Sony’s latest take on point-and-shoot cameras has given a sort of new life to this kind of compact, simplified shooting device.
The ZV-1F is based on the brand’s RX100 in its form factor and certain design elements, but comes with a new focus on video recording, possibly for the sake of competing with smartphone use for recording and shooting.
The company has said as much in its publicity for the new camera. Sony claims that the little camera is an ideal device for users who want to “step-up” their video shooting from smartphones for better video quality, especially for videos aimed at the users themselves.
In other words, the ZV-1F is aimed at mostly young adult users who are already posting self-made videos of themselves on social media sites like TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and others sites.
This younger target market of users mostly includes the Gen Z age group, which is fairly broad and ranges across people between 12 and 27 years old.
How well Sony’s new vlogging camera does with this market has yet to be seen, but it will be fighting a tough battle against the photo/video chops of high-end smartphone models like Apple’s iPhone 14 editions.
In terms of specs, the ZV-1F has quite a bit going for it. This camera is very compact and keeps its shooting experience as bare-bones as possible for a camera mainly aimed at webcam-loving smartphone vloggers and live streamers.
The technology and features of the ZV-1F are indeed aimed at making exactly these things especially easy as the camera comes with specs designed to simplify live streaming, vlogging and videos of users showcasing themselves.
To achieve these ends, the ZV-1F delivers an ultra-wide 20mm f/2 lens that feeds into a Type-1 Exmor RS 20.1-megapixel sensor. This sensor combo is also quite simple by Sony camera standards since it doesn’t feature any fancy phase detection AF features and instead just offers contrast-detection focusing.
Sony also claims that the lack of phase detection AF won’t be a problem with the ZV-1F since its wide-angle lens makes the more affordable contrast-based system good enough for the uses the camera is aimed at.
Even the ZV-1F’s screen interface is designed to more or less mirror a smartphone. All of its control mechanisms can be handled on the ZV-1F’s touchscreen despite there being some physical control buttons too. Users can also shoot just by using the touchscreen controls and swiping gestures to let the camera bring up common FN menu settings.
The ZV-1F has a fairly limited range of zoom options that include 1.0, 1.5, 2.0 and 4.0x. All of these are digital zoom functions however since this camera has a fixed focal length prime lens.
The ZV-1F also offers “slow and quick” shooting options for interesting video recording effects. The slow end of these features lets users decrease video recording speed by 5x while the “quick” end lets them accelerate a video to 60x for rapid time-lapse recordings. In both of these settings, the otherwise 4K-capable camera can only shoot in 1080p HD.
Other features of the ZV-1F include a selection of 10 different software-embedded creative formats for recording. These can be used for both photos and videos taken with the camera. The formats include settings for black and white, vivid color, high key and other types of filters.
Other video-focused specs in the ZV-1F include a self timer for recording in movie mode, which lets users create a timed delay before recording begins, a product showcase setting and an “easy-bokeh” switch that creates instant one-button defocusing for background elements.
The product showcase setting is interesting because it lets a user create a product review with automatically generated smooth transitions between shots of product features and the user themselves. This setting also auto-controls focus by having it settle on the reviewer’s eyes while they’re talking, shift to a product as its presented, and then refocus on eyes when the product is taken out of shot.
Other shooting features are the ability to shoot vertically in portrait mode while saving the fact that this was done inside a video’s metadata and a front-facing tally lamp that indicates recording in-progress.
There’s also a Shot Mark feature in the ZV-1F for letting users select short 15,30 or 1-minute segments of their video for sharing them to their smartphones through Sony’s own camera app. These can then be shared immediately to social media. The camera’s battery can deliver up to 60 minutes of recording at maximum resolution.
Sony has also loaded this little camera with strong audio capture features. These include a high-quality directional microphone with forward unidirectionality that the company claims can record sharp voice audio even during noisy outdoor shooting.
A removable windscreen is even built into the ZV-1F for cutting out the sounds of wind passing over the microphone.
The ZV-1F camera is very light at just 256 grams (9 oz) with its battery and memory card included. This makes the little camera just a bit heavier than an average high-end smartphone. Despite this, it also comes with a vari-angle touchscreen that can flip outward.
The photo specs of the ZV-1F aren’t its main area of focus but the 20.1-megapixel sensor in this PoS device offers an ISO range of 125 to 12,800 and shoots at up to 16fps.
Sony is releasing its ZV-1F point-and-shoot powerhouse to the public as of October 24th. It’s also available for preorder at a fairly reasonable price of $498.
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