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Z-cam E2-M4 is worth a second look now that it does Pro Res internally at all frame rates including 4k @ 120fps, 4K 2.4:1 @ 160fps & 1080p @ 240fps.


majoraxis

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Z-cam looks to be here to stay. There were rumors of shortages of the processor Z-cam uses, but their entire product line is in stock at BH Photo except for the original E2. Z-cam also looks to be introducing a competitor to the Red Komodo with the release of the Z CAM E2-S6G Super 35mm 6K Cinema Camera (Global Shutter) due in April.

So, with what appears to be a stable company and expanding product line, it is worth taking a second look at the E2-M4 now that Z-cam has now released firmware 0.98.0 that enables Pro Res recording at all frame rates on the E2-M4. This includes 4k @ 120fps, 4K 2.4:1  @ 160fps & 1080p @ 240fps in Pro Res, so you don't have the overhead of decoding H265.

 

A natural comparison is to the Blackmagic Pocket 4k, which has a few advantages:

1. 12bit BRAW

2. LCD Screen

3. SD Card Recording

4. $200 cheaper

5. AC to DC power supply included

6. About 1/2 lbs lighter

 

Some of the E2-M4 advantages are:

1. 4k @ 120p and 4k 2.4:1 @ 160fps slow-motion recorded to Pro Res internally as well as un-cropped 1080p @ 240p for super-slow motion but it does line skip.

2a. Wireless video monitoring to iPhone or iPad (or both at the same time) with only 100ms delay, which better than many less expensive wireless HDMI solutions when you add the HDMI latency of the camera HDMI out.

2b. You can also plug in your iPhone into the USB C port via a cable and it will take the place of the wireless link and charge your phone at the same time as well as ensure a reliable connection.

2c. The app functions much like a real monitor with 1080p resolution, peaking, scopes etc as well as does camera control.

3. 5-pin Limo to dual balanced mic pre inputs with phantom power (adapter cable required)

4. Interchangeable lens mounts including a optional locking M4/3 mount as well as an EF or PL that can take their variable electronic ND (the M4/3 and M4/3 locking can not take the vari-ND) There is a mount with a built in speed booster.

5. Box camera so it is a better shape to balance on a gimbal.

6a. Different sensor than the Blackmagic Pocket 4k that does not have the magenta shift at when under exposing

6b. This sensor is significantly taller than the Pocket 4k sensor so it is much better for shooting anamorphic.

6c. The combination of difference sensor and Z-Cam color science and color profiles provide a different look and some will prefer it to the Blackmagic 4K.

7. Expanded ISO limits depending on your shooting mode up to 102,400  vs  25,600 of the  Blackmagic Pocket 4k.

8. HDMI output can output up to 4k depending on the shooting mode.

9a. Large, more powerful, longer lasting battery options using the Sony L-Series.

9b. Power output from the camera to power a monitor.

10. Can shoot ProRes RAW via recording to the Ninja V. (not really an advantage if you use Resolve due to BRAW support)

11. Live streaming via Ethernet port.

 

As they in Spinal Tap: these go to 11.

 

For an extra $200, it is worth considering the Z-cam E2-M4, especially if you are a Final Cut Pro user, if you own an Ninja V, or if you own a Ronin S.  Here's part 1 or a great 3 part review of the E2-M4 by Adam Wilt: https://www.provideocoalition.com/review-z-cam-e2-m4-mft-cine-camera-part-1/

Thanks!

Mark

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  • majoraxis changed the title to Z-cam E2-M4 is worth a second look now that it does Pro Res internally at all frame rates including 4k @ 120fps, 4K 2.4:1 @ 160fps & 1080p @ 240fps.

What they're doing is very interesting. I've yet to use one myself, though I've heard it's a bit rough around the edges when it comes to OS and some reliability. 

I think they need to streamline their naming convention and have more than just a Facebook group for promotion and support. That stuff is a bit confusing / makes the overall system unwelcoming given the attitude many people in their group have to anyone that doesn't praise absolutely everything about the cameras. I see people getting talked down to regularly when just asking genuine support questions. 

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They've corrected all of the stability issues that could be problematic from what I have seen. I owned a Z-cam S6 briefly. My only issue with it was the Latency was sometimes noticeable with an external monitor. The lack of an easy to edit internal RAW codec was the other bummer. They are essentially taking the Sony sensors and squeezing all the features they can out of them. If they can come up with a better "RAW" codec I think they'll truly be formidable. 

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12 hours ago, majoraxis said:

Z-cam looks to be here to stay. There were rumors of shortages of the processor Z-cam uses, but their entire product line is in stock at BH Photo except for the original E2.

The original E2 being out of stock is to be expected! Has been discontinued, the even cheaper Z Cam E2-M4 has "replaced" it. 

