It wasn’t too long ago that a purpose-built camera specifically for vlogging would have been a surprising decision. Skip to 2021, where vlogging is a major demographic to attract in the camera market, and in which Sony designed the ZV-E10 to appeal specifically to this type of content creator. But what makes a camera a “vlogging-specific camera?” What did Sony do to address the unique imaging needs of a vlogger? And what other tools are needed to make the ZV-E10 the vlogging all-star it’s meant to be?
What is a vlogging camera?
Before getting into the specific traits of the ZV-E10, let’s get a quick sense of what someone might look for in a camera with the intent to use it for vlogging:
- Video recording, obviously, is a key feature, and flexible recording modes and settings allow shooters to have that much more control over their productions.
- Audio recording control is also a big one, with the base requirements often being the ability to add an external mic to a camera for improved quality.
- Another key element of camera design is a vari-angle LCD screen, or at least a screen that can face forward in some way since many vlogs are self-made productions.
- Beyond these key points of design, there are many more optional, but helpful, features a camera can have, ranging from specialized recording settings to livestreaming capabilities and a smaller form factor for “day in the life” style productions.
What makes the ZV-E10 an ideal vlogging camera?
Considering the points above, it’s pretty easy to see how the ZV-E10 fits the mold of a vlogging camera just at a glance:
- In terms of video recording, UHD 4K 30p recording hits the current sweet spot in terms of what’s being shared online, and there is also Full HD recording up to 120p if you want to throw some slow-motion action into your videos. For higher-end productions, clean output with 4:2:2 sampling is possible via HDMI to an external recorder.
- Audio recording is a very distinct feature with the ZV-E10, especially compared to other mirrorless models in this class. There’s a built-in three-capsule directional mic on top, and an included windscreen helps to achieve cleaner audio in windy conditions. If you want to bump your audio quality a bit further, the ZV-E10 has a digital audio interface, and the Multi-Interface Shoe supports Sony’s own ECM-B1M shoe-mounted mic to take advantage of clean digital signal processing. Alternatively, there’s also a 3.5mm mic port, along with a 3.5mm headphone port for live audio monitoring.
- A simple but important design decision, the ZV-E10 features a 3.0" vari-angle touchscreen LCD for easy viewing regardless of where you are recording from. This side flip-out screen I typically regarded as the best way to implement a front-facing monitor, and the touchscreen interface makes it simple to navigate settings changes.
- And lastly for these general points, the ZV-E10 makes a great vlogging platform simply because it’s a highly portable camera and something you won’t shy away from carrying with you every day. It has the convenient Sony E lens mount for wide lens compatibility, a sleek form factor that fits in a tote bag, purse, or coat pocket, and it uses a sensor and imaging feature set that’s been well tested and proven on some of Sony’s other APS-C mirrorless cameras.
With these core features alone, you can see why a camera like this would be a go-to choice for vlogging. But Sony wanted to go a few steps further with some more tweaks and additions to the camera’s performance. A big addition that’s been an oft-requested feature in the last year or two has been the inclusion of livestreaming capabilities, and the ZV-E10 makes it as simple as connecting the camera to your computer via USB to use it as a webcam for livestreaming or video conferencing. Another simple touch is the inclusion of a front tally lamp on the camera body that helps to recognize with ease when a recording is taking place. The front-facing LCD can also display a red border to serve the same purpose and help to make sure everyone is aware you’re recording.
Beyond physical changes, Sony surveyed some of the most common vlogging styles and recognized some unique shooting modes and features it could add to help achieve common looks and effects. Product Showcase, for example, is a very specific mode catering to creators who make product review or demonstration videos. This mode optimizes focus detection on objects held in front of the camera and also smooths focus transitions between the presenter’s face and the handheld object. Similarly, a Background Defocus feature lets you switch quickly to the widest aperture setting to isolate subjects using shallow depth of field. Benefitting all recording modes, the ZV-E10 also has refined color science that is designed for optimized skin tones, and there is a Soft Skin Effect for in-camera smoothing and softening of wrinkles and blemishes. A couple of other helpful shooting settings include automatic tagging of vertical videos to help expedite posting videos recorded vertically to social media, and there is an Active SteadyShot image stabilization mode that works to smooth shaky footage recorded while walking.
