The E2-M4 is latest update addition to the Z CAM E2 range and at this price point, it may be the perfect camera for anyone wanting to upgrade from a mirrorless camera to a camera designed for shooting motion.
The original Z CAM E2 has greatly improved since it was originally released back in early 2019 and is now a really well rounded micro-four thirds camera for people who are serious about shooting video. You can now shoot up to 160FPS in 4K, shoot ZRAW & ProRes internally, record ProRes RAW externally and use the huge range of software surrounding the E2 system to stream, control and capture in a range of ways.
The M4 takes the original E2 sensor and technical specs and adds the same updates the flagship series received over the E2 when they were released. First, the form factor and design has changed slightly while the camera itself has been beefed up a lot since over the original E2. Not only has is it slightly larger, it also has seen a build quality improvement in several areas, and with it being the same form factor as the flagship models, this means that all the cages that are currently out for the flagships will also work for the M4.
The buttons have also changed since the E2. They now have a more tactile feel to them whereas the E2 had a slightly ‘mushy’ feel; they could have a bit more travel and feedback but they aren’t terrible by any means. The back IO has also slightly changed. You still have the same full size HDMI port, gigabit ethernet, wireless antenna port, 5-pin XLR, 2.5mm LANC port & USB-C; however you now have a much more standard 2pin lemo for power input. You have lost the I/O port and the 9 pin com port, and gained a 12v out 2pin lemo and two 4 pin CTRL ports.
You have also lost the dip switch here because the M4 doesn’t have the same sync capabilities as the original E2. Overall when comparing the two these changes make a lot more sense if this camera is going to be either your A or B cam over the original E2. The 2pin lemo in & out ports make powering the camera and accessories much easier than the original E2, but if you need the sync functionality of the E2 then you still have that option! The covers for the CFAST slot & headphone/mic ports have also changed and are now much easier to open up, which was a common complaint with the original E2. Moving onto the front you have what is the biggest upgrade to the M4, the interchangeable MFT mount. The original E2 had a hard-mounted MFT mount, which meant a lot of people used native MFT lenses or adapted to EF or PL using a speedbooster or regular adapter. However, with this new mount you can now remove the MFT mount and use one of the other mounts that Z CAM make. Here, you currently have four options: the MFT that comes with it, or an EF, PL or Leica M mount. Z CAM has also spoken about the possibility of an E mount too for the future.
Obviously when using these mounts natively you will need to take the crop factor of the 43rds sensor.
The benefit of using the PL or EF mount is the ability to use the eND unit that Z CAM makes. This unit will not work with the MFT mount, M mount or with the turbo mount but slides into the PL or EF mount and can then be controlled via the menu or via the clutch remote handle. To install the cartridge, you are required to remove the clear one already in your camera’s mount by removing two screws, sliding out the clear filter and sliding the eND cartridge in. It’s not tool less, but it’s not a huge issue.
The ND starts at 1.7 stops and can then be adjusted in ⅓ stop increments all the way up to 6.7 stops. Z CAM has stated that it will be adding an auto ND mode similar to the way that other in-camera auto ND systems work.
It’s also worth mentioning another really excellent mount that ZCAM is also releasing, the turbo mount. This is Z CAM’s own focal reducer that will mount directly onto the M4 and the flagship’s IMS mount. It has a 0.71 focal reduction giving you an extra stop of light and allowing you to use EF mount lenses. This will be a great addition for the M4 & S6, though without testing it’s hard to say what quality the optics will be. But if Z CAM’s eND is anything to go by, it will be good.
The pricing has also changed. Excluding VAT the original E2 comes in at £1,695 and the E2 M4 is around £350 cheaper at £1,349. That puts it at around the same price as the Panasonic GH5S.
However, unlike other cameras there are a few key accessories that are worth adding. These would definitely be a cage, a monitor, and some kind of handle — whether that’s side or top. Personally, I like rigging these cameras up like mini RED packages; cage, top mounted monitor, and a side handle. If you want to cut down on cost, I would suggest the portkeys P6 as your monitor but if you want to be able to record ProRes RAW and control the camera in the future I would think about the Atomos Ninja V.
Overall the M4 is a logical next step for the E2 series. It takes everything that people love from the original E2, takes away the multicam sync abilities, which not every end user uses or needs, and adds all of the features that people wanted to see from the flagship cameras. The price reduction has now made the E2-M4 an even more attractive option and it has some very unique features that other cameras at its price point do not.
Visit cvp.com to preorder and accessorise.
Watch our overview video here