Sony's new vlogging camera makes me want to ditch my iPhone for recording videos

Sony ZV vlogging camera
(Image credit: Future)

While premium smartphones offer impressive recording tools, content creators might find something like the Sony ZV-1F vlogging camera can help elevate their videos. As someone who has strictly used an iPhone for producing social media videos for many years, I was surprised by how easy Sony's new camera made filming high-quality content in the few days I spent testing it out.

Now, I say high-quality as a relevant term. I know this $499 vlogging camera can't rival the performance of interchangeable lens cameras like the Sony A7C or Canon EOS R6, some of the best cameras out there. Likewise, it isn't even intended to be a replacement for other Sony ZV vlogging cameras, such as the Sony ZV-1 and Sony ZV-E10, instead intended to sit underneath those models. But while the Sony ZV-1F won't rival cameras that cost twice its price, it's nevertheless designed to put out video that's much higher quality than your smartphone. In essence, according to Sony, the ZV-1F will be your first proper vlogging camera.

An image of the Sony ZV-1F

(Image credit: Sony)

Though I'm an expert in several tech categories, cameras aren't one of them. That said, I am the Sony ZV-1F's target audience — a Gen Z-er who has experience vlogging from a smartphone, but is interested in taking my videos to the next level.

So I decided to step out of my comfort zone of recording clips on-the-go with my iPhone 13 Pro Max to instead using the new Sony ZV-1F for filming video for Tom's Guide's YouTube channel. I traveled solo with the camera to a tech conference recently and recorded what it was like to experience the LG OLED Flex hands-on (edited video coming soon, I promise.)

The Sony ZV-1F: your first proper vlogging camera

A person vlogging with the Sony ZV-1F placed on a table surrounded by food

(Image credit: Sony)

The Sony ZV-1F is outfitted with several beginner-friendly features. For one, the rotating vari-angle flip screen helped me stay in frame while Sony's legendary auto-focus took the guesswork out of getting a sharp shot, whether I was recording myself or the product in front of me. For selfie clips, Face Priority and Eye auto-focus setting ensured the same convenience. When I'm talking on camera, I don't want to constantly check that — I just want to focus on what I'm saying.

Speaking of convenience, having it with me for a few days added hardly any bulk to my bags. The camera weighs around 230g, making it incredibly light. It even fit in my small side purse that I used in the evenings. I've been hesitant to upgrade to even the best cameras for vlogging, wanting to limit the amount of equipment I schlep around, but the Sony ZV-1F is pleasantly compact. 

Though it's still an additional thing to carry, compared to my all-in-one iPhone. That's why I can envision scenarios where I pick and choose what I want my recording device to be. If I want to go on a quick rant on TikTok, film some funny unfolding around my friends or capture spontaneous moments, my iPhone is unbeatable. 

But for taking my tech content up a notch, I've found there's a lot to like about the Sony ZV-1F. Better yet, the camera connects to my iPhone using Sony's smartphone app, so I'm able to transfer content over Wi-Fi and have those clips accessible to share on social media quickly. I consider this kind of connectivity a must for those wanting a dedicated camera to complement the video they already film on their smartphone.

We'd need to spend more time testing the the Sony ZV-1F to see if it's truly a great addition to the ZV line up, which includes the Sony ZV-1 and Sony ZV-E10, in terms of performance. But from first impressions, the ZV-1F seems like it has what budding content creators are looking for at the right price.

The Sony ZV-1F: key specifications

  • Image Sensor: 20.1MP 1.0-type Exmor RS CMOS
  • Maximum video resolution: 4K/30p
  • Lens: Zeiss 20mm (fixed)
  • Maximum aperture: F2.0
  • Screen: Vari-angle touch screen
  • Face & Eye detection: Yes
  • Dimensions: 4¼ in. × 2⅜ in. × 1⅞ in.
  • Weight: 229g
Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.