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  • Kyle Chua

Sony ZV-E10 Review: Can APS-C Sensors Match Full-Frame Sensors?

Right, the Sony ZV-E10 – we managed to get our hands on this guy a few months ago for our first impressions, but we did not get the chance to test the ins and outs of what this camera is truly capable of.

I have had the privilege to test it out over the week on various occasions to see what an APS-C sensor could really do. So the main question is: Can an APS-C sensor match a Full-frame in 2021? Well, the easiest answer to that is, no. But I do believe we are getting really really close to seeing that in budget-friendly cameras and hopefully sometime really soon, depending on the market and how they choose to target consumers based on their price range.

This Sony ZV-E10, however, priced at a competitive RM3,499 or S$1,345, that comes with this 16-50mm kit lens, shoots up to 4K at 30fps, 8-bit 4:2:0, S&Q mode up to 120fps at 1080p and Dual Native ISO of 100 and 12,800. We are seeing some prosumer specs in entry-level cameras.

But before I get into all of that, I do want to start with one of the main things that I wished it came with, which is a viewfinder. If you're looking for a photography camera and you prefer using a viewfinder for your stills like I personally do, then clearly this might not be the camera for you. Having to frame your shots with an LCD screen under bright sunlight could be quite of a nuisance. Even though it is quite bright for its build, it just doesn't quite match up to old fashioned viewfinders or EVFs. But one of the things I do appreciate is how the record button illuminates the screen. It has a nice red dot in front as well. So in situations when you’re not sure if you hit record, it will show it to you directly from the front and the back.

It's very small and compact, weighing only 343g. It kind of reminds me of the a6000 lineup, which is also built with APS-C sensors. I think the closest comparison to the ZV-E10 is the a6600, which can also do 4K at 30fps, high frame rates at up to 120fps and mostly what the ZV-E10 could do as well.

With that in mind, the constant factor in all of this is Sony's E-Mount compatibility. You won't have to look for any annoying adapters if you happen to own existing Sony lenses, or you could opt for this F3.5-5.6 OSS, 16-50mm power zoom lens, which is far more capable than it looks. I did use a 70-200mm for some of these test shots to get a better compression look and I have to say, I like how the footage turned out.

As for storage, you only get one SD card slot but without any recording limits. So if you have any large memory capacity it would do perfectly for interviews.

You still get a 3.5mm Stereo mini-jack, a headphone jack, a micro HDMI input, and a USB-C input.

Part of the new features that come with the ZV-E10 is the Product Showcase mode, which allows you to bring a product close to the lens. In my example here with my phone, it will prioritise focus automatically to whatever is closest to the lens while blurring out the background. Now I must say, this definitely works best with a faster lens and ND filters to give you that depth of field or separation between yourself and the subject.

Autofocus comes with 425 points, which allows continuous shooting modes up to 11fps at HI+ Mode. Even in cases where taking stills in low light, it didn't have any issues when recognising focus points. Capturing detail even at a high ISO of 12,800, notably noise isn't fully absent here. But I do commend it for capturing highlights at a softer range and keeping skin tones intact. I was sceptical at first entrusting the kit lens to handle itself in low light, but just as long as you're not pixel peeping for colour fringing or grain, it did far better than I expected.

I do get the feeling that people who are looking to get this camera or most Sony cameras, in general, are getting it for its video capabilities. At 4K, 30fps with no crop, in many ways, it handles as good as my three-year-old A7iii. With a lack of quick accessibility like dedicated buttons and dials, its image quality, however, still amazes me. With S-log picture profiles for high dynamic range or even just leaving it off like how I have in the majority of my shots, the 8-bit colour depth manages well. I think Sony has done some improvements from their older models in terms of their colour science, removing some of that green tint that's much less visible here.

Using the LCD screen, however, doesn't give you the confidence to monitor your footage. I experienced a lot of moments when it felt like my shots were overexposed under harsh sunlight, then I'll go back to review my footage and it turned out just fine. Maybe someday we will get to see Sony implementing OLEDs for their screens to combat this issue. But maybe I’m just asking for too much. I'll keep my fingers crossed till then.

S&Q mode is quickly accessible and has frame rates up to 120fps at 1080p. I definitely enjoyed using it most when testing it out on the race track, capturing all blunders and glory in a buttery smooth fashion without too much motion blur, even if you didn't sync shutter speeds correctly like how I did.

Low light in movie mode is still impressive as most Sony Full-Frame or APS-C sensors go. Downsampling 6K footage to 4K, it clearly still holds the reigning champion title when it comes to low light performance, at least in my opinion. I'm sure other brands such as Canon are keeping up with their Full-frames, but I'm not entirely convinced that their APS-C sensors are quite as good.

If you'd like to see our review on the Canon M50, which is priced competitively and has specs that are quite similar to ZV-E10, you can click on the card above to check out our review on that.

By the way, I discovered that it does get overheated after a few minutes. I’ve only left it under the sun for, I think, five minutes, and a warning sign came up. So I’m not sure how far you can push it, temperature-wise. But I’m still testing it out, and it’s a beautiful sunny day. So perfect setting actually.

Not forgetting to mention battery life that isn't that great either. With a full charge and continuous use, I only got around two hours. Then again, I wasn't expecting too much from the NP-FW50 batteries, to begin with. So you might want to get one or two extra batteries if you're interested in getting this camera.

So who do I think this camera is for? I think if you're just starting out in photography or

videography, you might want to look elsewhere – something that has a lower learning curve to get a better understanding of how cameras work. But If you have the time to slowly get used to Sony's interface and menu system, then yeah probably it would be a great investment for you.

It's definitely a camera that has all the capabilities of prosumer models, but it does take some effort to get it to perform at its best. With a little attention to detail, you could get it to sit in the same ballpark as some of the mirrorless Full-frames. Using the right lenses for each setting, maybe adding an external mic and monitor, then it should serve you as a decent A-Cam. Or if you fancy a good B-cam to match with your existing Sony cameras, then I can easily recommend getting one.

Well, that’s all I have for the Sony ZV-E10. Do let us know what else you would like to know about this camera in the comments down below. That’s it for me today, and I will see you in the next video.


Content by Fitri Aiyub


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