With milions of vloggers worldwide, this target audience is big enough to release special cameras and accessories for it. The Sony ZV-E10 is a mirrorless APS-C camera with interchangeable lenses that will appeal mainly to self-filming influencers and Youtubers. You can shoot fine with it too, but if that’s what matters most to you, there are better cameras out there. Also from Sony.
TESTRESULTS Sony ZV-E10:
The Sony ZV-E10 is a good camera if you prefer to be in front of it rather than behind it.
Introduction Sony ZV-E10
It is estimated that there are at least 35 million influencers active worldwide. Of course, not all of them are vloggers, but at least the popularity of vlogging is growing rapidly. Vlogging, a contraction of video and blogging (keeping a weblog) is a popular form of influencing. On YouTube alone, there are over 15 million vloggers active who collectively upload around 80 million videos every month. With so much competition, the good quality of your films can give you a nice edge. With a camera with a larger sensor and a better lens, you can stand out from the many shaky smartphone movies. But even more important than image quality is the ability to record good sound. So this is one of the points where the Sony ZV-E10 stands out from other APS-C cameras from Sony.
The introduction of the Sony ZV-E10 has been postponed several times. Fortunately, this postponement has not resulted in a cancellation. You can think of the ZV-E10 as the big brother of the Sony ZV-E1. That is a camera with a 1″ sensor derived from the Sony RX100 models. The ZV-E1 offers largely the same special features as the ZV-E1, but it offers significantly more in two respects. First of all, the ZV-E10 is an APS-C camera. So the sensor is much larger. Furthermore, the ZV-E10 is a system camera with an E-bayonet. So you can use the huge choice of lenses for Sony. That’s an advantage over the ZV-E1, which has a non-exchangeable zoom lens. It’s also kind of an advantage that you actually have to exploit if you really want to see a difference between the two models. The Sony 16-50mm kit lens you can buy with the ZV-E10 is neither very bright nor particularly good and actually largely negates the advantage of the larger sensor. It doesn’t offer more opportunities to play with background blur due to the lower brightness, for example, and at the same time quickly forces you to increase the sensitivity of the sensor when there is a little less light.
The interior of the Sony ZV-E10 is fairly similar to that of the Sony a6100 when it comes to the sensor and related electronics. However, the EV-E10 lacks the a6100’s viewfinder. On the other hand, the EV-E10 has a touch-sensitive and rotate-and-tilt screen, which is a first for Sony’s mirrorless APS-C models. Also, the ZV-E10 has a special built-in microphone and the camera can be used with Sony’s digital microphones. The a6100 is a better still camera, but if you want to vlog, the ZV-E10 really does offer a bit more.
A vlogger often uses the camera upside down, on a gimbal or selfie stick. That means a lot less control over the camera. As many buttons are on the back, they are then inaccessible. As a vlogger, you therefore largely rely on automatic exposure and focus. Here, the ZV-E10 showcases some innovations specifically for this use. One notable feature is the product presentation mode. You activate and deactivate it by clicking the bin button. This is a button, although on the back of the camera, that is still easy to reach and find, at the bottom left corner. When you activate product presentation, the autofocus setting with face priority is disabled. As a result, the camera will basically focus on whatever is closest to it. So if you hold a product in front of you, the AF will automatically move towards your product. Don’t forget to turn off product presentation if you move on to other things, as the focus may end up on your shoulder or arm if you are vlogging with the camera out of hand.
Construction and operation
The Sony ZV-E10 is a camera that incorporates quite a lot of plastic. This does make it nice and light and ensures that the camera with kit lens can be used perfectly well on light gimbals like the Zhiyun M2. Fully in line with Sony’s other APS-C cameras, the ZV-E10 has no front dial. However, the top cover is laid out quite differently from the A6xxx models. The on/off switch is no longer around the shutter release button, but has now become a separate slide switch. Around the shutter release button there is now a switch that allows you to zoom with lenses suitable for this purpose. There is also a switch on the top cover to toggle between photography, filming and the S&Q modes. There is also a large, red-rimmed button for starting and stopping shooting. A smaller button allows you to turn on the ‘Background Defocus’ function. The rest of the top cover is completely taken up by the large microphone and flash shoe.
