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Mattias Burling

My Review of the Zhiyun Crane 3-Axis Gimbal

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I'll try and get a photo of my setup, but I've got the Micro Cinema camera on my crane, necessitating the need of an external monitor(SmallHD DP4).    I have a SmallHD articulating arm mounted to the bottom 1/4 20 thread in the handle and a 3ft slim Monoprice HDMI cable plugged into a right angle HDMI adapter into the Micro.    To be honest, having come from using Glidecams and Steadicam stabilizers, it's not much different from looking down at a monitor on a sled.  

With a SLR Magic 12mm(1st gen) and a Fader vari-ND, in conjunction with the Smallrig cage, I'm a little over 1200g but it seems to have no problem with the weight nor having an HDMI dangling downwards.      

As Mattias mentioned earlier, having an HDMI cable running to an external monitor would prohibit the gimbal from panning 360 degrees, and going to inverted mode will require some adjustment to the noga arm and monitor, but it can be done.    

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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

I received crane yesterday, I mounted Nikon D750 and 50mm f1.8 lens on it. Total payload is less than 1000gm. I'm still seeing minor jitters in the footage, it is nauseating to watch the video. Also remote is not turning on, bluetooth led is flashing and not staying on as mentioned in the manual.

Those are not the only issues I'm seeing,  the long handle is stressing my arm even for a slight usage of 10 mins and D750 fits so close to the motor I dont see a way to change SD card or battery without dismounting the camera.

 

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12 hours ago, chakoo said:

I received crane yesterday, I mounted Nikon D750 and 50mm f1.8 lens on it. Total payload is less than 1000gm. I'm still seeing minor jitters in the footage, it is nauseating to watch the video. Also remote is not turning on, bluetooth led is flashing and not staying on as mentioned in the manual.

Those are not the only issues I'm seeing,  the long handle is stressing my arm even for a slight usage of 10 mins and D750 fits so close to the motor I dont see a way to change SD card or battery without dismounting the camera.

 

Well that's unfortunate, although you should try a much wider lens than a 50mm to using on a gimbal.   Not sure what's up with the remote since that seems to be a part of a select package.     It will take some getting used to the weight, although I've always felt a heavier rig makes for much smoother shots.   

As to those micro jitters, you may want to try re-balancing your camera as well as shoot with a much wider lens(at least a 24mm); or it could be you have a faulty unit.   

Phil, I'll try and post a photo in the next day or two of my monitor mounted(my still camera is at the office).

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14 hours ago, chakoo said:

I received crane yesterday, I mounted Nikon D750 and 50mm f1.8 lens on it. Total payload is less than 1000gm. I'm still seeing minor jitters in the footage, it is nauseating to watch the video. Also remote is not turning on, bluetooth led is flashing and not staying on as mentioned in the manual.

Those are not the only issues I'm seeing,  the long handle is stressing my arm even for a slight usage of 10 mins and D750 fits so close to the motor I dont see a way to change SD card or battery without dismounting the camera.

 

Just an idea - if the weight is stressing your wrist, then you could try an orthopaedic wrist brace (which supports a broken wrist), or even a whole arm brace. Some small steadicams have a proprietary brace that wraps round your arm to distribute the weight upwards, but no doubt more expensive than an orthopaedic option

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First post here. Looks like Zhiyun is coming up with a lighter version of their crane called the "Crane M". It will support cameras up to 740g in weight but the recommended weight range is 125g-650g. They have pictures showing it in use with an A5100, a gopro and an iphone.

I'm guessing this will interest those who use A6300/G7 with a lightweight prime or kit lens or perhaps RX100/LX100 users.

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2 hours ago, LippyLee said:

First post here. Looks like Zhiyun is coming up with a lighter version of their crane called the "Crane M". It will support cameras up to 740g in weight but the recommended weight range is 125g-650g. They have pictures showing it in use with an A5100, a gopro and an iphone.

I'm guessing this will interest those who use A6300/G7 with a lightweight prime or kit lens or perhaps RX100/LX100 users.

I'm curious to where you found information about the Crane M?  I'm debating getting the Crane for my Panasonic GX80, but maybe the smaller "Crane M" would be better for something like the LX100.

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I just finished a days shoot with the Zhiyun Crane, and it is impressive. I ha the Came Mini 2 before, an swore to never use gimbals again because it was so cumbursome and finicky that you end up leaving it at home.

