Sony ZV-E10 review
Product photos by Dan Bracaglia
The Sony ZV-E10 is a 24MP APS-C mirrorless interchangeable lens camera aimed at vloggers. It features an articulating selfie screen with touch capability, 4K video capture, headphone and microphone ports and a variety of add-on accessories to assist in video capture, including the handgrip seen in the photo above (sold separately) and a range of sophisticated microphones.
Specification-wise, the ZV-E10 is familiar: everything from its sensor to its AF system to its video capability is the same as Sony's entry-level a6100. But design and feature-wise, some significant differences set them apart. The ZV-E10 essentially the spirit of Sony's ZV-1 vlogging compact scaled up as an entry-level APS-C ILC.
Let's take a closer look at its specs:
- 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor
- Highly reliable AF system with face and eye detection
- 4K/24p video capture with no crop (4K/30p is cropped)
- 1080/120p capture for slow-motion footage (cropped)
- Built-in directional 3-capsule microphone with windscreen
- Fully articulating touch-sensitive display
- 3.5mm headphone and microphone ports
- Livestream-capable via USB-C connection
- 440 shots per charge, 80 mins continuous record per charge
- Capable of shooting vertical video
The Sony ZV-E10 will be available at the end of August, in either black or white, at a body-only price of $700. You can also pick one up kitted with the Sony 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 Power Zoom lens for $800.
What's new & key features
More than just an a6100 without a viewfinder, the ZV-E10 sets out to make video capture a straightforward and high-quality affair. Let's take a look at some of the features and modes that make this possible, many of which were first introduced in the compact Sony ZV-1:
The ZV-E10 shoots oversampled 4K video at 24 and 30p. There's a noticeable crop in the 30p mode (1.23x, the same as the a6100), but no crop when shooting 24p.
Unlike the a6100, the ZV-E10 gets Sony's Cinema Picture Profiles, of which there are ten different options. These profiles offer the ability to shoot a low contrast look for grading in post. The camera also offers S-Log 2 and 3, as well as HLG capture. But keep in mind, this is an 8-bit camera, and S-Log 3 and HLG footage will more readily fall apart a bit when graded, compared to a 10-bit camera.
The ZV-E10 also offers high-speed shooting capabilities up to 1080/120p, allowing for a 4x slow-motion effect (with a 1.14x crop).
This camera is well-set-up to capture pleasant audio, whether you plan to attach an accessory microphone or use the camera's onboard mic.
A multi-interface shoe on the top left of the camera body supports digital audio. And Sony has several different microphone options that work with this proprietary means of connection, including the recently announced ECM-W2BT wireless mics, as well as several shotgun-style options.
Additionally, the camera has a built-in directional 3-capsule microphone, which provides pretty decent quality audio (when vlogging in selfie mode), for those wishing to avoid the purchase of additional accessories. Furthermore, the ZV-E10 ships with a hot-shoe-attachable windscreen (also known as a 'dead cat').
For those wishing to attach a non-proprietary microphone, the ZV-E10 also offers a 3.5mm microphone socket, in addition to a headphone socket for audio monitoring.
There's no sensor-shift image stabilization in the ZV-E10 but electronic shake reduction is available, and optical IS is supported via Sony's OSS-equipped lenses. During video capture, users can choose between 'Active' and 'Standard' stabilization modes. The former, which is the default, uses digital IS + optical IS to smooth things out but comes with a hefty crop factor of 1.44x.
The standard IS mode simply relies on optical stabilization (and is less effective), but also doesn't have a crop factor, which is helpful if you're trying to maintain a wide field-of-view for vlogging.
USB streaming and mobile connectivity
The ZV-E10 is capable of streaming live audio and video when connected to a WiFi-enabled device via USB-C. It supports UVC/UAC standards and can transmit up to a 720p stream depending on the device it's connected to. You can also use Sony's Imaging Edge app – available for desktop and mobile devices – to set up a livestream, but the quality will be a bit lower (576p).
I was able to get a livestream from the camera set up and was broadcasting in minutes
Setting up a USB livestream from the camera is fairly straightforward. On the first page of the second shooting menu, you'll find a 'USB streaming' option. Simply turn this option on, connect the camera via USB-C to a smart device or computer and open your livestreaming platform of choice. I was successfully able to get a livestream from the camera set up and was broadcasting in minutes by connecting the ZV-E10 to my MacBook Pro and using Facebook Live.
Speaking of Imaging Edge, it can be used to view and transfer movies and stills (including Raws) from the camera, even when the camera is turned off. The ZV-E10 will also save metadata with vertical video clips, so if you do transfer them to a mobile device, they'll display correctly.
