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Between the BMPCC 4K and the Zcam E2
  • Later this month I am coming into a pretty nice payday and I am debating between picking up one of these two cameras. Currently I have an Olympus Em5 Mark II I shoot with handheld. I am generally happy with the em5 II and find it easy to use. However grading the footage isn't easy and the 8 bit 1080p video isn't the greatest. I want to use the cameras as I get into doing professional video work. Run and gun, wedding, corporate events, interviews, documentary, and short films. I actually work as an actor and know several directors here in Shanghai so in the future I would possibly have the opportunity to work with them as a cameraman, focus puller, or DP. Having my own camera, lenses, and rig to bring to a low budget short film would be very beneficial to me.

    The Pocket 4k and the Zcam attract me for similar reasons.

    4k Video up to 60p (160 for the zcam) Much higher dynamic range than my Em5 Mark II Options for recording to an external ssd Much better lowlight capabilities than my Em5 Lots of rigging options

    I plan to rig either one with a handheld rig. So cage, monitor, handle and battery and get them up to a size that would be suitable for handheld shooting and could be quickly throw onto a tripod, or be reworked into a shoulder rig. I currently use 2 of the voigtlanders and will be focusing manually for everything so their AF abilities don't matter at all.

    As far as I can tell the bmpcc 4k advantages are 12 bit raw up to 40k 60p bRAW 12:1 compression is small enough to go on standard sd cards and the quality is good enough for my uses. An SD card slot. Comes with the full version of Davinci 10,050 Chinese RMB

    Bmpcc 4k cons battery life is terrible and needs an external to work for any period of time strange form factor 1080p raw and 1080p prores 61-120 fps is windowed at a 3.8x crop factor

    and the Zcam 4k up to 120 with no crop and 160 with a slight crop Takes sony batteries which are cheap and easy to find No fans and block shape for easy modularity Can use phone or tablet as monitor with a usb C cable Supposedly more dynamic range than the bmpcc 4k but I haven't seen this demonstrated anywhere.

    Cons- 15,000 Chinese rmb video is all 10 bit and no raw available yet (I know a firmware is in the works to introduce raw) No Sd card recording option No built in screen, so any setup needs either a monitor or a phone/tablet monitor.

    I'm about to make about 22,000 rmb working on a documentary next week. Combined with my normal pay It would be enough for me to buy and rig out a BMPCC 4K with a monitor, cage, and battery. But the zcam is also really tempting with its 120p 4k mode. I think the black magic files would be more flexible and easier to edit and it also comes with davinci too!

    For the same price as the Zcam body only I could probably buy the Bmpcc 4k, build a handheld rig with external power and a monitor and have enough left over to pick up a gimbal (second hand at least if not new). Is that the way to go? Or is the Zcam the way most people would lean?

  • 9 Replies sorted by
  • Get BMPCC 4K, period.

    It is much more stable for now with much better selection of accessories and cages.

  • Thanks for the reply Vitaliy. How do you feel about the files between the two cameras and the dynamic range? Any noticeable difference? I've also heard I need a ir filter on the bmpcc 4k because the built in ir filter is weak

  • I think usability and lot of other things are more important compared to small difference in DR.

    Z-CAM is improving fast, but they are much smaller firm that is now busy with FF E2 versions.

  • I have both. Zcam is better in DR, Lowlight and skin tone. But highlights are VERY compressed so you have to decompress them in DAVINCI (or other) before grading or apply LUT if you work with ZLOG2. I do it in 10 secondes with Davinci, very easy.

    Slowmo in 120/160 FPS is beautiful but need to be not underexposed because vertical lines appeared.

    Concerning usability, I prefer Zcam because it’s really easy to balance it on gimbal, and battery life is more durable. I remapped the buttons for to work faster (WB, Zoom sensor, false color).

    No problem with T5 SSD (but cfast is better and safer for long shots).

  • You think the Zcam is better in lowlight? Isn't it using the same sensor as the Pocket 4k?

  • How can we be sure it’s same ? Personally I don’t know.

  • Odd color shifts in BMPCC, but look for yourself to see if it is an issue for you.

  • It’s too bad pocket 4K doesn’t have a 4:3 anamorphic mode. Hopefully the e2 pressures them to do it.

  • If you shoot handheld a lot, you will probably want to budget for a gimbal. Because unlike the Olympus cameras, the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and Z Cam E2 do not have in-body image stabilization.