The Ultimate Z CAM E2 Handheld Rig

After the long Holiday season, you’re probably ready to tackle your New Year’s resolution with a lot of positive energy and enthusiasm. So, if you’re planning to enter this new decade with a purchase of a new camera that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, maybe you should consider the entry-level Z CAM E2.

All in all, this offering makes a lot of sense since it’s a nice all-around 4K camera that packs some excellent features under the hood such as DCI and UHD 4K up to 160 fps, 13-stop dynamic range, 10-bit color recording, ProRes support, and much more. In the video below, Mac Olink covers his camera rig built around the Z-CAM E2 body itself, a small and compact setup for budget filmmakers.

The E2 is one of the latest additions in Z-CAM’s lineup of cine cameras. Met with a lot of skepticism at the beginning, this company has started to make a name for itself since the offerings it released slowly but surely gained a lot of traction in the filmmaking community.

Following the path of Blackmagic Design, the Chinese camera maker is trying to disrupt the market by bringing high-quality cine cameras at a fraction of the cost one would expect.

Z CAM E2 Rig Accessories

The rig that has been covered in the video starts with an external monitor. It’s a needed part, since the E2 is a brain only camera, with no monitor included in the kit.

The monitor of choice is the Portkeys BM5 which is a sturdy field monitor with a great plus over its rivals – it can control the camera through the touch screen. For a third-party product that is a great advantage without any doubt.

To get our grip on the camera, you’ve got two choices: a top handle and a side handle. While the side is custom made to be closer to the body and to leave access to the Function buttons on the front, the top is a simple handle made by SmallRig with plenty of mounting points and an easy locking system.

In the video, Mac suggests two particular lenses that cover the whole range from 18mm up to 100mm, and those are the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 and the Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8.

These are two fantastic pieces of glass we’re talking about. If instead, you prefer an all-rounder single-lens approach, you can opt for another Sigma lens, the 24-70mm f/2.8. If you choose the double lens setup, you should consider adding a lens support as the weight is considerable.

That obviously involves adding a baseplate and some 15mm rails, but for the sake of safety when handling this kind of gear it’s a compromise that can be easily made.

To power up the whole setup, you can use a V-mount battery: they can last almost forever on such small power draw, plus V-Mount batteries are reliable and easy to store. You’ll need some cables to route everything around along with a handful of velcro ties to keep everything tidy.

If instead of shooting handheld, you need to go on a gimbal like the Ronin-S as we see here, there will be some modifications needed. A gimbal setup needs to be compact and light, so we can ditch the enormous lens and batteries, the rails and the handles.

In this case, the juice comes from the compact Sony NPF batteries. You’ll also need some small counterweights to balance the otherwise too front heavy lens setup. There is a baseplate that has mounting points for said counterweights as well.

Moving the monitor on a cheap swivel handle will ease the balancing, as it would do moving to a smaller lens, maybe via an adapter.

If you want to improve your grip on the gimbal itself, you can resort to DJI handles, even in a Weebill-esque configuration, these are very useful for low-angle shots.

So, there you have it – a nice rig for your Z CAM E2! Set it up by following the above guidelines and no one will wrongly doubt your gear choices thinking that you’ve chosen cheap gear. It’s sad, but that’s often how clients see it, not knowing that it’s much more important the person behind the camera than the camera itself.

[source: Mac Olink]

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