The Sony ZV-E10 and Alpha A6400 are quite close in terms of specifications and pricing. Both cameras can shoot 4K videos, support the same lenses, pack a similar body, bundle the same kit lens, and share the 24.2 APS-C sensor. Thus, choosing between them can be difficult.
Sony has aggressively marketed the ZV-E10 as a video camera, mainly targeting vloggers. The A6400, by contrast, has established its position as an all-rounder budget option for photographers and videographers alike. Zooming out of the general concept, we need to accept that both cameras share a similar DNA, which confuses buyers even more.
This article will go over the nitty-gritty of entry-level mirrorless cameras, dissect them in terms of on-paper specifications and real-world performance, and try to answer the debate between them.
The Sony ZV-E10 and A6400 are solid cameras in 2023
Before diving further into the comparison, we need to understand the target audience of the two products.
Yes, both cameras use the same sensor. But the A6400 is generally geared towards a more mature audience who are specifically looking for certain features from their shooting gear. The ZV-E10 doesn’t have such limitations. It boasts its simplicity and video-readiness, much unlike almost any other DSLR or mirrorless camera ever launched.
Sony’s 24.2 MP APS-C sensor is nothing new and the most recent iteration launched with the Sony A6000 back in 2014. Over the past few years, the sensor has barely been altered. Thus, with an appropriate lens, photographers can achieve nearly similar results as a cheap nine-year-old A6000 body.
The same applies to the Sony ZV-E10 and the A6400. Both cameras downsample 6K footage to ensure sharp and crisp image output.
The newer budget ZV series camera has certain positives in this aspect. The camera’s color science is more up-to-date, as it brings features like eye autofocus to the video and comes in a lighter form factor thanks to Sony’s improved heat dissipation design.
Both cameras shoot 4K videos at up to 100 Mbps and 24 fps, but they can’t go above 8-bit color depth. Sony has added the same color profiles including SLOG3 to both options. Thus, in terms of the output image quality, one can barely tell the difference.
The Sony ZV-E10 is a newer camera targeted at videographers; thus, it is expected it will pack superior image-processing technologies. It comes with a product showcase mode that allows videographers to shift focus to the items they are talking about — this feature is a huge time-saver for YouTubers.
The budget Sony shooter comes with a built-in electronic stabilization feature that crops into the footage. In addition, the ZV-E10 can record gyro data that can be fed into Sony’s Catalyst Browse for superior image stabilization. Neither camera supports in-body image stabilization (IBIS), which gives the budget ZV camera an edge.
Following the focus on videography, the Sony ZV-E10 also packs a dedicated vertical video mode. With the short vertical content format’s rise in popularity, this feature is nice to have. However, this effect can also be achieved with the A6400.
The Sony ZV-E10 also comes with a dedicated skin softening and background defocus mode. The effects can be achieved with the A6400 by playing with the settings and spending some time in the post. The Sony ZV-E10 just helps videographers save some time in this regard.
In our testing, we didn’t find the skin softening and background defocus to be as impressive. We recommend not using them entirely.
Ease of use
The Sony Alpha A6400 is better suited for shooters who have had some experience shooting with mirrorless cameras. The camera might overwhelm someone coming from a smartphone. The ZV-E10 has addressed this problem as it packs multiple features that make it ideal for beginners.
The budget camera is smaller and lighter than the A6400. It packs a fully articulating screen — a step up from the flip-up display of the older Alpha camera. In addition, it packs a simplified button layout.
The A6400, on the other hand, comes with a built-in electronic viewfinder, which is a must-have for outdoor photography and videography. The camera also packs a built-in flash, which deserves some brownie points. It is worth noting that one can attach a flash with the Sony ZV-E10 via the bundled hot shoe. However, that would require a third-party windshield since the out-of-the-box option blocks the hot shoe on the top.
The newer budget offering comes with a headphone-in and audio-monitoring ports. It also packs a better on-board microphone, and Sony includes a windshield out of the box. Thus, the audio is much better managed than the more expensive A6400.
In addition, the ZV-E10 displays a solid red bar around the screen while shooting videos. Thus, accidentally not hitting the record button and delivering an hour’s worth of content is a thing of the past.
The budget Sony camera also doubles up as a solid webcam. One can stream 1080p videos with just a single USB cable. While it is possible to do so with an A6400 as well, the ZV-E10 just makes things far simpler.
We found the Sony ZV-E10 to be perfect for first-time shooters.
Outdoor photographers like to take their DSLR and mirrorless cameras to varied environments. If this is your case, we would strongly recommend siding with the A6400. The camera packs far superior build quality and is dust and moisture-resistant. The Sony ZV-E10 doesn’t pack any form of weather-sealing: it is better suited for indoor usage.
This makes the A6400 ideal for wildlife photography and general shooting in challenging weather.
The Sony ZV-E10’s aggressive pricing is very difficult to compete with. The body of the camera is priced at $698. With the 16-50 mm kit lens, the camera will end up costing $798.
In contrast, the body of the A6400 is priced at $898. Adding the kit lens will push the price up to around $1,000.
In our opinion, spending the extra $200 on the A6400 isn’t worth it in 2023. Both cameras, for the most part, will deliver identical picture quality. It is better to invest the extra $200 in a higher-quality prime lens, which can help record more interesting content for YouTube.