Sony ZV-1 II vs Sony ZV-1F - Which is Better?
The ZV-1F compact vlogging camera was launched in October 2022 as a more affordable version of 2020's popular ZV-1, with both offering lots of features designed specifically for vlogging and content creation. Now the new Mark II version of the ZV-1 has been launched in May 2023.
So how does the new ZV1 II differ from the cheaper ZV1F, and which of these cameras is the right one for you?
We're bringing you this in-depth Sony ZV-1 II vs Sony ZV-1F head-to-head comparison to help you choose between them.
Both the ZV-1F and the ZV-1 II use a similar 20.1 megapixel, 1-inch (13.2 mm x 8.8 mm) stacked Exmor RS sensor, so the image quality is essentially the same.
The ZV-1F has a different sensor, though, which only supports contrast-detection auto-focusing (425 points), rather than the hybrid phase/contrast detection AF system found in the ZV-1 II.
Both cameras use exactly the same powerful Bionz X image processor, which allows the ZV-1 II to shoot at up to 24 images per second using the electronic shutter and the ZV-1F to shoot at a still very respectable 16fps.
The ISO range of the Sony ZV-1F and ZV-1 II is the same, ISO 100 to ISO 12,800, which can be expanded by one stop to 25,600 using the special Multi Noise Reduction mode.
This is the single biggest difference between these two cameras.
The ZV-1F has a fixed focal length 20mm f/2 lens. This usefully offers a wide angle of view that makes it very suitable for vlogging and selfies, but loses out on the extra versatility of a zoom.
The new ZV-1 II has an even wider 18-50mm f/1.8-4 equivalent zoom lens that's slightly better suited to vlogging, particularly when holding the camera at arm's length for selfie recording and group shots.
The ZV-1F may not have a zoom lens, but that hasn't stopped Sony from incorporating what they've called a touch-controlled step zoom for both stills and video.
With just a touch of ZOOM icon on the the LCD panel, you can select from 1.0x/1.5x/2.0x/4.0x option. This uses a mixture of Sony's Clear Image Zoom and digital zoom to quickly change the angle of view.
Sony also provide the Clear Image Zoom digital zoom function on the ZV-1 II which increases the focal range from 50-100mm "without any appreciable loss in image quality".
On the ZV-1 II the zoom can be operated by using the touchscreen in addition to using the physical rocker switch on top of the camera, with selectable zoom steps again running from 1x / 1.5x / 2x / 4x plus icons for W (wide-angle) and T (telephoto) to quickly change the angle of view at the press of an onscreen icon.
The ZV-1F notably lacks the Hybrid AF sensor that utilises up to 315-phase detection points and 425-contrast detection points, as found on the more expensive ZV-1 and ZV-1 II.
Instead, it only has 425-point contrast detection system, which although generally quite snappy, doesn't allow for the same level of for the fast and smooth subject tracking that phase detection AF supports.
Both of them offer Sony's excellent real-time tracking system, including Eye AF for humans/animals for stills and humans for video, plus the Face Priority autoexposure (AE) function, which detects and prioritises the subject’s face and adjusts the exposure to ensure the face is depicted at an ideal brightness.
New to the ZV-1 II is the Multi-face Recognition mode which has trickled down from the recently launched ZV-E1 full-frame camera.
In this mode the ZV1 II will automatically stop down the aperture when another person comes into the frame to help ensure that all the people are in focus, rather than just the original one, which is a great feature for group selfies where you want everyone to be in focus.
Also new to the Mark II version is animal AF tacking in the movie mode - on the ZV-1F it's limited to stills shooting only.
The core video specs of the two cameras are essentially the same.
So on both the Sony ZV-1 II and the ZV-1F, video can be recorded in 4K resolution at up to 30fps, whilst Full HD can be recorded at up to 100/120fps depending on whether you have chosen the PAL or NTSC format.
The stacked sensor additionally gives both cameras the ability to offer special HFR modes where you can shoot short video clips at 250, 500 or 1000fps, with footage then saved at 25fps for super slow motion playback.
Both models feature Sony's S-Log2 and S-Log3 gamma and HLG curves which enable them to record greater dynamic range.
Sony have added the Cinematic Vlog setting from the ZV-E1 to the new ZV-1 II model.
This allows you to choose from a range of different cinematic Looks and Moods and combine them to your own particular style. The resulting video is the automatically shot in the widescreen Cinemascope aspect ratio (2.35:1) at 24fps with black bands above and below the image. for a true cinematic feel, all by simply selecting the Cinematic Vlog option.
Sony's range of Picture Profiles are also present and correct, meaning you can match the footage shot with the ZV-1 II or ZV-1F with higher-end cameras such as the A7 IV.
New to the ZV-1 II are a selection of 10 different Creative Looks, again inherited form the ZV-1 E1.
Sony have improved the microphone quality on the new Z-V1 II when compared to the ZV-1F.
The upgraded intelligent 3-capsule mic from the ZV-E10 now offers three different settings - front, rear and all directions - so that you have more control over the sound recording depending on where your subject. is positioned.
It also sports a wind reduction design with a detachable Dead Cat wind shield provided in the box. Clear voice isolation is great for recording your voice and not the background, and there's also a dedicated Multi Interface Shoe for an external microphone and other extra accessories.
Both cameras also offer an all important 3.5mm microphone input, but there is no headphone output on either model.
Both camera's offer Sony's special vlogger-friendly features - Background Defocus, Product Showcase and a Tally light.
Both have a Background Defocus button. For vloggers the aim of this button is to switch between having the background blurred or clear. In photographic terms it is switching the aperture between the largest available for the attached lens and a stopped down value.
