Sony ZV-1F: Simple and Easy ... or Too Limited?

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A beginner-friendly camera for vloggers, touting 4K video, a crisp built-in mic, and a wide-angle F2.0 lens pinch integer stabilization.

Holding nan ZV-1F against a bluish inheritance (header shot)

Key Takeaways

  • The Sony ZV-1F is simply a portable and affordable camera specifically designed for vloggers and contented creators who are upgrading from a smartphone.
  • It offers awesome worth pinch its high-quality wide-angle lens, built-in mic, and intuitive settings, allowing caller creators to easy commencement making content.
  • However, it has limitations specified arsenic mediocre artillery life, suboptimal autofocus, and a deficiency of optical stabilization, making it unsuitable for master users aliases those looking for precocious features.

The Sony ZV-1F is an entry-level, point-and-shoot, fixed-lens camera chiefly marketed towards vloggers. It retails astatine $500 but occasionally goes connected waste for arsenic debased arsenic $380. Is this portable, affordable camera worthy it for budding creators, aliases are you amended disconnected redeeming your money for thing much advanced?

Angled apical position of ZV-1F to show nan windscreen complete nan mic
Sony ZV-1F

Great worth pinch limitations

The Sony ZV-1F takes what vloggers request successful a camera setup and distills each of it into 1 tiny, affordable camera. It boasts a high-quality wide-angle lens, a amazingly bully built-in mic, intuitive settings, and integer stabilization to alteration immoderate caller creator to commencement making contented wrong minutes. The simplicity, affordability, and easiness of usage make it perfect for personification upgrading from a smartphone camera to create content.

While this camera is elemental and affordable for vlogging, ZV-1F’s simplicity whitethorn beryllium its top drawback. Between constricted photograph features, and trim corners passim nan camera specified arsenic suboptimal autofocus, mediocre artillery life, and a deficiency of optical stabilization, this camera surely isn’t for everyone. Regardless, nan ZV-1F and its unsocial personality guidelines gangly for vloggers needing a simple, affordable, and intuitive device.

Brand Sony

Sensor Size .0-type (13.2 mm x 8.8 mm) Exmor RS CMOS sensors (1-inch)

Video Resolution 4K @ 30fps, 1080p @ 120fps

Photo Resolution 20.1MP

Battery Sony NP-BX1

Connection USB-C, Micro HDMI, 3.5mm Stereo Mic Jack

Size Dimensions (Width x Height x Depth): 105.5 x 60 x 46.4 mm (4 1/4 x 2 3/8 x 1 7/8 in.)

Weight Weight: 256 g (9.1 oz.) pinch a artillery and SD card, 229 g (8.1 oz.) without

Lens 20mm full-frame-equivalent astatine F2.0

Storage SD Memory Card, UHS-I U3 aliases higher


  • Incredible Intelligent Auto mode for easy point-and-shoot creativity
  • Smooth integer stabilization via Active SteadyShot
  • Superb built-in mic and windscreen
  • 20mm focal magnitude wide capable for vlogging moreover erstwhile cropped by Active SteadyShot
  • Intuitive touchscreen power of camera settings
  • Numerous quality-of-life features good supra its value tag specified arsenic entity tracking
  • Extremely beginner friendly
  • Small and portable?can astir apt fresh successful your pocket


  • Limited photograph features specified arsenic nary earthy files
  • Poor artillery life
  • Downgraded features compared to its predecessor nan ZV-1 specified arsenic poorer autofocus and nary optical stabilization
  • Fixed focal magnitude majorly limits usage extracurricular of selfie-style vlogging

What’s successful nan Box?

The Sony ZV-1F’s container is mini and simple, akin to nan camera. Inside, you’ll find nan pursuing items:

  • The camera itself, pinch a lens headdress
  • A windscreen that slots into nan camera’s acold footwear
  • A Sony NP-BX1 artillery (the aforesaid utilized successful nan ZV-1 and RX100 cameras)
  • A USB 2.0 A to C cablegram to complaint it aliases link it to a machine
  • Various archiving
Unpacked container contents of ZV-1F

Unfortunately, Sony’s NP-BX1 are mini and clasp very small charge. This is simply a necessity for nan camera’s mini size, but we urge purchasing further batteries.

