Sony ZV-E10 in the test: all-rounder

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Sony added a new model called the ZV-E10 to its line of vlogging cameras this year. It’s not a successor to the Sony ZV-1 that was launched last year, but rather an advanced version of it that supports interchangeable lenses and has a larger sensor. The price of this camera is even more interesting. It is only slightly more expensive than the ZV-1, but costs less than Sony’s A6100, with which the ZV-E10 has a lot in common.

If you’re just starting out as a content creator and don’t want to spend a lot of money on very expensive equipment just yet, you might be wondering what to buy. Is the Sony ZV-E10 the best budget vlogger camera for the job? Let’s find out.

Sony ZV-E10 design

The Sony ZV-E10 has slightly larger dimensions than the ZV-1, but is still relatively compact even with the 16-50mm kit lens attached. The body weighs 343 g, but the total weight varies depending on the lens used. The camera retains the shortcut buttons for vlogging functions that we saw on the ZV-1, like Product Showcase and Background Defocus, but the layout is a little different.

The Sony ZV-E10 has an additional rotary knob on the top and a new mode button that switches through the recording modes still images, video and S&Q (slow and fast). This camera has a microphone with three capsules at the top and a hot shoe connection to the left. There is no built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF) so all recording and interaction with the camera must be done through the LCD screen.

The Sony ZV-E10 has a fully movable LCD screen with touch functionality

The handle of the Sony ZV-E10 is meatier compared to that of the ZV-1, as this camera uses the same battery as the A6100. The processing quality as well as the fit and workmanship of all panels is very good. On the left side we have two flaps that protect the microphone, USB Type-C, Micro-HDMI and headphone ports. At the bottom of the camera we have a single compartment for the battery and SD card on one end and the tripod mount on the other end. In contrast to the faulty design of the ZV-1, you can replace the battery of the ZV-E10 even if it is mounted on a tripod.

The Sony ZV-E10 has a fully articulated 3-inch LCD panel with touch support. As with most Sony cameras, touch functionality is limited to adjusting focus and reviewing images. You can only buy the body of the ZV-E10 for Rs. 59,490, or you can get this camera with the motorized 16-50mm kit lens that retracts inward when the camera is turned off for a smaller footprint. The latter package costs an MSRP of Rs. 69,990. This lens has a power zoom slider for smoothly zooming in and out of your subject. In terms of optics, it has an aperture range of f / 3.5 to f / 5.6, so it’s not the brightest or brightest lens, but it does its job for casual use.

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There’s a good range of ports to choose from, including a headphone jack and a USB Type-C port

Sony ZV-E10 specifications and functions

The biggest change in the ZV-E10 compared to the ZV-1 is the larger 24.2 megapixel APS-C sensor. This new camera uses Sony’s E-mount system, so you have a wide range of lenses to choose from. The ZV-E10 shares many functions with the A6100, such as a native ISO range of 100-32,000, 425 phase detection and contrast detection autofocus (AF) points, animal-eye AF for photos and a maximum burst of 11 pictures each Second in Hi + mode. The ZV-E10 goes one step ahead of the A6100 and supports advanced image profiles such as S-log3 and HLG for HDR workflows. This camera can be used as a webcam when connected to a computer with a cable. There is also Wi-Fi connectivity for transferring images to your phone, which requires Sony’s Imaging Edge app.

The menu system will be familiar to users of existing Sony mirrorless cameras. You still can’t use the touchscreen to navigate the menus, but you can move around pretty quickly if you master the buttons and rear dial. From here, you can adjust the autofocus tracking speed, change the default rear dial shortcuts, and more.

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The Sony ZV-E10 has some nifty features like the bold red frame that appears when you record videos

Sony ZV-E10 performance and battery life

Just like the Sony ZV-1, the ZV-E10 makes vlogging very easy. Just point the camera at yourself and the great tracking system will do the rest. The background defocus shortcut is very useful when you want to vlog and avoid distractions. The fold-out screen makes it easy to keep track of whether this function is active or not. The shortcut to the product presentation is useful when you want the camera to focus on an object that you hold up without blocking your face. When this option is on, the camera essentially turns off face tracking so it automatically shifts focus to the object closest to the lens. A thick red bar will appear on the LCD screen to let you know that recording has started, which is convenient. Another feature I found useful is the ability to turn on the camera by simply opening the LCD display. For this to work, you must leave the power switch on.

