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Mattias Burling

My Review of the Zhiyun Crane 3-Axis Gimbal

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28 minutes ago, M Carter said:

From the Amazon product page, questions & answers:

 

Nx1 weight with kit lens and battery: 1290g according to Samsung's site. And the 16-50 kit lens has been my favorite for my steadicam. So, 90G overweight. Zhiyun's Amazon comment is that heavier weights affect the lifespan of the motors. Wonder if 90g is a huge difference?

4KG...you can put a 1DX Mark II on there with a 70-200mm no problem.  Kinda hard to believe but when Zhiyun says 4KG, they usually mean it.

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16 hours ago, M Carter said:

From the Amazon product page, questions & answers:

 

Nx1 weight with kit lens and battery: 1290g according to Samsung's site. And the 16-50 kit lens has been my favorite for my steadicam. So, 90G overweight. Zhiyun's Amazon comment is that heavier weights affect the lifespan of the motors. Wonder if 90g is a huge difference?

I don't believe the new stabilizer referred to on the Amazon product page is a pistol-grip stabilizer, so we're talking about apples and oranges here. I would definitely recommend against overloading the Zhiyun Crane, unless you want to burn out the motors. I'd also contemplated using my Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 and Speed Booster XL, but it exceeds the weight capacity and I don't want to break my new toy. This afternoon, I tried placing the Zhiyun Crane on my Edelkrone Slider Plus Small (a really nice piece of kit, much improved over v1), and while the setup looks rather bizarre, the results were quite good. Because I'm still using a compact Manfrotto 190XPROB, I have to keep all the legs retracted and spread out to keep the tripod from toppling over when the camera reaches the end of the slider, meaning I can only shoot from below the knees, while the Crane gives me just the right amount of extra height. Since I was shooting in low light, I had to open up my Panasonic Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 lens to around f/3.5, with razor-thin depth of field. If I'd been shooting handheld, the results would probably have looked like mush (from camera shake), but with the stabilizer, all the shots are usable. As for focusing, I set the GH4 to AFS, and for the most part, no matter how much I moved around with the gimbal, the subject remained in focus. Tomorrow, I'm going to try out the 35-100mm f/2.8 with the Zhiyun. I've yet to find anything I don't love about this gimbal, one of the few electronics purchases I've made where I didn't experience buyer's remorse soon after. 

[Edit, 26.07]: It was pouring rain today and my gf/model didn't show up this morning, so I didn't have a chance to shoot with the Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8, but I did try it out in my apartment, and it took around a minute or two to balance. It does work with the Zhiyun, and if you tap the camera or lens, there is no jitter whatsoever. 

 

P1020170.JPG

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On July 25, 2016 at 10:08 PM, M Carter said:

From the Amazon product page, questions & answers:

 

Nx1 weight with kit lens and battery: 1290g according to Samsung's site. And the 16-50 kit lens has been my favorite for my steadicam. So, 90G overweight. Zhiyun's Amazon comment is that heavier weights affect the lifespan of the motors. Wonder if 90g is a huge difference?

The Zhiyun they are referring to is already available for pre-order here.

The price is only around $850, making it one of the least expensive stabilizers by payload I've seen, and, if the build quality is anything at all like the Crane, it'll be a steal. But as much as I'd like to fly my GH4 with adapted lenses, I know I'd never use a two-handed model. As far as pistol grip stabilizers go, I think 1.2Kg is a sensible weight limit: shooting video for any length of time with a heavier camera/lens combo will get tiring real fast.

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http://www.newsshooter.com/2016/08/06/field-test-zhiyun-crane-three-axis-one-handed-gimbal-for-mirrorless-cameras/

Here's a review of the Zhiyun Crane over at Newsshooter that pretty much confirms what I suspected: there probably isn't another pistol grip stabilizer on the market that can compete with it for price/performance. Matthew Allard also tried shooting with a camera/lens/adapter combo that reached precisely 1200 grams and, while it still worked, exceeding this limit probably isn't a very good idea. He says that the handle can also accept higher capacity batteries that will extend usability to 7 hours, something which I wasn't aware of, though I've been shooting casually with mine for a couple weeks now and haven't had to recharge them yet. He also says that anyone familiar with gimbals shouldn't have any trouble balancing their camera provided the weight limit isn't exceeded, but I would go so far as to say that any idiot could balance their camera with this gimbal in a matter of minutes. Several reviewers have already said they prefer using this over the Ronin M, and Mr. Allard even prefers it to the DJI Osmo. While I haven't used the Osmo, I don't think there is a single shot in any of the otherwise outstanding DJI Film School videos that couldn't have been pulled off with Zhiyun Crane and a Sony A7R or other mirrorless camera, with fewer problems focusing and post-production headaches. In Cinema 5D's tests, the Osmo had a very limited usable ISO range, while the A7 cameras can shoot in extremely low light. Furthermore, the Osmo is very loud, while the motors on the Zhiyun are completely silent. And finally, you could purchase 6 or 7 Zhiyun Cranes for the price of one Zenmuse X5R, including lens and proprietary SSD. 

