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Mattias Burling

My Review of the Zhiyun Crane 3-Axis Gimbal

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1 hour ago, streetstreet said:

Anyone travel with one of these yet? How do you carry it around?

I actually have the smaller Crane M for my RX100 V, took it on a 2-week trip to Japan just last month, and while I loved the results I got, it was a huge PITA to travel with.

Anyone know of a lens case (or similar) that can fit this thing top first? Most times I just wrapped the top part with the camera attached with a t-shirt and threw it in my bag, but I want something more elegant. Or maybe I could get one of those camera backpacks that will allow me to lash it to the side, like a tripod..

I don't know about the M, never used it, but I'd never travel with the Crane (a) with the batteries inside, or (b) with the camera attached. I usually do like you, though, and wrap the two parts separately with T-shirts, and put them in my carry-on. I'd like to know if there is an easier way as well...

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

Well, I took it on trips (weekend and extended) to Switzerland, Italy and Ghana so far.

For actually carrying around when I plan to use it I put it into my camera sling bag which is the Ari Marcopoulos from Incase. I have the a6300 with a small lens mounted on it and put it in top down. It still stands out like an inch or so but that's acceptable. Takes me 10 seconds to take it out and start rolling.
This way I can fit the crane, the a6300, the kit lens, the 35mm 1.8 and/or 50 1.8 and a bunch of additional batteries easily into the bag. You can also squish in a Rode VideoMic Pro or a 5" field monitor but then it gets tight and you will have to assemble when you take it out of the bag.

For the actual travelling I have a typical, ugly camera backpack by CaseLogic. I take the Crane apart and it easily fits into it. If the batteries are in it you always have the risk that something bumps the power button and the crane goes full potato in your backpack.

I really dislike typical black nylon camera bags but there's not much choice for sufficiently sized, stealthy bags for urban use.

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Quick question: Is this useable with the Sony A7SII and no native lens?

I wanted to use this with a vintage 35mm lens but have only now realised that getting focus might be quite difficult, what with the screen and EVF obscured. Would I need to pick up a native Sony lens to make best use of the gimbal? This was made with the Sony A7SII and native lenses but the videographer did note he wasn't overly impressed with the native glass.
 

 

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Seeing how there is nothing in the video that needs changing of focus while using a wide aperture, I don't see how you would be limited by using an adapted lens.

The only advantage with using the native Sony glass is using it wide open with AF-C ... but then the A7s anyway has a bad autofocus system so you probably wouldn't want to do that to begin with.

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*UPDATE*

My Zhiyun now works with every lens, and it's like a magic wand. For all those who experience the same problems (like Alex Uzan), I have a slightly different description how to balance the Crane. The first step in many tutorials is adjusting the yaw/tilt axis with the thumbscrew. From the Zhiyun instruction PDF:

Quote

(1)Adjust Vertical Center of the Camera in Tilt Axis 

(...)

If the camera is tilted forward or backward, please loosen the screw on tilt axis, so that the camera mounting plate can be moved.

Whereas this isn't exactly wrong, it was misleading for me. The second step (also in the above manual) is to move the camera forward or backward on the mounting plate:

Quote

 

(2)Adjust Horizontal Center of the Camera in Tilt Axis

Loosen the screw of mounting plate which is under
the camera. 

(...) 

If the camera is tilted forward or backward, move the camera to the opposite direction of tilted position, until the camera maintains the level of forward. 

 

For light camera/lens combos (< 800g) proceed as follows:

1. Set the yaw/tilt axis to 10mm:

Yaw.jpg

2. Mount the camera roughly in the middle of the mounting plate. Let go. The lens will face straight upwards (all descriptions say: let it first fall down).

3. Alternately push the camera forward ever so slightly and then shorten the yaw-axis step by step: 9mm, 8mm asf. - until the lens starts to point down a bit.

4. Fix the thumbscrew! With my total payload of ~ 600g this happens at 4mm. The camera is also some 4mm away from the edge of the mouting plate.

5. Push the camera backwards on the mounting plate very slightly & check if the lens points directly forward and turns back to this position through gravity. Fine-adust.

6. Tighten the camera screw.

The rest of he balancing descriptions worked for me. You may laugh at me. If you try to let a very low payload face down first and start by loosening the tilt-thumbscrew, this axis is out of range immediately. It's better to start from the other end.

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@Gregormannschaft I have used the crane with an a7sII and a Nikkor 28mm AIS lens quite a bit, without any problems, and gotten some pretty awesome results. The extra stability from the IBIS definitely provides a smoother look than with my NX cameras for example. You can still see the screen pretty good too, just tilted up a bit, so it's not like you're flying blind.

