Competition is hotting up for the space under that quadcopter you've got your eye on. The E1 from Z Camera is a tiny drone-friendly Micro Four Thirds camera which can shoot 4K video and has far exceeded its funding target on Kickstarter. Like the Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera, the E1 aims to offer the benefits of a compact action camera form-factor with the quality and options you get from more traditionally-sized interchangeable lens cameras.
The E1 is being billed as the world's smallest interchangeable lens 4K camera, and it does look incredibly small considering it houses a 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds (17.3 x 13 mm) sensor and mount. As such, the camera will no doubt find a home with video and film professionals who want to mount the camera to capture shots from unique perspectives, as well as those looking to add to their aerial options.
In terms of video credentials, the E1 will be able to shoot 4K (4096 x 2160) footage at 24 fps (frames per second) and 3840 x 2160 UHD footage at 30 fps. It'll also record Full HD 1080p and HD 720p video at up to 60 fps. High frame-rate HD 720p footage at 120 fps, for producing slow motion footage, is also said to be in the works.
Advanced 3D noise filters using motion compensated temporal filtering (MCTF) technology are used to reduce image noise and the camera can maintain high image quality up to ISO 6,400, and has a top ISO setting of 102,400. The E1 also boasts 10-11 stops of dynamic range and an advanced contrast-based autofocus system. Still images can be shot in RAW or JPG, and burst JPG shooting is possible at 15 fps.
iOS and Android apps will allow users to control, live stream and manage content via their Wi-Fi or Bluetooth 4.0-enabled devices. Another nice feature if setting the camera up in an awkward situation is the ability to have it on standby for up to one month and activate it using Bluetooth LE. While a fully charged removable battery can give up to 80 minutes of 4K recording (without Wi-Fi), the camera can also be run on a direct AC power source.
The diminutive camera measures 75 x 56 x 49 mm (2.9 x 2.2 x 1.9 in) and weighs 209 g (7.4 oz) with a battery. It features a magnesium housing and records to microSD cards. Around back the E1 has a 2.5-inch LCD with a 320 x 240 resolution, along with a number of physical buttons. Because the E1 uses the same Micro Four Thirds lenses as cameras from the likes of Panasonic and Olympus, there are plenty of quality glass options out there.
The E1 camera has already far exceeded its Kickstarter target of US$42,000 and the project will run until August 15. An early bird pledge of $599 is currently available for a E1 camera body-only (which is expected to sell for $699 on wider release), or $799 for the camera and a 14-mm F2.5 lens from Panasonic. Should everything go to plan, the cameras will start shipping in November.
You can check out the E1 Kickstarter video below.