You may already be familiar DJI’s Gimbal, But rivals Xion It actually carries more models – especially those without mirrors, DSLRs and movie cameras. Now, it has unveiled a three-axis crane M3 designed for mirrorless cameras with a small LED light and some interesting new features like a built-in screen.
Crane M3 is about the size of a water bottle and offers tilt, roll and pan axes with locks for each. It works with smartphones and 90 percent mirrorless cameras, Zhiyun notes. It has a smart new white and black chassis which according to the company provides better gripping and user experience. It offers an upgraded motor with torque stronger than the original Crane 3.
A key feature is the quick-release design with different plates that allows you to quickly switch between different sized cameras without the need to rebalance (for example, without a mirror). It also has a quarter-inch adapter so you can connect a professional microphone to an expansion base and run a second wire on the camera. A mic or other accessory can then be attached to a quarter-inch threaded expansion port. Zhiyun is even selling its own shotgun mic in one of the packages, or you can attach other models.
The most notable feature, though, is an 800-lumen 6-watt dual-color LED light. It is designed for “instant low-light shooting” with a complete controlless step dimming control and temperature settings via a control wheel. The light is softened with a transparent filter, although it was originally designed for run-and-gun shooting.
Other features include a joystick and wheel, roll axis, aperture, shutter and ISO to support and control the Bluetooth (or USB-C) of the supported cameras. If you don’t set the controls using the smartphone app, it offers a 1.22-inch full-color interactive touchscreen to change mode settings (portrait, rotation and go mode) as well as speed. It also shows the operational status of the camera, gimbal connection and battery level.
Zhiyun sent me a unit to try, complete with the expansion plate, so I attached a Panasonic GH5 II. Although some functions weren’t working (like the Camera app), it was one of the easiest gimbals to keep in balance that I’ve tried and of course it’s easy to disassemble and attach the camera using quick release plates. The ability to connect a microphone away from the camera is also smart, reduces complexity and re-balances, although you do need some accessories to attach a decent-sized microphone.
The operation was smooth, with the controls well placed for manual operation. The touchscreen was nice, though it’s relatively easy to hit by mistake – I did it once and accidentally changed the language. The light feature works great in a pinch, but due to the small size it casts some harsh shadows. Hopefully all the features I couldn’t try, including app support, will be available soon.
Zhiyun crane is M3 Now available $ 369 (£ 369) for the standard package, $ 449 (£ 449) for the combo package with a backpack, cellphone mount and Tripod Plus, or $ 649 (£ 649) for the Pro package, transmount shotgun microphone and transma with all of the above pluses. You can also get customized release plates for specific camera models: Sony α7M3; Sony α7C; Sony α6000; Sony α7S; Sony ZV-E10; Canon M50; Nikon ZFC; Fuji X-S10; Fuji XT-4.
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