Basic Specifications
Full model name: Sony ZV-1F
Resolution: 20.10 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1 inch
(13.2mm x 8.8mm)
Lens: Non-Zoom
(20mm eq.)
Viewfinder: No / LCD
Native ISO: 100 - 12,800
Extended ISO: 64 - 25,600
Shutter: 1/32000 - 30 sec
Max Aperture: 2.0
Dimensions: 4.2 x 2.4 x 1.8 in.
(106 x 60 x 46 mm)
Weight: 9.0 oz (256 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $500
Availability: 10/2022
Manufacturer: Sony

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Non-Zoom 1 inch
size sensor
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Sony ZV-1F Preview

by Jeremy Gray | Preview posted: 10/13/2022

Sony's ZV series of cameras – the Z is for generation Z, and the V is for vlogging – are designed for, you guessed it, vlogging. The APS-C ZV-E10 sits at the top of the ZV pyramid thanks to its interchangeable lens design, offering users more flexibility for creative expression. The ZV-1 is a compact "all-in-one" camera with an optical zoom lens. Sony has announced a new ZV model, the ZV-1F, and it is Sony's most affordable ZV camera yet. The ZV-1F is aimed squarely at entry-level, first-time vloggers. To that end, some significant changes to the camera make it less expensive but perhaps also less capable. Let's look at the ZV-1F to see how Sony has achieved its aggressive $499 price point.

Sony ZV-1F key features & specifications

  • 20.1MP Type-1 Exmor RS CMOS sensor
  • 20mm (equivalent) fixed lens with F2 max aperture
  • ISO range 125-12,800
  • Electronic image stabilization
  • 425-point contrast-detect autofocus
  • Eye AF
  • 3 in. vari-angle touchscreen with 921k dots
  • Shoots JPEG images at up to 16fps
  • Single UHS-I SD card slot
  • Can be powered over USB
  • Records 4K video at up to 30p
  • S&Qvideo at 1-120fps
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Accessory shoe (no electronic contacts)
  • NP-BX1 battery is CIPA rated for 360 shots / 60 minutes of video
  • W x H x D: 105.5 x 60 x 46.4mm (4.15 x 2.36 x 1.83 in.)
  • Weighs 256g (9.03 oz.)
  • $499

Market for the ZV-1F

We usually discuss design and usability at this point in a preview. However, before getting into that, I think it's important to understand the target audience for the ZV-1F and how that affects what Sony has elected to include and omit with the ZV-1F.

There's no doubt that video content creation, video in social media and livestreaming are on the rise. The pandemic only accelerated the existing trend. A large majority of people have posted some video content in the past 12 months, live streams on YouTube and other platforms have been increasing, and a significant proportion of people consume livestream content. Some of the many people posting video content online want to step up from their smartphone, which is, unsurprisingly, the most popular video creation device.

The users who are creating content captured with a smartphone but want something more versatile and higher quality are the precise people Sony wants to capture with the new ZV-1F. To that end, smartphone-centric users must be catered to in certain ways.

Sony ZV-1F design and usability

One way to cater to smartphone users is to feature a touchscreen-based user interface. The ZV-1F is designed to be used via its 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen. It can swivel out to the side and face the front (selfie screen), which is critical to vloggers and livestreamers. Since the target audience will work primarily with the display, the ZV-1F lacks an EVF.

The ZV-1F is designed to be used in front of you, at arm's length. The camera must be small and light. Its dimensions (W x H x D) 105.5 x 60 x 46.4mm (4.15 x 2.36 x 1.83 in.). The ZV-1F weighs only 256g (a hair over 9 ounces), which is only 16g heavier than an iPhone 14 Pro Max. The ZV-1F doesn't include optical image stabilization in its built-in lens, but it does have digital (electronic) stabilization, which should help keep video steady and sharp when moving.

Speaking of the lens, it's the first ZV-series camera to have a built-in, fixed focal length lens. The built-in lens featured in the ZV-1 is an optical zoom lens, whereas the ZV-1F's 20mm (equivalent) F2 lens doesn't zoom. At least not physically. There's available digital zoom, which comes at the cost of resolution. 20mm is pretty wide, which Sony says allows for self-shot video that shows the subject (or subjects) and some of the background.

At F2, you should be able to achieve some bokeh, although it won't be the same as a 20mm F2 lens on a full-frame image sensor. For users who don't understand aperture or f-stop, there's a Background Defocus (bokeh) button on the top of the camera that, when pressed, will open the aperture. In contrast, a Product Showcase Feature does the opposite to ensure that more of a scene remains in focus.

With built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (no NFC), the ZV-1F works well with smartphones and accessories like Sony's Bluetooth grip. When users unbox the ZV-1F, the camera prompts them to immediately pair their smartphone, allowing the date/time/location settings to instantly import to your camera, bypassing the typical setup process. This feature requires a new app, Imaging Edge Mobile Plus.

The camera's Fn (function) menu is also designed to look like a smartphone menu, meaning you tap on different boxes to interact with and adjust settings. Even the digital zoom is familiar to smartphone users, with options like 1x and 2x for zoom, much like you see on the iPhone's camera app.

Video, AF, image quality and audio

The ZV-1F includes a Type 1 20.1MP Exmor RS sensor. That means that it's smaller than the APS-C sensor in the ZV-E10 and presumably the same as the sensor in the Sony ZV-1. However, despite being probably the same stacked image sensor, the ZV-1F lacks phase-detect autofocus, a feature the ZV-1 includes. It's unclear if the sensor lacks the pixels for it or if Sony has just disabled them as part of a cost-cutting measure. In any event, the ZV-1F uses a 425-point contrast-detection autofocus system. The AF supports Eye AF but not Real-Time Tracking.

Video resolution tops out at 4K, and the fastest framerate for 4K UHD video is 30p (24p is also available). The ZV-1F doesn't include HFR (high frame rate) recording (the ZV-1 does), but the ZV-1F does have Sony's S&Q (slow & quick) mode, allowing recording frame rates from 1 to 120fps.

While the camera is primarily designed for video, it takes still photos too. The 20.1MP sensor has a native ISO range of 125-12,800, which can be expanded for still images down to ISO 80. Eye AF also supports animals for still photography, although that doesn't work in video. Further, the ZV-1F doesn't record raw images. The ZV-1 records raw images. By the way, the ZV-1's native ISO starts at ISO 100, not 125. This is a somewhat strange discrepancy, but Sony is mum about whether the ZV-1F does use a different sensor that happens to be a 20.1MP stacked Exmor RS sensor.

Audio is a critical part of video. The ZV-1F includes a large 3-capsule mic that promises good in-camera audio recording and ships with a windscreen to help cut down wind noise. The camera includes a cold shoe accessory port, meaning you can attach a mic, but there aren't any electronic contacts on the shoe itself.

Summing up

The running theme here has been what the ZV-1 does that the new ZV-1F doesn't do. However, that does a disservice to the ZV-1F. Sony isn't trying to make a cheaper, less capable ZV-1. Rather, the company is trying to make an affordable, easy-to-use entry point into a dedicated camera system for people who have been creating content using their smartphones.

The Sony ZV-1F is just $499. That's an aggressive price point and undercuts the ZV-1 by $200 (or more, depending on where you buy the camera). To achieve this price, cuts must be made. You can't have everything. However, the ZV-1F's built-in 20mm lens and included features should perform well for a sizable segment of users, even if it may be lacking in the eyes of hardcore, experienced users.

Buy the Sony ZV-1F

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Buy the Sony ZV-1F

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