Zhiyun Crane 2 Review

The Zhiyun Crane 2 handheld stabilizer is made to help you shoot video with your DSLR or mirrorless camera. The Crane 2 is an updated version of the original Crane. It features many improvements such as a revised camera control interface, a wider focus range, and a new following mode. You might find the Zhiyun Crane 2 to be ideal for you. This dreamcheeky Zhiyun Crane 2 review looks at the features and shows you how it can improve your filmmaking skills.

Zhiyun Crane 2 Review

Contents

Zhiyun Crane 2 Review

Features

  • External rod-mount motor with focus motor to allow for mechanical focus/zoom control
  • 360deg pan adjustment, 320deg tilt adjustment, and 360deg rolling adjustment
  • 7 lb payload
  • Use the included batteries for an 18-hour runtime
  • Digital follow focus control available for select Canon cameras, the Nikon D850 and compatible autofocus lenses
  • Manfrotto quick release plate
  • The “Slow-fall” feature protects your camera against sudden drops when the Crane-2’s power is turned off

PROS

  • Stabilizes SLR and mirrorless cameras
  • Balances are easy
  • Optional vertical video mounting
  • Swappable batteries
  • Optional USB-C charging
  • 360-degree roll
  • Follow focus and the other add-ons

CONS

  • Tools needed for setup and breakdown
  • Bulkier than DJI RSC 2.
  • The model of the USB camera controller varies.

A gimbal is a powerful stabilization system that produces steady handheld footage for video editors and cinematographers. It can be used to produce Steadicam-quality results without as much fuss. To produce professional-quality handheld footage, the Zhiyun Crane 2S ($599) can be used in conjunction with SLRs or mirrorless cameras.

Although it’s not as compact, such as the $499 DJI RSC 2 Editors’ Choice winner (our Editors’ Choice winner), we found it easier to balance, particularly if you are using a full-frame, heavier camera system.

The Zhiyun Tech Crane-2 is a handheld gimbal stabilizer that supports mirrorless and DSLR cameras up to 7 lbs. Mount your camera onto the Manfrotto-standard quickrelease plate and balance it. You can then shoot for up 18 hours with the provided batteries.

An optional remote control for Crane 2 or the handwheel of the gimbal can control the rod-mount mechanical focus motor. You can align it to your zoom ring or focus ring for zoom control or follow focus. The support rod, USB cable and two universal lens gear rings can be used to attach and connect the focus motor to almost all lenses.

Digital follow focus control via the Crane-2 is possible with select Canon DSLRs or the Nikon D850 equipped with compatible autofocus lenses. After adjusting the settings, you can have direct focus control by connecting the camera to the USB cables.

The Crane-2 has 360deg pan, tilt adjustment, and roll adjustment. The gimbal has multiple special shooting modes that allow you to be more creative. Full-range POV mode allows 360deg synchronous movement across all three axes. The camera will follow your movements and lock in a single position, rather than allowing you to move around. This allows for POV capture.

The OLED display and onboard controls allow for quick adjustments to the gimbal settings. A “slow fall” feature protects your camera against sudden drops when the Crane-2’s power is turned off.

Gimbal Stabilization

Gimbal Stabilization

The Crane-2 has 360deg pan, tilt adjustment, and roll adjustment. The gimbal has multiple special shooting modes that allow you to be more creative. Full-range POV mode allows 360deg synchronous movement of all three axes.

The camera will be locked in a single place and follow you movements without limits. This allows for POV capture.

The OLED display and onboard controls allow for quick adjustments to the gimbal settings. A “slow fall” feature protects your camera against sudden drops when the Crane-2’s power is turned off.

There are many options for stabilizing cameras. You can use monopods or tripods to stabilize your camera. Shoulder braces and mounting plates such as the Platypod also work.

They are used by photographers for sharp, blur-free results and purposeful compositions. Videographers simply need to get rid of jitters.

Powerful gimbals are a popular choice for cinematography. The silent brushless motors will keep your camera steady and level even when the camera is moving. One allows you to get certain types of shots you cannot get with a camera by itself, even one that has a stabilized sensor.

Zhiyun’s mid-range solution for SLRs or mirrorless cameras is the Crane 2S. The Crane 2S falls below the Crane 3 family in terms of pricing and payload support. The Crane 3 can carry a 14.3-pound camera, while the 2S can only hold around 7 pounds. This is a lot for a larger mirrorless camera with a full frame sensor.

It is simple to design. The Crane 2S features a cylindrical body that has a tripod socket at its bottom and mounting platforms at its top. Mounting plates, hex wrenches and cables are all included in the Crane 2S.

The Crane 2S is approximately 17.7 x 8.3 x 4.7 inches (HWD), and weighs in at 4.1 pounds. The Crane 2S is quite heavy, so you can expect it to put some strain on your muscles when you use a heavier lens and camera with it.

Zhiyun also offers a smaller option for lighter cameras: the $400 Weebill-S. This is great if you have an APS-C system or Micro Four Thirds. The DJI RSC 2 is lighter than the Crane 2S and can be folded down to a smaller size. This makes it a great choice for travel.

