Sony ZV-E10 Review – A New Standard For Vloggers?


The new Sony ZV-E10 has finally been announced after a two-month delay. Promised to be Sony’s flagship 4K vlogging camera, we took it for a spin and came back with a solid opinion. Interested to find out more? Read on.

Vlogging. A new profession that emerged from nowhere and became the symbol of our time. Everyone (and their moms) have an opinion and loves to share it with others. Oh, and there is a “hidden benefit” to this profession: it’s not like you have to qualify in any way to become a vlogger, right? So presumably having an opinion (on anything really, and probably also more than a single one) paired up with a free platform like YouTube, it is fertile soil for anyone to express themselves. But what about the camera? Does this segment now become the pinnacle where most if not all camera manufacturers want to be present? After all, the market is huge and the selling potential is absolutely there!

A bit of camera history

Sony is an old and prominent player in the compact-size camera arena. It was 10 years ago, during the beginning of 2011 when I first deployed the tiny capable Sony DSC-HX9V for filming on a BBC news gig. This pocket-sized camera had a small sensor and a fixed zoom lens, but its IBIS is the feature I’ll remember most. Certainly ahead of its time!

Then in 2012, on a search for a compact yet large APS-C sensor camera I came across the Sony NEX-5n and started to work with it also filming for the BBC news department.

The NEX family of cameras continued to grow but was eventually deserted in favor of a new camera line, the “Sony a5/6xxx”. Since then, a constant flow of compact APS-C / interchangeable lens cameras started flooding the market, up until the present time.

A voice from the past – Working with Sony’s DSC-HX9V and NEX 5n

Fast forward to 2020 and Sony introduced the ZV-1, its first dedicated 4K camera for Vloggers. It has a 1-inch sensor, built-in zoom lens, good stabilization system, swiveled LCD screen, enhanced audio with three microphones capsules AND, an internal ND filter! (Just to name a few of its strengths). All in all, a compact and affordable package. And yes, I can see a direct link between the ancient Sony DSC HX9V that was presented over 10 years ago and the modern ZV-1 camera (read our review here).

As far as I’m concerned, the most amazing thing about the ZV-1 is its ability to appeal to many, may it be Vloggers, families, and even professionals in case they need a “through in the bag” filming device. But now, a year later, Sony is trying to take the Vlogging-camera concept one step further by introducing the new ZV-E10. With a bigger APS-C sensor and interchangeable lens capability, the camera will try to conquer new heights and hopefully draw the attention of many. Will it succeed in doing so? Well…

Sony ZV-E10 with Vari-angle LCD screen
Vari-angle LCD screen. Image credit: CineD

Sony ZV-E10, a short introduction

It’s not that we haven’t seen compact Vlogging cameras that offer the functionality of interchangeable lenses. The Panasonic G100 did it before although with a smaller Micro Four-Thirds sensor, and with a built-in EVF. (See our G100 review here). So did Sony pull a rabbit out of their sleeve? A short spoiler: in my opinion, not at all.

If you are familiar with Sony’s a6xxx line of cameras you will feel right at home with its camera body size, menu structure, and even headphone jack… But, as we are talking about a new camera that is supposedly catering to a certain segment, enhanced features were added in order to satisfy the needs of enthusiastic Vloggers. Here are a few in no particular order:

  • Front Tally light
  • Red color recording alert square for easy recording monitoring
  • Multi-interface shoe supporting digital audio interface
  • Directional Three Capsules audio microphone
  • Windscreen included in the camera package
  • Vari-angle LCD screen
  • Headphone and mic jacks provided
  • A “Boke Switch” button to help soften the background
  • One-Touch button for quick operation (Video/Photo/S&Q)
ZV-E10 front Tally light for easy self recording
Front Tally light. Image credit: CineD
Sony ZV-E10 can diffuse the background in a touch of a button
Diffused background with a touch of a button. Image credit: CineD

So what did Sony try doing here?

Taking a closer look at what the new ZV-E10 offers, it becomes clear that Sony tried to merge two separate camera lines, the a6xxx and ZV-1 (Yes, with the second being a single camera I can’t really call it a “line”, but this is for the sake of argument).

I already mentioned above what the ZV-E10 inherited from the a6xxx line (body size, interchangeable lenses capability, menu, and such), but for the rest of the new features like front tally light, three capsules audio mic, vari-angle LCD screen, and a button to soften the background, those are all coming from the ZV-1. Did this “merging operation” succeed? Did we get a superior product that can live outside the “Vlogging world” and appeal to others? In my honest opinion, unfortunately not.

