If you’re thinking about getting a dedicated video camera to improve the quality of your video content, the Sony ZV-E10 might just be the answer. However, it does have a few quirks to keep in mind. Let’s take a closer look at this creator-focused camera.
Where the Sony ZV-E10 fits in
With the ZV-E10, Sony delivers a solid interchangeable-lens camera for content creators. This definitely is a video-first camera. However, it’s very similar to the Sony A6100. In fact, the A6100 and the ZV-E10 share the same image sensor and a lot of the same features. However, they differ in their intentions. The ZV-E10 has a clear focus on making vlogging easier for the everyday creator.
You can see this focus in the design of the camera. The ZV-E10 doesn’t have an electronic viewfinder (EVF). Instead, it has a fully articulating screen that you can use to monitor yourself from in front of the camera. Like other contemporary Sony cameras, the E10 can capture Log video in S-Log2 and S-Log3. To further support content creators, the E10 has the same three-capsule mic from the Sony ZV-E1. This design allows you to be in front of or behind the camera; the mic will pick up your voice just as well either way. Plus, the ZV-E10 has two new features, Product Showcase and Soft Skin mode. All of this points to a camera designed for online video production.
Image quality on the Sony ZV-E10
The image quality from this camera is as good as you can expect for its price. It’s similar to the image you get out of the Sony A6100. The main difference is that this camera is clearly designed for video, so you get more of the creature comforts video shooters have come to expect.
The ZV-E10 shoots at a bit rate of up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps). That’s great. It could be better, but at this price point, you’re not likely to find many other cameras offering anything more than that. As far as bit-depth goes, the camera shoots in 8-bit, but that is what we’d expect at this level.
To test the ZV-E10’s dynamic range, we used our DSC Labs Zyla 21 chart, which uses a backlight and incrementally darker shaded bars to produce a range of light intensity. In our tests, we saw 12 stops of dynamic range, maybe 13, but there’s not a lot of information in the extremes of that range.
Now 12-stops of dynamic range is nothing to scoff at. In fact, 12 stops of dynamic range is pretty great for a camera this affordable. To get this much dynamic range, we shot in Slog3 cine gamut 3. Although that’ll get you the most dynamic range, your skin tones may suffer.
When it comes to shooting in low light, the ZV-E10 does best under ISO 12800. That’s actually a huge, huge range. We shot a spooky lego figure under some dramatic lighting in the studio to analyze how much noise appeared in the shadows and how distracting it was from our subject.
The noise starts at 800, but the image is greatly usable all the way up past ISO 6400 to 12800. We shot with the ZV-E10 at ISO 12800 without much issue, but we wouldn’t go beyond that and expect professional results.
Things we liked about the ZV-E10
Let’s start with what we liked most — the new Product Showcase and Skin Filter options. Skin Filter is very similar to the blemish removal tools that you encounter on Instagram or Snapchat. Having this option in the camera is definitely going to be helpful for those who already make these adjustments in post-production; you can just do it as you shoot.
Next up in the pros column is the camera’s Product Showcase option. This feature helps the camera recognize when you are holding something up to the camera for a close-up. The idea is that you won’t have to hold your hand up behind your tube of lip gloss for the gloss to be in focus. We were definitely able to fool it, so it didn’t work all the time. Still, it’s definitely a nice feature to have.
Built for vloggers
We all know how important audio quality is to viewer retention — and how hard it can be to capture good audio on the fly. Sony aims to solve this problem with the ZV-E10’s three-capsule mic and headphone jack. Having these two features together is really great at this price point. It’s necessary to be able to monitor your audio as you record it. That way, you aren’t going to be fooled by seeing your meters move, only to find out later all you can hear is the wind blowing.
We also liked its fully articulating screen. This is great, definitely necessary for shooting vlogs. And lastly, it’s not new for Sony cameras, but it’s important for video in general: this camera has no record limit. That means you won’t be limited to shooting in 30-minute increments.
The ZV-E10 has a great tether, so you’re able to send files to another device if you need to. In fact, you can even send files when the camera is off, and it can also function as a USB webcam. You just connect it via the camera’s USB-C port. You can also charge the camera through this port, allowing you to extend the camera’s battery life through long shoots.