But I bit the bullet and got the crane because the price was right and I simply need a steady/shot system for some parts of my work.

So in summary...

The batteries lasted for 4 hours pretty much being constantly on. I would say you are safely within 3 hours of continuous use. Then you pop in the spares and good to go.

It is solid and sturdy, and when it goes nuts due to doing something silly, just switch off an on and its like nothng ever happened. Not like the Mini which punishes your horizons for being rough with it.

Yes, it can take a Tokina 11 to 16 WITH a speedbooster... in this instance it I used a Aputure LensRegain, so it is a speedbooster with a transmiter where I can control focus and aputure with a grip, and I had a lanc going into the GH4 so the rip can also stop and start recording. You basically never need to touch the camera unless you want to zoom or twst the Vari ND.

IMG_20160831_123126.jpg

IMG_20160831_151837.jpg

So tokina with metabones is likely to work as this was a heavy set up. I tried to add a Rode videomic pro Rycote and that tip it over the edge and it started getting jiggy with it. All shots were steady as anyone elses on youtube, but it helps if you have experience balancing more finicky gimbals as you know which axis you will need the most for you shot and you make sure that one has the least resistance, as it never properly balances  when switched off. You gotta have faith and switch it on and viola.

Anyways, I would recommend...

Sorry for the bad grammer but my laptop keyboard is speaking another language and microsoft just shrugs  when I ask it for help.

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The verdict from users seems to be coming through that this might be the best tool so far for mirrorless cameras in the affordable price range. Maybe not so much if you are shooting with a DSLR, but given that you can get a Sony a5000 with lens for £279, you might as well get a dedicated camera for gimbal shooting if you normally shoot with something bigger, looking at the money you save with this gimbal over anything else that is as reliable.

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11 hours ago, sgreszcz said:

I'm curious to where you found information about the Crane M?  I'm debating getting the Crane for my Panasonic GX80, but maybe the smaller "Crane M" would be better for something like the LX100.

I got it from their wechat group, looks like i quoted a wrong figure. 740g wasn't the weight limit but the weight of the Crane M itself:

http://mp.weixin.qq.com/s?__biz=MzAwMzY4NDExMA==&mid=2652053565&idx=1&sn=5cd2b277ad8ee258692ca30b0530cc88&scene=0#wechat_redirect

Hopefully they price this well.

I bought the Crane last week and I'm satisfied with its performance along with a G7 + kit/cheapo fisheye and its ridiculously easy to use as Mattias has pointed out in the OP.

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7 hours ago, LippyLee said:

I got it from their wechat group, looks like i quoted a wrong figure. 740g wasn't the weight limit but the weight of the Crane M itself:

http://mp.weixin.qq.com/s?__biz=MzAwMzY4NDExMA==&mid=2652053565&idx=1&sn=5cd2b277ad8ee258692ca30b0530cc88&scene=0#wechat_redirect

Hopefully they price this well.

I bought the Crane last week and I'm satisfied with its performance along with a G7 + kit/cheapo fisheye and its ridiculously easy to use as Mattias has pointed out in the OP.

The crane-m looks to take between 125-650g payload.  That would be fine for the LX100 and probably the GX80 with Panasonic 12-32 or Olympus 9-18 lenses.

Looks like it might support camera control too - not sure what models.

Zhiyun Crane-M is the first to control the camera's stabilizer, only a single data line, you can achieve your camera, the focal length of the control interface. The stabilizer and real camera into one, saving every change scenarios need to adjust the time.

"Big Mac" long life

Zhiyun Crane-M uses 26550 type lithium batteries, can bring to the stabilizer 12 hours long battery life. Even if you are a madman shooting, the full power of the Crane-M also allows you to shoot on a full day.

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 13.27.50.png

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 13.28.52.png

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On 8/31/2016 at 4:56 AM, BasiliskFilm said:

Just an idea - if the weight is stressing your wrist, then you could try an orthopaedic wrist brace (which supports a broken wrist), or even a whole arm brace. Some small steadicams have a proprietary brace that wraps round your arm to distribute the weight upwards, but no doubt more expensive than an orthopaedic option

I will try the wrist brace. I think long handle is uncomfortable for extended usage.

