Sony’s ZV-1F vlogging camera has a low price and a lot fewer features

Sony has announced a new point-and-shoot camera centered on vlogging, and it is targeted at beginners with a low price point. The ZV-1F is an offshoot of its ZV-1 camera from 2020, but unlike that model, it’s not a twist on the long-running RX100 camera formula. Sony put a Zeiss-branded 20mm-equivalent f/2.0 prime lens in the new ZV-1F and paired it with a Type 1 (13.1mm x 9.8mm) 20-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor that can record 4K at up to 30 frames per second or 1080p up to 120fps for slow motion. The ZV-1F will run $499 in all black or white with a silver lens, and it’s due out in late October.

While the Sony ZV-1F’s price sounds appealing for anyone looking at an affordable way to get into vlogging, there are some key omissions that likely helped Sony undercut its own ZV-1 by $250. First off, there is no support for RAW photo captures, rendering this camera super limited for anyone looking to do both stills and video. There are some new limitations here on the video capabilities, too, like a lack of optical image stabilization (it has digital stabilization, which crops into the image), no 4K60 recording, no headphone jack for monitoring audio levels, and a more rudimentary contrast-detect autofocus system.

Sure, it can lock onto you with eye-tracking autofocus, but if the contrast-detect system creates a lot of wobbling focus effects, that’s not going to look great in a vlog.

The ZV-1F has a tilt-and-swivel LCD but no electronic viewfinder or option of attaching an add-on one.
Image: Sony

If these are tradeoffs you can make for $499, the ZV-1F does offer a very lightweight body — just 8.1 ounces / 229 grams — and an articulating screen for easy self-recording. It also features a cleaned-up menu system borrowed from pro cameras like the Sony A1 and A7 IV. Though, the camera has user-friendly interface controls that allow users to get filming with a few simple button presses and little to no knowledge of things like apertures or frame rates.

Another established feature here from Sony’s other cameras is Product Showcase, which sets the ZV-1F to focus on the subject’s face, quickly track autofocus to any items the presenter holds up to the camera, and return to focusing on the eye when it’s put down. And like most cameras released today, it can be used for livestreaming by just plugging it into a computer via USB-C. It’s limited to 720p resolution at 30 frames per second, but at least you shouldn’t have to use Sony’s dreaded Imaging Edge software.

Try not to spit out your tea, but that cute Sony GP-VPT2BT vlogging grip / tripod costs an additional $139.99, though it does control camera functions wirelessly.

Try not to spit out your tea, but that cute Sony GP-VPT2BT vlogging grip / tripod costs an additional $139.99, though it does control camera functions wirelessly.
Image: Sony

The ZV-1F is missing a few features that you can even find in some modern smartphones, but it’s a small sign of how purpose-built cameras could live on in a niche audience among vloggers and streamers. Sure, it may just be a stepping stone to bigger, better cameras, and a flagship phone has more lenses and more capabilities like RAW photos, but at $499, it’s a fraction of those costs.

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