Sony ZV-E10: A Camera for Vloggers
PC Magazine|September 2021
A year after introducing its first camera for vloggers—the fixed-lens ZV-1—Sony is bringing the concept to an interchangeable lens platform. The ZV-E10 is built around the same sensor as the stills-focused Sony a6100 but is made just for video.
JIM FISHER

It has a quality in-camera microphone, a front-facing display, and some focus and metering modes tuned for vlog video. The 4K video it captures is crisp, but digital stabilization tightens the angle of view when working handheld, and a weak battery means you’ll want to carry some spares for all-day work.

MADE FOR VIDEO AND VLOGS

The ZV-E10 is built with the needs of video-first creators, particularly vloggers, in mind. As such, it drops the EVF, built-in flash, and Mode dial from the a6100. Instead, it uses a quality three-capsule microphone (a windscreen is included) and adds a swing-out, front-facing LCD. It’s a slim, light camera—2.5 by 4.5 by 1.8 inches (HWD) and 12 ounces.

Sony is offering the camera in a black or white finish (we received a black model for review). If you’re already in the E-mount mirrorless system, you can buy it as a body only. There’s also a kit option with the E PZ 1650mm for $799.99, but if selfie vlogs are your thing, you may prefer a wider zoom. The camera relies on digital stabilization to supplement lens-based IS; it’s quite effective, but it does crop the view of your lens. It’s built around an APS-C sensor, smaller than the full-frame chips Sony puts in its a7 series.

Sony ZV-E10

PROS

Excellent 4K video at 24 or 30fps. Best-inclass autofocus. Bright, front-facing LCD. Clear in-camera microphone. Supports add-on mic and headphone monitoring. Works as a USB webcam.

CONS

Battery drains quickly. Digital stabilization adds crop to video. Limited touch controls. In-camera charging slow for on-the-go use. Slowmotion limited to 1080p. No 4K60 recording.

BOTTOM LINE

Sony’s ZV-E10 camera appeals to vloggers with a quality mic and support for swappable lenses, but it’s held back by a weak battery and a so-so touch interface.

You can use both full-frame (FE) and made-for-APS (E) lenses. There’s typically some penalty of cost and weight by opting for full-frame glass, but it’s a plus if you’re already in the Sony system. To get a wider view, I used the Sony E 10-18mm F4 and Tamron 11-20mm F2.8, and I tried it with the Tamron 150-500mm for telephoto shots.

The grip is way too small to use handheld with a big lens; it’s too unwieldy to hold the lens while using the rear display to frame shots. A tripod came in handy for this, as well as for some long-exposure images. For the most part, I used the camera handheld along with the GP-VPT2BT Wireless Shooting Grip, available separately for $150.

The grip connects to the ZV-E10 via Bluetooth and includes controls to record clips, adjust zoom, and toggle Background Defocus (more on that later). It’s almost a required accessory for handheld use—you’ll naturally hold the camera steadier with a pistol-style grip—and it folds out into a convenient tabletop tripod. Tilt and rotation are supported, too. If you’re buying the camera, try to make room in your budget for the grip.

CONTROLS AND INTERFACE

The ZV-E10’s controls are a departure from a stills-first camera. There’s no mode dial on the top; instead, you set the capture mode via the menu. You do get a shutter release at the top of the handgrip. It has a rocker to drive zoom on power zoom lenses.

An On/Off switch, Record and Background Defocus buttons, and a control wheel are located on top. There’s also a mode button to swap between still, video, and slow-motion (S&Q) capture. As mentioned, the camera has no traditional mode dial, so you’ll need to go into the menu to change between auto, manual, shutter, aperture, and other exposure modes.

Background Defocus is a feature introduced on the ZV-1. Pressing the button opens the f-stop on the attached lens as wide as it will go. With the right glass, you’ll net a blurred-out background behind your in-focus subject. When you want everything to be in focus, tap the button again: The lens aperture closes down to get more of the shot in focus. If you know your way around a camera, you can still set the f-stop manually, but this is a quick way for anyone to get the bokeh look regardless of level of expertise.

The center of the top plate houses the three-capsule mic. Sony bundles a windscreen with the camera—just slide it into the hot shoe to shield the built-in mic. The hot shoe also accepts Sony’s digital on-camera mics and can mount a standard analog mic; the 3.5mm input is nearby on the left side panel.

The rear is dominated by the swing-out LCD. Physical controls are on the right side. The full Menu and on-screen Fn menu buttons are on top, while Play and Delete are at the bottom. The rear command dial sits between. It turns to adjust settings and includes four directional presses—Display, ISO, EV, and Drive.

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