I take a look at the Zhiyun Crane 3-axis brushless gimbal

Designed for small mirrorless cameras, the Crane offers a low cost, low fuss setup with surprisingly good results.

For me, a gimbal offers a freedom of movement unparalleled in the tools of cinema. The 3-axis one-handled gimbal especially so because of its portability in comparison to its older brethren, the steadicam and ronin.

The Crane allows you to carry a whole kit in one backpack: gimbal, camera, lenses and accessories. You can travel with it anywhere without worrying too much that it will draw attention to you, which can be especially good if you are banking on your actors not knowing they are being filmed in situations where you are perhaps capturing the landscape of a city or its inhabitants.There has of recent times been a surge in travel videos and this device will only elevate these videos to the next level. Short movies like Hong Kong Strong showcase the versatility of the gimbal when paired with a skilled cinematographer.I'm not at that level but I did want to give the Crane a try, which is why I purchased one to go with my GH4, metabones speedbooster and my EF lenses.The initial weight limit for the Crane was 1200g, and my gear was a bit over this threshold, but luckily a recent firmware update increased the load capacity to 1800g, and you can also change the intensity of the motors through the bluetooth enabled app, so I dived right in.The results were quite good but I believe that the weight limit even with the firmware update was a bit much for the gimbal. The major problem I have is micro-jitters. It comes off as a small vibration in the tops, bottoms and corners of your image. It is also really very hard to smooth this out in post due to the nature of the shake. But I have to say that if I am following a subject on screen these vibrations when they occur are barely noticeable.I did a video with some test footage below.  As you can see if you look for them you will find them but otherwise the footage is smooth, and this is with no stabilization in post.Ideally, the gimbal would be paired with a GH4 with a native lens or even better the a6500 which has internal IBIS. I have seen clips on youtube with the a6500 and the crane and with the IBIS enabled the results are buttery smooth and look incredibly cinematic. The a6500 also has world-class autofocus which is a great asset in gimbal work.The Crane itself is very easy to setup; there are no extra tools you need, all you have to do is balance the gimbal and tighten the included screws. I can balance it in under 2 minutes no problem, although the first time will take you quite a bit longer.Using the gimbal is so much quicker than any tripod I could use and this proves very advantageous in situations that require your improvisation. I am impressed with just how easy it is to get nice footage without much work. You will obviously need to work on your gimbal technique but Zhiyun make it very easy for the like the device, and it has me thinking that my next camera purchase will be the a6500 so that I can fully utilise the capacity of the gimbal. I would rather have proper cinematic image movement than a incremental improvement in image that is perhaps offered by the GH5,

Alex Kuraica 25/01/2017 07:00:00

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