crops to protect farms.

Drones now range from noisy quadcopters to payload-carrying mini-planes. On the US-Mexico border, Customs and Border Protection uses $16 million military-style Predator drones that can fly as high as nine miles, equipped with radar strong enough to detect footprints in the sand.

In the not-too-distant future, drones are expected to crowd the skies, acting as personal air taxis and performing lifesaving duties such as delivering medicine, helping with search and rescue, and fighting fires.


DNA testing has been helpful in identifying previously unknown relatives as well as criminal suspects.

Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images

DNA testing kits

With a simple swab of your cheek or a sample of your saliva, DNA testing kits have helped deepen our understanding of ancestry, introduced us to living relatives around the world, determined paternity and shed light on a predisposition to specific health issues and diseases. 

Over the past few years, the kits have become quite affordable and popular. Law enforcement agencies in particular have grown fond of the kits. Using a technique called genetic genealogy, they’ve cracked dozens of murder, rape and assault cases, some from decades ago.

Then investigators use traditional genealogical research to identify possible suspects, who are then tested for a DNA match to the crime scene. But the practice relies on investigators having access to a large cache of DNA profiles, and it stirs worries among privacy watchdogs.

IBM Q quantum computer close-up

Quantum computing is making dramatic leaps in computing power each year.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Quantum computing

Companies and countries are pouring billions of dollars into quantum computing research and development. They’re betting it will pay off by opening up new abilities in chemistry, shipping, materials design, finance, artificial intelligence and more.

The technology is beginning to show some of the promise researchers have hyped for decades. Last year, a Google-designed quantum processor called Sycamore completed a task in 200 seconds that, by Google’s estimate, would take 10,000 years on the world’s fastest supercomputer.

Honeywell, which once sold massive mainframes, predicts the performance of its quantum computers will grow by a factor of 10 every year for each of the next five years — meaning they’d be 100,000 times faster in 2025.


Social media apps jockey for your attention.

Chesnot/Getty Images

Social networking

The online world was a very different place two decades ago. Social networkers of a certain age may remember Friendster, the site that launched in 2002 and allowed people to fill out an online profile and connect with people they knew in real life. But two years later, Mark Zuckerberg changed everything when he launched a social-networking site for college students called Facebook. It opened to the general public in 2006 and quickly left Friendster and MySpace far behind.

Today Facebook helps people connect and stay connected, but its real business is advertising. Last year, it brought in $32 billion in ad revenue. It also helped pave the way for other social networks that help people chat, share photos and find jobs, among other activities. It now has 2.37 billion users – nearly a third of the world’s population.


A 3D printer in action.

Sarah Tew/CNET

3D printing

3D printing —  the process of synthesizing a three-dimensional object — is one of those technologies that edges ever closer to mainstream use every year. We’ve seen the concept play out on TV and in movies for years, and now with home 3D printers it’s finally growing beyond a wildly exotic hobby for a small enthusiast audience.

3D printing got an early foothold as a way to design prototypes of just about anything. The technology allows manufacturers to build plastic components that are lighter than metal alternatives and with unusual shapes that can’t be made by conventional injection molding methods.

The devices are used to create materials inside football helmets and Adidas running shoes, and Porsche plans to roll out a new 3D printing program that will allow customers to have their cars’ seats partially 3D-printed.

Some call 3D printing the fourth industrial revolution. Spending in the field is growing at about 13% annually among large US companies, consulting firm Deloitte estimates, and will likely reach $2 billion in 2020.


Video streaming services are quickly replacing cable and satellite subscriptions for many consumers.

David Katzmaier/CNET

Video streaming

Twenty-five years ago, a new media storage format was taking the entertainment world by storm. DVDs had superior picture and sound quality to the VHS tape, and they took up less room on your shelves. Movie rental stores abandoned VHS for DVDs, and online rental services like Netflix popped up, offering the convenience of mailing rented discs directly to you.

Then Netflix introduced its streaming service, allowing people to watch movies and TV shows across the internet. Consumers fell in love with the convenience of on-demand programming and began the phenomenon of “cutting the cord.” As more streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and YouTube emerged, consumers started canceling cable and satellite subscriptions and rental services such as Blockbuster went belly up.

By next year, more than one-fifth of US households are expected to have cut the cord on cable and satellite services, according to eMarketer.


Streaming represents 85% of all music consumption in the US.

James Martin/CNET

Music streaming

Vinyl will always be popular among audiophiles, but streaming is still the future of music listening. Streaming music is cheap or even free (in the case of Pandora and Spotify) and outpaces any physical format when it comes to convenience.

