Z Camera E1 (1 of 9)

I’ve had the Z-camera E1 for well over 8 months and most of that time it has been a paper weight. While the included GH4 M43 sensor in the Z-camera is capable of a lot, firmware implementation has been a major limiting factor.  At the time the kickstarter campaign started shipping, the Z-camera E1 came with firmware version .16 which barely qualified as an alpha release.

Z Camera E1 (8 of 9)

Since then, I’ve seen 12 or so test releases and at least 5 official updates. As of firmware version .26, the Z-camera E1 is finally starting to produce a decent image, while Z-log is pretty much useless. The menu system has been improved and Z-cam has finally made things like aperture and ISO settings easy to access.

Z Camera E1 (1 of 1)

With version .26, they’ve also fixed most of the lens compatibility issues that were present in earlier firmware updates. As of this writing every single Panasonic and Olympus lens I own work correctly with the Z-camera E1 which is up from only 3 supported lenses when the camera first arrived.

Z Camera E1 (5 of 9)

HDMI output quality from the Z-camera E1 has improved substantially. However, I’m still not getting audio pass-through via HDMI. Internal recordings captured on Micro SD card is still noise at ISO levels above 800 and the 4k image quality is still mushy, to say the least.

Z Camera E1 (2 of 9)

I still can’t really recommend the Z-camera E1 with the current iteration of firmware. $699 is a little too much for a camera that is still basically in beta.  However, at this point, image quality is better than my Gopro Hero 4 black edition and continues to get better.

It seems the Z-camera E1 is following the Blackmagic approach to hardware design. Release a product, and then slowly make it work. That said, I think I’ll hold on to my E1, as of right now it is just good enough to use. Hopefully, it continues to improve.

With Cameras like the Panasonic G7 dropping down to $460 in price,  you really have to need the clean HDMI output and form factor offered by the Z-camera E1 to justify the $699 price tag.

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