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Z Cam E1 is a small camera with filmmaking aspirations

The Z Cam E1 claims to be the world’s smallest Micro Four Thirds (MFT) interchangeable lens camera, and we haven’t seen anything else that disputes it. Z Cam introduced the E1 so videographers could have an action-cam-sized 4K camera that can capture the highest quality footage possible. The E1’s portable size allows it to be mounted in ways and taken places that would otherwise be difficult to do with a DSLR camera, like attached to a drone. And, the appeal is that you can swap lenses.

The camera is almost twice the size and weight of the GoPro Hero4 Black, but the E1’s sensor is nine times the size as the Hero’s 1/2.3 sensor. That means the Z Cam E1 captures better video in low light, and offers a much greater dynamic range. But like the GoPro, 4K video at 30 frames per second is limited to 60Mbps, and unfortunately it shows. Compare the video to a similarly priced 4K MFT camera, such as the Panasonic Lumix G7 (which records 4K video at 100Mbps), and the E1 just looks muddier and lacks color space. That puts the Z Cam E1 in a class of its own, between the GoPro and standard 4K MFT cameras.

The E1 does an outstanding job as a fixed camera, however, and it was really easy to take along where space was a premium. It is well-suited as a versatile B camera where you could snap away time-lapses, film in tight spaces, or capture continuous footage of a subject while keeping your primary camera free for your main shots.

It’s really impressive that Z Cam can fit a MFT sensor into such a small body, but to really get usable footage you’ll have to frame your shots. And while the larger sensor and interchangeable lens mount on the E1 surpass the video quality you’ll get with a GoPro, the E1’s 60Mbps data rate for 4K limits the quality of footage you would otherwise get with similarly priced (albeit larger) Panasonic.

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Alexander Thickstun
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Alexander graduated with a degree in Aerospace Engineering in 2005 and an MBA in 2011. He's an outdoor enthusiast and avid…
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