On 8/31/2016 at 2:22 AM, eekamouse said:

Well that's unfortunate, although you should try a much wider lens than a 50mm to using on a gimbal.   Not sure what's up with the remote since that seems to be a part of a select package.     It will take some getting used to the weight, although I've always felt a heavier rig makes for much smoother shots.   

As to those micro jitters, you may want to try re-balancing your camera as well as shoot with a much wider lens(at least a 24mm); or it could be you have a faulty unit.   

Phil, I'll try and post a photo in the next day or two of my monitor mounted(my still camera is at the office).

I tried with Nikon 28mm f1.8 lens, but same jitteriness in the video. I rebalanced the payload multiple times with no luck. Here is the dropbox link of my test footage. Also motors are making squeaking sound running overtime when going in and out of inverted mode.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ahuvry1ogiodiin/Zhiyun_Crane_Test.mp4?dl=0

 

 

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2 hours ago, sgreszcz said:

....

Looks like it might support camera control too - not sure what models.

.....

 

The original crane supports camera focus/shutter control too, though I have yet to try it. They mention the GH4 somewhere on their website as one of the supported camera control models.

Basically Zhiyun will do what DSLR dashboard/GPhoto 2 library has done and support any cameras that have tethered control over USB, so likelihood of Nikon 5xxx/7xxx/FF series, most canon EOS DSLRs and Panasonic GH4/GX8 support. I don't remember seeing any reports of the GX85 having tethered USB control and the G7 definitely has no tethered control. A small consideration if you are looking forward to this feature.

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1 hour ago, chakoo said:

I will try the wrist brace. I think long handle is uncomfortable for extended usage.

I tried with Nikon 28mm f1.8 lens, but same jitteriness in the video. I rebalanced the payload multiple times with no luck. Here is the dropbox link of my test footage. Also motors are making squeaking sound running overtime when going in and out of inverted mode.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ahuvry1ogiodiin/Zhiyun_Crane_Test.mp4?dl=0

 

 

I guess I see what you're talking about - the image stuttering or whatnot - but I've never seen a test like this before, where the camera is frantically swinging around in a different direction every fraction of a second or so. I would try to move the camera more smoothly and not disorient the viewer with an excess of camera movement, unless you are preparing to make a horror film. :)  If the motors are making unusual sounds, I'd contact Zhiyun for service or replacement, or, if not, make arrangements to return the gimbal to the seller. The motors should not make any audible noise in upright or inverted mode.

20 hours ago, HelsinkiZim said:

Yes, it can take a Tokina 11 to 16 WITH a speedbooster... in this instance it I used a Aputure LensRegain, so it is a speedbooster with a transmiter where I can control focus and aputure with a grip, and I had a lanc going into the GH4 so the rip can also stop and start recording. You basically never need to touch the camera unless you want to zoom or twst the Vari ND.

Sounds great! So are you using the focus peaking on the camera's LCD to confirm focus when pulling focus with the Aputure?

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6 minutes ago, jonpais said:

I guess I see what you're talking about - the image stuttering or whatnot - but I've never seen a test like this before, where the camera is frantically swinging around in a different direction every fraction of a second or so. I would try to move the camera more smoothly and not disorient the viewer with an excess of camera movement, unless you are preparing to make a horror film. :)  If the motors are making unusual sounds, I'd contact Zhiyun for service or replacement, or, if not, make arrangements to return the gimbal to the seller. The motors should not make any audible noise in upright or inverted mode.

Sounds great! So are you using the focus peaking on the camera's LCD to confirm focus when pulling focus with the Aputure?

Yes. I have a Tarion viewfinder that I keep in my pocket that helps a lot with magnifying. But I find that my Tokina, which I bought second hand, is soft when set to infinity when the aputure is wide. It is very sharp around F8, and at that point 11mm or even 16mm everything is in focus, so you find that you dont need to pull focus much.

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On August 30, 2016 at 1:02 AM, chakoo said:

Those are not the only issues I'm seeing,  the long handle is stressing my arm even for a slight usage of 10 mins and D750 fits so close to the motor I dont see a way to change SD card or battery without dismounting the camera.

