Vlogging has become one of the most popular forms of media, communication and entertainment. Some crafty creators have made entire careers by filming themselves discussing various subjects, products and documenting trips and experiences. This type of video has been quickly refined into a very efficient way of communicating and some of the most popular channels have very impressive standards. Sony has been working on democratizing the process and released a compact camera for this purpose last year: the ZV-1. More recently, they’ve introduced the ZV-E10, which pushes the envelope even further and offers many possibilities. I’ve taken it for a short spin and I’m here to report on the user experience.
I’ve filmed my initial impressions with the ZV-E10 as well as a little bit of vlog-style footage to see how the camera performs in noisy conditions.
Sony ZV-E10: mirrorless vlogging tool
The ZV-E10 is a mirrorless camera featuring a 24 MP APS-C sensor. This places it in the same category as the very popular Sony A6100. Additionally, you’ll get the benefit of having access to the dozens of e-mount lenses offered by Sony. Compared to the ZV-1, you get a much bigger sensor and the possibility of swapping lenses for your needs or using ones you already have. A huge difference with the A6100 is the presence of an articulating display; something that is essential for filming yourself. On the other hand, you completely lose the electronic viewfinder.
Video is available in 4K, at a cropped 30 frames per second or uncropped 24fps. This is the same 1.23 crop that you will find on the A6100. The 1080p resolution goes up to 120 fps for a 4x slow motion effect. The image quality is the same, sharp result we’ve come to know and love from the Alpha series. The autofocus and tracking are second to none when it comes to Sony and it’s definitely present here. While you won’t be able to use the touch screen to navigate the menus, you’ll still be able to set the tracking to make your experience smooth and efficient.
Mounted on top of the body is a triple capsule microphone. It’s tuned to clearly capture the sound that’s arriving from the front of the camera, which is appropriate for a vlogging camera. There is an included windscreen to reduce ambient noise. The hot shoe accepts various Sony and third party microphones which can really help dial in the highest quality audio. Clip-on mics are great to reduce the ambient noise and get the most clarity from the speaker. There is a 3.5 mm headphone output and microphone input in case you need it for your outboard gear.
I’ve received both the black and white versions of the body. It is light and very convenient, but has a slightly plastic feel to it. It comes with a removable battery that promises over 440 shots per charge and over an hour and twenty minutes of continuous video shooting. You can charge it with the USB 3 port. Charging can also take place while filming, so that’s great if you have a lot of static footage to capture. There’s also a micro-HDMI port.
While you can purchase the body only, first-time buyers will be interested in the lens kit that comes with a 16–50 mm 3.5-5.6 basic model. This is a good all-around lens that will serve you well if you are just starting out in photography.
Vlog-centric features of Sony ZV-E10
There are some handy, neat features on the ZV-E10 that will help with your workflow. They are also good if you are new to photography, but still want the best results possible. The most useful and impressive one is the Product Showcase feature. When turned on, it will focus on an object that is brought close to the lens. It seemingly focuses on it and back to the subject in a very smooth fashion, thanks to Sony’s great autofocus. This feature is great for those that want to talk about or review different products.
Next is the background blur mode. With the press of a button, the entire background will be out of focus, thanks to a shallow depth of field. This is an easy way of giving your videos a nice, expensive look. Normally, you’d need a bit of photography knowledge and some testing to achieve the same effect. While experienced users might get the same results with manual settings, it’s good to know that even complete beginners can benefit from this feature.
For those that love to livestream, you’ll be happy to learn that you can do it directly by plugging into an appropriate device with USB-C. You’ll get all the benefits of the ZV-E10, including video (in 720p) and audio.
My opinion on the Sony ZV-E10
I really enjoyed the time I spent with the ZV-E10. It’s very easy to use and Sony’s added features are great for beginners that would love to have good-looking results, without learning the ins and outs of photography. For example, the Background Blur mode gives a great-looking image, while also putting all the attention on the subject. The Product Showcase feature is very useful and is a fun way of presenting various objects to viewers. I think even seasoned creators will find it very handy.
More experienced vloggers will definitely enjoy the larger APS-C sensor and the e-mount compatibility. I think it’s a product that makes a lot of sense. If you’re pressed for time, you can rely on fast features to get up and going. You can also take your time with manual settings; if you have that luxury. It’s a great all-around tool.
While video is of the same great quality we’ve come to expect from Sony; audio is a bit more difficult to capture properly without added accessories. While the voice is clear and is the main focus, ambient noise is still quite apparent. If you watch my video, you’ll notice that you can definitely hear the sound from a busy street and the cicadas loud and clear. You can mitigate this by using a thicker wind screen than the one included, various microphones and even some post-production tools, although that’s not a guaranteed fix.
Lastly, while you can take stills with this camera, the absence of a viewfinder won’t make it the most sublime experience available. Photographers will most likely miss the viewfinder.
Check out the ZV-E10 body or lens kit on Best Buy’s website.