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15 hours ago, Gerbert Floor said:

I went ahead and ordered this one, just too good price wise not to try it out. I wanted the Letus Helix Jr. because I love that design and it's more future proof, but if this works than I guess the price difference is just too big.

I don't think you'll be disappointed. By the way, although I just balance my camera on the gimbal while holding it in my hand, I believe it was Matthew Allard who shows how he just stood the gimbal on a table, balanced, then attached the battery handle. Absolutely no need for a tripod to balance.

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I've just tried to balance it with a setup I use a lot (24 mm nikon ais lens f2, sony a7s2 and an nd filter, with a zacuto quickrelease). I think that that is too heavy. It's a little bit above the max of 1200 grams and I think I balanced it pretty well, but especially when walking fast it gives a lot of vibrations. Slow moves are mostly ok, some small bumps here and there, mostly workable.

Too bad, I'm looking for a gimbal that can handle the 1200 grams. I guess your quite limited in your lens selection with the a7s, need to stick to native lenses. 

I found the app a bit confusing, can't figure out the calibration...

 

But the unit itself feels great, comes in a great suitcase, its own app. I guess if you are willing to make some compromises on weight or maybe use a smaller cam (a6300 for example) this thing is really great. 

Im not sure Im willing to make those compromises. First some testing....

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I've been posting about this on dvxuser while researching, but maybe I should ask here as well -- has anyone tried the Crane with more than 1200g? I've been keeping an eye on all the pistol-grip gimbals that include encoders, and am trying to decide between them. The Crane's a very appealing option, unfortunately its stated max capacity is insufficient for my needs - but just barely. When I look through the stats of competing gimbals, I see that others are within the same weight class, but claim to be able to fly a larger percentage of their own weight. For example, the Beholder EC1 claims to be able to carry 227% of its own weight, but the Crane only claims to be able to loft 126% of its weight. Is the Beholder actually that much more capable, or are Beholder and Zhiyun just being respectively optimistic and conservative when estimating the carrying capacity of their gimbals.

I noticed images on Zhiyun's instagram feed of people using the Crane with 5DmkIII and Canon 16-35mm lens + filter, which is around 1500g. So I wrote via email and via instagram comment to ask whether that much weight can be flown on the Crane. The response:

Quote

Thank you for your email.
Our Zhiyun Crane can bear Canon with 16-35 lens and works well. And the weight 1200g is the Conservative valuation.

This matches up with my guess. But I'd love to see some footage of that kind of load on the Crane, or hear some firsthand reports.

I don't really care about the life of the motors - if I only get 2 years out of a gimbal rather than 10, that's ok by me. But I do care about vibration, etc. 

I suspect with a larger load, one would have to increase the power allocated to the motors to avoid them shuddering or vibrating. This is a control available in SimpleBGC for the Alexmos-based gimbals, maybe there's an equivalent for the Crane?

In case it's of use to anyone, here's the table I've been putting together while doing my shopping. I had to guess at the weight of the came-tv optimus, that it's the same as the came-tv single, as I can't find the optimus's weight specified.

gimbal_comparison_table.jpg

 

TL;DR: The Zhiyun Crane may well be able to loft a Canon 5DmkIII and 16-35 or 24-105 (or smaller lenses) just fine, judging from the fact that the manufacturer's own instagram feed shows such combinations on it and that similarly-sized gimbals with encoders do advertise the capability of carrying such loads. But more information is needed.

 

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Over at Newsshooter, Matthew Allard's test showed that the gimbal worked at 1200 grams, but he could hear the motors working harder when the camera angle was extreme. Other reviews I've seen online have tried camera/lens combinations that exceeded the recommended load, and advised against it. In a pinch, I guess you could try it, as long as the gimbal and camera are kept primarily in an upright position?  Interesting table you put together there. Perhaps Zhiyun will come out with a stabilizer situated between the Shining and the Crane...

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The thing that gets me is that the Beholder EC1 and DS1 are basically the same weight as the Zhiyun Crane, yet they claim to be able to carry almost double the Crane's payload. This leads me to wonder how that could be -- if the Beholder gimbals were significantly sturdier or featured more powerful motors than the Crane, it'd seem likely that this would add weight. It is a big assumption to make such a comparison based on weight alone -- it could be that the Beholder models feature superior engineering or that the price difference between them and the Zhiyun is due to the cost of stronger (but not heavier) materials or motors. 

