Action cameras are usually pretty simple. They are pretty small, and most even look the same. I mean it’s either the rectangular GoPro shaped design or the Sony barrel type. Well the Z Camera E1 is most definitely the most unique action camera I have ever reviewed. While it still has a rectangular shape, the lens is actually interchangeable and works more like a DSLR. No other action camera has this feature.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this design was actually the future. I mean think about it, having different lenses gives us the opportunity to capture things differently. It would also solve the problem of distortion. Some people want the fish-eye footage but most don’t, so this can easily appeal to both groups. Either way, the Z Camera E1 is the first of its kind action camera.
- Dimensions: 75.2×56.1×50.3mm / 3.0×2.2×2″
- Weight: 252g / 8.9oz
- Video resolutions: 4K 30/25/24fps; 1080p 60/50/30/25/24fps; 720p 240/60/50fps
- Bitrate: 60Mbps
- Photo: 16MP
- Modes: Single Shot, Burst, Time-Lapse, Continuous
- Features: WiFi, Bluetooth, LCD screen, Digital Image Stabilization, Tripod mounting thread,
- Ports: MicroUSB, MiniHDMI, MicroSD card slot, 3.5mm Microphone Input
- Memory: MicroSD with Class 10 and SDXC cards, up to 128GB
- Battery life: 80 minutes of 1080p at 60fps
- Price: $499 – $699
In The Box
- Z Camera E1
- Lexar 633x 64GB MicroSDXC card
- Polaroid Snap and Wrap Flexi Color Tripod with 360° Rotating Ball Head
- Polaroid JOZ 20 Zoom Photo Pack
- Tiffen Lens Cleaning Tissues
- Polaroid Super Blower With Hi Perfomance Silicon Squeeze Bulb
- USB-MicroUSB-SD Card reader adapter, OTG USB / Micro USB Multi-Function SD / MICRO SD Card Reader / Writer For PC, Tablet and Smartphones
- Panasonic LUMIX G 14mm f/2.5 ASPH II Lens* – Only available with the more expensive $699 bundle
Design & Accessories
The Z Camera E1 is the worlds smallest action camera with an interchangeable lens system. It has a dimension of 75.2×56.1×50.3mm / 3.0×2.2×2″, which isn’t that much bigger than a GoPro. Just much thicker, which is mostly caused by the lens adapter. The camera does weigh 252g / 8.9oz, which is pretty heavy. You also need to add the weight of the lens there. So mounting it onto a moving object might be tricky.
The body of the camera is made out of plastic, which doesn’t feel that strong. It’s obviously not meant to be dropped. I mean you wouldn’t want to drop it either if you had an expensive lens connected to it. The overall design is pretty much like any other action camera though. The front side has a lens adapter and the power on button. Back side holds a pretty decent size LCD and buttons for navigating through settings. Top side has another small LCD, that displays modes, and the recording button. Bottom side has a threaded tripod hole. Left side has the battery compartment and also a MicroSD slot. Right side has the MicroUSB, MiniHDMI ports and a 3.5mm microphone input.
The mic input is pretty cool. You can actually listen to what you just recorded via headphones. The buttons though kind of trigger me. I don’t know they just feel really cheap. I mean they fit in with the design but they are just too plain. Like I would expect more from a $499 camera.
Another thing is the price, $499 gets you just the camera and the accessories listed under In The Box. You don’t get a lens though. So if you don’t have a lens, you are going to need to spend much more. You got two options, either you buy a lens yourself or buy another bundle for $699. The $699 bundle includes the Panasonic LUMIX G 14mm f/2.5 ASPH II Lens. Which is pretty good for normal footage. You can also get some fish-eye and even macro lenses. They are pretty expensive though. So obviously this action camera is more suitable for a professional and not an amateur.
PS! the Z Camera E1 uses Micro Four-Thirds lens. They are smaller than a standard DSLR lens. Definitely pay that in mind when buying one yourself.
As far as accessories go, the camera supports any mount available. You also get a flexible tripod with it, which is perfect for starting off with. You can also use the tripod threaded hole to purchase a GoPro adapter. The adapter will let you use different GoPro mounts. Such as adhesive etc. Just make sure that they can hold the weight of your camera. If you plan on using a huge and heavy lens then it might become a problem.
Video & Features
The Z Camera E1 can record videos with a resolution up to 4K at 30/25/24fps. It also supports the Full HD 1080p at 60/50/30/25/24fps and slow motion at 720p resolution with 240/60/50fps. This should actually be enough for most serious videographers. As I mentioned before, this is a serious tool. The thing is though, a good lens makes a huge difference when it comes to image quality. So first I’m going to show what type of quality you can expect with the Panasonic LUMIX G 14mm f/2.5 ASPH II lens.
I honestly got nothing more to say other than wow. The Z Camera E1 has the best video quality out of all action cameras I have seen. Everything is crystal clear, all the colors are well balanced, focus and sharpness is on point. You can’t wish for anything better. The image literally looks like it has been captured with a DSLR. Which is also the point of this action camera.
Here is another 4K sample video. Here, the camera is paired up with a Olympus Zuiko ED 12mm lens. Another important feature of the Z Camera E1 is it’s advanced auto focus. As you can see, the camera has no problem focusing on even the smallest things. And again the video quality is amazing. You can even see the tiniest grain of sand. Really amazing.
Besides the superb video quality, the action camera can also be connected to any Android or iOS device via WiFi or Bluetooth. The camera can be fully operated via the Z Camera App. You can use it to start recording and change all the settings. So you can fully operate it from a distance.
So while I wasn’t too happy with the small design things on the Z Camera E1, the video quality blows my mind. I can comfortably say that it has the best video quality among action cameras. The only part that troubles me though is the weight. I can see some adhesive mounts not being able to hold it.
On the other hand, I think the Z Camera E1 is perfect for aerial photography. It’s a lot lighter than DSLR cameras so it should be perfect for drones. It should be a good addition to serious drone photographers.
So if you like the Z Camera E1 action camera and you are interested in buying it, then expect to spend at least $699. Unless of course you already got a good Micro Four-Thirds lens.