Finding your Balance

The Crane 2S includes everything you need for mounting your camera. The Crane 2S gimbal arrives in an oversized box that is a little too large for the device. Zhiyun decided to flat pack everything into a case.

Although it is not professional-grade, the material is a strong foam that is stronger than styrofoam, and has no flaking. It’s worth investing in a better case if you plan to travel with the Crane.

You will need to charge the removable battery in order for it to start. Zhiyun suggests that you use the included wall charger the first time you recharge the batteries. These chargers are located in the handle and can be charged directly in the device using any USB-C adapter.

The battery life can be extraordinary, up to 18 hours. However, it will vary depending on how heavy your camera is, how often you use the gimbal and how carefully you balance the camera. Motors work best when the camera is in a perfectly placed position.

To attach the mounting plate to your camera, use either a flathead screwdriver or one of the hex keys provided to tighten it. Although it’s not as easy as a thumbscrew (make sure you have your toolkit in case of location work), the plates will stay in place without any wiggle.

The second, larger plate attaches to your small one. To ensure it is correctly positioned, the arrow marks it. You can mount an arm or a bracket to your lens.

The Crane 2S was the first gimbal we tested and the first one I tried to balance. It was paired with the Sony a7SIII and the 12-24mm f2.8 GM lens. This mirrorless camera is a standard full-frame and weighs more than the wider angle zooms. The Sigma fpL with the 14-24mm DG DN Art zoom is slimmer.

Both were easy to balance. This is a simple three-step process that’s quite intuitive. Slide the mounting plate in place and take note of the scale. If the gimbal arm has not been locked, a camera positioned too far forward of its lens will tilt it downward. A camera positioned too far back will tilt it upward.

You’ll find the perfect spot by moving it around. Once the plate is in place, tilt the lens up. The vertical axis will be used to repeat the process. Once you have done it correctly, the camera should remain still at any angle of tilt.

Then you will repeat the process for the horizontal axis. To give you some direction, it’s also marked by a ruler. It is easy to see if something is off. The horizon will show if there are any deviations.

After that, you can power up the system by pressing the Record button. After that, the gimbal will move in several directions and it’s ready to go. You can mount your camera vertically to capture 9:16 video. The balancing process will be the same, but you’ll mount it in a different place.

There are several stabilization options. Pan Follow (PF) is the standard. This keeps the camera in the same direction unless the thumb pad is used to tilt or pan. Point of View (POV) is an alternative. This allows for first-person perspectives and the camera to move along with the gimbal.

Both are well-suited for low-angle or chest-level work. To get closer to the ground, you can lower the camera. The Crane 2S was able to smoothen my uneven, plodding steps and even captured smooth footage while I was running at high speed.

This configuration requires you to be careful when using an ultra-wide zoom lens. The arms holding your camera can slip into the frame if they aren’t taken care of.

A 360-degree roll, Vortex, as well as the more common Locking, Go and Follow stabilization options are available. Vortex is a great feature that spins the camera around on a 360 degree axis. Although it is disorienting, it serves its purpose. It can be used with the camera facing forward or up. For the former, the Crane 2S must be parallel to the ground.

Built-in Controls and loads of Add-On Options

Built-in Controls and loads of Add-On Options

The Crane 2S includes a few buttons to control your camera, Record being the most prominent. To connect your camera, you will receive USB cables. You can find a table that breaks down the functions of popular systems here.

An M button switches the stabilization mode. A thumb pad allows for tilt and pan. A directional pad lets you navigate through the menu system. A small monochrome display allows you to adjust the settings of the gimbal.

The Crane can be controlled remotely via the ZY Play app. The app is free to download for both iOS and Android devices.

This will ensure that you have all the essentials covered. You’re ready to go if you are an autofocus videographer. You can also add a follow-focus motor to make serious video work. It works with the wheel on either side of the camera to focus manual lenses. A wireless video transmitter can be added, as well as a rear handle that allows for low-angle work.

Zhiyun bundles accessories and sells them as the Crane 2S Pro. The package is more expensive at $849 but it’s worth it for professional use. You also get a Dual Cam Mount, which allows you to mount a second camera above your main one. This is a more niche-specific scenario than the mainstream, but it is worth looking into if you are.

Superb Stabilization and Swappable Battery

Superb Stabilization and Swappable Battery

The Zhiyun Crane 2S provides quality support for SLRs as well as mirrorless cameras. The gimbal smoothes and stabilizes your video with greater precision than image sensor stabilization and lens. This allows you to explore new angles and still enjoy freedom of motion.

The Crane 2S is heavy and bulky so you will need to bring a screwdriver/hex key in case you have to set it up on site. Although it’s easier to balance than the smaller, folding DJI RSC 2 (which is much more difficult), the Crane 2S’s interchangeable batteries allow you to change them as they age, while the RSC 2’s cannot be changed.

There are many things for cinematographers, vloggers, and videographers to enjoy here. The Crane 2S is ideal for mirrorless cameras enthusiasts and consumers. It has enough payload capacity and full-frame rigs to support F2.8 zoom lenses and full-frame rigs.

Conclusion

Zhiyun’s latest gimbal, the Crane 2, is from the same company that created the Smooth Q. This stabilizer can be used with smartphones and smaller cameras and is great for filmmakers as well as vloggers.

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