Zhiyun Gimbal

Review of the Zhiyun Crane 3-Axis Gimbal

Well, I’ve got a new toy. The Zhiyun Crane!  

For a while I’ve been going back and forth on whether to buy a 3-axis gimbal.  But, I’ve always kind of just fallen back on my GoPro to vlog on.  But, in Cuba when I lost my GoPro, I made the decision that it was time to start putting the effort in to up the quality of the vlog.  And, to do that, I’d just my Sony a6300, but I really wanted the footage to be stable as well as higher quality.  So, I decided to pull the trigger on a Zhiyun Crane.

On this episode of my vlog, I take the Zhiyun Crane out for a test drive here in Phoenix with my parents.  If you want to see the specs on the Crane, click here.

Quick Thoughts on the Crane

Although I’ve only used the crane for a couple days, I have a few thoughts that I thought I’d share.

The Zhiyun Crane is Heavy

I have my Sony a6300 mounted up on the crane right now, and I think for the most part that’s how it’ll be.  It’s heavy.  It’s not so heavy that it’s impossible, and in reality when I’m filming most things I don’t really notice the weight.  However, where I do notice the weight is when I’m holding the camera out in “selfie” mode and filming myself. I’m going to get a serious workout holding this thing for long periods of time.

The benefit, I guess – aside from the free workout – is that it’ll force me to talk less per clip, which is a good thing. The other thing is that even if I’m a bit shaky holding it, it’s a stabilizer so you don’t notice.

I Need a Mic Solution

Currently, I have a Rode Videomic Pro attached to my Sony a6300.  I love the mic, the sound is great, and it rarely picks up wind.  But if I’m using the gimbal, the mic hits the top of it on rotation. So, I have to pull it off and on each time I want to use it. And, that wouldn’t be a bad thing except for the fact that I need to re-balance the gimbal each time I take off, or put on, the mic.  I need to find a small mic solution.  

Any suggestions?

Ok, The Crane is Smooth!

Yeah, the Zhiyun Crane is smooth.  I’m pretty blown away.  There are times it jumps – like when I spin it 360 – but it is very smooth.  There was one shot I did while hiking the other day that almost looks like a drone shot. I actually think I can hyperlapse while walking, which is crazy.

I’m still getting used to using the joystick to manipulate the gimbal as I move, but I’m really pleased so far. I’m amazed at the footage I’m getting out of it basically straight out of the box.

I Need to be Battery Conscious

The Zhiyun Crane comes with 2 sets of batteries. You get about 30 minutes of usage time out of each of them.  And while for most people 60 minutes of usage is fine, when you’re vlogging you might need a bit more than that.  I’m going to have to buy an extra set, or just be really conscious about turning it off and on each usage.  I don’t think it’ll be a problem, because I can always recharge the batteries with my power bank, but I do have to really keep battery life in mind.

How Will I use the Crane in the Vlog?

I really want to up the quality of the vlog, and so I’m going to try to use the crane as much as possible.  In fact, if I can find a mic solution, I think I’ll probably use the crane when filming about 80% of my shots – or at least all the ones with motion.

When I lost my GoPro on my Cuba workshop, I took it as an opportunity to start shooting more with my Sony. But, I’m also realizing that even if I get a new GoPro, I can use it on this crane as well.  Expect for me to be using this product a lot.

What’s Next?

In my next blog post, I take the Crane out on it’s first adventure.  I went on a quick trip to Sedona to try to take a cool big landscape, little person photo out at a place called The Devil’s Bridge.  To round off 2016, I’ll likely also be heading into Havasu Canyon for a little bit of photography at one of my favourite places to shoot.