On the left side, we find the microphone and headphone input, a USB-C port that also lets you charge the camera and a micro HDMI port. On the back is the rotating and tilting screen that is also touch-sensitive. Unfortunately, you still can’t use it to control the menus, which we think is out of date. You can fortunately use it for autofocus, shooting and zooming to 100% when looking back at images. The screen measures 7.5 cm and has 921,000 pixels.
Furthermore, on the back are the usual control buttons and the second dial, which assumes Sony users have two right thumbs. Below the camAlso on era is the cover for the Sony FW50 battery and SD card. No new Z-series battery, then, and the SD card slot is also somewhat limited. In fact, it only accepts UHS-1 cards. Those are sufficiently fast for the ZV-E10’s well-compressed video. But if you’ve already invested in faster UHS-II cards, they simply won’t fit in this camera.
The image quality of the ZV-E10’s 24-megapixel sensor is an old friend that has been around for several generations. So you can expect sharp shots with reasonably low noise and a good dynamic range from it. For video isl 4K are clearly better than Full HD and if you move the camera too much you will be able to clearly see the sensor’s perhaps only, but also biggest weakness: jello. This is because this is not a modern BSI sensor with fast readout. So the video image will skew or wobble a bit when moving the camera.
The Sony ZV-E10 is actually much more of a video camera than a still camera. The camera offers everything we expect from Sony cameras by now, such as focus peaking, zebras and the ability to shoot in both S-log 2 and 3. Unfortunately, the camera also doesn’t offer more than we expect. Video is 8 bit 4:2:0. So the ZV-E10 has no 10-bit output, which also makes S-log 3 less useful. Also, the ZV-E10 does not have image stabilisation on the sensor. So you will have to opt for a lens with image stabilisation if you are not working on a tripod or gimbal. The camera can use an electronic crop, though. This provides a 1.4x crop when filming in 4K. The Sony 16-50mm kit lens is then actually no longer wide enough to vlog with and you will soon get a need for the Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS. That one, however, is not cheap.
Of course, the ZV-E10 has the Real-time tracking that we appreciate so much in the other, modern Sony cameras. This means you almost always stay sharp while vlogging, even if you move a lot in front of the camera. A special feature Sony introduced on the ZV-E1 is ‘Product Showcase’. This feature allows you to quickly focus on something you hold right in front of the camera. As soon as you remove the product you want to show, the camera quickly focuses on your eyes or face again. Without this feature, the autofocus would try to keep the focus on your face as much as possible and would try to ignore the object in the foreground.
Another additional feature is ‘Background Defocus’. If you press this button, which is on top of the camera, the camera opens the aperture as far as possible. The shutter speed is adjusted accordingly, which does ensure that from then on you film with an often quite fast shutter speed, instead of the desired shutter speed of twice the shooting speed. Besides all these nice features, it is a disappointment to find that the autofocus does not work with face/eye priority in 4K. Apparently, Sony believes that, as a vlogger, Full HD is enough, which is very 2019.
As viewers, we are reasonably tolerant of the occasional shaky picture, searching autofocus and less accurate colors. However, nobody wants to listen to bad audio for long periods of time. A poorly understood vlogger undoubtedly misses out on likes. Wind noise in particular often throws a spanner in the works, and someone talking more than a meter and a half from the microphone is quickly drowned out by ambient noise. So good and handy microphones with efficient wind protection for outdoor recording are essential for the vlogger. Sony has understood this well and, on many cameras, in addition to a regular 3.5 mm jack input for a microphone, also offers the option of connecting a microphone, XLR adapter or audio receiver to the camera via the hotshoe. For this, the hotshoe has additional contacts that do not interfere with the use of a regular reporter’s flash.
What really sets the ZV-E10 apart from other APS-C models from Sony is the good built-in microphone with three capsules. This is perhaps the ZV-E10’s most vlog-friendly feature. The directional stereo microphone focuses on sound directly in front of the camera and it suppresses other ambient noise. Convenient and thoughtful is the included windshield that can be slid into the flash shoe to cover the large microphone on the camera’s top plate.
If you want even better voice intelligibility, for example in a very noisy environment, or because you are further away from the camera, check out Sony’s optional audio accessories. Very handy, for example, is the wireless lavalier microphone (€ 240), often called a tie or lapel microphone. The transmitter with built-in battery and microphone can be attached directly to your own shirt or lapel, or to that of the person you are interviewing. A handy windshield is included. The receiver also has a built-in battery and microphone, so that both the questioner and the interviewee can be clearly heard. Unfortunately, the receiver microphone lacks the option to mount wind protection. However, this microphone can be switched off. If you want to keep it simpler and cheaper, Sony also supplies a wired lavalier microphone. It is remarkably a stereo microphone but unfortunately comes without wind protection. The one-meter wire is plenty long, unless you want to run it under your clothes.
