E1 camera -2

I often complain about kickstarter projects, over the years I’ve had bad luck with ruffly two out of every 3 campaigns I’ve contributed to. However I do still occasionally put my money down on things that look extremely interesting and the Z-cam E1 camera looked good. The promise of the kickstarter campaign was a Gopro sized 4k capable M43 camera with the same sensor as the Panasonic GH4. At the time, this was the only camera of it’s type that actually had a release date. Since then, we’ve had announcements for cameras like the DJI X5 and Blackmagic Micro studio, but the Z-cam E1 camera is still basically the first to market in this category.

E1 camera -4

Build quality is a mixed bag. The E1 is made out of metal and feels nice and solid, but the fit and finish falls into the prototype category. Buttons are spongy, protective flaps for usb ports fall off easily and the flange fits some lenses overly tight and others loosely.

E1 camera -9

The battery compartment on the E1 requires a custom battery. While Z-cam is kind enough to include two batteries with the E1, you currently can not buy extra batteries and the only way to charge batteries is via the camera body. So you basically need to charge up both of your batteries, shoot until you run out of juice, and then charge again. If you would like to shoot longer, you’ll need a USB power pack and one of these barrel adapters.

E1 camera -5

On the bright side, we get a mini HDMI port instead of a micro HDMI port. The barrel plug supports 5 volts at 2 amps which leaves open a lot of power supply options. The wifi app works as good or better then the Gopro’s offering and the on screen controls are easy enough to figure out.

Shooting with the E1 isn’t bad but, the firmware is still pretty rough. The quality of the 4k image recorded (above) running firmware version .16 (earliest version) is what I would describe as cellphone camera quality. Down scaled to 1080p, the image is a bit better then a gopro, depending on the lens you choose. At the kickstarter price I paid, I would say it’s still pretty decent, but with full fledged cameras like the Panasonic G7 capable of shooting 4k at a price of under $600, a camera like this is still a pretty hard sell.

E1 camera -10

I’ll continue to shoot with the E1 for a few more weeks before I decide whether it’ll be put on ebay or stay in my normal camera collection. Right now, i’m not very impressed with image quality, the lack of things like audio level meters, poor implementation of Z-log, and poor focus support for Olympus lenses make this a questionable purchase. Hopefully we’ll see major improvements in the E1 camera when future firmware updates are released. I’ll continue to test, and post more results as spend more time with the E1. As of right now, i’m lukewarm on the camera.

Tags: , , , , , ,