Sony Alpha ZV-E10 review: Best camera for vlogging?

Quick verdict: The Sony Alpha ZV-E10 is great at shooting 4K content of you in selfie mode talking to the camera. However, it struggles as a stills camera and action camera, making it not quite as flexible as it first appears.

Pros

  • Really nice, crisp stills and video looks ace in 4K
  • Slow-mo, quick-time, focus blur and panorama work well
  • Great on-board sound capture
  • Interchangeable lens on a vlogger camera
Cons

  • Kit lens isn’t wide enough to selfie at cropped video captures
  • Touchscreen is unresponsive and annoying
  • Lack of a viewfinder impacts still photography
  • Doesn’t behave well during movement

We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!

Sony ZV-E10

Whether the term vlogger makes you smile or makes you cringe, you can't deny that we now live in a video-first multimedia world. We're all creating content every day in some regard, and the Sony ZV-E10 has arrived to make it look and sound better than ever. At least, that's the theory.

There's certainly plenty to love about the Sony ZV-E10. It zeroes right in on the sweet spot of the selfie generation, delivering great 4K footage that's both portable and flexible. From dropping content to your phone, streaming through your PC, the interchangeable lens and the multi-interface shoe, it's a vlogging camera for all occasions.

However, as you will read in my Sony ZV-E10 review, it's focus is a little too narrow for its own good. Can it still be considered one of the best mirrorless cameras in Australia?

Sony ZV-E10 vs ZV-1: What's the difference?

As its name somewhat suggests, the Sony ZV-E10 is an evolution of the Sony ZV-1 camera. It takes the design and use case of the Sony ZV-1, then tags in the APS-C sensor and processor from the Sony a6000 series. On top of that comes an interchangeable lens, a headphone jack, a new digital multi-interface shoe and a bigger battery. (Although fans will note it has lost the in-built Natural Density [ND] filter.)

Cropping has been somewhat improved. You will still see cropping when recording at 4K 30fps, when using Active Image Stabilisation or shoot at 1080p 120fps. But you no longer get a crop on 4K 24fps – it's the same canvas as a 1080p 60fps recording. Steps forward then, but not great steps. At least the good news with the ZV-E10 is that you can just switch out the lens for an even wider field of view.

Utilising the substantially bigger APS-C sensor means the ZV-E10 has better low light performance, more dynamic range, and a shallower depth-of-field. It also bumps up the megapixels from 20.1 (ZV-1) to 24.2 MP. However, it's important to note that this is not a new sensor, but one from the a6000 range that is a little dated.

While the different stacked sensor does offer some benefits over the ZV-1, it's not all positive. The ZV-E10 drops the continuous shooting to 11fps from its predecessor's 24fps. And as a result, you also lose the high frame rate (HFR) modes.

It's no doubt obvious from the photos, but the Sony ZV-E10 doesn't have a viewfinder, which is one of the main ways it varies from the a6000 series. If you're video-focused, that's not a big loss, but if you're like me and love your stills, the lack of a viewfinder is unfortunate. I certainly found it more challenging to take the stills I wanted as a result, as you're reliant on a screen that can be hard to see at times in daylight.


Features

Sony Alpha ZV-E10 review

Image: Chris Stead/Finder

It's important to keep in mind that this camera is aimed at content creators and, more specifically, vloggers. I've previously listed the key features that come with the Sony Alpha ZV-E10, but there are a couple that are worth focusing on when you look at this camera through the vlogger lens.

The fact it's an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera cannot be ignored. It's where a camera such as the Sony Alpha ZV-E10 can stand out from the likes of the new GoPro Hero 10. For example, you can put on a longer telephoto lenses if you want footage of subjects in the far distance, or a macro lens if you want to shoot subjects close and small.

I also like how you can simply pass the footage through to your PC or Mac via USB. It allows for a feature-rich webcam solution that has obvious benefits for streamers or post-COVID at-home workers. But it also provides other inventive flexibility. For example, you can stream something like your child on a stage in the far distance to your relatives at home by using a longer lens.