Product Showcase feature
The Product Showcase feature was first introduced in the ZV-1 and is pretty darn handy. When switched on, the camera will automatically prioritize nearby objects, over its face detection system, resulting in a smooth focus shift from face to product. It's a simple and effective way to create a slick effect while vlogging. You can see a demonstration of the feature in action in the video above.
Background Defocus feature
By default, the 'C1' button on the top of the Sony ZV-E10 toggles the 'Background Defocus' function on and off. This feature, aimed at beginners, simply opens up the aperture all the way when pressed. Unfortunately, in bright light, this will often force the camera to use a fast shutter speed to compensate, resulting in somewhat choppy, jarring-looking video footage. Furthermore, this is not a function you'll want to switch on during capture, because there's an exposure 'flutter' when the button is pressed.
Soft Skin effect
|Sony's Soft Skin effect set to 'high' looks a bit unnatural.|
Sony's Soft Skin effect has been around for a while now, and it does exactly what it sounds like. Users can set the effect to low, mid, or high (or off). The lower two settings do a pretty decent job of smoothing one's face, without looking unnatural, but the high setting is a bit much.
It's worth pointing out, this feature is available when shooting both stills and video. You can see an example of it, set to 'low' in the vlogging demo further down the page.
How it compares
Both the Canon EOS M50 Mark II and Fujifilm X-T200 are strong competitors in this market segment. Let's see how the three cameras stack up against one another across a variety of specifications. And for the sake of comparison, we're also including the ZV-E10's two nearest siblings in the a6100 and Sony ZV-1:
|Sony ZV-E10||Fujifilm X-T200||Canon EOS M50 II||Sony a6100||Sony ZV-1|
|MSRP (lens kit)||$800||$800||$700||$850||$800|
|Type of camera||Mirrorless ILC||Mirrorless ILC||Mirrorless ILC||Mirrorless ILC||
(24-70mm equiv. zoom)
|Sensor||24MP APS-C||24MP APS-C||24MP APS-C||24MP APS-C||1"-type
|Stabilization||Lens + electronic||Lens + electronic||Lens+ electronic (in video mode)||Lens only||Lens + electronic|
|AF system||Phase-detect||Phase-detect||Dual Pixel phase-detect (except during 4K capture)||Phase-detect||Phase-detect|
|LCD design||Fully artic.||Fully artic.||Fully artic.||Tilting||Fully artic.|
|LCD size/res||3" / 0.92M-dot||3.5" / 2.76M-dot||3" / 1.04M-dot||3" / 0.92M-dot||3" / 0.92M-dot|
|EVF panel||n/a||2.36M-dot OLED||2.36M-dot OLED||1.44M-dot OLED||n/a|
|EVF mag||n/a||0.62x||Not specified||0.71x||n/a|
|Burst rate (w/AF)||11 fps||8 fps||7.4 fps||11 fps||24 fps|
|4K crop||None (24p)
|Mic / headphone socket||Yes / Yes||Yes / Yes (via USB-C adapter)||Yes / No||Yes / No||Yes / No|
|Battery life (LCD)||440 shots||270 shots||305 shots||420 shots||260 shots|
|115 x 64 x 45mm||121 x 84 x 55mm||116 x 88 x 59mm||120 x 67 x 59mm||106 x 60 x 44mm|
|Weight||343 g||370g||390g||396g||194 g|
On paper, the ZV-E10 has a lot going for it: It offers the best battery life of the bunch, shoots uncropped 4K/24p, and is the only camera listed with a standard 3.5mm microphone and a headphone port. It also offers the best video AF, alongside the ZV-1, including a vlogging-specific focus mode. Of course, if having an EVF matters to you, the Fujifilm X-T200 will probably be a better choice.
Body, handling & behavior
On the top plate of the ZV-E10 (left), you'll find the hot shoe/multi-interface shoe for connecting a flash or microphone. As mentioned, the shoe supports digital audio and certain Sony microphones will work without the need to plug into the 3.5mm jack (located on the side of the body).
Next to the hot shoe there's the built-in microphone, on/off switch and a button that allows users to quickly switch between stills mode, video mode and high-speed video mode (called S&Q mode for 'slow and quick') with a tap of the finger. Unfortunately, all camera settings carry over when you change modes, meaning you may find yourself adjusting your shutter speed or aperture fairly dramatically if you're using manual controls. The camera also has an oversized record button in addition to a separate shutter button.