ZV-1F pinch other batteries

Similarly, utilizing nan provided cable, you tin usage nan ZV-1F arsenic a webcam, but it’s constricted by nan debased information bandwidth of USB 2.0 to conscionable 720p. This is good for video calls, but not perfect for contented creation. That said, you tin complaint nan camera done its USB-C larboard while utilizing it.

The Camera Itself

The Sony ZV-1F has nan essentials for buttons and cablegram ports.

On top, we person buttons for toggling power, changing shooting mode, taking photos pinch a integer zoom rocker, signaling video, and de-focusing background.

Top position of ZV-1F

On nan back, there’s nan flip screen, a usability fastener for speedy settings access, nan paper button, a customizable instrumentality and button, nan playback button, and nan trash button. It’s worthy noting that 3 points of nan instrumentality and nan trash fastener tin beryllium customized to different functions erstwhile shooting.

Back position of ZV-1F

On nan correct broadside you'll find immoderate I/O ports, including a 3.5mm stereo mic jack, USB 2.0 USB Type C, and micro HDMI.

Showing nan larboard action connected nan broadside of nan ZV-1F

Last, connected nan bottom, we person nan doorway for nan artillery compartment and SD card, and a modular quarter-inch tripod thread. This thread is offset truthful that you tin usage tripods and grips without blocking entree to nan artillery door, a consequence to complaints astir nan thread's placement pinch this camera's predecessor, nan ZV-1.

Bottom position of ZV-1F

Additionally, while testing this camera, we accidentally dropped it astir 4 feet onto concrete, and it took nary damage—not moreover chipped paint.

Sony’s Sustainability Objective

Sony has set a extremity to trim its c footprint successful some nan manufacture of its cameras and its packaging. As such, immoderate components of nan ZV-1F are made utilizing recycled plastic, while nan windscreen uses recycled polyester.

Similarly, Sony uses almost nary integrative successful its packaging for nan ZV-1F, opting for insubstantial aliases works fibre wherever integrative would person been used. Sony’s efforts toward sustainability are commendable and worthy mentioning, but they are independent of nan camera’s quality.

Technical Specs and What They Mean

We’ll statesman pinch nan camera’s sensor, lens, and dimensions utilizing nan specs from Sony’s website and what those specs mean for users.

Sensor, Lens, and Comparisons With an iPhone

The ZV-1F has a 1-inch sensor pinch astir 20 megapixels. This is smaller than an APS-C sensor and overmuch smaller than a full-frame, but importantly larger than conscionable astir immoderate smartphone camera sensor. It besides has a fixed lens pinch a fixed focal length, meaning you cannot alteration its lens, and its lens cannot zoom extracurricular of integer zooming, which crops your image.

The cardinal specs are an effective 20mm focal magnitude pinch an F2.0 aperture, meaning it’s a very wide-angle camera, teetering into nan territory of ultra-wide lenses, and has imaginable for inheritance blur and debased ray capacity acknowledgment to its wide F2.0 aperture.

This earthy blur is particularly evident erstwhile comparing it to a photograph aliases video from a smartphone. Here is simply a selfie video screenshot utilizing nan larger rear camera of an iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Comparison of ZV-1F FOV to iPhone 12 Pro Max Back Camera FOV, iPhone shot

Here is that aforesaid selfie utilizing nan ZV-1F.

Comparison of ZV-1F FOV to iPhone 12 Pro Max Back Camera FOV, ZV-1F shot

The ZV-1F seems targeted astatine creators specifically upgrading from a smartphone, truthful here’s yet different illustration of nan section of position and extent of section shooting nan aforesaid objects from nan aforesaid position, starting pinch nan iPhone:

iPhone illustration extent of section and section of view

Next, here’s nan ZV-1F—note nan importantly wider section of position and accrued inheritance blur.

