Sony ZV-E10 review

It seems like Sony is looking to take over the vlogging camera world. They started by introducing the compact ZV-1, which got a decent reception on the market. Now they’ve upped the sensor size with the ZV-E10.

It seems like Sony is looking to take over the vlogging camera world. They started by introducing the compact ZV-1, which got a decent reception on the market. Now they’ve upped the sensor size with the ZV-E10.

All of the technical specifications for the Sony ZV-E10 have been taken from the product listing page at B&H Photo:

24.2MP APS-C Exmor CMOS Sensor
UHD 4K30p and Full HD 120p Video
3.0″ Side Flip-Out Touchscreen LCD
425-Point Fast Hybrid AF
Up to 11fps shooting, ISO 100-32000
Real-Time Eye AF and Tracking
Background Defocus & Face Priority AE
Directional 3-Capsule Mic and Windscreen
Headphone and Microphone Ports
Sony ZV-E10 — Ergonomics and build quality

The ZV-E10 is a tiny camera. However, the ergonomics of the body are surprisingly comfortable. You wouldn’t want to use it with huge lenses, but for its intended purpose, it works. The grip is small but combined with the nub on the back of the body, I never felt in danger of a drop.

When held in a vlogging position, it feels pretty good also. My larger thumb didn’t quite fit between the lens and grip, but it never felt uncomfortable. As a result, it may be a bit cramped for the sausage-fingered among us.

The top panel of the ZV-E10 diverges a bit from the typical Sony. Where the on/off switch is normally located is now a power zoom toggle. The on/off switch has been relocated to a slider. In addition to the shutter, Sony has added a big record button reminiscent of the a7S III. There is also a button for Background Defocus and video/photo modes near the rear dial. Notably missing is the EVF. However, Sony’s multi-interface shoe remains. This is all rounded out with the new mic in the center.

The back of the ZV-E10 features a new articulating screen. From there, the rear of the camera will feel familiar to any Sony user. It features the same wheel/directional dial, function button, trash can, playback and menu buttons as usual. However, the trash button is set from the factory to enable the product AF mode on the ZV-E10.

Build quality

The ZV-E10 largely seems built of high-quality plastics. While it’s not magnesium alloy, it doesn’t feel bad. Turning the dials feels typical of a Sony camera. The buttons provide nice surfaces and good feedback. The texturing on the grip and thumb-rest area seems like it should last as well.

This camera suffers a common fault among lower-priced cameras, however. There’s no weather sealing. Forget about vlogging your adventures in inclement weather. That said, if you are careful about your shooting conditions, the ZV-E10 seems like it will hold up fine.

Sony ZV-E10 — Ease of use

The Sony ZV-E10 is a mixed bag when it comes to ease of use. The large record button, optional blogging grip/tripod, articulating screen, and zoom toggle are all features that make for an easy time controlling the camera. However, it still uses the old Sony menus. There’s no touch functionality for settings. The lack of mode dial and front dial can also be a bit frustrating.

However, Sony’s awesome autofocus makes vlogging a breeze. I never once worried about focus while filming or photographing with the ZV-E10. In that regard, the camera is a trouble-free joy. The tally light on the front is also a nice touch. Between that and the on-screen recording indicators, you’ll never second guess if you hit record.

One notable mention when discussing the ease of use is the lack of an EVF. This may bother some people and could be completely acceptable to others. However, it’s worth noting that you’re stuck with just the back panel when shooting with the ZV-E10.

SteadyShot performance

While the ZV-E10 doesn’t have IBIS, it does have Sony’s Active SteadyShot for video. This mode adds digital image stabilization. It works either on its own or in conjunction with lens stabilization. However, there is a hefty 1.44x crop when it’s in use. This combined with the 1.5x crop factor of APS-C gives the ZV-E10 a higher crop factor than micro four-thirds.

In use, Active SteadyShot does an impressive job. I tested it with both the 16-50mm kit lens and an adapted vintage lens. In both cases, the stabilization was nearly on par with some of the better IBIS systems I’ve tried. Unfortunately, it requires such a heavy crop to achieve this, as lens OS alone just can’t quite compete.

As a vlogging camera, this is a problem. The 2.16x total crop gives the 16mm kit lens roughly a 35mm equivalent focal length. That’s simply just too tight for vlogging, even with Sony’s optional vlogging tripod equipped.

Battery life and storage

While the ZV-E10 doesn’t have IBIS, it does have Sony’s Active SteadyShot for video. This mode adds digital image stabilization. It works either on its own or in conjunction with lens stabilization. However, there is a hefty 1.44x crop when it’s in use. This combined with the 1.5x crop factor of APS-C gives the ZV-E10 a higher crop factor than micro four-thirds.

