Which Z CAM E2 Cine Camera to Pick? Here’s the Comparison You are Looking For.

Z CAM has introduced a stable of cameras over the last year or so, and they are all under the E2 moniker:

  1. Z CAM E2C (Amazon, B&H)
  2. Z CAM E2 (Amazon, B&H)
  3. Z CAM E2G
  4. Z CAM E2-S6 (B&H)
  5. Z CAM E2-F6 (B&H)
  6. Z CAM E2-F8 (B&H)

What are the differences between these six cameras, and which one is right for your work? That’s what I’ll attempt to answer in this article. Read on!

Resolution, Codecs and Frame Rates

Let’s go over the names and prices of all the cameras:

CameraPrice of bodySensor SizeLens Mount
Z CAM E2C$79917.56 x 13.11mmMFT
Z CAM E2$1,99919.0 x 13.0 mmMFT
Z CAM E2G$2,49914.13 x 7.45 mmMFT
Z CAM E2-S6$2,99523.4 x 15.67 mmCanon EF/Arri PL
Z CAM E2-F6$4,99537.09 x 24.75 mmCanon EF/Arri PL
Z CAM E2-F8$5,99535.97 x 23.98 mmCanon EF/Arri PL

It’s pretty obvious the larger the sensor size, the more the camera costs (except for the E2G).

With a larger sensor you also have a larger mount.

The naming system is pretty straightforward:

  • The G in E2G stands for global shutter, which is why it’s slightly more expensive than the ‘plain’ E2.
  • The C in E2C stands for ‘compact’.
  • The S stands for Super 35mm, since that’s the sensor size.
  • The F stands for Full Frame, since that’s the sensor size.
  • The numbers 6 and 8 stand for 6K and 8K, respectively.

Let’s look at what you get in terms of resolution, ISO and frame rates:

CameraISO RangeNative ISO ValuesClaimed Dynamic Range (Z-Log2)
Z CAM E2C800 to 25,600N/A11.5 stops
Z CAM E2*500 to 102,400250 and 250013~15 Stops
Z CAM E2G1250 to 40,000N/A12 Stops
Z CAM E2-S6400 to 125,000400 and 125014 stops
Z CAM E2-F6400 to 125,000 400 and 250015 stops
Z CAM E2-F8400 to 125,000400 and 125014 stops

*The Z CAM E2 (Amazon, B&H) has a WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) with supposedly greater dynamic range (16 stops) in a lower ISO range (250 ~ 51200) and Native ISO 250 and 1250.

CameraHighest Resolution and fpsMax fps at 4KHighest BitrateColor Information
E2CUHD @30 fps30 fpsN/A10-bit 4:2:0 (H.265)*
E24096 x 1728 @120 fps160 fps (2.4:1)300 MbpsZRAW, 10-bit 4:2:0 (H.265) & 10-bit 4:2:2 (Prores HQ)
E2G4K DCI @30 fps30 fps 200 Mbps10-bit 4:2:0 (H.265)
E2-S6^6244×4168 @30fps100 fps (2.4:1)300 MbpsZRAW, 10-bit 4:2:0 (H.265)
E2-F6 ^6244×4168 @30fps120 fps (2.4:1)300 MbpsZRAW, 10-bit 4:2:0 (H.265)
E2-F8^8192×3456 @30fps30 fps (UHD)300 MbpsZRAW, 10-bit 4:2:0 (H.265)

*According to Z CAM: “Apple ProRes will be supported via firmware update after the certification program.” An SSD will have to be used via the USB-C output.

^4K is available by cropping or downsampling:

  • E2 S6: Cropping / Supersampling selectable for: 4K UHD, 4K UHD Low Noise, DCI 4K, DCI 4K Low Noise
  • E2 F6: Cropping / Supersampling selectable for: 4K UHD, DCI 4K
  • E2 F8: Cropping / Supersampling selectable for: 4K UHD, 6K UHD, DCI 6K

Here’s what you get with the HDMI output (All have HDMI 2.0 Type A connectors):

CameraMax HDMI Output*
Z CAM E2CN/A
Z CAM E2C4K @60fps
Z CAM E2GC4K @ 30fps
Z CAM E2-S6DCI 4K @60fps, 10-bit 4:2:2
Z CAM E2-F6C4K @ 60fps, 10-bit 4:2:2
Z CAM E2-F8C4K @ 60fps, 10-bit 4:2:2

I’m not sure how C4K is different from DCI 4K, though I think they’re the same thing.

*Z CAM are also working with Atomos and other partners to get ZRAW and ProresRAW recording out of some of these cameras.

Media cards and power

All models use CFast 2.0 (except the Z Cam E2C which uses SDXC).

Regarding batteries, the Z CAM E2C (Amazon, B&H) is again the outlier:

CameraBattery TypeBattery life^External connector
Z CAM E2CCanon LP-E6N/A12V 
Z CAM E2Sony NP-F120 minutes12V LEMO
Z CAM E2G Sony NP-FN/A12V LEMO
Z CAM E2-S6 Sony NP-FN/A12V LEMO
Z CAM E2-F6 Sony NP-FN/A12V LEMO
Z CAM E2-F8Sony NP-FN/A12V LEMO

The higher-specced cameras will have a larger power draw due to their sensor and processing, though we don’t have official numbers yet.

Which Z CAM E2 Cine Camera to Pick?

Since most of these cameras haven’t been released yet we can only surmise, so here’s my take for now:

CameraUSPsCons
E2CPrice, probably the cheapest cinema camera ever.It’s hard to recommend this when the BMPCC 4K is available.
E2Remote control via Wi-Fi or Ethernet,  VERY compact compared, 160 fps!Not so good in low light, you’ll need to build the camera up because not much is included in the price.
E2GGlobal shutterRelatively low dynamic range due to global shutter.
S6Super 35mm sensor at a great price, 100 fps in 2.4:1The BMPCC 6K is hard to beat. You’ll need to build the camera up because not much is included in the price. The Red Komodo also is a factor in this price point.
F615 stops of DR, best low light performer and great feature setLet’s wait for the actual camera to ship. The Panasonic S1H competes at this price range.
F8Full-frame sensor, 8K resolutionNothing yet, no other camera offers what this one does at this price point.

The Z CAM E2-F8 (B&H) camera is a special case that doesn’t deliver much value to low budget filmmakers in return for 8K. You can use the $1,000 saved for lenses or important accessories. However, it might be a great B-Cam to the Helium or Monstro or Ranger. Let’s wait for more information here.

I’m not too sure about the Z CAM E2-S6 (B&H) either. It has great specs, but is too expensive for what it offers. You have to remember you don’t even get a battery with these cameras. They are completely modular, so you’ll have to build them up with accessories before you get a usable camera for cinema. The Blackmagic Pocket 6K (AmazonB&H) offers stiff competition here.

The E2C and E2G are special-case cameras that probably won’t appeal to low budget filmmakers either.

My picks for now

The two cameras that stand out to me:

The Z CAM E2-F6 particularly has some great features for cinema:

  1. 15 stops of DR
  2. Better low light performance due to larger photosites.
  3. Possibility of anamorphic mode in 4K.
  4. Up to 120 fps in DCI 2.4:1 mode, and 72 fps in 16:9 and DCI modes.

We’ll know how good or bad it is once the camera ships and is tested in the real world. Its competition (for now) is the Panasonic S1H (AmazonB&H).

What do you think?

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