ZV-1F illustration for section of position and inheritance blur

The ZV-1F is so a awesome upgrade complete a smartphone, and it's astir nan aforesaid size arsenic one.

Camera Size and Weight

The ZV-1F is some mini and incredibly lightweight. Again, let's comparison it pinch a smartphone (iPhone 12 Pro Max) to exemplify really mini this camera is:

ZV-1F adjacent to iPhone 12 Pro Max size comparison

The ZV-1F could easy fresh into your pocket, bag, aliases backpack, and you’d hardly notice, considering it’s only astir half a pound—much lighter than moreover nan smallest APS-C cameras.

ZV-1F successful pocket

In fact, during our testing, we carried this camera successful a backpack aliases pouch for a month, and nan mini size and debased weight made it wholly unnoticeable.

Moreover, a mini camera for illustration nan ZV-1F brings little attraction to yourself. Compare this kitted-out Sony a6100, shotgun mic, and GorillaPod to nan mini and subtle ZV-1F. You'd request each these accessories for effective vlogging pinch nan a6100, but nan ZV-1F stands independently.

Size comparison betwixt kitted retired Sony a6100 vs mini ZV-1F

This setup is besides importantly lighter to transportation around. The camera you transportation pinch you and usage is amended than nan camera you don’t transportation aliases use. A larger setup would surely person higher quality, but you’re acold much apt to flip nan ZV-1F into your container than an expensive, bulky setup. This is so 1 of nan champion aspects of it.

Imperfect Autofocus

This camera’s autofocus is 425-point contrast-detection autofocus. For astir users, nan camera will mostly attraction connected what you intend it to quickly and smoothly, but powerfulness users will cognize that phase-detection autofocus will tie attraction overmuch much quickly. Contrast-detect autofocus is apt utilized alternatively of phase-detect to trim cost. The original ZV-1 has phase-detect while nan ZV-1F does not.

While nan autofocus discovery method is not nan best, nan ZV-1F besides has a characteristic mostly reserved for Sony’s astir precocious cameras: entity tracking. You tin pat connected a personification aliases object, and nan camera will do its champion to way it to support it successful focus. This seemed to activity astir times we utilized it, but nan entity you’re search should beryllium reasonably clear successful your frame.

Additional Picture Settings

The Sony ZV-1F uses an artificial Soft Skin Effect select by default. In astir cases, we urge turning it disconnected for a much earthy look and don’t cognize why Sony elected to alteration it by default. Below is simply a comparison of Soft Skin connected precocious and past disabled, first pinch this tegument smoothing select group to high:

ZV-1F illustration pinch tegument smoothing group to high

Next is pinch Soft Skin disabled, a overmuch much earthy look:

ZV-1F illustration selfie without tegument smoothing

The camera has galore image profiles you tin usage successful photograph and video; we’ll beryllium utilizing nan Standard floor plan for each examples, but they scope from Neutral for much subdued colors and contrast, to a much saturated Vivid look, to Sepia and Black and White image styles.

Other image power options see Contrast, Saturation, Sharpness, Color Space, and JPEG Quality ranging from Standard to Extra Fine. There are besides galore profiles and settings for White Balance, arsenic good arsenic Exposure Compensation. These settings are mostly immaterial for casual vloggers, truthful we won’t spell into immoderate much depth, but they let for comparatively elemental on-the-fly customization.

The Most Compelling Feature: Intelligent Auto Mode

Many master photographers aliases videographers will show you to ever sprout successful manual for nan champion results. In general, they’re right, but nan ZV-1F’s Intelligent Auto mode gets you 98% of nan measurement location without needing to alteration immoderate settings manually.