Around the shutter button, there's a zoom lever with 8 programmable zoom speeds: this is the first Sony consumer ILC with a zoom lever since 2014's a5100. You'll also find the programmable 'background defocus/C1' button on the top plate: pressing it simply forces the camera to shoot with the widest aperture possible. For more advanced users that are comfortable controlling aperture themselves, this button's function can be reassigned to something more useful.
Rear and customization
|The ZV-E10's rear button layout is reminiscent of the a6100's (left).|
The ZV-E10, like the a6100, has two control dials: one on the top plate, the other on the rear. We don't love this design choice because both dials are controlled with the same thumb, meaning you have to shift your hand each time you want to adjust one or the other.
The rear control dial has four clickable positions, all of which can be customized. By default, they provide access (from the top moving clockwise) to the display settings, ISO settings, exposure compensation, and the drive mode. The Fn (function) button, which pulls up the quick access 'function menu' by default, can also be customized, as can the trash can button (which is set to Product Showcase mode by default).
It's worth noting that all the customizable buttons can be set up differently for stills, video and playback modes. And the 12-slot function menu can also be customized separately for stills and video shooting.
Unlike the a6100, the ZV-E10 has a fully articulating rear display (3", 1.44M-dot). It's touch-sensitive, but not all that responsive. While vlogging, I found it hugely helpful that a large red rectangle appears around the frame on the LCD, to indicate video capture is occurring. The camera also features a front video record/tally lamp to make sure you know when you're 'rolling' (this can be turned off).
For the most part, touch capability only works when shooting video and stills. Users cannot use the touchscreen to browse the menus, select options from the function menu, or browse images/videos in playback. It can, however, be used to zoom in to 100% on an image in playback, by double-tapping the screen.
On the side of the camera, beneath a somewhat flimsy-feeling plastic door, you'll find the majority of the camera's connection points including a USB 3.2 Gen1 port (which can be used for charging), a micro-HDMI port, and a 3.5mm headphone port. Beneath a separate door, above, you'll find a connection point for a 3.5mm microphone jack.
The microphone socket is well-placed and having a unit plugged in does not get in the way of articulating the screen; the headphone, HDMI and USB ports, however, do.
Battery life and memory card
The battery and memory card are accessed via the same slot on the bottom of the camera. Power comes from an NP-FW50 battery and users can expect a CIPA-rated 440 shots per charge or 80 mins of continuous video capture. In real-world use, we found you can easily surpass both of those figures by about 1.5X. The card slot supports UHS-I speed cards; UHS-II cards are compatible, but you won't get any additional speed benefit from using them.
Auto ISO behavior and menus
The ZV-E10 offers a rudimentary Auto ISO implementation, inconsistent with the most recent Sony ILC's (though the same as the a6100). Users can only dial in an upper and lower ISO limit but have no control over the chosen shutter speed from the Auto ISO settings. Most other Sony ILCs allow users to select a minimum shutter speed or speed threshold, but that option is absent here.
The ZV-E10 did not receive Sony's latest menu implementation either. Rather, the menus are consistent with those on the a6100. Settings aren't all that well organized and are a bit cluttered, but thankfully users can save their most-needed settings to the customizable 'My Menu' page for easy access.
Handling - vlogging
When using the camera for vlogging in selfie mode, the grip is quite comfortable: I was easily able to slot my thumb into the indentation next to the lens for a stable grip. Holding the camera in this way also makes it easy to reach the oversized record button with your index finger.
When held in a standard orientation (not selfie mode), the grip feels a bit shallow in hand and is less comfortable. That said, as a whole, the body feels very well-weighted. There's no weather-sealing, but the build quality seems decent enough, aside from the flimsy port door.
|The Sony GP-VPTBT Bluetooth shooting grip ($100) is compatible with the ZV-E10 and makes video capture/vlogging even more enjoyable and painless. It also doubles as a (very) small tripod.|
Video quality & behavior
Video capability is obviously the biggest selling point of this camera. Below, we dive into the various video captures modes and we'll take a look at video quality.
Video capture options
|Format||Resolution||Frame rate||Bitrate (MBps)|
|XAVC S (4K)||
|XAVC S (HD)||
* Taken from a cropped region of the sensor
Both the camera's 1080/120p capture and 4K/30p capture come with slight crops, 1.14x and 1.23x, respectively. All the other video settings use the full width of the sensor (unless 'Active' IS is turned on). Below you can see just how extreme the crops are (thankfully, they're not too bad):
|• 1080p/120/100||• 4Kp/30|
Overall, the camera handles pretty well as a vlogging tool. The onboard microphone provides decent quality audio, even as I stepped outside near a very noisy highway. The 4K/24p video + Standard IS combo uses the full width of the sensor, so I was able to leave the kit lens zoomed all the way out to a 24mm equiv. I also left the camera in its Program exposure mode with the default 'Wide' AF area option (AF-C). The camera handles the changing light conditions with ease: there are no jarring aperture flutters. And I remained in focus throughout the clip, with minimal hunting, despite moving around quite a bit.
