The E1 is a GoPro-Style Interchangeable Lens Camera that Shoots 4K and Uses a Micro Four Thirds Sensor

A new start-up company called Z Camera has just unveiled the E1, a GoPro-style camera that uses a Micro Four Thirds sensor, takes interchangeable lenses, and is capable of shooting 4K video. We got some hands-on time with the E1 last week during a meeting with Z Camera’s founder, Jason Zhang. Images of the camera in this story are from that meeting.

The E1, which fits in the palm of your hand and weighs just half a pound (without a lens attached), was supposed to be announced next week but details of the camera leaked out today on Kickstarter. But while Zhang has launched a Kickstarter campaign for the E1 with a goal of $42,000, the camera has actually already been funded and is in production. (Which begs the question of what the fundraising is for but that’s been true of many Kickstarter projects these days.)

Either way, the E1, which uses a 16MP Micro Four Thirds sensor made by Panasonic, is an intriguing POV-style camera. It will sell for $699 body-only or in the $1000-1100 range with a 14mm kit lens made by Panasonic, Zhang told Shutterbug.

The E1 is compatible with other Panasonic Micro Four Thirds lenses and will eventually work with Olympus, Leica, and Sigma MFT lenses as well.

It shoots Raw and JPEG images for still photography, and Cinema 4K video at 24p and UltraHD 4K video at 30p. Video is shot in the .MOV/H.264 format. Images and video are stored on a removable MicroSD card (up to 128GB card-compatible) in the E1. The camera has both WiFi and Bluetooth and you can control it via a free mobile app.

With a Micro Four Thirds sensor and the ability to use higher quality interchangeable lenses in a range of focal lengths, the E1 is designed to produce better image quality than a GoPro, which uses a tiny point-and-shoot-sized sensor and a ultra-wide-angle lens.

Zhang said prospective users of the E1 would include professional videographers, drone enthusiasts, documentary filmmakers, and those wanting to use the camera for reality TV shows, such as Big Brother.

The Micro Four Thirds sensor has a built-in noise filter, allowing it to shoot video at up to ISO 100,000 and still photos at up to ISO 6400. The E1 comes with two removable, rechargeable batteries. Battery life is 45 minutes while shooting 4K and two hours while shooting 1080p video.

Unlike a true action camera such as the GoPro, the E1 and its polycarbonate body and fragile interchangeable lenses, is not designed to withstand a heavy rough-and-tumble shooting environment, though Zhang said some durable housing options were being explored. In many ways, the E1's more direct rival is the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, which also has a Micro Four Thirds lens mount.

Z Camera is currently working with distributors and the E1 is slated to start shipping at the end of this month. Read more about the camera on its Kickstarter page or check out the demo video below.