Intelligent Auto mode, arsenic nan sanction suggests, is simply a smarter type of a camera’s emblematic car mounting for vulnerability (shutter speed, aperture, ISO) and achromatic balance. In short, it will admit what type of segment you’re trying to capture—such arsenic shooting a person, nan sky, aliases a landscape—then set each needed settings to make your taxable look arsenic bully arsenic possible.

Intelligent Auto Mode Screen ZV-1F

Here, we person an outdoor changeable of nan entity astatine sunset.

ZV-1F sunset changeable illustration utilizing intelligent auto

Next, here’s a scenery photograph pinch harsh, high-noon lighting.

ZV-1F illustration of a scenery shot

Using Intelligent Auto, nan ZV-1F moreover managed to decently expose a selfie taken successful nan shadiness while hiking without wholly blowing retired nan entity aliases harshly lit background.

ZV-1F illustration of hiking and harsh varied lighting

We recovered this to beryllium nan astir compelling characteristic for making this camera a joyousness to use. In fact, this mode is truthful bully that we counsel you not to usage immoderate manual mode extracurricular highly niche scenarios—Intelligent Auto will astir apt grip it better.

The ZV-1F Manages arsenic a Photo Camera

This camera is simply a vlogging camera first, but it still functions good capable for taking photos. The 20.1-megapixel sensor alongside JPEG images up to extra-fine value supply solid, crisp images pinch minimal effort erstwhile utilized alongside nan ZV-1F’s Intelligent Auto mode.

Here is simply a changeable of a theatre astatine dusk; we blurred faces and licence plates for privacy.

ZV-1F illustration of a building astatine dusk

Here is simply a close-up of a cat.

Cat closeup changeable illustration utilizing intelligent auto

However, that’s wherever nan praise for photos ends—as photos are not nan attraction of this camera, nan features thereof are limited. While image profiles for illustration Neutral supply much options for colour correction successful post, this camera cannot sprout earthy image files for optimal image control. Moreover, astir photos look bully astatine a glance, but location is sizeable atom erstwhile zoomed in, arsenic you tin spot pinch nan theatre example.

Lightroom screenshot zooming successful connected nan Los Gatos Theatre image to show graininess

Last, while nan camera does so person a zoom rocker, this is only for integer zoom. If zooming digitally, you are simply pre-cropping nan image, truthful successful astir cases, zooming your photos is simply a waste.

The ZV-1F Thrives arsenic a Video Camera

Video is wherever this camera shines—you tin pixel peep until nan cows travel location connected photos, but you’ll beryllium overmuch little inclined to do truthful pinch video. The Sony ZV-1F tin grounds 4K astatine up to 30 frames per 2nd and 1080p astatine up to 120 frames per second.

This camera is dead-simple to usage well: you tin property grounds and fto nan camera return attraction of everything else. Your videos won’t beryllium studio-grade aliases cinema-quality from a hardware stance. Still, it punches good supra its value tag pinch video acknowledgment to Intelligent Auto mode’s situational awareness, a amazingly bully mic, and integer stabilization.

The Mic is Surprisingly Good

In astir cases, nan built-in mic connected a camera is much a necessity than a marketable feature, but nan built-in mic connected nan ZV-1F whitethorn impressment you. The mic connected apical of nan camera is rather large, whereas astir built-in mics connected cameras are comparatively minuscule and low-quality.

Angled apical position of ZV-1F to show nan ample mic

While a dedicated shotgun aliases lavalier mic will beryllium amended successful astir cases, caller creators could surely get by pinch conscionable what’s built in. The windscreen does an capable occupation of reducing upwind sound and plosives arsenic well, which was overmuch appreciated—you’ll find it basal for outdoor vlogs.

Angled apical position of ZV-1F to show nan windscreen complete nan mic

Active SteadyShot is Essential

As pinch its predecessor nan ZV-1, nan ZV-1F is champion utilized pinch Active SteadyShot turned connected for stabilization, which is basal for handheld vlogging. This induces a harvest facet of astir 1.3x, but don’t worry! Whereas nan ZV-1 would beryllium astir unusable pinch this harvest arsenic a handheld vlog camera, nan ZV-1F’s 20mm focal magnitude remains usable moreover pinch a crop.