Streaming now represents 85% of all music consumption in the US, a 7.6% increase over 2018, according to BuzzAngle Music. In 2019, on-demand audio stream consumption hit a record 705 billion streams, a 32% increase over the previous year.

In 2019, total music industry revenues rose 13% to $11.1 billion, with streaming accounting for nearly 80% of that total, according to the RIAA. But at the same time, album sales fell 23% in 2019 and song sales dropped 26%. And that’s after declines of 18.2% and 28.8%, respectively, the previous year.


There are millions of apps on the market, helping perform almost any task you can imagine

James Martin/CNET


Mobile apps have changed the way we consume media and communicate, from news and streaming services to texting and social media apps. They have also changed the way we go about living our daily lives, helping us find on-demand rides, short- and long-term rentals, and have food delivered to our door, just to name a few of the countless benefits.

There are more than 2 million apps in the Apple App Store, generating about $50 billion in revenue.


An Uber self-driving Ford Fusion.

Screenshot via Gordon Gottsegen/CNET

Autonomous vehicles

The promise of autonomous vehicles has been touted for more than a decade: Without human drivers, proponents say, cars will be safer and more comfortable, especially on long trips. Technology companies have been working on making them a reality for a long time. The driverless vehicle fleet from Waymo, the autonomous car company owned by Google parent Alphabet, has driven more than 20 million miles on public roads since its founding in 2009.

Fully self-driving cars may not arrive in dealerships for another decade, but we’re already benefiting from the technology being developed for autonomous vehicles, including adaptive cruise control, automatic forward-collision braking, automatic parking, autopilot and lane-keep assist.

RFID helps many car woners unlock and start their cars without using a key.

CNET Networks


Retailers fell in love with radio frequency identification tracking some 20 years ago, touting the little chips as a convenient way to control inventory and reduce theft, without people having to make contact with the tagged item. Today, they have a variety of applications, including tracking cars, computer equipment and books. They’re implanted into animals to help identify the owners of lost pets, farmers use them to monitor crops and livestock, and they help food companies track the source of packaged goods.

Thanks to growing demand, especially in the medical and health care industries, where the tracking technology is used to monitor patients and label medications, spending in the RFID tag industry is projected to hit $17 billion, more than twice the $8.2 billion spent in 2018.


Virtual reality isn’t just about gaming.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Virtual reality

Companies large and small have begun using virtual reality, which transports users to a computer-generated world. Once confined to the realm of science-fiction movies like Walt Disney’s Tron, virtual reality has grown into a real-world industry worth an estimated $18 billion.

While the video game industry was expected to get an economic boost from virtual reality, the broader tech industry sees other applications for the nascent technology, including education, health care, architecture and entertainment.

preschool via videoconference

A boy in the San Francisco Bay Area meets up with his preschool classmates and teachers with the Zoom videoconferencing app.

Stephen Shankland/CNET


As the coronavirus pandemic has changed the world we live in, forcing us to avoid contact with others and shelter in place, videoconferencing has exploded in popularity. A few months ago, this technology wouldn’t have made our list, but now it’s proving indispensable. Video telephony has been around in some form since the 1970s, but it wasn’t until the web debuted that the technology took off.

Along with webcams, free internet services such as Skype and iChat popularized the tech in the 2000s, taking videoconferencing to all corners of the internet. The corporate world embraced the tool as a way to cut down on employee travel for meetings and as a marketing tool.

As companies and schools implemented policies on work and study from home, video chatting and conferencing apps grew in popularity as a way to get work done and communicate with friends and family, especially among people who had never used the tech before.


E-cigarettes were pitched as a healthier alternative to cigarettes, but they have provoked new health concerns.



Battery-operated e-cigarettes hit the US market about a decade ago, touted as a safer alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes. However, they didn’t really gain traction until 2015, when Juul Labs debuted its discreet USB-size vaporizer and quickly became the industry leader.

In 2019, an increasing number of people who vape were winding up in hospital with symptoms that include coughing, shortness of breath and other health problems after vaping — and at least 54 people have died.

Juul is accused in a lawsuit of illegally targeting young people online in advertising campaigns. Vaping companies have been sued on similar grounds in other courts. San Francisco banned the sale of e-cigarettes in June.


Ransomware attacks cost more than $7 billion each year.

