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Z Camera E1 for $200


Don Kotlos
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I have one of those lying around here somewhere. I kinda stopped using it when the GX80 arrived. Small too, much more handheld friendly and that sensor stabilization. Though, of course, the E1 never was really meant to be a normal camera. Wonder what newer firmware has done for this little chap. Did find the color always to be quite good and especially with longer lenses the look was quite catchy. With the wider shots 'n stuff, it all just was a little too actioncammy (which, again, it basically is, but that kind of defeats the purpose of getting a 4/3" device over a regular actioncam).

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2 hours ago, Cinegain said:

I have one of those lying around here somewhere. I kinda stopped using it when the GX80 arrived. Small too, much more handheld friendly and that sensor stabilization. Though, of course, the E1 never was really meant to be a normal camera. Wonder what newer firmware has done for this little chap. Did find the color always to be quite good and especially with longer lenses the look was quite catchy. With the wider shots 'n stuff, it all just was a little too actioncammy (which, again, it basically is, but that kind of defeats the purpose of getting a 4/3" device over a regular actioncam).

I agree the E1 is not your usual camera. But I am not sure I get what you mean by "Action cammy' - the sensor is exactly the same one as in the GH4. I agree that with long lenses you can get nice shallow dof and bokeh, but these are properties of the lenses/sensor size. For wide angle, of course the picture will be similar to that of most cameras, even those with with smaller sensors. But there is no fisheye-look like from action cams unless you actually use a fisheye lens. The GX80 is indeed easier to use (I think the GH4 sensor is nicer than the one the GX85 has), but it is heavier and bigger and more expensive. And its wide-angle look will be exactly the same (though I think the GX85 color is hopped up).

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The processing/codec I guess. It's way less organic/natural than the way Panasonic handles the sensor data. Generally I find actioncam footage is very brittle. It's mainly sharp by contrast and oversharpend processing in general... poor DR, not very pushable and unfluid motion. I personally find the Z Cam E1 leaning more towards that.

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1 hour ago, Cinegain said:

The processing/codec I guess. It's way less organic/natural than the way Panasonic handles the sensor data. Generally I find actioncam footage is very brittle. It's mainly sharp by contrast and oversharpend processing in general... poor DR, not very pushable and unfluid motion. I personally find the Z Cam E1 leaning more towards that.

I completely agree with your characterization of action cam footage. But I fail to see how it applies to the Z E1: it has 11-stops of dynamic range (or at least as wide as the GH4) and sharpening can be set to very low - it is adjustable. And there is a flat PP setting. Maybe you are using the old firmware, or did not try out the options. The GX85 image is candy and videoish.

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Low Light, Noise and Noise reduction.

Everyone is obsessed with low-light and noise. Here's a video with two very low-light scenes shot with a nonfast lens (F4) on the Z Camera E1. For each scene the out-of-camera shot is first followed by the Neat Video NR application. Two observations: 1. The Z Camera noise is visible, but has no chroma content - and there is no smearing of detail (unlike on many Sony small-sensor cameras and Yi action cams), so the in-camera NR is light. 2. The Neat Video NR is quite good - the noise almost disappears, and the detail is retained. See the noise in the first clip around the number 1490 on the car.

 

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