Things we didn’t like
Now for the things we didn’t like about the Sony ZV-E10. Number one on that list is its image stabilization. It’s just not that great, though it does work better when you have Active SteadyShot on. Its downfall, however, is the fact that it adds a significant crop. That’s in addition to the crop that you’re getting from the smaller sensor. Image stabilization of some kind is necessary for vlogging, but this crop could cause an issue. Therefore, it would be better to rely on lens-based stabilization or even a gimbal mount.
The next thing that we don’t like is that there’s still no touch function in the menu, even though it’s a touchscreen. This is frustrating, especially if you’re shooting a vlog. If you’re in front of the camera, you’ll have to flip the camera around and change your shot just to change a menu function.
Lastly, the ZV-E10’s wind noise reduction makes voices sound like they’re coming from a tin can. The audio definitely doesn’t sound as good as when it’s off.
Battery life and heat management
As for its battery life, you can expect an hour to an hour and 20 minutes — maybe — per battery charge. However, we did see some overheating — nothing new for Sony’s lineup. Now, you can turn off Auto Power OFF Temperature. By default, the setting is set to standard, and you also could put it up to high. However, we don’t know for certain what long-term damage this practice may cause. We don’t imagine it’s good for the camera to always do that. Instead, we’d recommend you turn it on when you need to have those long shoot times. Then turn it off again when you no longer need it.
So should you buy the Sony ZV-E10?
If you are considering this camera, make sure you budget for it. This is an interchangeable-lens camera, so you need to make sure you have the budget for lenses. Also, budget in batteries and media cards.
Getting down to the actual camera, though, if you’re making your content on a phone, this is a huge upgrade. You’re going to get more control over your depth of field and field of view. The image quality is going to be better thanks to the larger sensor. The ZV-E10 gives you all of those controls that you need to be deliberate.
The Sony ZV-E10 is definitely built for content creators, so it’s got a wealth of workflow benefits there. However, if you’re not coming from a smartphone or a fixed-lens camera, this might not be an upgrade for you. Make sure that the features it offers are beneficial to what you’re trying to do. For those looking to vlog with an interchangeable-lens camera for the first time, the ZV-E10 is a solid choice.
What we like
- Impressive low light performance
- Good dynamic range
- Fully articulating screen
- Integrated three-capsule microphone + headphone jack
What we don’t like
- Lackluster image stabilization
- Tinny wind reduction filter
- No touchscreen menu navigation
The Sony ZV-E10 is a compact interchangeable-lens camera geared toward online content creators. If you currently shoot on a phone, camcorder or point-and-shoot, this camera offers a solid upgrade.
|23.5 x 15.6 mm (APS-C) CMOS
|Actual: 25 Megapixel
Effective: 24.2 Megapixel (6000 x 4000)
|1:1, 3:2, 4:3, 16:9
|Digital (Video Only)
|Auto, 100 to 32000 (Extended: 50 to 51200)
1/4000 to 30 Second
1/4000 to 1/4 Second in Movie Mode
|External Recording Modes
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) up to 29.97p
|Unlimited for UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 29.97p
|Built-In Microphone (Stereo)
External Microphone Input (Stereo)
|Automatic (A), Continuous-Servo AF (C), Direct Manual Focus (DMF), Manual Focus (M), Single-Servo AF (S)
|Phase Detection: 425
Contrast Detection: 425
|-3 to +20 EV
|Articulating Touchscreen LCD
|Media/Memory Card Slot
|Single Slot: SD/SDHC/SDXC/Memory Stick Duo Hybrid (UHS-I)
|3.5mm Microphone, 3.5mm Headphone, USB Type-C (USB 3.1), HDMI D (Micro)
|1 x NP-FW50 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion, 7.2 VDC, 1080 mAh (Approx. 440 Shots)
|Dimensions (W x H x D)
|4.5 x 2.5 x 1.8″ / 115.2 x 64.2 x 44.8 mm
|12.1 oz / 343 g (Body with Battery and Memory)