It's the best I've got to work with, but I'm a little wary of taking the Newsshooter.com max capacity test at face value. Allard's 1200g+ test was of a light mirrorless camera attached to a very heavy lens. Unless the Crane's camera stage can slide far back to compensate for a setup that he calls "very front heavy", I wouldn't be surprised if the camera was well off balance. This would cause the motors to have to work much harder just to keep the camera level let alone counter any movement. If it wasn't balanced, then this test would not be relevant to the experience one would encounter using a more balanced camera and lens combination that exceeds 1200g, such as a Canon 5D3 with 16-35mm f2.8 lens (total: 1448g) as seen here on a Zhiyun Crane on the manufacturer's instagram pageHere's another heavy 5D3 and unidentified lens combo shown on their gimbal on their instagram.

Speaking of motors -- when I compare the apparent size of the pitch motor in this gimbal that's made for heavy loads to the apparent size of the pitch motor in that second instagram shot of the Crane above, they kinda look to be the same size. Not that this necessarily means much.

If Ivanka at Zhiyun wasn't speaking out of turn, the thing is capable of working well with that 1448g load in the picture. Or it could be that her definition of "works well" is different from mine and I'd run into the same issues as did Allard.

I guess I'll either have to wait and see if someone else is foolish enough to try using the Crane for a heavier setup, or give in and jump on it myself.

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7 hours ago, Mattias Burling said:

I wonder how many that tested the Crane with 1200gram cameras used the correct battery (12v) and not just the included one?

What's wrong with the supplied batteries? Are the included batteries I've been using bad or something?

7 hours ago, Zach Fine said:

If Ivanka at Zhiyun wasn't speaking out of turn, the thing is capable of working well with that 1448g load in the picture. Or it could be that her definition of "works well" is different from mine and I'd run into the same issues as did Allard.

I guess I'll either have to wait and see if someone else is foolish enough to try using the Crane for a heavier setup, or give in and jump on it myself.

Strange fortune cookie language in that Instagram post by Ivanka, "Every gimbal of Zhiyun has more unexpected good thing." :)

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2 hours ago, jonpais said:

What's wrong with the supplied batteries? Are the included batteries I've been using bad or something?

Nothing is wrong with them. But if you read the manual you can see that for +1200grams you are suposed to use a 12v source instead.

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10 hours ago, jonpais said:

Strange fortune cookie language in that Instagram post by Ivanka, "Every gimbal of Zhiyun has more unexpected good thing." :)

They should add that slogan to the product brochure! I'm not laughing too loudly -- her English is much better than my Mandarin. I understood the meaning, she's got lots of faith in their product.

 

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23 hours ago, Mattias Burling said:

Nothing is wrong with them. But if you read the manual you can see that for +1200grams you are suposed to use a 12v source instead.

I'm not understanding the manual the same way you do. If it has the meaning you say, according to the manual, battery run-time and operating temperature make no sense. I believe the manual is just specifying the minimum and maximum parameters. 

User Manual Zhiyun Crane.pdf

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15 hours ago, Zach Fine said:

They should add that slogan to the product brochure! I'm not laughing too loudly -- her English is much better than my Mandarin. I understood the meaning, she's got lots of faith in their product.

 

I could possibly test my GH4 with a Speed Booster and Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, which comes to 1,288 grams, and isn't front heavy at all, but that would't answer your question about a combination weighing in at around 1500 grams. Not sure how useful that would be anyhow, since I shake like the devil and even if I posted the results, they'd probably look horrible. The other lenses in my collection, such as the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 and 50mm f/1.4, would be very front heavy, as are most fast APS and full-frame lenses mounted on a mirrorless camera, and since they greatly exceed the weight limit, I wouldn't be willing to experiment with them, since I can't afford to keep replacing my gimbal. I wonder why Ivanka hasn't responded to your request to see some samples? I could pose for a picture with an Alexa mounted on the stabilizer and post it on Instagram - it wouldn't mean anything at all. No footage on YouTube, either, so color me skeptical. 

Someone already beat me to it. Looks fine to me.

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If you can look at that table and tell me that it says you must have a 12v battery if your payload is 1200 grams, then I guess I have to go back to primary school.

The fellow who posted this YouTube video shooting the Crane with a GH4 and Tokina lens (1,288 grams) used the supplied batteries and says it works fine for him and the batteries last a long time.

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