Handheld gimbals revolutionized filmmaking. It made it possible for nearly any production to get smooth handheld footage. One of the top performers for the indie market is DJI with their wide-ranging series of gimbals. The Ronin was among the earliest stars, but the Ronin-S seriously changed things with its size and price. Now, we have the upgraded RS 2.
The main changes are that the motors are 20% more powerful and it cut overall weight by 25%. Both things make a dramatic difference in performance. One fan is filmmaker Keith Knittel who put together a great list of 10 tips and features that will help anyone get better shots with the RS 2.
1. Proper Balance and Calibration
To get the best performance you need to take the time to balance and calibrate the gimbal. Stronger motors doesn’t save you from having to do this properly. You should also make sure to re-calibrate after every lens change. DJI included an auto check option that can help you tune your balance for optimal performance.
You’ll want to make sure the balancing step occurs after all your accessories are added. Any time weight is added or removed it’ll effect the balance.
2. Learn the Touchscreen
Adding a touchscreen was incredibly helpful. It means you don’t have to dive into the mobile app to make some of the changes and can more easily make adjustments in the field. It also shows off the current modes and settings, which can be helpful if you have multiple operators for the same gimbal as there were only LED lights available.
3. Super Smooth Option
Among the mode options is a Super Smooth setting. This will help correct for jitters that may still be showing up if you are on a moving platform, such as a boat or in a car. You’ll want to use the lens strap per DJI’s recommendation as it makes sure everything is secure. It’s important to do if you are mounting the camera and gimbal to something like a car as it reduces strain on the actual lens mount.
4. Customize Dial Settings
At the front of the RS 2, above the trigger, there is a dial. It can be set to many different controls and adjust the dial speed. Options include camera settings like aperture and ISO as well as gimbal settings like roll axis.
Roll axis is Knittel’s pick as you can’t control it from the joystick and this gives you tons of control. Obviously, you’ll need a camera and supported camera to get many of the settings to work properly.
5. Know the Modes and Speeds
This should be advice for all technology: learn the modes. If you want to get a particular look or shot you need to know how the RS 2 works in its various settings and at different follow speeds. Even if you are coming from a Ronin-S there are new modes in the RS 2.
A quick overview of the follow modes reveals the PF is “Pan Follow” for locking the pan but locks the roll and tilt axes. PTS is “Pan Tilt Follow” which locks just the roll axis, FPV mode allows all axes to move and follows the movements of the gimbal.
You can also set a cutom option and enable or disable different axes. 3D Roll 360 moves it into the “flashlight” position and you can spin around the roll axis to create the spinning effect. And last is Portrait, which also goes into flashlight mode but supports vertical shooting.
Beyond that the RS 2 offers timelapse, track, panorama, and time tunnel, which is a 260 rotating timelapse on the roll axis. A shortcut on the front trigger can lock all the axes in place. That is a lot and well worth learning by heart.
6. Using RavenEye and ActiveTrack to Track Subjects
Using the RavenEye to transmit the live feed from your camera and a phone you can actually tracks subjects in your video as you move. It’s a good monitor mode and can be a nice trick.
However, it requires decent light and contrast for reasonable performance. You can actually do it without a phone too by using the display on the rear of the RS 2. Just tap the trigger and it’ll lock onto the subject in the center of your screen.
Raven Eye is useful and improves performance by ensuring you are using the camera’s feed, though it does eat up battery life so make sure to unplug it if you aren’t actively using it.
7. Adjust ActiveTrack Speed Based on Focal Length
The longer the focal length the slower your ActiveTrack should be. With wider lenses the objects appear to move more slowly through the frame, so a faster ActiveTrack will look fine. With a longer lens you want to slow things down so that the camera isn’t whipping back and forth unnaturally quickly.
8. Enable Virtual Joystick in Ronin App
Using the mobile app you have plenty of features, one of which is using the virtual joystick. You can also tune the settings a great deal. An advantage of the virtual joystick is that you can control the gimbal remotely, helping to eliminate shake from handheld operation.
9. Quick Release System
Included with the RS 2 are quick release plates. It’s a simple thing but definitely makes everything easier. You can slide the camera off to swap batteries or cards or toss it on a tripod for a shot and then bounce back to the gimbal.
The tip here is to make sure you balance the camera with the Arca plate slid all the way over. If it isn’t all the way on then if you remove the camera you have to put it back exactly where you took it from or it won’t be balanced.
10. Lock the Screen during Filming
As the gimbal has plenty of physical dials and controls, you will want to lock the screen during shooting to avoid any accidental changes. Just tap the power button to lock and unlock it when you are shooting.
- Press the power button once to lock/unlock the screen.
- Press the power button twice to enter sleep mode.
- Press and hold the trigger to lock the gimbal.
- Tap the trigger twice to re-center.
- Press the trigger three times to enter selfie mode.
- Half press the camera control button to autofocus.
- M button will switch between three preset profiles.
- Press and hold the M button to enter Sport mode.
- Press and hold the M button and double tap the trigger to lock Sport mode.
- Press the M button twice to enter portrait mode.
- Press the M button three times to enter 360 roll mode.
- Press the M button and front trigger at the same time to initiate auto calibration.
There is a ton of good information here. One extra note is to disable selfie mode to prevent accidentally activating it if you accidentally tap the trigger one too many times. You’ll also want to enable silent mode to prevent any notification noises from being played—always a good call. To be honest, it’s probably best to just shut off all the modes you aren’t planning on using.
Anything particular feature you love on the DJI RS 2 and want to share?
[source: Keith Knittel]
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