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13 hours ago, Ki Rin said:

That's good news. Thanks for posting this, it will be a good reference when I get mine

It seems the Crane needs some weight to function optimally. Calculate the weight of your camera with lens(es). The specs say the minimum payload was 350g, but I doubt this could be done. Perhaps for the very small cameras the Zhiyun M is better. The aforementioned pancake works so-so, but I can't recommend it. Don't use combos below 600g. 

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UPDATE 2:

Bought the Sony Camera Control Cable (a normal micro-USB cable won't do, it opens the USB screen of the Sony) to trigger start/stop recording and to zoom. The process to enable this looks simple enough, but it has to be followed exactly:

With the mobile app, the obstacle is the little swish-movement to exit the manufacturer's  screen ("save" without that doesn't save the setting!). Also, to work you first have to restart the gimbal. With a Sony mirrorless camera one click on the Zhiyun's power button will take a still, a fast (!) double-click will start resp. stop recording (I wish it was the other way around). With a zoom lens attached, you will be able to zoom in or out with the golden zoom rocker, but the speed unfortunately is only "fast" ("zoom-transition", no Barry-Lyndon-zoom, only very fast Vertigos). If you have clear image zoom enabled and a prime on, the zoom speed is, er, medium, but there is no ease-in, ease-out like like with a better fuzzy logic zoom controller. But nonetheless you can change focal length without touching the camera, and to remotely start/stop recording makes it worth the money for me.

EDIT: There is a special cable for Panasonic too.

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28 minutes ago, Ricardo Franco said:

Any issues with using this with a phone or Gopro ?

It it impossible to balance with such lightweight, I am wondering if that will put any stress on the motors .

Anyone ?

You don't get the Crane for smartphones or GoPro. You buy a gimbal made for smartphones or GoPro. Impossible to balance. And much more expensive than a lightweight stabilizer made for phones. Why would anyone want to carry around such a large device for a tiny smartphone?

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Just now, jonpais said:

You don't get the Crane for smartphones or GoPro. You buy a gimbal made for smartphones or GoPro. Impossible to balance. And much more expensive than a lightweight stabilizer made for phones. Why would anyone want to carry around such a large device for a tiny smartphone?

Well, the initial idea wasn't to use it for that purpose but since I'm pretty much traveling around all the time lately I find the use of my main camera unpratical for quick videos on the street and I often find myself wanting to use my phone / gopro more .

Yes it is impossible to balance but since the weight is marginal I am wondering if that is a problem . I see videos of some other people using the Zhiyun Crane with a tripod adapter for their phones (same I am currently doing). My only concern is if this will put an heavy stress on the motors , I don't see why it should since the phone is like 100 grams only .

 

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40 minutes ago, Ricardo Franco said:

Well, the initial idea wasn't to use it for that purpose but since I'm pretty much traveling around all the time lately I find the use of my main camera unpratical for quick videos on the street and I often find myself wanting to use my phone / gopro more .

Yes it is impossible to balance but since the weight is marginal I am wondering if that is a problem . I see videos of some other people using the Zhiyun Crane with a tripod adapter for their phones (same I am currently doing). My only concern is if this will put an heavy stress on the motors , I don't see why it should since the phone is like 100 grams only .

 

AFAIK, there is not a single report of a burnt out motor on the Crane.

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13 hours ago, jonpais said:

AFAIK, there is not a single report of a burnt out motor on the Crane.

jonpais thanks for the feedback . I'm just concerned that not having the gimbal balanced might put too much stress on them , as I have previously read . 

I think that if the gimbal is not balanced but has a lot of weight there will be too much stress on the motors, but if the gimbal has nearly no weight , being unbalanced should not be such a big issue . Does this make any sense ?

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4 hours ago, Ricardo Franco said:

I think that if the gimbal is not balanced but has a lot of weight there will be too much stress on the motors, but if the gimbal has nearly no weight , being unbalanced should not be such a big issue . Does this make any sense ?

My guess, and perhaps I'm wrong, is that perfect balance is of bigger importance. The gimbal comes without camera, but with pre-defined spaces and motor forces. The firmware changelog says:

Quote

v1.52
- With this firmware, gimbal motors’ power can be set by APP, in order to adapt different weight of camera.

If I don't misunderstand the whole thing, these settings appear in the app's Stabilizer Settings dialog in the Camera Control Interface as "weak", "medium" and "strong":

Zhiyun%20Weight.jpg

... but I wonder if there is a documentation what the manufacturers consider medium or strong. In theory, you can use payloads between 350g (obviously weak) and 1800g (strong). 

However, the form factor of an iPhone (too light anyway) will make it difficult to balance it properly. The gimbal doesn't register any gravity forces, turns crazy and the motors vibrate and probably could be damaged over time. The other extreme would be too oblong camera-lens-combos where the lens - no matter the total weight - will bump against the frame of the gimbal. The device is designed to work with mirrorless cameras and small DSLRs, and there are limits. 

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