‘Mission Impossible 7’ Action Scenes Shot on a $3K Chinese Cinema Camera


While the new Mission Impossible movie was mostly shot on IMAX cameras, several action scenes were captured using a Z CAM E2-F6. This compact 6K camera out of China is not only performant, but costs just $3,000.

Z CAM isn’t a new name in filmmaking, but it is new to acceptance among high-end productions. The company launched in 2015 and put significant emphasis on virtual reality cameras for its first three years. But in 2018, it launched the Z CAM E2 as a low-cost, 4K camera that could shoot at 160 frames per second with 10-bit color. Following that camera’s success, it launched follow-ups including the Z CAM E2-F8 which can shoot full-frame 8K.

While independent filmmakers have been using Z CAM cameras for a few years now, the company got a major feather in its cap since its E2-F6 camera was used to shoot several of the action scenes in Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1. As reported by YM Cinema, the crew employed the compact and affordable Z CAM as what is known as a “crash cam,” or camera that is put into somewhat compromising situations that would be either far too risky or impractical for an expensive system for an IMAX camera.

Theoretically, the Mission Impossible team could have chosen a RED Komodo since it is similar in size, but YM Cinema reports that the crew wanted a full-frame system — the Komodo is Super35. Since the E2-F6 is full frame, small, and affordable, it fits right into the demands of the filmmaking crew.

“The main model of Z CAM utilized on MI7 is Z CAM E2-F6. The E2-F6 was used on car pursuits, real train crashes, and the famous motocross skydiving stunts. These are very tricky stunts, which Tom Cruise rehearsed over 500 skydives, and over 13,000 motocross jumps, to accurately perform,” YM Cinema explains.

The base model E2-F6 costs $3,000 and can shoot full-frame 12-bit ProRes RAW via HDMI out to an Atomos Ninja V monitor recorder. It can shoot 6K footage at up to 60 frames per second and 4K at up to 120 frames per second. It also captures Z CAM’s ZRAW format, promises 15 stops of dynamic range, and comes standard with Canon EF mount but can be equipped to shoot to Leica M, Micro Four Thirds, or PL with an optional accessory.

The “pro” version of the camera is shipping now and adds a five-inch touch monitor for camera control as well as Z-Log2, 10-bit Color, ProRes 422, and ProRes 422 HQ recording options for $1,000 more — still quite the bargain for that level of performance. Its highest resolution format is 6,064 by 4,040 at 30 frames per second (open gate), but it has a long list of frame rates and resolutions available. Of note, RAW over HDMI external recording is not yet supported on the Pro version at the time of publication. Instead, the company offers custom media called ZBlades that have 1, 2, and 4TB capacity options.

With its use on the Mission Impossible set and the fact it performed admirably there, don’t be surprised to see Z CAM work its way into more productions.