The USB is also how the battery charges – there's no separate charging dock – which makes for a self-contained, multi-purpose system.

The multi-interface hot shoe on top allows you to easily upscale the audio and add a flash or other accessories. There's also a line-in, so you can opt for mic solutions like the Wireless Go II. While the reticulating screen allows you to easily see what you are doing when shooting in selfie mode. This is accentuated by the fact the camera is compatible with peripherals such as the Shooting Grip.

The kit lens is tiered for selfie mode, which makes sense given the camera's intent. It's a petite f3.5-5.6, 16mm–50mm with a power zoom that can be controlled on device as well as on the lens. However, the kit lens isn't good enough to get you nicely in picture when using cropped shooting modes, which is a shame.


Design

Sony Alpha ZV-E10 review

Image: Chris Stead/Finder

The Sony Alpha ZV-E10 has a very small footprint, making it quite portable. It'll fit in your short pockets or handbag! Despite this, it feels dense and has a metal feel and finish that reminds me of the old cameras from years ago. Especially when compared to the finish on competing cameras such as the Canon M50.

Sony has tried to make the key buttons easily accessible on top of the camera, but I found the layout a bit of a pain. Having the video, still and slow-mo modes on the same button, which you must toggle through, is not user-friendly. Especially as there is a delay between pressing the button and the mode changing on screen just long enough for you to think it hasn't worked. When you compare it to Canon's dial, it's a far weaker approach.

It works better with the background blur button, where it's just a case of on and off. But the whole set-up is made worse by the terrible touchscreen. It's got such a delay on it and seems to only work some of the time. So just tapping the mode you want and the settings you need is a quick journey to frustration. Everything needs to be cycled through with a dial as if it's the 90s.

Having separate "shoot" buttons for stills and video is also questionable. In theory, I can see the point. If you're shooting a still and suddenly want to do a video, you don't have to change modes. You can just press the other button and, boom, you're on. But for some reason it doesn't work the other way – you can't shoot a still by pressing the photo button while in video mode. In the end, the result is a bit confusing and while I suspect I will get used to it over time, I frequently found myself pressing the wrong button.

It's not the only questionable design choice. The memory card is jammed between the battery and the compartment's little cover in such a way that it's challenging to pull out even after it has popped up. Meanwhile, the power switch is so close to the shoe that the kit wind shield covers half of it. Annoying!


Is the Sony Shooting Grip accessory any good?

Sony Alpha ZV-E10 review

Image: Chris Stead/Finder

More useful is the USB Type-C and mini-HDMI ports, giving you quick export of video feeds off to a PC or Mac, and in-built charging. The power zoom is a nice touch for those using the kit lens, but be warned that most other E Mount lenses do not support it. And at least the menu wheel on the back makes changing the drive mode or manually adjusting white balance, ISO and timers easy.

The vari-angle LCD screen is also well constructed. It's easy to manoeuvre, yet stays firmly in place once you've found the position you want. Plus, connecting the camera to your phone for a relatively painless transfer of images from camera to social media is a boon.

Compatibility with Sony accessories, namely the Shooting Grip, are also an important part of the Sony ZV-E10 experience. So much so, it should be included in the standard kit, in my opinion. For the intent of the camera, it's almost a must-own accessory. Yet it's an additional $250.

The Shooting Grip connects to the camera via Bluetooth, putting key controls – zoom, video shoot, still shoot and background blur – across its front like a video game controller. It allows you to control the angle of the camera with ease while also doubling as an easy access tripod, although the legs do tend to open a little too easily when a bit of weight is applied.

You can see my full impressions in the video above, but the Shooting Grip should have a more textured handle and the weight of the Sony ZV-E10 on its end is a little unbalanced.


Performance

Sony Alpha ZV-E10 review

Image: Chris Stead/Finder

Looking at the Sony ZV-E10 from a bird's eye view, there's plenty to like. I was happy with the quality of the stills and the video it produced despite the ageing sensor. The auto-focus tracking was solid for the most part, although I did notice a slight delay on the LCD screen when adjusting to the subject matter. The intelligent auto setting, as well as some descriptions that sit alongside other shoot modes, make it easy for newcomers to pick up the camera and produce quality content in a jiffy.