The ZV-E10 is not a fixed-lens compact camera, although with its 16-50mm kit lens with power zoom and optical image stabilisation, you might initially think so. The camera itself, unfortunately, does not have built-in image stabilisation and thus has to rely on the optical stabilisation of the lens for stabilisation, possibly combined with active – read: electronic – stabilisation on the sensor. There are three modes for image stabilisation; standard (only optical stabilisation if present in the lens), off and active. With the latter setting, the image is cropped quite a bit and (additional) electronic image stabilisation takes place. If you use a lens without optical stabilisation, you only have the choice between off or active. So there is no physical IBIS (in-body image stabilisation) in the form of a moving sensor. If you walk around with the camera while vlogging, then the active mode is recommended to get a sufficiently stable image. You do have to take into account the extra crop. With the 16-50mm lens at 16mm, that leaves just enough wide angle for a head-shoulder cutout with my arm extended.
If you want more wide angle to keep the camera a little less far away from you or just to get some more background in the frame, the only option with optical stabilisation is the Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS. This lens is not cheap, but it is nice and light and offers a significantly wider angle of view. You can forget about any kind of bokeh with the low brightness of F4 and the large depth of field you get with it. Due to the lack of IBIS in the camera, a brighter option like the Tamron 11-20mm F2.8 Di III RXD is not a good option for vlogging.
Defocus is a handy feature that can be set at the touch of a button to adjust the background blur. You then choose between clear (background sharp) or defocus (blurred background). If you choose the latter setting, the camera will open the lens aperture all the way for the smallest possible depth of field. However, this is a function with limitations; to compensate for the extra light falling onto the sensor due to the larger aperture, the shutter speed or sensitivity must be adjusted. So when using manual video mode, you will then just end up with an overexposed image. Set to A or P, the shutter speed is increased. This is not always a good choice for video, as too fast a shutter speed can cause jerky movements. After all, for smooth movements, the shutter speed should be double your frame rate. When using the defocus function, it is therefore best to set your sensitivity to automatic.
Also handy is the push button on top of the camera body to quickly switch between photo, video and slow-motion video. In the latter mode, you record video at 100 frames per second, giving you a fourfold delay on a 25fps timeline. You do then lose the ability to record audio.
Relative to competitors
The Sony ZV-E10 is a camera that doesn’t have a whole lot of competition if you pay attention to what makes it special. No other camera offers the special microphone system combined with Product Showcase autofocus and the ability to use digital microphones. The ZV-E10 is therefore made very specifically for a particular target group. Looking a little further, a camera like the Canon M50 II is a possible competitor. This camera also has a 24 megapixel APS-C sensor and can film in 4K. The Canon can only do so in 24 bps, the Sony in 24, 25 or 30. The Canon’s Dual Pixel AF may lack the handy extra AF features of the Sony, but it also performs well for vlogging. The Canon is a lot bigger than the Sony, but is also more all-round thanks to its electronic viewfinder. The Sony is smaller and slightly easier to use with a gimbal. The Canon is reasonably cheaper, but we dare not promise that the EF-M system will be around for long. In this respect, the Sony is more future-proof with its E-bajonet.
|video||4K to 30 bps, Full HD to 120 bps|
|ISO||100-32,000 ; 50-51,200 extensive|
|max. series speed||11x|
|storage media||1x SD UHS-I|
|battery capacity||440 images|
|weight (incl battery)||343 g|
|retail price||$734.16 (body) $946.00 incl. kit|
Conclusion test Sony ZV-E10
The ZV-E10 is a very practical tool, especially when combined with the optional grip.
Sony has given the vlogger good tools with the ZV-E10. The kit lens also happens to be the most practical lens for this camera, especially when you use the camera together with the optional GP-VPT2BT grip, (€200) that doubles as a tripod. You can then use your thumb to control the power zoom and the buttons for starting a video or taking a photo. The C1 button, assigned to the defocus function by default, can also be found on the handle. The handle pairs with the camera via bluetooth. What is particularly unfortunate is the lack of image stabilisation what the choice to. The fine audio capabilities, on the other hand, counterbalance this and make up for a lot.