12 hours ago, majoraxis said:

So, with what appears to be a stable company and expanding product line, it is worth taking a second look at the E2-M4 now that Z-cam has now released firmware 0.98.0 that enables Pro Res recording at all frame rates on the E2-M4.

Soooo close to reaching Firmware v1.0! Ha
(wonder when that will finally happen??)

 

12 hours ago, majoraxis said:

4. Interchangeable lens mounts including a optional locking M4/3 mount as well as an EF or PL that can take their variable electronic ND (the M4/3 and M4/3 locking can not take the vari-ND) There is a mount with a built in speed booster.

E Mount is another option that they've got. 
(but also doesn't have eND with an E Mount  )

12 hours ago, majoraxis said:

6a. Different sensor than the Blackmagic Pocket 4k that does not have the magenta shift at when under exposing

6b. This sensor is significantly taller than the Pocket 4k sensor so it is much better for shooting anamorphic.

6c. The combination of difference sensor and Z-Cam color science and color profiles provide a different look and some will prefer it to the Blackmagic 4K.

Arguably didn't the GH5S / P4K / E2 / E2-M4 / Terra4K all share the same common origin as their underlying sensor they're derived/based upon?

 

10 hours ago, TomTheDP said:

The lack of an easy to edit internal RAW codec was the other bummer. They are essentially taking the Sony sensors and squeezing all the features they can out of them. If they can come up with a better "RAW" codec I think they'll truly be formidable. 

RED's patent lawyer trolls are the problem here....

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6 hours ago, IronFilm said:

  RED's patent lawyer trolls are the problem here....

True but as of now they have to figure a way around it. Why isn't uncompressed DNG an option though, does RED own that?

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46 minutes ago, TomTheDP said:

Why isn't uncompressed DNG an option though, does RED own that?

Because file sizes are ridiculous. Sigma FP does this, and a 64gb SD card gets you 5 minutes at 4k24p... Imagine trying to shoot 4k120p.

Really, they should get internal ProRes raw, or Braw. That'd put an end to it. 

 

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19 hours ago, newfoundmass said:

What they're doing is very interesting. I've yet to use one myself, though I've heard it's a bit rough around the edges when it comes to OS and some reliability. 

I think they need to streamline their naming convention and have more than just a Facebook group for promotion and support. That stuff is a bit confusing / makes the overall system unwelcoming given the attitude many people in their group have to anyone that doesn't praise absolutely everything about the cameras. I see people getting talked down to regularly when just asking genuine support questions. 

I actually think they have one of the best naming conventions in the whole industry. All the cameras are in the E2 generation, but M4 is m43 4K, S6 is s35 6K, F6 is FF 6K, and F8 is FF 8K. Compare that to a7siii, FX3, C70, etc. when trying to judge specs at a glance. Even Blackmagic's convoluted naming at least lets you know what the cameras offer 😅

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1 hour ago, Anaconda_ said:

Because file sizes are ridiculous. Sigma FP does this, and a 64gb SD card gets you 5 minutes at 4k24p... Imagine trying to shoot 4k120p.

Really, they should get internal ProRes raw, or Braw. That'd put an end to it. 

 

The Z-cam can only do RAW up to 30fps though. Its doable as SSD recording is fairly affordable. But yeah I agree, compressed RAW is a game changer. 

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9 hours ago, IronFilm said:

Arguably didn't the GH5S / P4K / E2 / E2-M4 / Terra4K all share the same common origin as their underlying sensor they're derived/based upon?

The GH5s sensor is 13mm high and 2760 pixels is the max recorded value high.

The Pocket 4K is 10mm high and  2160 pixels is the max recorded value high.

The E2 / E2-4M is 13mm high and 2772 pixels is the max recorded value high.

The Terra 4K is probably the same a the GH5s from what I gather, but I did not find a specifications with the information.

So comparing the stated heights of the sensor the odd sensor out is the Pocket 4K.  I suspect that part of the reason I like the look of the E2-M4 over the Pocket 4K is the performance of the sensor.

Thanks!  Mark

 

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, Sethman said:

So just use a RED 🙂

With the Komodo being USD$6,000 it's a serious financial hit, especially once you rig it out.

It would be very interesting if RED truly went for the "easy on-ramp" approach of creating a budget cine line that is affordable to entry-level folks and prevents them from investing in and getting familiar with another brands lineup.  Something under the $2500 mark would do that neatly, and would bring the fight squarely to BM, assuming that the specs were there.

I think there's a "hidden" niche for ultra-compact cine cameras with internal recording and usable screens.  Not only are they great as an entry-level offering, but they're great on gimbals, crash cams, and all kinds of other tasks.  Having to setup a cine-cube as a crash-cam with a HDMI monitor to check settings / composition / focus and set it rolling, then disconnect the HDMI before the vehicle drives off is a pretty cumbersome workflow.