ZV-E10 Audio - The supplied windshield accessory
The supplied windshield accessory. Image credit: CineD

In the field

I took the new Sony ZV-E10 APS-C sensor size E-mount camera for a short spin and came back rather unsatisfied. OF COURSE, there are positive elements to this camera, that are a clear sign of constant development. The Autofocus is superb (My piece to camera was taken entirely with AF-C engaged with zero focus hunting or other issues). I also like the three capsules audio. If in the near future Sony will decide to add “noise canceling” to it (à la Xperia 1 II mobile phone), the sound will become a real winner. But for now, it is as good as it gets.

Here is a shortlist of issues that I wish could be eliminated:

ZV-E10 - Old menu structure
Old menu structure. Image credit. CineD
  • The IBIS (In Body Image System) simply did not work well during my tests. Even in “active mode” (cropped picture), the camera struggled to get it right. Looking at the background reveals all its faultiness.
  • Menu: It seems as if Sony is now creating two families of cameras, those with a new menu structure (A1 and a7S III for example), and those who are “stuck” with the older look and functionality. Not sure why this is happening. After all, we are talking about a completely new camera, aren’t we?…
  • Interchangeable lenses can be a wonderful way to express creativity, but in this specific case, I’m not so sure this is even necessary. Depending on the level of user (Vlogger), this possibility can become an obstacle for many reasons. At the end of the day, a built-in zoom lens (Like with the ZV-1) might be the preferred solution.
  • Larger APS-C sensor: While it being a nice feature to have, I found myself wondering if this is even important for vlogging.
  • Like with the ZV-1, there are NO Auto Audio Rec levels with this camera and while manual audio recording levels are very much appreciated, for the occasional vlogger who might be setting up his/her camera on “full auto mode”, this can become an obstacle.
  • Limited streaming capabilities: Yes, the camera can be used for live calls (for example), but unlike the Panasonic GH5 II, I did not find a direct way to stream the live recording to YouTube.
  • I left the “cherry on top” for last: By creating this new camera, Sony stripped two important elements from it. The a6xxx line of cameras has an EVF which helps with day-to-day usage in the Vlogging world. For me personally, it is an extremely important filming aid and in this new camera, it has simply gone! Next, is the absence of an internal ND filter. The ZV-1 had it already, and here again, it vanished leaving a lot to be desired.
For Sony ZV-E10. Two suggested lens variations. Kit and wider
The E/3.5-5.6 PZ 16-50mm OSS kit lens next to the E/4, 10-18mm OSS lens. Image credit: CineD

Kit lens and more

The new E-mount camera is being sold together with the 16-50mm APS-C kit lens. While this lens is really compact, Sony recommends using the larger and heavier 10-18mm lens for getting better results when engaging the “SteadyShot” function. The reason for this is simple: the wider the focal length is, the easier it is to fool the eye when it comes to “smoothing the movement”. Back to the 16-50mm kit lens, some will appreciate the built-in zoom rocker, others like me will admire its compactness. At the end of the day, it’s a fine ordinary lens that shares a similar design to Sony’s 28-60mm full-frame lens (comes bundled with the Sony a7C).

Sony ZV-E10 APS-C camera with two suggested lenses
One camera, two suggested lenses. Image credit: CineD

Conclusion

I admire Sony’s try to add such a camera to a fast-growing business segment, yet the way it was done is not very clear to me. Giving a larger sensor and interchangeable lens option but at the same time remove the EVF and internal ND filter is like dancing the tango. One step forward, two steps back. In fact, the old smaller sensor ZV-1, was comfortable to work with, knowing it can serve as a “throw in the bag” device when “saving” the shooting day if needed. It also acts as a great “family camera” if you are one of the few who prefers to not use a mobile phone…

With the ZV-E10 I did not feel this way. Yet, I encourage you guys to try it out and share your opinion with us!

Price and Aviability

You can now preorder the camera at our affiliate partners, B&H and CVP.

B&H: Camera body only: $698. Together with the kit lens: $798.

CVP: Camera body only: €663. Together with the kit lens: €750.

Sony ZV.-E10 review
Sony ZV-E10. Image credit: CineD

If you are an occasional vlogger, please share with us what camera you are using. Does the new Sony ZV-E10 look attempting in any way? Anticipating your comments below.





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