What other tools are needed to make the ZV-E10 a perfect vlogging camera?
It’s clear the ZV-E10 has an optimized feature set, but some additional tools are needed to make it truly sing or to personalize it to handle the specific tasks for which you might need it. Lenses, for example, are a personal but critical choice for any camera system. For vlogging, you’ll typically be looking for a solid all-around zoom, a simple wide-angle prime, and maybe another specialized lens or two depending on the type of subjects you tend to film.
- You can get the ZV-E10 in a kit with the E 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens if you’re just starting out, but a strong upgrade will be to switch to something like the Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS as your all-arounder lens. Besides longer reach, this lens has improved optical quality and a faster constant maximum aperture that’ll come in handy.
- If you think you’ll need even greater reach, you might also look at the E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS, which also has a PZ (Power Zoom) motor for zoom control via the camera body. The 16-70mm f/4 will be the better choice here for optics, but the 18-105mm will come in handy if you see yourself needing to take wide and long shots frequently.
- A bit more specialized but perfect for vlogging, probably the most important lens you can pick up for handheld “selfie-style” vlogging would be the E 10-18mm f/4 OSS. This ultra-wide zoom makes it possible to get a full, well-established shot even if handholding the camera in front of you, and it’s just a solid choice for everyday spontaneous shooting.
- Despite the fact that the ZV-E10 is an APS-C-format camera, one final recommended lens is the FE 24mm f/2.8 G, which is a very slim and sleek prime that’ll give you a comfortable and versatile wide-angle field of view. If you don’t want to be overwhelmed by a zoom and just want a solid, reliable single focal length, this is a great choice and will also benefit you should you ever add a full-frame camera to your arsenal.
Looking beyond lenses, let’s also cover a handful of additional accessories that will come in handy for vlogging, ranging from mics to storage and grips.
- As previously mentioned, the ECM-B1M is a shoe-mounted external mic that takes advantage of the ZV-E10’s digital audio interface. It’s a great choice for quick interviews or instances when you want improved audio but can’t or don’t want to mic up your subjects.
- For more traditional interviews, two-person shoots, or instances when clear spoken audio is of importance, the RØDE Wireless GO II system is a perfect option. It gives you the flexibility and ease of a wireless audio system, and it's immensely compact and portable to go along with the sleek form factor of the camera itself.
- Vlogging tends to be a handheld affair, and easing the burden of having to hold your camera all day is the GP-VPT2BT Wireless Shooting Grip. This grip is more comfortable to hold for longer shooting sessions and can also quickly convert into a tabletop tripod to prop the camera up for steady stationary shots. It has a Bluetooth interface that works great with the ZV-E10 and can be used to control certain camera settings and initiate recording.
- Taking the concept of a grip up a notch, a handheld gimbal like DJI’s Ronin-SC can be used to give you that steady, shake-free cinematic recording quality you might be after if your vlogs involve a lot of walking or motion.
- And another tool for boosting the quality of recording is an external recorder, like the popular Ninja V from Atomos. This records a clean signal via the ZV-E10’s HDMI port for better image quality and, since it’s also a monitor, is a larger, clearer unit for viewing your composition during the recording process.
- Finally, a couple of extra accessories that should be in every vlogger’s bag: extra batteries and memory cards. You never want to run out of power or recording space while on a shoot—stock up in advance!
The ZV-E10 stands out in the vlogging crowd because it takes a versatile camera platform and adds a handful of well-thought-out additions to make it a specialized camera that is ultra-adept for single-person content creators.
Let us know your thoughts about the ZV-E10, and vlogging cameras in general, in the Comments section, below.