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Sony ZV-E10 ISO test

In terms of image quality, the Sony ZV-E10 does significantly better than the ZV-1 thanks to its larger sensor. The advantage of an APS-C sensor over a 1-inch sensor can be seen well in our ISO test. The Sony ZV-1 achieved ISO 12800 with a grainy image, but the Sony ZV-E10 on the other hand delivers a relatively clean and sharp image at the same ISO level. At ISO 12,800 there is a slight loss of quality compared to the lower ISO levels, but this is barely noticeable. Only when you approach the native maximum ISO value of 32,000 of the ZV-E10 will you notice poorer sharpness and some grain.

The ZV-E10 has a maximum extended ISO level of 51,200, but image quality degrades quite a bit when taken that far, so it’s best for extreme situations only. Overall, the camera offers very good high ISO performance for the price and can even compete with Sony’s own A6100.

The Sony ZV-E10 is ideal for casually capturing everyday sights and events. The 16-50 mm kit lens offers decent sharpness at the longest focal length, but this decreases a little at higher zoom levels. I also noticed a bit of chromatic aberration in some photos, but it wasn’t so bad that it would have ruined a shot. The camera tends to use a high ISO value even during the day, as the lens is not very wide open and becomes narrower with increasing focal length. For sharper photos, you are better off using a fast prime lens with this camera.

Eye and face recognition work very well too. The Sony ZV-E10 even supports Eye AF in videos with up to 4K, but only for human subjects. You have to remember to switch Eye AF to humans or animals depending on the subject. Animal Eye-AF worked well in my experience when I was taking still pictures of some stray cats in the area. Sony’s tracking autofocus is pretty reliable too, and the crosshair will remember your subject even if it moves out of the frame for a moment and then comes back in.

Sony ZV-E10 example: ISO 400, f / 5.6, 75mm (tap to view the resized image)

Sony ZV-E10 example: ISO 2.500, f / 5.6, 75mm (tap to view the scaled image)

Sony ZV-E10 example: ISO 1,600, f / 4, 19mm (tap to view the scaled image)

Sony ZV-E10 example: ISO 6.400, f / 4.5, 37mm (tap to view the scaled image)

Daylight shots taken with the Sony ZV-E10 generally had good details and colors given the limitations of the kit lens. In low light conditions, the camera’s noise-canceling feature does a good job of keeping the images clean. I did notice a bit of focus hunting when trying to capture distant subjects at the telephoto end of the zoom range, but this did not happen regularly. 4K video with very good detail and tracking autofocus worked well even with fast-moving subjects such as pets.

There is electronic stabilization that worked well enough in good light, but there was noticeable tremor in the video at night. Rolling shutter was a problem when shooting in 4K (a jelly-like effect when quickly panning the camera left or right), but this effect was minimal at 1080p. This could be a big problem if your shooting style involves quick pans. If so, you’ll need to use a lower resolution to avoid it.

The battery life was more than satisfactory. The Sony ZV-E10 uses the same NP-FW50 battery as the A6100, but delivers slightly better 440 shots per charge (compared to 420). In actual use, I was able to go beyond the nominal number, which is generally the case. Even with mixed use of still images, series images and short 4K video clips, I was able to survive more than half a day of shooting without any problems. The ZV-E10 can also be powered via its USB Type-C port, so you can keep filming when you connect it to a power bank.

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The Sony ZV-E10 offers the best features of the ZV-1 and A6100 in a single package

verdict

The Sony ZV-E10 packs the best of the ZV-1 and A6100 in a single package and is priced between them, making choosing a breeze. If you haven’t bought the ZV-1 or A6100 yet, you should take a look at the ZV-E10.

Compared to the ZV-1, the ZV-E10 offers more flexibility in lens selection, longer battery life and better image quality. The Sony A6100 is more expensive than the ZV-E10, and with it you would get an electronic viewfinder and a full-blown mode dial. Aside from these features, however, the two cameras aren’t all that different. In fact, with its USB Type-C port, S-Log and HLG image profile support, headphone jack and more, the ZV-E10 does a lot better while costing less. Rolling shutter is a problem with 4K recordings on the ZV-E10 that will hopefully be resolved with a future firmware update.

Overall, the Sony ZV-E10 is a solid entry into the world of mirrorless cameras. It’s easy to use for beginners, but it has many advanced features to satisfy even professionals.

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