Here is simply a vlog screenshot without SteadyShot (and frankincense nary crop) astatine 1 arm’s magnitude of distance:

Active SteadyShot Disabled FOV ZV-1F

Here is simply a screenshot pinch nan 1.3x harvest SteadyShot induces astatine nan aforesaid distance:

Active SteadyShot Enabled FOV ZV-1F

The harvest is significant, but nan section of position remains much than wide capable for handheld vlogging.

That said, nan ZV-1F only has integer stabilization, whereas each different Sony ZV-line cameras person optical stabilization successful summation to digital. This is an unfortunate drawback and apt a consequence of cost-cutting measures, but nan camera remains a joyousness to usage for vlogging.

Shooting Slow Motion aliases Timelapse Video With S&Q

For a normal 30fps video project, a 120fps video record tin beryllium slowed down to 4x slow mobility while remaining smooth. If signaling astatine 120fps successful video mode, you’d person to make this alteration manually erstwhile editing. However, utilizing S&Q (Slow & Quick) mode, you tin usage nan camera’s 120fps signaling capabilities and simply output successful 4x slow mobility astatine 30fps.

To do so, unfastened nan Menu. Tap nan Camera icon for Shooting settings, past prime 1. Image Quality/Rec. Then, prime S&Q Settings.

Sony ZV-1F Menu layout

Your Rec Frame Rate of 24, 30, aliases 60p will beryllium nan existent framework complaint of your file, while nan Frame Rate ranging from 1 to 120fps will beryllium nan complaint of framework capture.

For 4x slow mobility astatine 30 frames per second, your Rec Frame Rate should beryllium 30 while your Frame Rate should beryllium 120fps. Conversely, for a 30x speedy mobility timelapse, group your Rec Frame Rate to 30 and your Frame Rate to 1. We recovered nan S&Q settings successful this camera to beryllium highly intuitive, particularly because erstwhile you’ve group your framework rates, you’ll spot your nonstop slow aliases speedy mobility complaint astatine nan bottommost of nan screen.

Sony ZV-1F S&Q Menu Example

Additional Quality of Life Features

Unlike its predecessor nan ZV-1, nan ZV-1F utilizes Sony’s much caller and user-friendly touchscreen paper system, which tin beryllium wholly navigated without buttons. If this is someone’s first camera extracurricular their smartphone, past nan touchscreen paper will beryllium overmuch easier to study really to usage than older Sony cameras’ button-only paper navigation.

Additionally, nan ZV-1F, for illustration its predecessor, has aggregate beginner-friendly features.

Background Defocus

Some reviews explicate this characteristic incorrectly. It’s not for illustration nan integer inheritance blur of an iPhone’s image mode. This exclusively uses hardware and nan camera’s optics; nan inheritance defocus fastener toggles betwixt Defocus (blurred background) and Clear (a crisp background) by forcing nan ZV-1F’s aperture to a peculiar setting.

When you prime Defocus, nan ZV-1F’s aperture is forced to its widest setting, F2.0, to fto successful much ray to nan sensor, which adds much extent of section inheritance blur.

Conversely, selecting Clear narrows nan camera’s aperture to F5.6, letting successful little sensor ray and decreasing inheritance blur. Unfortunately, narrowing your aperture besides impairs low-light performance, truthful only usage nan Clear mounting successful brighter lighting.

Product Showcase Mode

Normally, nan ZV-1F’s autofocus strategy will prioritize focusing based connected oculus tracking. If you want to show thing to nan camera and person it beryllium successful focus, you’ll request to screen your look wholly aliases other nan camera will ever target your look for focus.

Product Showcase mode OFF illustration ZV-1F

Product Showcase mode fixes this by intelligently identifying erstwhile you are showing an entity to nan camera via an parameter connected surface for wherever to clasp nan entity and focusing connected that alternatively of you—no request to screen your face.

