It’s been a while since we’ve covered the fps4000 camera mainly due to development time taking longer than initially estimated. However, Graham Rowan the engineer behind the camera has now posted the first 4k 480fps footage shot in RAW on the fps4000 camera which uses a sophisticated memory arrangement on the onboard super-fast flash RAM to be able to record lengths of time unimaginable before on slow motion cameras at high resolution.
This camera is a very different kind of technology from regular high-speed cameras that record to volatile DRAM. The fps series records to flash chips that are soldered to the mainboard and allow a variety of frames rates and resolutions depending on the sensor used but all is saved on the flash memory as a non-volatile stream of data. Modern SSD chips are so good at re-allocating reading and writing bits that the life of the components is now measured in decades of regular use instead of a few years. The fps4000 is using this technology fully to enable memory bandwidth magnitudes greater at a significantly reduced cost.
The Z Cam E2 has finally started shipping and is now available for direct order at their site. The camera caught our attention for its low price of just $1999 and the high frame rate features of 240fps 1080p and 120fps 4k. It seems to be using the same 4/3 sensor as the great Panasonic GH5s but with extended features.
The camera company ZCam has also released some samples in a variety of scenarios so you can see what the camera is capable of. At first inspection, it is clear this camera is a clear step up from the Z Cam E1 which had some image quality issues. The E2 seems to go out of the box ready to produce class-leading imagery and offer some very nice high frame rate action. There are also some rumored comments that suggest the team is testing 300fps at 720p as an added bonus for future software.
Z Cam the relatively new Camera company from Shenzhen, China has announced the Z Cam E2 at NAB 2018 MSRP $1,999.00 USD. It is not a direct replacement for their ambitious but half-baked Z E1 m4/3 camera which costs $399. The new camera is a beast specs wise with up to 120fps 4k and full HD 1080p at 240fps. The codecs will be H.264 and H.265 at 10 bit but no RAW support so far which might be acceptable if the codec is clean enough and their promised Log Flat curve preserves the estimated 13.5 stops of dynamic range.
The camera is still being developed for a June 2018 estimated ship date. It lacks a back screen and relies on a Wifi or Gigabit Ethernet link to their dedicated control application. They intend to support iOS devices and or a PC client. No mention of Android support or Mac which should be included in order to maintain the widest compatibility. We feel lacking Android control is a big deal and should be promised in a future update. It is also unclear if the camera will be possible to use by using a touch screen field monitor which probably will not be the case. Using an iPhone or an iPad as the control interface is probably the best use case.
The Z Cam E1 which delivered excellent quality 4k footage from a tiny package and was able to do 720p 240fps frame rates “at less than ideal quality”, however, a new Rumor from 4/3 Rumors here shows a Twitter message that hints at a new Z E2 m4/3 camera that is able to do 120fps at full 4k resolution. If this turns out to be true it could yield further performance improvements in 1080p and 720p along with higher quality that could be usable.
As far as linear specs go a 120p 4k pipeline could in theory yield 480fps 1080p and 960/1000fps 720p without going out of spec. As we have come to know over the years, however, it is usually wrong to extrapolate these specs to the maximum possible metric as the sensor or memory could be bottlenecks that limit the performance. So this rumor could have some legs to it and NAB 2018 could be the show that makes 4k 120p a regular feature for cameras.
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