The Sony ZV-E10 is a low-cost entry-level camera designed for beginner vloggers and smartphone upgraders who want to get more serious about video, though it also works as a pretty good 24-megapixel stills camera. This has developed into a very competitive market, though, and since the Sony’s launch, Nikon has released the Nikon Z30 at a similar price and aimed at a similar audience, while Canon has launched the budget friendly EOS R50.
Whilst internet forums may ring to the wails of photographers exclaiming ‘I don’t care about vlogging!’ there is a whole generation beavering away over on Web 2.0 documenting every facet of their lives via short videos on TikTok or Instagram, or even live streaming on Twitch.
It is this these, generally younger, creators that Sony is catering to with its ZV-E10 – a camera with a fully articulated screen that can face forwards, a large, dedicated record button and a Product Showcase mode. In fact, it’s all unsurprisingly similar to the earlier ZV-1. Except this time, the 1-in sensor and fixed 24-70mm equivalent lens has been replaced with an APS-C sensor and a choice of lenses thanks to the adoption of Sony’s E mount, which presumably is what the ‘E’ in ZV-E10 stands for.
For more options have a look at the best Sony cameras and also the best Sony E-mount lenses.
Sony ZV-E10 at a glance:
- 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor
- 4K 30fps video recording
- Built-in 3-way microphone
- 3inch fully articulated touchscreen
- Product focus / background blur modes
Although the ZV-E10 camera itself may be Sony’s newest APS-C model, the technology and design are not. It uses much of the core technology from the more stills-focused Sony A6400 and A6100. What differentiates the ZV-E10 from those cameras is a range of features designed for entry-level video, including a 3-capsule microphone, Product Showcase mode and a Background Blur feature. Video creation is very much at the forefront, with photography playing with the reserve team.
Sony ZV-E10 Features
With the emphasis on tried and tested technology it is no surprise that the ZV-E10 uses a 24.2-million-pixel APS-C size Exmor CMOS sensor. Sony has been using 24-million-pixel APS-C sensors for a decade now, since we first saw one in the NEX-7, although the ZV-E10’s is no doubt the same more modern sensor that is found in the current Sony A6000-series cameras. It is capable of capturing images at the same 11fps, and whilst the standard sensitivity range is the same covering ISO 100-32,000, the maximum extended setting is ISO 51,200 on the ZV-E10, the same as the A6100 but lower than the A6400’s ISO 102,400.
One big difference compared to the A6000-series cameras that might rule out the ZV-E10 for some photographers is that there’s no electronic viewfinder. This is obviously a strategic decision given that the target audience for the camera is most likely more used to looking at a phone screen, and also will be on a more limited budget. As such the lack of an EVF helps to bring the ZV-E10 in at a very reasonable price of $698 / £679 body only, compared to $748 / £679 for the A6100 and $898 / £899 for the A6400. I think this represents very good value for money for the entry-level photographer or videographer, or someone more seasoned looking to try their hand at video for social media. The A6100 and A6400 are more expensive, but they do have electronic viewfinders. More telling is the fact that the entry-level EOS R50 does too, and at a cost of $679 / £789, it could prove the ZV-E10’s biggest rival.
It’s worth noting that unlike most recent mirrorless cameras, the ZV-E10 lacks sensor-based image stabilisation. This is normal on mirrorless cameras at this price point, however. You have to pay a lot more to get a camera with IBIS. Those wanting image stabilisation for stills will be relying on lens-based stabilisation, which is featured in the E 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS kit lens. For video users there is electronic stabilisation.
Make no mistake, the video that the ZV-E10 records isn’t on par with the Sony A7S III, A1 or even the new A7 IV. But with 4K at up to 30fps, Full HD at up to 120fps and a Slow and Quick Motion mode that allows for time-lapse style video that can be shot as slow as 1fps, there is more than enough for budding vloggers to get stuck in to. In addition, all of Sony’s usual Picture Profiles are featured, except the very video-centric S-Cinetone setting.
Continuing the video theme there are both microphone and headphone sockets, as well as a large 3 capsule microphone on the top of the camera. If you want to improve the sound quality further then there is a Multi Interface hot shoe for mounting an additional microphone, and this can power and act as an audio interface for microphones such as Sony’s ECM-B1M.
Sony ZV-E10 – 6 Things You Need To Know
- Imaging Edge Mobile – Images and some video formats can be transferred wirelessly over Wi-Fi, via Sony’s Imaging Edge Mobile app which is available for both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.
- Battery – The older Sony NP-FW50 battery is used in the ZV-E10. Whilst it is smaller, it lacks the capacity of the NP-FZ100 that is used in the current A7 series and A6600 cameras.