My only real complaint here is that there's quite a bit of rolling shutter in shots with any movement, resulting in a distracting 'jello' effect. More on that below.
|This screengrab from a 4K clip shows the distraction 'jello effect' that can occur when you pan.|
When shooting 4K video, the ZV-E10 displays a fairly noticeable and distracting jello effect (the result of rolling shutter) when a shot is panned quickly or a fast-moving subject enters the frame – the effect is most noticeable when shooting 4K/24p and slightly less apparent when shooting cropped 4K/30p. Rolling shutter is less of a problem for Full HD footage.
|Video mode||Readout rate|
We measured the readout rate of the sensor when shooting in the ZV-E10's main video modes, and sure enough, the readout rate for 4K/24p is slow enough to result in very pronounced rolling shutter artifacts. 4K/30p is a bit better, so if you opt for a wider-angle lens than the kit, you may want to shoot in that mode. If you're content with 1080p footage, rolling shutter isn't much of problem, but you may not be a fan of the quality, which we'll look at next.
In our opinion, the ZV-E10's closest competitor is the Fujifilm X-T200. Seeing as it offers the same video performance as the higher-end X-T30, we'll use that camera as a stand-in for comparison purposes. UHD 4K capture from both these cameras is impressively detailed,. Though it's worth noting (and not obvious from our studio scene), the Fujifilm has a faster sensor scan rate than the Sony and thus doesn't suffer from the same distracting jello effect.
Back to 4K detail: the Sony blows the(and thus the M50 Mark II, which has identical video capabilities) out of the water, in terms of the quality of 4K capture (and the Canon uses a heavily cropped region of the sensor in 4K). And the ZV-E10's 4K footage even looks solid next to the higher-end, . But in terms of detail capture, the a7 III will still produce cleaner footage in less-than-perfect light.
Unfortunately, the camera's Full HD footage is less than spectacular (which has been par for the course with Sony APS-C cameras for some time).is nowhere near the level we're seeing from Fujifilm cameras. And 1080/120p footage, which uses a crop of the sensor, looks .
AF performance from the ZV-E10 will give you a smile as wide as Belvedere's.
ISO 640 | 1/125 sec | F4 | 16-50mm @ 20mm
The ZV-E10 uses the same outstanding autofocus system as Sony's most-recent a6000-series siblings, with 425 PDAF points and 84% sensor coverage. It also offers the same highly reliable face and eye detection functionality, which Sony has dubbed 'Real Time Tracking'. Unlike the majority of Sony's competitors, these features are well integrated into the AF user interface. For example, when your chosen AF point overlaps with a human subject, face/eye detection will kick in automatically – it will then disengage automatically when the AF point is moved away from a human face.
As a whole, AF performance for stills and video is identical to that of the a6400 and a6100.
For vlogging purposes, when using the default 'Wide' focus area and AF-C, the camera does a good job adjusting focus and keeping human faces sharp; face and eye detection are on by default. You can also tap the screen in the Wide focus mode to initiate tracking during video capture. The tracking is fairly sticky and reliable. To disable it, press the button in the center of the rear control dial.
There's quite a bit of control offered over video AF behavior from within the menus. Users can adjust both the AF transition speed (how smoothly the camera changes focus from one subject to another), as well as the tracking responsiveness (how likely the camera's AF will stick with a subject, even if they briefly leave the frame). There are seven degrees of adjustments to choose from for each setting.
Out of camera JPEG.
ISO 3200 | 1/40 sec | F4.5 | 16-50mm @ 25mm
Image quality from Sony's ZV-E10 24MP is identical to that of the Sony a6100, which is to say, excellent. JPEGs show attractive color and excellent detail retention, even at higher iSO values. Raw performance is also quite good, offering a good degree of latitude for editing, though Raw files are compressed in a 'lossy' fashion and extreme edits may turn up some artifacts.
|What we like||What we don't|
As a vlogging platform, the ZV-E10 has quite a bit to offer: good quality oversampled and uncropped 4K/24p capture, headphone and microphones ports, a selfie touchscreen, a high-quality onboard vlogging microphone, industry-leading video AF performance, painless livestreaming capability and best-in-class battery life. But it also falls short in two key areas regarding video quality: poor rolling shutter performance in 4K and subpar Full HD footage, both of which are complaints we've leveled against every recent a6000-series camera.
