There are a lot of options out there for gimbals these days, and no one seems to be crushing the competition like Zhiyun. With the tech, quality, forward thinking, and price point to stand up to gimbal titan DJI, Zhiyun have been taking over this market with ease.
Zhiyun’s range of gimbals aren’t merely quick iterations to sell more and more units, they are classes of gimbals meant to serve the operator’s needs best. You simply don’t need a big, heavy gimbal for a small camera anymore and Zhiyun’s aim seems to be to kill the overkill.
With model names like Weebill S, Crane 2S, Crane 3S, though, it does get a little hard to keep things straight. To clear things up, and assist you in your selection, Josh from Momentum Productions has put together this overview of the best offerings from this great company.
Option 1 – Weebill S
- Rear Underslung Handle in Compact Design
- Highly Upgraded Motors and Algorithm
- Support for Optional Transmission Module
- Updated ZY Play App Features
- Price: $439
It might be the smallest of the bunch, but that doesn’t mean it can’t hold its own. Broken down, the Weebill S is the kind of tool you can take with you all over the world. This gimbal does a fantastic job smoothing out shots with small – medium mirrorless setups, and features beefy motors that keep things in check.
Size & Design
Quick release plates allow you to quickly remove the handle to switch into underslung position very rapidly, and the size and weight of the overall unit allow you to hold it in your hands for long periods of time.
The lower rear roll-motor provides shooters with a clear view of their camera screen, and the grip features full camera control with optional focus or zoom control.
For power, the Weebill S uses the increasingly popular 18650 batteries that provide a lot of runtime and don’t break the bank with cheap gets available on Amazon.
The Weebill S uses a lot of plastic materials in its construction giving it a less sturdy feel but also helping to keep down the weight of the overall rig. Longevity is a huge concern for me when I purchase equipment, and I’m not a fan of plastic but as long as you treat your gear with care this shouldn’t pose any problems.
The size of the Weebill S doesn’t keep it from being strong and mighty. Josh was able to balance a Sony A9 in a SmallRig camera cage with a 70-200 G Master lens – an overkill setup.
Even though the overall size was too big for the Weebill S’s frame, the motors had no issues keeping the camera level. This little dude has a lot of power behind it!
Option 2 – Crane 3S
- 14.3 lb Payload, PowerPlus Battery Pack
- Redesigned Detachable SmartSling Handle
- Zoom and Focus Controllers, Transmitter
- Updated Axis Locking System
- Price: $1,149
The Crane 3S is the largest gimbal that Zhiyun produces, and it can carry anything from a small mirrorless camera up to something like an ARRI Alexa Mini.
This gimbal is all about power and control, and it even allows you to add additional power for increased torque which will help smooth things out in all of your production-life’s bumpy situations.
Size & Design
The overall aesthetic of the Crane 3S is very similar too the Weebill S with a similar look and layout but obviously much bigger and beefier.
Plastic components are present in the handgrip but almost everything else is built from aluminum. It has a strong, sturdy feel and seems like the kind of tool that is equip to handle the rigors of a busy production.
With large motors, an updated locking system, a removable accessory grip handle, and amble mounting points, lots of care was put into the design of this rig to give you the scalability, transportability, and adjustability to be an added value to your kit.
The Crane 3S uses the same 18650 batteries that the Weebill S uses, and 3 of them provide around 10 hours of runtime, depending on how you shoot.
Stability & Smoothness
This gimbal is intended for medium to large size cameras, and does a great job stabilizing and smoothing out motions for that weight class; however, there are some issues with jitteriness and vibrations when using smaller cameras so it is important to dial in custom settings to tune the rig properly.
This system is scalable to go from the smallest camera up to something ultra professional, but keep in mind that this will get heavy very quickly. You might require an additional support rig to be able to sustain holding, or even to lift this gimbal depending on how much you add onto it.
After all, this is Zhiyun’s top tier system and it is intended to be used on larger productions with teams of people as well as by a solo shooter. Depending on what you shoot and how you shoot, this might not be the gimbal to serve you best, and that’s ok.
Zhiyun’s next gimbal has a little something for everyone.
Option 3 – Crane 2S
- 9th Instune High Axis Response Algorithm
- Large Camera Support: BMPCC 6K, S1H, 1DX
- Dedicated TransMount Transmitter Mounts
- Standard & Vertical Camera Mounts
- Price: $599
In a lot of ways, the Crane 2S is the best of both worlds – giving you the capacity, size and familiarity that we’ve all gotten to love about these upright gimbals.
Size & Design
The Crane 2S is a lot like the original Crane 2 but with upgraded motors, locking points, a new and improved algorithm, and the ability to drop the rear roll motor 45 degrees.
There are two accessory mounts on this gimbal to allow you to attach an expanding list of tools to aid in shooting that are well placed in line with the camera. The Weebill S and Crane 3S tend to position their accessory mounts a little further away making them a little harder to access.
Here, everything is upfront and in your face. This also helps maintain the center of gravity which also gives you a leg up when attempting to maintain stability.
For shooter with client that demand vertical videos, the Crane 2S features an incorporated vertical mounting system as well, and is the only gimbal among these three that offers that option.
Built out of metal and carbon fiber with some plastic components, the Crane 2S has a premium feel to its construction. You can easily tell the no compromises difference between this and the other two gimbals just holding it in your hand.
The inclusion of a CF poll rather than the use of additional aluminum cut a little weight from the device but also helped add to the feel of the quality.
It is extremely powerful for its size and weight, the Zhiyun Crane 2S was built to handle a range of popular cameras – BMPCC 6K, Canon 1DX III, all the ones that just didn’t fit well on the DJI Ronin S. This gimbal can not handle an ALEXA Mini due to the size of the frame, but it could easily handle a Red Komodo with the right configuration.
There are a lot of options to choose from in the marketplace for affordable gimbals, and Zhiyun is leading the pack with these three offerings. Determining which one of these would be best for you will largely depend on the size of your camera and the type of work that you do on a regular basis.
Choose the system that is best for you and your needs, and let Zhiyun help you keep things steady.
[source: Momentum Productions]
- Zhiyun-Tech WEEBILL-S Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer (B&H, Amazon)
- Zhiyun-Tech CRANE 2S (B&H, Amazon)
- Zhiyun-Tech CRANE 3S Handheld Stabilizer (B&H, Amazon)
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