The SDR-S10 has a reasonable range of camcorder functions. A manual focus mode is available, and controlled via the menu buttons, which is fiddly but usable. The standard manual mode lets you control the aperture from F1.8 to F16 and then fully closed. You can also add up to 18dB of video gain to a fully open aperture. Shutter speed can be varied between 1/50 to 1/8000 sec in movie mode, and to 1/500 in photo mode. White balance options cover the standard fully automatic, tungsten, daylight and manual modes. There are also the usual five programme auto-exposure settings, including sports, portrait, low light, spotlight, and surf & snow. Wind cut and zoom mic audio functions can be enabled too.
Although the manual settings are perfectly adequate for a camcorder in this class, that’s as far as it goes. A screw mounting is available on the bottom for tripod use, but there is no microphone input, no headphone jack, and no accessory shoe. The memory cards also load from the bottom, so if you need to swap cards when using a tripod you will need to unscrew the quick-release shoe first.
With its single 1/6in sensor, the SDR-S10 was never going to offer high-end video quality. But we found the results surprisingly decent. Under daylight conditions, colours were faithful and noise not particularly evident, even in SP recording mode. We were also impressed with the S10’s ability to cope with low light, where it opened the aperture and bumped up the gain, which resulted in some grain but nothing the average consumer would find intolerable. However, the electronic image stabilisation became very sluggish in poor illumination.