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  • Fitri Aiyub

SONY ZV-1F Review : Made For Vloggers

Hey guys, welcome back to the channel and today we have yet another review for Sony's new compact camera which is the ZV1F. It looks very similar to the ZV1, well because in more ways than one, it sort of is coming with the same 20.1 Exmor Rs CMOS sensor, but with some differing features that make it feel slightly new in one way, but also worse for some.

Considering how Sony themselves claim that this camera is mostly catered for vlogging essentials with features to help vloggers capture moments more efficiently. Part of which is this automatic feature that immediately turns on the camera when you flip out the screen and switches off when it's closed. You still get a tally light at the front indicating that it's recording when you hit record, as well as the familiar illuminated border around a new LCD touchscreen display.

I personally think that Sony have been dissecting more and more of their camera department as video features on cameras are on higher demand in the last few years than it has ever been, so needless to say that this camera would suit specifically for creators looking for something compact and lightweight, without losing the essentials of a good vlogging tool. Another aspect to that, is how this ZV1F does not come with a variable focal lens since this is a fixed f/2.0 20mm but at least comes with a 4x digital zoom. So in a way it's perfect for vlogging especially when you have it paired with something of the likes of this bluetooth grip and Sony's new ECM-G1 shotgun mic.

But as a point of reference using the 3 onboard unidirectional mics as I'm speaking right now, how does this sound to you?

But where things fall short for having a fixed lens, it loses out for not coming with OIS and you'll only be able to enhance stabilisation with Sony's SteadyShot which does crop in a little so maybe something to be wary about when you have it enabled. Results do help in stabilising most of any walking shots, but any further shaky movement than that in Active Mode, you might see more warping effects.

Autofocus features also now come with Real-time Eye Autofocus which isn't available on the ZV1 and uses Contrast AF instead of Sony's conventional Hybrid AF. Either way it still has 425 Contrast Points, which in my experience with some Panasonic cameras that solely relies on contrast AF hasn't been the best kind of autofocus for low light situations.

But in this case, it does manage to keep most subjects in focus, and also to mention a few that was first introduced in ZV-E10, is a Product Showcase feature. By enabling this, it'll be best suited in a fixed environment with a controlled lighting source like I have here in the studio, because as soon as you crank up the aperture then you might just lose out on depth of field.

Conveniently though, it does come with Bokeh Switch or Background Defocus to separate yourself or subjects and it's best to use this feature when you're shooting in Auto Intelligent and not in Manual. Ultimately, this camera itself was made to streamline your vlogging process so you wouldn't have to dial in shutter, aperture, or ISO settings – so I believe this Bokeh Switch is more user friendly for less experienced users who wants to get the most out of a camera without taking too much control on image quality.

Speaking of images, our other Producer in Singapore had this to say about this camera performance on its stills or photo capture.

Hey guys! So, I also had the opportunity to try out the ZV1-F here in Singapore and I’ve to say that it’s been a pretty decent experience thus far. Now I’m actually just holding it handheld right now with a Rode VideoMicro attached, recording at 4K and I guess this is the kind of quality you can expect from a dirty run and gun style. But anyways, Fitri has already covered the main points for videos, so let’s get proper and talk about photos.

The ZV1F is basically a trimmed down version of the RX100 series in my opinion, featuring that same 1-inch sensor from Sony but having a fixed lens instead. Considering that aspect, it would actually be more apt to compare this to something like the Ricoh GR series. So expect that style of photography when it comes to this camera. A quick snapshot style that favours speed and discreteness.

With this 1-inch sensor at 20 megapixels, you will capture a good amount of detail that’s going to do fine with medium to large prints especially when it comes to wide shots of the environment. Urban, Landscape, you name it. And there’s still quite a bit of texture and detail remaining even after you crop in. But the true strength of this camera really shows when you go up close and especially for portraits. Not only are you going to get much more vivid detail but this is where the F2 aperture plays a huge role, giving you that natural bokeh fall off that just looks much more pleasing to the eye as compared to a smartphone.

As expected however, it will fall short of expectations when it comes to night shots especially at high ISO with quite a bit of noise and grain. And colours aren’t the most poppy straight out of camera, editing with the RAW is definitely recommended

Overall though, pretty impressed with what this little camera is able to achieve. And given the compact size, it’s great for travel and perhaps be part of your EDC. Back to Fitri

Other points that I'd like to take a fun jab at, can this camera be rigged for a B-Cam? Well obviously yes. Considering how it still comes with a mini-HDMI output, a USB-C input, and your 3.5mm jack, so practically if you choose to rig this up in some way, there's still room to expand it using a larger shotgun mic and even power this through the USB-C via an external battery source.

But I must say, the ¼ inch thread mount at the bottom is not placed in the centre. I'm not entirely sure why they decided to do this, perhaps it could fully make use of mini tripod attachments such as this wireless grip giving you a more ergonomic reach, but in my opinion it makes sense if the user is right-handed, but not so much when they're left handed. So maybe an oversight.. who knows..

All in all, the ZV-1F surely makes a great vlogging tool and makes a justifiable claim to it's name and the niche market its aimed for. Albeit being a considerable choice amongst most smartphones currently that are also more equipped with resolutions up to 6K and some with 8K. Ultimately it truly depends if you'd want to spend an extra RM2699 or approx. S$825 for something completely separate then your phone.


Written by Fitri Aiyub

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