On-board features such as slow-mo, product showcase and blurred background work just as you would expect. I liked being able to charge the camera directly too, and the ease with which you can get content off the device and onto your phone, or stream directly through a PC or laptop.

There's no doubt that the interchangeable lens and hot shoe give the Sony ZV-E10 a flexibility beyond what you'll get from your phone or an action sports camera. Especially if you are already a part of the Sony camera family and have E Mount lenses on hand that you can utilise.

However, that added flexibility is nerfed by general performance issues with the camera itself. Yes, if you want to stick the Sony ZV-E10 on the end of the Shooting Grip and vlog your way through any given day, you're going to get some quality 4K footage with audio that sounds much better than one might hope for from in-built mics.

Limitations outside of vlogging

Sony Alpha ZV-E10 review

Image: Chris Stead/Finder

But if you're then thinking you might whack on a better lens and go take some great stills – or try to get some action shots of your kid playing soccer while you're running down the sideline – you'll start to hit its limitations quickly.

The LCD screen is unresponsive and hard to see in natural sunlight, impacting stills. Meanwhile, the image stabilisation – even in Active mode – is underwhelming. There's only electronic stabilisation, no in-body optical stabilisation. And indeed, in Active mode the cropping is such on the kit lens that you need to hold it uncomfortably far from your body. Trying to do something as simple as jog along beside my dog resulted in unwatchable footage, let alone doing any serious activity.

This is accentuated by the strong rolling shutter effect produced by this censor, which you can see in my video review. Plus, it's not weatherproof, so that's something to keep in mind if you plan to use the Sony ZV-E10 actively.

It's worth noting that only the kit lens – of the 6 lenses I had while testing the Sony ZV-E10 – worked with the power zoom.

On a more positive note, the battery does give you a good 90-minutes or more of shooting time, which is better than what we saw with the ZV-1.


Should you buy the Sony Alpha ZV-E10?

When paired with the Shooting Grip and focused on low-movement, selfie-focused vlogging, the Sony ZV-E10 works a treat. The kit lens does just enough to give you a comfortable, 4K shooting experience at arm's length. It's light and portable, and the interchangeable lens, digital hot shoe and USB streaming give you flexibility.

In many ways, it's priced as a beginner's camera, so perhaps I'm expecting too much. But I can't help but feel that the Sony ZV-E10 should be better at also being a user-friendly camera. As soon as you take it beyond its comfort zone, it can't keep up the pace.

The laborious touchscreen, button driven interface and performance issues during movement act like an anchor on the aforementioned flexibility. The result is a camera that's not all it can be, even if it is what it aims to be.


Pricing and availability

The Alpha ZV-E10 is available now and easy to find. You can get just the body for an SRP of $1,249, or the kit for $1,449 – although I've seen the kit as low as the body price on Amazon. The kit comes with the E PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS power zoom lens, and in black or white variants.

Price

SRP of $1,249

Where to buy


How did I test it?

I used the Sony ZV-E10 for a month, testing with various subjects, and in multiple light and wind conditions. I've focused on using it for vlogging, but have taken many stills as well. I've also compared it with my reviews of the Canon M50 Mark II, the GoPro Hero10 and many other digital cameras I've tested over the years.

Specifications

Specs

Colour
Black, White
Continuous Shooting Speed
11
Image Sensor
APS-C type
Iso
ISO100
Lens Mount Type
E-mount
Max Shutter Speed
1/4000 to 30 s
Megapixels
25
Screen Size
7.5

Features

Battery Life
Approx. 440 shots
Bluetooth
Ver. 4.1
Built In Flash
Yes
Face Detection
Yes
Panorama
Yes
Rechargeable
Yes
Touchscreen
Yes
Video Resolution
4K

Images: Chris Stead

More Finder reviews

Ask an expert

To ask a question simply log in via your email or create an account.

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.
Go to site