Currently this niche seems to only have the original BMPCC and the Sigma FP.  Everything else either records a consumer codec (h264/5) or doesn't have a screen.  Even if such a camera didn't record RAW but simply Prores HQ, that would be a great offering.

Hollywood is still using 'crappy' cameras as crash cams....  here's the Zcam E1 being destroyed used on Mission Impossible 7:

Z-CAM-E1-Crash-Cam-Spotted-in-Mission-Im

Source: https://ymcinema.com/2020/10/09/z-cam-e1-crash-cam-spotted-in-mission-impossible-7/

This might be a reason why the Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera is still listed as current by BM, when it's basically the same as a OG BMPCC except for the 50p, and the OG BMPCC it treated by BM like it's been "superseded" multiple times over.

By why was the E1 chosen over something like the BMMCC?  From the article:

Quote

Furthermore, this is the only Z CAM model that is limited to an un-gradable codec. It doesn’t support RAW. The option for RAW over HDMI is relevant to the entire lineup of Z CAM cameras with the exception of the Z CAM E1. So why use it and not other much more advanced models? Feel free to answer that.

My answer is that it's cheaper, and has a better form-factor, including a screen.

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36 minutes ago, kye said:

With the Komodo being USD$6,000 it's a serious financial hit, especially once you rig it out.

Z-CAM-E1-Crash-Cam-Spotted-in-Mission-Im

Source: https://ymcinema.com/2020/10/09/z-cam-e1-crash-cam-spotted-in-mission-impossible-7/

This might be a reason why the Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera is still listed as current by BM, when it's basically the same as a OG BMPCC except for the 50p, and the OG BMPCC it treated by BM like it's been "superseded" multiple times over.

By why was the E1 chosen over something like the BMMCC?  From the article:

My answer is that it's cheaper, and has a better form-factor, including a screen.

The cost to rig up a Komodo could be done pretty affordably. I would say under $500. That doesn't include the cost of batteries of course. V mounts can be had for pretty cheap and it helps that the Komodo power draw is fairly low. An NPF adapter could also be used. Not having to use a RED monitor or RED media really brings down the cost. Even though CFAST isn't super affordable SSD to CFAST adapters could be used. Its still a 6K camera out the gate which is more than twice as much as a Pocket 6k pro, which only needs batteries as a secondary cost. 

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1 hour ago, TomTheDP said:

The cost to rig up a Komodo could be done pretty affordably. I would say under $500. That doesn't include the cost of batteries of course. V mounts can be had for pretty cheap and it helps that the Komodo power draw is fairly low. An NPF adapter could also be used. Not having to use a RED monitor or RED media really brings down the cost. Even though CFAST isn't super affordable SSD to CFAST adapters could be used. Its still a 6K camera out the gate which is more than twice as much as a Pocket 6k pro, which only needs batteries as a secondary cost. 

So $7K for a working setup, vs P6K or P6KPro, but both setups are absolutely huge.

Comparing to BMPCC 4/6K

image.png.2ab7abd6b6fd25a6fdf3dd1ecb68719c.png

image.png.d71a11e5b9378f6988acb89329374242.png

image.png.f0d9dd267717539b3fd6d0449c1c92d6.png

Komodo rigs would be larger than BMPCC 4/6K because the monitor would be additional height.

Lots of great points in here, and a useful summary of the state of the DSLR revolution...

I know we're getting a bit off-topic from the Z-cam E2-M4, but Z-Cam are one of the very few who are pushing the envelope with big codecs and resolutions/framerates in small size and cost packages.

When RED first entered they were the plucky upstart challenging the incumbents, but now they are an incumbent and people like Zcam are the challengers.

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4 hours ago, kye said:

Source: https://ymcinema.com/2020/10/09/z-cam-e1-crash-cam-spotted-in-mission-impossible-7/

This might be a reason why the Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera is still listed as current by BM, when it's basically the same as a OG BMPCC except for the 50p, and the OG BMPCC it treated by BM like it's been "superseded" multiple times over.

By why was the E1 chosen over something like the BMMCC?  From the article:

Quote

Furthermore, this is the only Z CAM model that is limited to an un-gradable codec. It doesn’t support RAW. The option for RAW over HDMI is relevant to the entire lineup of Z CAM cameras with the exception of the Z CAM E1. So why use it and not other much more advanced models? Feel free to answer that.

My answer is that it's cheaper, and has a better form-factor, including a screen.

I see they've all got on them the very cheap SLR Magic 8mm f4 lens as well!