Product Showcase mode ON illustration ZV-1F

Smartphone App and Software

Sony has a smartphone app called Imaging Edge Mobile to transportation photos and videos from your camera to your phone, among different features. We were incapable to get our ZV-1F to activity pinch nan app successful our testing, but that was an rumor pinch our telephone alternatively than nan camera. Imaging Edge besides has a desktop version, among different package disposable connected Sony’s website.

Who nan ZV-1F Is and Isn’t For

The Sony ZV-1F is simply a small, elemental camera. That simplicity makes it cleanable for immoderate but nan incorrect prime for others. Here’s who we deliberation this camera is for:

  • New vloggers pinch minimal method knowledge who simply want an easy-to-use camera astatine a comparatively affordable value arsenic an upgrade from their phone.
  • Experienced creators who find their superior camera setup cumbersome to transportation astir for much casual vlogs and want a smaller, simpler camera to transportation discretely.
  • Videographers who want a mini B-roll aliases behind-the-scenes camera that they don’t request to deliberation astir astatine each erstwhile using.
  • Anyone who doesn’t mind nan restrictions and wants a camera they tin easy transportation astir successful a container aliases pouch astatine each times.

Conversely, nan ZV-1F’s simplicity whitethorn make it wholly excessively constricted to beryllium useful. These buyers should debar it:

  • People much willing successful photograph than video—the ZV-1F’s attraction is vlogging. Aspiring photographers would beryllium amended pinch a photo-oriented camera pinch an interchangeable lens system.
  • Creators who want 1 camera they tin upgrade—the fixed lens simply cannot turn pinch you nan measurement a camera pinch an interchangeable lens ecosystem would.
  • Anyone who needs a camera pinch non-digital zoom—the integer zoom connected nan ZV-1F is amazingly good, but if you request immoderate different focal lengths whitethorn want to look elsewhere.
  • Videographers who will beryllium shooting different group alternatively than themselves—the ZV-1F is simply a superb handheld vlogging camera for yourself, but its 20mm focal magnitude isn’t perfect for shooting others.

Size Matters, Indeed

With galore devices, you tin take immoderate two—compact size, reasonable price, and rich | features—but ne'er each three. The ZV-1F excels successful nan departments of compactness and price. The features it does good are genuinely excellent, specified arsenic intelligent car mode, but its simplicity comes astatine nan costs of richness of features—no phase-detection autofocus, earthy photos, aliases optical stabilization.

Shot of personification holding nan ZV-1F

However, nan constituent of this camera is to distill nan essentials of vlogging into 1 mini package. You tin usage it pinch zero accessories and person everything you request to vlog connected nan go. A full-frame camera connected a gimbal pinch a shotgun mic whitethorn objectively nutrient amended value video, but nan ZV-1F has coagulated video, a bully mic, and integer stabilization astatine a fraction of nan size and cost. And which of those tin fresh successful your pocket, ever fresh to sprout erstwhile opportunities arise?

Angled apical position of ZV-1F to show nan windscreen complete nan mic
Sony ZV-1F

The Sony ZV-1F takes what vloggers request successful a camera setup and distills each of it into 1 tiny, affordable camera. It boasts a high-quality wide-angle lens, a amazingly bully built-in mic, intuitive settings, and integer stabilization to alteration immoderate caller creator to commencement making contented wrong minutes. The simplicity, affordability, and easiness of usage make it perfect for personification upgrading from a smartphone camera to create content.

While this camera is elemental and affordable for vlogging, ZV-1F’s simplicity whitethorn beryllium its top drawback. Between constricted photograph features, and trim corners passim nan camera specified arsenic suboptimal autofocus, mediocre artillery life, and a deficiency of optical stabilization, this camera surely isn’t for everyone. Regardless, nan ZV-1F and its unsocial personality guidelines gangly for vloggers needing a simple, affordable, and intuitive device.

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