Two full frame cameras that shoot 6K, and both offer RAW:
In this article let’s put them head to head to see which is truly the better investment for full frame.
Important: Both cameras haven’t been released to the public yet so most of this comparison is based on available specs and information.
- Comparison of sensors and video features
- Exposure, focus and ergonomics
- The costs of media and batteries
- Which is cheapest to own?
- Verdict. Who wins?
Comparison of sensors and video features
Here’s how the camera sensors compare:
|Camera||Resolution||ISO Range||Sensor Size|
|Z CAM E2-F6||6244×4168||400-125,000||37.09 x 24.75 mm|
|Panasonic S1H||5952×3968||640-51,200||36 x 24 mm|
|Z CAM E2-F6||400 and 2500|
|Panasonic S1H||640 and 4000|
The S1H on paper seems to have the better low light performance. The maximum ISO range is not always a good indicator of low light performance. On the other hand, the E2-F6 has a slightly larger sensor.
What about frame rates?
|Camera||Max fps at 4K||Sensor Crop||Max fps at 1080p|
|Z CAM E2-F6||120 fps (2.4:1), otherwise 72 fps||N/A||120 fps|
|Panasonic S1H||60 fps||24.5 x 16.38 (1.45x crop)||180 fps|
We don’t know what the crop is in 4K, though with 6K you get the full sensor size.
As far as slow motion at 1080p is concerned, you get up to 180 fps with the S1H. It depends on your workflow at the end of the day, but the E2-F6 has an advantage here.
Next, the codecs and color information:
|Camera||Best codec Internally||Color Information|
|Z CAM E2-F6||H.264/H.265 IPB | ZRAW^||10:bit 4:2:0 | RAW^|
|Panasonic S1H||H.264/H.265 ALL-I||10:bit 4:2:2*|
*At 6K you only get 10-bit 4:2:0.
^We don’t know yet what flavor of ZRAW we’ll get. However, ZRAW is partially debayered RAW.
Finally, what you get with HDMI externally:
|Camera||Best external resolution and fps||Color Information|
|Z CAM E2-F6||4096 x 2160 @ 60fps||10:bit 4:2:2|
|Panasonic S1H||4096 x 2160 @ 60fps / 5.9K @ 30fps||10-bit 4:2:2/RAW*|
*Atomos have announced a RAW update coming to the Panasonic S1H. We don’t know at this point whether it will be free or cost money (like the Nikon Z6), but they have confirmed it’s Prores RAW HQ.
In order to get this, you’ll need the Atomos Ninja V recorder.
Regarding audio features, both have okay-ish audio.
Usability, focus and exposure aids, and ergonomics
The little things make all the difference:
- Weight and ergonomics
- Viewfinder and monitor
- Focus and Exposure tools
Here’s how these cameras compare on ergonomics:
|Z CAM E2-F6||Fully modular. It needs a top handle but otherwise has mounting points on the body.|
|Panasonic S1H||It has a fan and it is audible, grip is painful, not the most pleasurable to hold. This is a heavy camera.|
Thankfully it has IBIS. That’s a huge feature.
|Z CAM E2-F6||No||No||Type A|
|Panasonic S1H||Yes||Touch, Full tilt and swivel||Type A|
With the Z CAM E2-F6, you need a monitor to control the unit, like a PORTKEYS BM5-Z 5.2″. That adds to the cost and weight of the rig. That’s not all:
|Camera||Focus Aids||Continuous Autofocus||Exposure|
|Z CAM E2-F6||No||No||Meter|
|Panasonic S1H||Peaking, Zoom||Yes||Histogram, 3D LUTs, Waveform, Vectorscope, Zebras|
However, it’s not all roses.
Bottom line? Ergonomics-wise, you can’t beat the S1H. Period.
Batteries and media cards
|Camera||Dual card slots||Price per GB^|
|Z CAM E2-F6||No, but you can record to an SSD||$1.8/GB|
|Panasonic S1H||Yes, SDXC||$1.8/GB|
^Both cameras can record to SSDs. The price is based on a Sandisk Extreme Pro SSD 240 GB.
This isn’t really an apples to apples comparison. The Z CAM E2-F6 (B&H) uses CFast 2.0 cards, and you need to write to CFast 2.0 for ZRAW. Prores RAW HQ has a data rate of 200-300 MB/s, but that’s for 4K 60p as published by Apple. We don’t know what the data rate for 5.9K 30p will be.
On the other hand, the S1H uses SDXC cards.
All the features in the world are useless if you have to hire a donkey to carry your batteries:
|Camera||Battery life||Cost one one battery*||Cost of 6 hours of operation|
|Z CAM E2-F6||100 minutes#||$60||$216|
|Panasonic S1H||60 minutes^||$88||$528|
#Just an assumption based on the E2. The battery is huge though.
^Actual recordable time, from Panasonic’s official specs for 4K 60 fps MP4.
*As of this writing. Original batteries for the S1H, and Watson for the F6 from B&H.
The E2-F6 is definitely better when it comes to power solutions. But what about workflow?
This is one major area of concern for Z CAM, if you’re shooting with ZRAW. Currently, no NLE supports it.
You need a program called ZRAW VideoSuite to convert ZRAW to one of these three:
- Uncompressed YUV
You cannot color grade ZRAW directly, unless you are happy with the tools inside VideoSuite. To make matters worse, the ZRAW VideoSuite is currently only available for Windows.
These are dealbreakers to a professional RAW workflow, in my opinion.
On the other hand, Prores RAW is supported on the following NLEs:
- Adobe Premiere Pro
- Avid Media Composer
- FCP X
Which is cheaper to own?
Let’s just add up the costs:
|Camera||Panasonic S1H||Z CAM E2-F6|
|Media and Accessories*||N/A||N/A|
*We can’t say for sure unless the data rates for both are revealed, as well as the compression options. Remember, we might have to include some more accessories, but they are generally equal to both cameras.
There’s a price difference of $489 between the S1H and E2-F6. The big question you’ll be having is: Is that worth it?
First, a recap:
|Sensor and ISO||Tie|
|Video features||Panasonic S1H|
|Codecs and Color||Panasonic S1H|
|Ports and Monitoring||Tie|
Before we take our final decision, we’ll let the cameras tell us what they offer that the others don’t:
|Z CAM E2-F6||Internal ZRAW, modular camera, 120 fps in 4K 2.4:1.||No support for ZRAW in any NLE.|
|Panasonic S1H||Internal 10-bit 4:2:2, 6K, Tilt+Swivel LCD, Autofocus and IBIS.||No internal RAW, Potential fan noise.|
- Tilt+ Flip screen
- Great Viewfinder and LCD, large OLED panel on top
- True anamorphic mode and full frame
- All the important exposure tools
- Autofocus in video
- 400 Mbps 10-bit 4:2:2 codec which can be graded
- Great stills camera
- Prores RAW coming in February 2020.
- 180 fps in 1080p
- Panasonic’s amazing color science
- 14+ stops (V-Log)
- Dual Native ISO
- Worldwide sales and support
- Native lenses as well as third-party lenses via the L-alliance
What do you think?