In use, Active SteadyShot does an impressive job. I tested it with both the 16-50mm kit lens and an adapted vintage lens. In both cases, the stabilization was nearly on par with some of the better IBIS systems I’ve tried. Unfortunately, it requires such a heavy crop to achieve this, as lens OS alone just can’t quite compete.

As a vlogging camera, this is a problem. The 2.16x total crop gives the 16mm kit lens roughly a 35mm equivalent focal length. That’s simply just too tight for vlogging, even with Sony’s optional vlogging tripod equipped.

Battery life and storage

Sony’s autofocus has been the golden standard of mirrorless cameras for a while. The ZV-E10 continues this tradition. It allows you to leave the camera in wide-area mode, turn on the face and eye tracking, and forget worrying about focus. I found the tracking to be confidence-inspiring in both video and photo modes. As you can see in the samples above, it even retained tracking when the mountain biker rode past with tree branches between him and the camera.

The 16-50mm kit lens wasn’t exactly blazing fast. While serviceable, it didn’t add anything significant to the autofocus capabilities of the body. In low-light, the ZV-E10 still performed well. The autofocus does slow down a bit. However, some of that could be due to the relatively slower max aperture of the lens. Accuracy in low-light was still great, though. Overall, you can count on the ZV-E10 autofocus whether in continuous or single modes.

Sony ZV-E10 — Image quality

The images out of the ZV-E10 are quite good. This sensor has been in the Sony 6000-series of cameras for ages, so it isn’t tough to know what to expect from it. It has some great strengths and a few glaring issues. Let’s get into those.

Dynamic range

The ZV-E10 performs well in terms of dynamic range. It does a good job recovering highlights. It does even better when it comes to recovering shadow detail. Unless your exposure is quite a bit off, the RAW files from the ZV-E10 give you a lot of room to adjust.

JPEG quality

Sony has certainly improved its JPEG engine over the years. JPEGs from the ZV-E10 are quite nice. There are several creative modes as well as the standard Sony picture profiles. This gives a good amount of room for creativity.

The colors from the ZV-E10 are nice and natural. The camera doesn’t apply too much sharpening or noise reduction either. As a result, you can certainly get nice JPEGs out of this camera.

High ISO performance

High ISO performance on the ZV-E10 is great, with a couple of caveats. When shooting photos, the camera can handle up to 6400 ISO with ease. Above that noise starts to get fairly prevalent. When shooting in 4K video the results are equally great. However, noise comes on strong above ISO 800 in 1080p.

Video Quality

The 4K video quality on the Sony XV-E10 is excellent. This camera again shares the benefits and pitfalls of its sensor with Sony’s other APS-C cameras. It downsamples its 4K picture from the full 6K output of the sensor. As a result, the 4K is exquisitely detailed, low on noise, and looks great.

On the negative side, we have the 1080p video quality and rolling shutter. The ZV-E10 1080p is soft, noisy, and generally mushy-looking. Unfortunately, the slow-motion modes have all the same problems. This camera also has some bad rolling shutter.

The ZV-E10 also features a new, large microphone. It’s located on top of the camera, dead center. While this does work better than any built-in mic on a mirrorless camera I’ve ever used, it’s still a built-in mic. The included deadcat helps to tune down wind noise. However, the sound recorded from the ZV-E10 still doesn’t match a nice shotgun or lapel mic.

Is the Sony ZV-E10 the vlogging camera to beat?

Sony has tried to capture the YouTuber and Vlogging markets with the ZV cameras. However, it’s a tough market with a lot of competition. The ZV-E10 is a tough sale. If someone were looking for a compact vlogging camera, I’d be more inclined to recommend its sibling, the ZV-1. The only reason I see to go with the ZV-E10 is if you plan to experiment with lenses and ditch the mediocre 16-50mm.

While the ZV-E10 is a fine camera, it’s not an outstanding camera. For similar money, many micro four-thirds cameras can be had. Those bodies feature IBIS in addition to being light and small in many cases. Active SteadyShot does well, but its hefty crop negates much of the APS-C sensor benefits.

I think it’s safe to say the perfect vlogging camera still doesn’t exist. The ZV-E10 is a fun camera and works well despite its shortcomings, but I struggle to determine who I would recommend the ZV-E10 to over other options on the market. Perhaps if you’re already invested in the Sony ecosystem, this would make a good B-camera for vlogging. Also, for the budget, it does feature one of the best autofocus systems out there, and that’s worth considering.

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