 

It isn't unusual to have to remove the camera from any device when changing batteries or SD cards, be it a tripod, a slider, a crane, whatever, so I fail to see what the complaint is. It takes just two minutes to rebalance the camera on the gimbal anyhow. Just how often do you need to change the batteries and SD card when shooting with the stabilizer? I just returned from a weeklong trip to Thailand and only had to replace the camera battery once. The Zhiyun's batteries lasted through the entire trip. It is always possible to attach a quick mount plate to the slider and camera. Pardon my saying so, but it almost sounds as if you're trying to find fault with the stabilizer where there is none, and swinging the camera around in such a way that the gimbal doesn't have a chance to balance itself. As for the long handle, I find it is a definite advantage when shooting in inverted mode.

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1 hour ago, jonpais said:

It isn't unusual to have to remove the camera from any device when changing batteries or SD cards, be it a tripod, a slider, a crane, whatever, so I fail to see what the complaint is. It takes just two minutes to rebalance the camera on the gimbal anyhow. Just how often do you need to change the batteries and SD card when shooting with the stabilizer? I just returned from a weeklong trip to Thailand and only had to replace the camera battery once. The Zhiyun's batteries lasted through the entire trip. It is always possible to attach a quick mount plate to the slider and camera. Pardon my saying so, but it almost sounds as if you're trying to find fault with the stabilizer where there is none, and swinging the camera around in such a way that the gimbal doesn't have a chance to balance itself. As for the long handle, I find it is a definite advantage when shooting in inverted mode.

I will setup again and retest it.

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15 hours ago, chakoo said:

I upgraded firmware using the mobile app. Firmware is now v1.50, it was 1.48.
Also upgraded BLE in the app to 1.0.9, I'm not sure what BLE mean.

 

I had v1.41, just updated via Bluetooth as well. I didn't touch BLE, since I'm not sure what it is either. I will contact Zhiyun and ask...

edit I just Googled BLE, it refers to v4.0 Bluetooth standard, lower energy consumption, longer range, as far as I can tell. I never use the remote when shooting, so it shouldn't make any difference. It's pretty swell you can update the device without having to connect it to the computer. Once it began updating, I noticed the camera move, and when it was finished, the motors seemed clunky when I moved the gimbal around. I switched it off then on again, and it appears to be fine. I'll also be shooting this afternoon to see if the update makes any difference in handling.

edit #2 Now, I'm interested in how to operate the Zhiyun Assistant app for calibration, there's lots of neat stuff in there, but I don't see any how-to videos anywhere. According to Zhiyun's website, you're supposed to lay down the stabilizer like in the picture shown in the app, and it goes through and calibrates your gimbal, but... Are you expected to leave the gimbal on during the process? Won't it start rotating like the devil with no camera attached? Lots of questions still... But the footage I shot this afternoon after updating to v1.50 looks fine, no difference from before as far as I can tell. I'm still working on my ninja walk, it's not as straightforward and simple as some reviewers would have you believe. And I am really enjoying the inverted mode, since in Vietnam, many people crouch or sit on tiny stools or on curbs. :)

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Last night, I tried calibrating the Crane via Bluetooth, using the Zhiyun Assistant app on my iPod Touch. Once you press 'calibrate', various pictures will appear on the screen showing which way to lay your gimbal on a level surface. Once it has been calibrated in one position, another picture will appear on the screen prompting you to reposition the gimbal. After all six positions have been calibrated, you restart the gimbal, wait 10 seconds, and if all is well, your gimbal is set to go. Unfortunately, it was nearly impossible to see the pictures showing how to position the gimbal on the minuscule screen of my iPod. So this afternoon, I downloaded the USB driver and calibration tool from the Zhiyun Tech website, connected the Crane to my 27" iMac via USB and began the process all over again. This time, the pictures were plenty large and all went well and the entire process took just a few seconds. Nothing like some of the calibrating nightmares I've seen with other gimbals on YouTube (eg Pilotfly, Simple BGC). So yes, the camera should be attached and balanced before beginning calibration. But there really is no need at all to calibrate if your stabilizer isn't misbehaving. 

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I got my Crane last week. I've been trying to balance it with my NX1 and Canon FD 50mm. With the Crane off, I can get the camera level on the various axis, but I cannot get it stay in position when moved by hand. It always wants to flop back to the "balanced" position. Been following this video: 

My footage has been less than stellar, but I know it is user error (not properly balancing) and not the Crane. Any suggestions?

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