Rob Engelaar/AFP via Getty Images


The first ransomware attack can be traced to the late 1980s, but the malware has grown in prominence as one of the greatest cybersecurity threats since 2005. Ransomware locks down a victim’s computer system until a ransom, usually in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency, is paid. Hackers often threaten to erase data. It spreads like other malware does, through email attachments or unsecured links.

Ransomware attacks skyrocketed in 2019, hitting nearly 1,000 government agencies, educational establishments and health care providers in the US, at an estimated cost of $7.5 billion.

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.


  • 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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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. 


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.


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


Canon PowerShot G7 X III



Sony RX100 VII


Cisco security breach hits corporate servers that ran unpatched software

Cisco security breach hits corporate servers that ran unpatched software

Six servers Cisco uses to provide a virtual networking service were compromised by hackers who exploited critical flaws contained in unpatched versions the open source software service relies on, the company disclosed on Thursday.

Got updates?

The May 7 compromise hit six Cisco servers that provide backend connectivity to the Virtual Internet Routing Lab Personal Edition (VIRL-PE), a Cisco service that lets customers design and test network topologies without having to deploy actual equipment. Both the VIRL-PE and a related service, Cisco Modeling Labs Corporate Edition, incorporate the Salt management framework, which contained a pair of bugs that, when combined, was critical. The vulnerabilities became public on April 30.

Cisco deployed the vulnerable servers on May 7, and they were compromised the same day. Cisco took them down and remediated them, also on May 7. The servers were:


Cisco said that without updates, any VIRL-PE or CML products that are deployed in standalone or cluster configurations will remain vulnerable to the same sorts of compromises. The company released software updates for the two vulnerable products. Cisco rated the severity of the vulnerabilities with a ranking of 10 out of 10 on the CVSS scale.

The Salt vulnerabilities are CVE-2020-11651, an authentication bypass, and CVE-2020-11652, a directory traversal. Together, they allow unauthorized access to the entire file system of the master salt server that services using Salt rely on. F-Secure, the firm that discovered the vulnerabilities, has a good description of them here.

Join the club

Cisco and its customers are just a small sampling of those who have been bitten by the Salt bugs in recent weeks. Early this month, blogging platform Ghost reported hackers had exploited the flaw to infect servers in its private network with currency-mining malware on its servers.

Other groups that have also been affected include Digicert, LineageOS, and Xen Orchestra.

The string of attacks on such a varied list of targets underscores the interconnectedness of Internet services today. A critical vulnerability in one piece can often quickly ripple out. Anyone using software or services that rely on Salt—whether Cisco or otherwise—would do well to make sure they have been updated.

Tile accuses Apple of antitrust behavior in letter to EU regulators

Tile, a manufacturer of location tracking hardware and software, is calling on the European Commission to open a probe into Apple’s business practices, claiming the company is fiercely anti-competitive.

On May 26, Tile sent a letter to European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, requesting an inquiry into Apple’s allegedly anti-competitive practices. Tile stated that Apple had been intentionally making it difficult for users to use Tile’s products, preparing for a release of “AirTags,” which would work with Apple’s existing Find My feature.

The claim states that Apple has begun selectively disabling features for rival products, which Tile fears could drive customers away from their product and toward Apple’s.

“In the past twelve months, Apple has taken several steps to completely disadvantage Tile, including by making it more difficult for consumers to use our products and services,” said Tile’s general counsel Kirsten Daru in the letter seen by the Financial Times.

“This is particularly concerning because Apple’s actions come at the same time that Apple both launched a new FindMy app that competes even more directly with Tile and also began preparing for the launch of a competitive hardware product,” the letter continued.

Apple has denied such allegations, releasing their own statement to challenge the letter to regulators.

“We strenuously deny the allegations of uncompetitive behaviour that Tile is waging against us. Consistent with the critical path we’ve been on for over a decade, last year we introduced further privacy protections that safeguard user location data,” Apple responded. “Tile doesn’t like those decisions so instead of arguing the issue on its merits, they’ve instead decided to launch meritless attacks.”

This is not the first time Tile has raised concerns over Apple’s behavior. In June of 2019, Apple stopped selling Tile products in its retail outlets. The company later poached a Tile engineer, though it is unclear if the person was brought on to develop a competing product.

In January, Tile — along with three other companies — met with the House of Representatives to air out grievances against tech giants Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook.

The meeting lead to the Federal Trade Commission launching a probe into past acquisitions made by Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Amazon, Google, and Facebook, going back to 2010.

In April, Tile went on record, stating that Apple’s behavior had gotten worse, as they begun restricting access to Apple’s built-in positioning hardware.