Let's return to the good before jumping back to the bad: from a body design and control standpoint, the ZV-E10 makes a lot of sense. The camera offers excellent customization and handles fairly well as a videomaking tool. The onboard microphone offers pleasantly good audio. And though the touchscreen is not the most responsive and somewhat limited in its use, as a means of quickly selecting an AF point, it works well enough.
Speaking of AF, the camera's face end eye detection work extremely well during both stills and video capture. The product showcase feature is also really cool/useful for vloggers. And though there are a lot of autofocus options built into this camera, the default settings, including the Wide area mode should serve most folks quite well.
The ZV-E10 falls short in two key areas regarding video quality: poor rolling shutter performance in 4K and subpar Full HD footage
Image quality is a match for Sony's more stills-oriented a6100, which is to say, quite good. And though there's no in-body stabilization to speak of, the camera does offer two degrees of electronic IS when in video mode (one comes with a crop, but is also more effective). The kit lens also has optical stabilization to assist in handheld shooting. 4K footage is oversampled and shows excellent detail; there's a 1.23x crop in 30p mode but no crop when shooting 24p.
Now back to the bad: When capturing 4K footage with any sort of movement (like walking with the camera), there's quite a lot of rolling shutter, resulting in a distracting jello effect. Full HD footage can be captured up to 120p ( also 24/30/60p), but unfortunately, the quality of the camera's 1080p detail capture is, across the board, among the worst in its class.
So where does that leave us? It leaves us with a camera that's really close to being a vlogger's dream, both in terms of price and feature set. Sadly, for folks wishing to shoot anything but a static shot, there's no video mode on this camera that'll produce problem-free footage: jiggly 4K or subpar 1080p, pick your poison. Of course, if you're happy to swallow both those pills, the ZV-E10 is a heck of a camera.
But if you can't, we'd suggest checking out some of its competitors...
Compared to peers
|The ZV-E10 (left) and a6100 (right).|
For vlogging, we'd take the Fujifilm X-T200 over the ZV-E10 because the rolling shutter is much better controlled during 4K capture. Neither camera shoots jaw-dropping Full HD footage, but the Fujifilm's is a bit better. The X-T200 also offers an EVF. On the other hand, Sony offers better video autofocus on the whole; there's no subject tracking option during video capture with the Fujifilm. It also offers a better onboard microphone for vlogging.
Compared to the Canon EOS M50 II, we'd take the Sony for quite a few reasons. The quality of its 4K footage is far superior (and the M50 II crops its 4K footage really heavily), and the Sony has an edge in video autofocus as well. The Sony also has better battery life and a headphone jack.
Compared to the Sony a6100, it really depends on your needs. If video and vlogging are the primary focus, the ZV-E10 is the obvious option because it alone offers a high-quality, directional onboard microphone, headphone ports and Cinema Picture Profiles. But if you have any interest in stills, the a6100's EVF, though not jaw-dropping, makes for a more enjoyable shooting experience.
Compared to the Sony ZV-1, it's a bit of a toss-up, but we're leaning toward the compact camera: The rolling shutter is much better controlled on the ZV-1 and its built-in lens is arguably more versatile than the kit 16-50mm lens that comes with the ZV-E10. The ZV-1 sensor is obviously smaller, but the video quality is still outstanding (though it lacks a headphone jack).
For a one-stop-shop vlogging solution, we'd take the compact. But if you have hopes of building out a system / acquiring a second or third lens, the ZV-E10 is the obvious choice. After all, there's plenty of fast-aperture prime lens options available for Sony crop sensor cameras, at affordable prices. And you'll ultimately be able to get a much more shallow depth of field look with the ZV-E10 than the ZV-1. It's also a better choice if you plan to shoot in less-than-perfect light.
Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.
Category: Entry Level Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
As a vlogging platform, the ZV-E10 seemingly has a lot to offer: it shoots oversampled 4K/24p video using the full width of its sensor, features a selfie touchscreen, a good built-in directional microphone, headphone/microphone ports and class-leading video autofocus. Battery life is also top of its class and the camera is livestream ready, out of the box. Unfortunately, 4K video capture results in a distracting 'jello effect' for clips with movement and/or fast action. And Full HD video shows poor detail capture compared to the competition.
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