July 18, 2015

This Tiny 4K Camera Is the Size of a GoPro, Is Good in Low-Light, & Offers Interchangeable Lenses

Z E1 Camera with Lenses
A relatively unknown company called Z Camera may have just announced the perfect camera for UAVs and drones.

It's called the E1, and at roughly the same size as a GoPro, this little camera is big on features. First and foremost, the E1 sports a Micro 4/3 sensor and an active Micro 4/3 lens mount. This gives it a leg up in versatility over most similarly-sized cameras, most of which feature extremely wide fixed lenses. Secondly, it's apparently much better in low light, offering a clean image at up to 6400 ISO. And of course, at that size, the E1 is a prime candidate for drone cinematography, and it will likely be a solid alternative to Blackmagic's Micro Cinema Camera.

Here's the Kickstarter video for E1 camera:

Here are the basic specs and features of the E1:

Z E1 Camera
  • Cinema 4K at 24fps (4096×2160)
  • UHD at 30fps
  • 60fps in 1080 and 120fps in 720
  • ISO up to 102,400 (clean up to 6400)
  • Controllable via smartphone
  • Micro 4/3 sensor and mount
  • Open platform for additional functionality
  • $699 target price

With those features and at that price-point ($200 off if you preorder through Kickstarter), the E1 is going to be an attractive option not only for budget-friendly aerial cinematography, but also for DPs who need to mount cameras in hard-to-reach places and want the ability to remotely trigger them. And for anybody who's already heavily invested in M4/3 lenses, the E1 looks to be a seamless addition to that workflow.

The only concern that I have about this camera is the fact that it's coming from a small, relatively unheard of company, and it's being launched through Kickstarter. Most of us have seen how notoriously difficult the process of manufacturing a camera from scratch can be. Just look at the Digital Bolex and all of the trials and tribulations of getting that camera designed and manufactured. With that said, the founder of Z Camera is a veteran in the camera manufacturing industry, so I wouldn't be too worried about this project falling through, especially considering how much support the campaign has already generated in its first day.

Anyhow, if you're interested in learning more about the E1, you can head over to the Kickstarter page, where one of the first batch of these cameras can be had for $499.      

Your Comment

19 Comments

Not much smaller than the GM1, and you can expect Panasonic to hit the market with a GM1 4K version before this ever gets released.

July 18, 2015 at 8:21PM

0
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Come on Kickstarter. Offer HD video already.

July 20, 2015 at 3:13AM

5
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rampal
74

Come on Kickstarter. Offer HD video already...

July 18, 2015 at 8:40PM

4
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Zachary Will
Cinematographer
617

Yes please!

July 18, 2015 at 10:24PM

4
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Charles C.
Editor/ Director/ Director of Photography/ Wannabe Thinker
998

This is a pretty big deal. I'm a huge supporter of blackmagic cameras. But this should give the Micro Cam a decent challenge

July 18, 2015 at 10:25PM, Edited July 18, 10:25PM

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Charles C.
Editor/ Director/ Director of Photography/ Wannabe Thinker
998

Doesn't seem to have raw though.

July 19, 2015 at 12:52AM, Edited July 19, 12:52AM

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Silvio Castillo
Film Estudent
74

Most low cost cameras do not record RAW. Blackmagic is the only exception. ( and hacked Canon DSLRs )

July 19, 2015 at 11:42AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32032

It most likely records to micro SD or just SD, which would be a decent investment for shooting RAW as well. Still, I'm always a fan of more competition pushing the big guys forward to compete.

July 20, 2015 at 11:39PM

6
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Philip Bradley
DP | Editor
136

It most likely records to micro SD or just SD, which would be a decent investment for shooting RAW as well. Still, I'm always a fan of more competition pushing the big guys forward to compete. (I swear I only posted this once....)

July 20, 2015 at 11:39PM, Edited July 20, 11:40PM

1
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Philip Bradley
DP | Editor
136

what's the dr? it looks like 9-10 fstops

July 19, 2015 at 1:01AM, Edited July 19, 1:01AM

7
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Roberto Mettifogo
Director.Dop.Colorist.
345

I would not judge it by the video posted, as the whole video appears to have crushed blacks. I would not expect more than 10-11 stops of DR given the low price of this camera.

July 19, 2015 at 11:44AM

5
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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32032

From the Kickstarter Q&A section:

"Normal mode it's above 10 stops and we are working on a wide dynamic range mode. Will keep you posted. Wide dynamical range mode will be expected to be 11 stops."

July 20, 2015 at 7:34AM

0
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K W
263

Very interesting. I guess the competition is all in customer care and customer support from now on. I personally love all these new companies with products coming out.
But hopefully when they have a good start they will keep their customers happy with lots of support on firmware instead of going right into different model and not giving rats about the people who supported them in the first place by buying the first of their kinds.

July 19, 2015 at 2:24AM, Edited July 19, 2:24AM

4
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Keith Kim
Photographer
1291

This looks to have potential for live streaming. :-)

July 19, 2015 at 4:24AM, Edited July 19, 4:24AM

7
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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
460

"We really wanted to develop a camera that can deliver amazing quality without spending 10 000 USD on an expensive camera" ...

well this sentence made my head hurt and eyes bloody. Engineers can be so disconnected from the reality sometimes. Does it even do 10bit at Full HD? No? Well then seriously this is exactly like GoPro (GoAmateur) but just with a larger chip.. the codec sucks, the color science sucks.. just an amateurish looking picture for a whopping 699 (with quality nowhere close to anything costing 10 000). Great to use as a crash camera.. nothing else.. it's just not for professional application.

July 21, 2015 at 12:20AM, Edited July 21, 12:20AM

2
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Kokles
168

The lack of a decent codec and bitrate kills 90% of these breathlessly hyped cameras.

Even Canon doesn't get it, selling "cinema" cameras that shoot low-bitrate crap in color-decimating codecs. Sad.

August 1, 2015 at 6:11PM

0
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David Gurney
DP
1484

It will record in h.264 codec in MOV container - hopefully the bitrate and quality will be better than in Canons DSLR. I was hoping for a bit better codec nowadays, not to mention ProRes or something like that.
Can't wait to see some samples.

July 21, 2015 at 1:27PM

0
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Doesn't seem to have raw

July 22, 2015 at 2:38PM

0
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hope it does well but im going to stick with what works and thats Black Magic Cinema Cameras.

July 22, 2015 at 8:35PM, Edited July 22, 8:35PM

6
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No information on bitrate and codec, which makes the rest of these specs nearly worthless.

August 1, 2015 at 6:08PM

3
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David Gurney
DP
1484