Photokina 2016: Z-Cam new all-in-one VR solutions – a serious rival to GoPro’s Omni?

It’s going to be a busy fall for ImagineVision and its Z-Cam series of VR cameras. The Z-Cam S1 VR camera is set to ship in December, and the company is already working on a model that combines the best of the S1 with key features from the existing Z-Cam E1 (launched in 2015).

The S1 is a fully integrated professional VR camera with four synchronized sensors and coordinated auto white balance and exposure. The camera can shoot 6K video at 30 fps and 4K video at 60 fps. Here’s an example:

The GoPro Omni uses six Hero4 cameras, but the Z-cams take a different approach using only four. To do this each camera has a high quality fisheye lens attached to give a broader field of view. The result is a compact unit that feels very solid.

Footage is recorded to the camera’s four SD cards, but the camera is also equipped with four HDMI ports for monitoring and an Ethernet port for fast image file transfer. Users can also manually control all camera settings on their computer via the Ethernet port, or can simply hit the record button on the camera to take advantage of the S1’s automatic settings.

The camera’s full metal body helps dissipate heat for up to 120 minutes of uninterrupted recording with a full battery. The camera is also equipped with 4 directional microphones.

The Z-Cam S1 comes with four SD card slots, as well as four HDMI ports and an ethernet port for file transfer.
The Z-Cam S1 comes with four SD card slots, as well as four HDMI ports and an ethernet port for file transfer.

Another VR camera from ImagineVision, the Z-Cam SP1 Pro, is also on the horizon. The device is fully integrated, like the S1, but has larger M4/3 sensors which should make for better image fidelity and low light performance. In many ways it is similar to the original E1 but in a more tightly integrated package (the original E1 was essentially multiple camera held together in a holder).

“It will combine the convenience and features of the S1, but will have larger sensors and good fisheye lenses from iZugar,” said ImagineVision CEO Kinson Loo. The wider lens angle—220 degrees on the SP1 Pro and E1—offers more overlap between cameras and is said to improve output after stitching.

The Z-Cam SP1 Pro combines key features of the S1 with the lenses and sensors of the Z-Cam E1.
The Z-Cam SP1 Pro combines key features of the S1 with the lenses and sensors of the Z-Cam E1.

The company is also launching its own stitching software, based on Facebook’s open-source algorithm. The software is optimized for the S1 and aims to offer fully automatic offline stitching. It will be released in December for $1,499 and is currently available for pre-order on Indiegogo for $749. Until then, footage from any of the Z-Cams can be stitched using regular third party software.

The S1 is available for pre-order on Indiegogo for $1,999 and will retail for $2,499 after it ships in December. A release date for the Z-Cam SP1 Pro has not yet been set.

For more information, check out the S1 on Indiegogo.

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