- USB-C and HDMI – Both data transfer and charging can be done via the ZV-E10’s USB-C connection, which is found next to an Micro HDMI port on the side of the camera
- Mode Selector Switch – Instead of a mode dial there is a switch between photo/video/S&Q (Slow and Quick Video) on the camera’s top plate.
- C1/Background Defocus – A custom button on the camera’s top plate is, by default, used to switch the Background Defocus Mode on or off. When it’s on, the widest possible aperture is selected to blur the background
- Product Showcase Button – Pressing the ‘Delete’ button in video mode activates Product Showcase mode, which switches focus back and forth between a presenter and an object they may suddenly hold up to show.
Sony ZV-E10 Build and Handling
As previously stated, the ZV-E10 feels very much like a larger version of the ZV-1. It is fairly compact, has a lightweight, but solid construction that comes in weighing just 343g body only, and it isn’t overly cluttered with buttons.
The button array seems designed to be non-intimidating to the first-time camera owner, whilst providing enough controls to get key settings changed efficiently, rather than quickly. Anyone who has previously used a Sony camera should feel at home with the ZV-E10, and that goes as much for the menu system as it does the external controls. The camera lacks the front control dial found on more advanced cameras, and forgoes a mode dial, which makes it slower to switch from, say aperture or shutter priority to manual exposure mode. But on the whole it is fairly straightforward and functional.
There is a dedicated video record button and a zoom toggle around the shutter button that can be used either with Power Zoom lenses or as a digital zoom control. Perhaps the biggest feature on the camera is the fully articulated screen. This comes out at the side and can be set front-facing for vlogging, or folded in towards the camera to protect the screen when it is being thrown around in a backpack. In either scenario, it is a better choice for vloggers than the tilt-only screens found on the A6100 and A6400.
Sony ZV-E10 Performance
Image quality wise this is a very tried and trusted sensor that performs well, without ever leaving you speechless. As you would expect the ISO 100-400 settings offer peak performance both for image quality and maximising dynamic range, with ISO 800-1600 showing a drop in quality. But even at the maximum ISO 32,000 setting images are still perfectly useable, particularly with a smartphone screen the most likely destination for the majority of images shot with the camera. The extended settings are acceptable for use on smaller screens, rather than making gallery size prints. Again, there are no surprises here when you consider the target audience and cost of the camera.
What is reasonably impressive is the incorporation of Sony autofocus staples, including Animal AF and Eye-AF. The latter excels just as well in video as it does in still images, which again is great news for those who want to turn the camera on themselves. The Active SteadyShot stabilisation works very well for keeping subjects still when shooting hand-held, although it does come at a cost of cropping into the image. For this reason, I would recommend those wanting to vlog at arm’s length opt for the Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS lens, with its 15mm equivalent field of view. I found this lens to pair nicely with the ZV-E10 in terms of size, weight and AF speed.
But let’s put video aside for one moment and focus on the stills photography. I found the ZV-E10 to be a capable little travel companion, particularly with the compact 16-50mm lens. Set to aperture priority it is easy to make use of the exposure compensation button and Quick Menu to make exposure and colour adjustments, while Face and EyeAF made it ideal for shots of my family. Yes, I missed having front control, exposure mode and compensation dials. But the reality is that it didn’t really slow me down that much, especially as I was using it like many content creators would, as a travel camera.
Sony ZV-E10 Verdict
Based on price alone the ZV-E10 should prove a very popular camera certainly improves on the video credentials of its chief rival at launch, the Canon EOS M50 Mark II, which is a go-to camera for most YouTubers. It also serves as a gateway to purchasing a high-end full-frame camera such as the Alpha 7 IV in the future, as well as any of the 60 Sony E-mount lenses, not to mention the equally numerous third-party options. However, Canon has since released the much more compelling EOS R50 (essentially an RF-mount EOS M50 II) and Nikon has launched the Z30 at a very similar price to the Sony, though without the wide lens choice enjoyed by the ZV-E10.
For content creators there are few creative things that the ZV-E10 won’t allow you to do, and beneath its lightweight plastic exterior it packs quite a punch. For photographers it is the equivalent of a modern day point and shoot when left with its rather average kit lens. But paired with a better lens the full potential of the sensor can be realised. The more limited controls will slow you down and they may frustrate at times, but with the extensive feature set, excellent autofocus and an 11fps shooting rate, you will rarely not be able to get the shot that you want.
Perhaps the bigger question is where the new ZV cameras leave the future of both the A6000 and RX-series cameras, particularly with the new Sony Xperia Pro-I smartphone featuring a 1-inch type sensor. But that is a discussion for another day.
If you’re looking for more great cameras, have a look at our guide to the best Sony Cameras!