In the world of camera gear, we’re used to announcements, revolutions, breakthroughs, and quantum leaps forward. This time around, however, we’re facing a company that has slowly made its way into the western hemisphere.
Initially known for security cameras and not much more, Z CAM have been scrutinized with not so well-hidden sense of self-rightfulness by all the other rivals on the scene. Nevertheless, after their first NAB appearance a few years back, Chinese camera maker is still here with some enticing offerings to compete with. Greg of LensProToGo is always looking to test any newcomer in the field as in this case he compares the entry-level Z CAM E2C and more advanced Z CAM E2. Let’s take a look at the results.
So at first look, you may think there’s something wrong with your eyes since one of the two cameras seems just a shrunk version of the other one. The Z CAM E2C is extremely similar to the older sibling, it’s just a little smaller height-wise, while keeps the same footprint.
At a quick glance, you may even get them wrong since they share the same layout in buttons, display, and mounting points and look the same almost from every angle you look at them.
The first real difference, besides the obvious one that is the height, is the card slot. The bulkier E2 accommodates CFast cards having a bigger slot on the side instead of the smaller one apt for SD cards on the E2C.
The main advantage of this configuration is that you can record internally even the higher quality formats, with no need to send the signal through the USB-C interface to an SSD to record it as it’s on the E2C. This may be an inconvenience for many video shooters, while others may enjoy the ease and speed of editing when filming on the go while recording directly to an external disk.
But that’s not all Z CAM have packed in the larger space at their disposal. The original E2 has more options in the battery compartment where we can fit a Sony NP-F970 battery, for example, instead of the smaller LP-E6 used on the E2C thus granting you much longer shooting times.
Besides that, we find a couple of I/O ports that are missing on the smaller counterpart, namely a COM port and a proprietary input and output.
On the inside, the menu system of both cameras is perfectly identical, you could not tell one from the other, but what is different instead are the recording options and frame rates. The E2C utilizes 8-bit H.264 and 10-bit H.265 (both 4:2:0) for internal recording alongside the option to film in ProRes externally.
The E2, on the other hand, can record DCI-compliant 4K video up to 30fps in ProRes HQ internally. You can crank up the frame rates but you need to drop the resolution until you top at 100fps in 4K while using Apple’s proprietary codec.
If you switch to the compressed H.265, you can squeeze a few frames more – 120fps in 4K, 160fps in a weird cropped ratio (3840 x 1620) as well as 240fps in Full HD.
Other than that, both cameras have Micro 4/3 sensors, so both will have quite small space needs when stoved away, but one will cost you significantly more.
The E2, in fact, is more than twice the price of the little sibling and has a higher cost per mile since cards are more expensive and have obviously quite higher data throughput.
Drawing a conclusion, it’s quite obvious that the two cameras are aimed at quite different targets, the E2C is your budget option, good for a cheap multi-camera setup or in case you are not in need of higher frame rates.
Both counterparts are excellent cameras beyond any doubt, but the E2 seems to be a more complete cinema camera, good for all kinds of productions, while the E2C will be a great tool in the hands of those filmmakers who are just starting out or simply don’t need all the bells and whistles that the more expensive model provides.