The Product Showcase mode is an autofocus mode that alerts the camera to switch the focus from a person's face to an object that may be held up in front of the camera. It is a popular YouTube technique for when wanting to show an item to the viewer, but on cameras with slower autofocus it can leave the focus fixed on the presenter's face with the product out of focus, and vice versa. The Product Showcase mode solves that issue, adding another plus point for vlogging with these cameras.
A recording lamp (tally light) is also provided on the front face of the camera body for an at-a-glance indication of the current video recording status, and a red color recording alert square is displayed on the LCD screen too (both can be turned off).
Live streaming is possible directly from both cameras simply by connecting it to a computer or compatible mobile device via USB, eliminating the need for a video capture card. This allows the camera's video and audio capabilities to be used for live social media and video conferencing. Both the UVC and UAC standards are supported for improved picture and sound quality during streaming.
The new ZV-1 II usefully has a 3-stop built-in ND filter - the ZV-1F doesn't have one at all.
An ND filter helps you to shoot at larger apertures on bright days, which is extremely useful when shooting video and trying to stick to the shutter speed being double the frame rate rule.
Thanks to the stacked image sensor, the Z-V II offers a very fast maximum burst rate of 24fps with continuous AF/AE tracking, while the ZV-1F can shoot at a still very respectable 16 fps.
Body and Design
Last year's ZV-1F and 2023's ZV1 II cameras are virtually identical in terms of their external design, apart from the different lens design.
Where they differ is the onscreen controls, with the ZV-1 II providing a greatly improved and expanded smartphone-like user experience that better suits its target audience.
You can shoot entirely using the on-screen icons along the bottom of the screen, and a simple swipe-up from the bottom quickly accesses the Function menu screen which houses frequently used settings.
All of the same external buttons and controls are the same on both models, there's just a lot more touchscreen control available on the new ZV1 Mark II.
You can charge both camera via its USB-C port using an external powerbank or similar, something that was sorely lacking on the original ZV-1 version.
Also, if you use the external Sony GP-VPT2BT Bluetooth shooting grip (which Sony strongly recommends), it no longer blocks the battery/memory card compartment on the ZV-1 II.
Neither the ZV1 II or the ZV1F offer any certified level of weather-sealing, so you'll need to be careful and/or protect the camera in inclement weather.
With regards to stabilisation, there is Optical Steadyshot built-in to the ZV-1 II's lens, but not on the ZV-1F.
This will give you a couple of stops extra to play with when taking still images, and it will smooth out the lightest of movements when shooting video.
Both cameras offer the option to switch on Active SteadyShot in video, which is a digital form of stabilisation. This crops in to the image slightly to give the camera so digitally move the image frame around to compensate for any larger movements.
It works very well, creating very stable footage when handholding and taking out all but the heaviest of footsteps when walking. The catch is that because of the slight crop, if you are vlogging your face will appear larger when in the frame.
We would suggest only using it when walking or zooming in to show something, and when presenting to camera stick to using the Standard Steadyshot mode.
Finally, camera-shake metadata is recorded by the built-in gyro sensor that's inside both cameras, allowing handheld footage to be smoothed out and stabilised in post-production using Sony's Catalyst Browse / Catalyst Prepare desktop application.
Neither camera has a viewfinder, so if you don't enjoy using an LCD screen for composition, you'll need to look elsewhere entirely.
Both cameras have a 3-inch, 921,000 dot LCD screen which is hinged to the side of the camera and offers 180 degree rotation.
This means it can be flipped out to the side and rotated forwards by 180 degrees for vlogging or self-portraits (or selfies as they are now known), as well as being able to fold the screen in to the camera body to offer protection when you just want to carry the camera loose in a bag or pocket.
JPEG and RAW
We're not quite sure why, as there's no technical reason to do this, but Sony decided not to include RAW file support for stills on the ZV-1F, just JPEGs. The more expensive ZV-1 II does enable users to capture RAW and JPEG format files.
Perhaps this decision was made to simplify the camera for its more video-focused target audience, but it does greatly limit its appeal to stills photographers who might have been considering the ZV-1F as a capable pocket camera. You'll need to jump to the ZV-1/II to get this feature.
The ZV-1F and ZV-1 II both have a single memory card slot which supports UHS-I type SD cards.
Both cameras use the NP-BX1 battery, with battery life quoted as being between 45-75mins of video or 260 stills.
The older Sony ZV-1 is priced at £550 in the UK and $500 in the US.
The new Sony ZV-1 II costs €1000 in Europe, £XXX in the UK and $XXX in the US.
The new Sony ZV-1 II improves on and is positioned above the original ZV-1 from 2020, which in turn still has more features and costs more than 2022's ZV-1F. So you also need to consider the original ZV-1 when choosing between this style of camera from Sony.
Directly comparing the new ZV-1 II to last year's ZV-1F clearly shows that the former is a more powerful, better-featured model, but then it does cost almost twice as much as the ZV-1F.
With the latter camera offering quite a lot of the same core specs as the ZV-1 II - 4K/30p, 20 megapixels, Sony's special vlogger-friendly features - there's a lot to be said for saving a lot of money and opting for the cheaper model.
Having said that, the ZV-1F's lack of optical image stabilisation, less sophisticated auto-focusing, slower burst shooting, no ND filter and fixed rather than zoom lens may push some users firmly towards the more expensive but crucially more capable ZV-1 II.
So what do you think? Would you choose the Sony ZV-1 II or the Sony ZV-1, and why? Leave a comment below!