Likely I bet they expected there to be a very high chance they'd be destroyed, as they were put in positions of high risk that might capture a "cool looking shoot". 

Thus smarter to use an E1 than an E2, as not even a Mission Impossible movie has an unlimited budget!

(another "fun and cheap" factoid: the Zoom F8 was used for a number of recordings on set for Mission Impossible)

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4 hours ago, IronFilm said:

I see they've all got on them the very cheap SLR Magic 8mm f4 lens as well!

Likely I bet they expected there to be a very high chance they'd be destroyed, as they were put in positions of high risk that might capture a "cool looking shoot". 

Thus smarter to use an E1 than an E2, as not even a Mission Impossible movie has an unlimited budget!

(another "fun and cheap" factoid: the Zoom F8 was used for a number of recordings on set for Mission Impossible)

Yes, they were likely put in positions that were high risk..  otherwise, they did well, destroying at least three of them!

I've read in multiple places, including from Shane Hurlbut about Need for Speed (link to first article here) that using crash cams is a tricky thing.  If you start with the premise that you will destroy the camera, then the tendency is to be frugal and get the cheapest cameras possible.  Getting the cheapest cameras possible means getting the crappiest image, so you get to a point where the image is so bad you don't want to use it for more than a few frames in the final edit, which makes it worth less to the production, which means you want to spend even less on it.

But the problem is that it's a false economy.  Using any camera that doesn't offer manual controls means you have to 'fool' it into using the right settings by doing camera tests with taking light readings and dialling in NDs to work out how to get the right ND for it to choose 180 shutter on its own.  The limited dynamic range of such things is also a PITA in trying to match the footage in post.

.....and if we're talking convenience in terms of having a screen when setting up the cameras instead of using a monitor?

before_crash_goPro_sm.jpg

That's from the article I linked above.

Here's the trailer with each of the shots labelled, to see the Gopro shots and also for general interest:

When you're using a C500, Alexa, and 1DC, you can't imagine that someone would reach for a Gopro because they have many options in that form-factor.  Same for the E1, although it has a better codec.

If someone released a small form-factor camera then I think they could easily have it "replace" Hollywood using Gopros and E1s as crash/helmet cams, if the sensor had a great image with lots of DR then it could replace the P2K / P4K / P6K for budget film-makers, and fit into all sorts of other uses like gimbals, drones, and other jobs where weight and size matter.

I've been on a quest now for a tiny camera to shoot fun projects out and about, especially since travel is out of the question, and I got to having a modified action camera where I loathe the 15Mbps files, my GF3 where I am disappointed because the h264 is so much crappier than the RAW stills which show what the sensor is capable of, and general despair about the third high quality option because ML is so confusing and fiddly and unreliable, the P2Ks are stupidly expensive, and the Sigma FP h264 is poor and the RAW isn't compressed so file sizes are enormous.  
I'd previously eliminated the E1 because the 100Mbps still looks like every over-sharpened low-bitrate low-bit-depth consumer image next to the P2K.

Essentially I'm staring into the black hole where a decent camera option should be, but isn't, and I think lots of people would also like there to be one here, but there just isn't.

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30 minutes ago, kye said:

Essentially I'm staring into the black hole where a decent camera option should be, but isn't, and I think lots of people would also like there to be one here, but there just isn't.

What about the Z-cam E2c. It's the cheapest 4k raw option around, also internal ProRes, and about the size of the Blackmagic Micro.

I think All setting and monitoring can be done with a phone with no added hardware.

It'd be the closest thing to low cost, high quality crashcam... But is it low cost enough to purposefully smash it?

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8 hours ago, Anaconda_ said:

What about the Z-cam E2c. It's the cheapest 4k raw option around, also internal ProRes, and about the size of the Blackmagic Micro.

I think All setting and monitoring can be done with a phone with no added hardware.

It'd be the closest thing to low cost, high quality crashcam... But is it low cost enough to purposefully smash it?

It still needs an external display.  I have the Micro, but by the time you add an external monitor it's the size of a 1DX.

Also, I kind of don't really understand the logic of questioning why a camera needs to be small.  You can always add a rig if the camera isn't big enough.  I would love someone to direct me to the department for things I add to my rig to make the camera smaller / lighter.

The Sigma FP is a full-frame cinema camera that records RAW internally, and has decent battery life.  Really there's no excuses.

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8 hours ago, Anaconda_ said:

It'd be the closest thing to low cost, high quality crashcam... But is it low cost enough to purposefully smash it?

In terms of price, fake SJ4000 action cameras can be had for under $50.  They shoot 640x480 in something like 1Mbps* and 2 stops of DR* but you don't see people using these as crash cams - quality does factor into the equation.

(* this isn't strictly true but after you've vomited from looking at the images you won't be able to tell through your tears)

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