Designed for DSLR or mirrorless cameras, the Zhiyun Crane 2S is a hand-held stabilization gimbal that is well-known among videographers. This particular model is intended for users of DSLR or mirrorless cameras.
Crane gimbal stabilizers were among the first single-handed gadgets to enter the market, having been introduced in the 1960s. Since then, ZHIYUN has amassed a devoted following of filmmakers who stand by the product’s durability and high quality of production.
If you haven’t already dabbled in the realm of gimbal stabilizers, this is going to be a difficult competition.
Both ZHIYUN and DJI are excellent in their own right, but after being blown away by the durability of the 3S, which I’ve been using in conjunction with the Ronin-S, I’m eager to see how the smaller 2S compares in terms of performance.
According to the specifications, there appears to be no difference between the Crane 2S and 3S; in fact, it appears that this new smaller model is a direct rival to its larger sister.
However, despite the fact that it is a smaller weight machine, those little motors are capable of producing enough power to satisfy the needs of anyone using a mirrorless system, or even a DSLR, for that matter.
As is often the case, this new Crane is jam-packed with complex capabilities that need the use of an App, which is accessible for both iOS and Android devices.
It’s a fascinating combination, especially for aficionados of the Crane systems. But, with so many gimbal stabilizers, will the ZHIYUN still wow in this much smaller chassis, even with so many gimbal stabilizers?
There are devoted gimbal groups, such as those who support the DJI Ronin series and those who support the DJI Crane, just as there are in any good tech competition, such as Apple vs. PC or Canon vs. Nikon.
In comparison to the Zhiyun Crane 3S, which is designed for larger cinema and DSLR camera systems, the Crane 2S is smaller and lighter, but it can still accept a heavy camera such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III or a smaller model such as the Sony A6600. Zhiyun, on the other hand, does not specify a maximum payload.
It is possible to use the Crane 2S with a broad variety of cameras, ranging from mirrorless to DSLR.
Although ZHIYUN has not given the normal payload information that we’ve seen with past models, once I discover a camera that is capable of pushing the Crane 2S to its maximum weight, I’ll include it in the review as soon as it’s available.
On the subject of size, a Sony Alpha 7 III with a 28-135mm lens is far too large, but we’ll get to that later. In any case, this combination of camera and zoom lens shouldn’t be mounted on a gimbal.
One feature that I really enjoy is the new locking mechanism for each of the axis arms; it is quick and simple to use, and it is compatible with the indicated slider locks that are included. When the gimbal is fully extended, it takes only a few seconds, and the new locks click and unlock with satisfying action.
As things stand, the most notable characteristics are the axis mobility, with tilt ranges ranging from -80 to 135o, roll ranges ranging from -35 to 35, and pan ranges ranging from -180 to 180. Because of this, the gimbal has a tremendous amount of variety in its use and helps to minimize bounce when you exceed the gimbal’s rotation limitations. The App is used in conjunction with the gimbal and depending on the sort of user you are, you will either use it as an important part of your setup or never use it at all, with the exception of the occasional calibration.
The build quality of the Crane 2S is quite high, and ZHUYUN has paid close attention to what its user base and filmmakers want and expect from a crane. As for the camera itself, there are several different connection choices available on the gimbal. So, after you’ve connected your camera through USB Type-C, you’ll be able to start and stop recording, as well as access a variety of other features, some of which require additional accessories, such as the focus puller.
Especially in the professional market, bolt-on accessories like extension arms, grips, and other bolt-on additions are becoming increasingly popular. As a result, it’s fantastic to find two 1/4-inch screw holes located immediately above the grip, which may be used to attach monitors, grips, or other accessories.
Regarding the grip itself, ZHIYUN has labored to improve its ergonomics, and the diameter of the grip is just the right size. In addition to a convenient joystick, settings control dial, and navigation buttons are also included in the package.
Although the majority of those who tested the gimbal thought the grip was of a reasonable size; yet, there were a few who thought the diameter was a tad on the big side. One of the reasons for the large size of the grip is that it includes three 2600mAh batteries, which are capable of providing power to the gimbal for up to 12 hours.
The focus control wheel is located on the side of the camera and may be used with the optional focus puller or programmed to handle other settings or mode modifications.
Build and Handling
Despite the fact that motorized gimbals are extremely sophisticated equipment, the actual design of these innovative devices hasn’t altered much since they first appeared on the market. In order to provide filmmakers with a strong gimbal solution at a reasonable price, the Crane 2S adheres to a few fundamental design principles.
The general construction and quality of the work are superb; there is very little to criticize about it. The large grip is an excellent size, however, some individuals may find it a touch too large when compared to other models in the line. The grip is also done in a smooth carbon finish, which looks nice but doesn’t provide the same level of traction as a decent rubber or textured grip, which is disappointing.
The design’s most significant flaw, on the other hand, is that the roll motor completely obscures the back screen. The fact that this was a widespread problem a few years ago has now become standard practice, and we may anticipate manufacturers to change the systems in order to circumvent this fundamental problem. It should be noted that ZHIYUN has included two accessory mounts on either side of the grip, which is a welcome addition. Simply attach a phone holder to the wall, and if your camera is capable of wireless transmission, you will be able to get a better view of what is going on instead.
In addition, if you look closely at the rear arm, you’ll see that there is a portion that can be taken out and replaced. Although this required some care due to the fact that the cable inside needed to be delicately fed through the remaining arm after the cable was withdrawn, the motor was lowered and the screen became visible.
While the arm does, by default, obstruct the screen, this does not render the screen totally useless; you can still get a fair notion of what is happening on the screen. Typical connections are made through a wire from the camera to the gimbal to start and stop recording, as well as via Bluetooth from the camera to the phone.
Everything about the setup was straightforward, however, you must calibrate the gimbal before it would work properly. Generally speaking, the procedure is straightforward; but, the directions on how to proceed are not the most comprehensive I’ve seen in this regard. Once the camera is in position and the gimbal has been calibrated and turned on, you will be able to witness for yourself what all the hype is about when it comes to the amount of motor power.
I’ve either mastered the art of balancing motorized gimbals, or this device has the ability to compensate for any inconsistencies in the balance. Since the test progressed, the simplicity of the setup proved to be a great asset, as most people don’t have the luxury of taking the time to adjust a gimbal between each photo. It was as simple as turning on the camera, ensuring that everything was roughly balanced, and pressing record. It’s a lot less difficult.
Overall, the construction was strong and well-done, though a touch outmoded in terms of the delicacy of design. However, the true problem is with the back pan arm, which raises to obscure the rear screen. The handling is also excellent, however, some may feel the grip to be a little too big, and because there is no gripping texture on the surface, it can get slippery after a few hours of usage.
First and foremost, the Crane 2S is a strong gimbal that is easy to set up and use, and it will perform well when given the task at hand. When you compare this to the Weebill or even the original Crane, you’ll immediately notice how far gimbal technology has progressed over the years. When the gimbal is used without any additional attachments, its overall performance is great. Since it reacts so quickly and cushions the extremities, even if you make a mistake in your calculations, it appears to be more forgiving than earlier generations of gimbals in that situation.
Although the pan arm rising over the screen was a nuisance when in use, it may be overcome by attaching a monitor and streaming film live on the internet. While there was ample clearance, Weebill’s disadvantage is that everything is small, which makes it difficult to accommodate a monitor without restricting head mobility.
Having a higher arm in this situation provides a modest bit more space and flexibility when it comes to adding attachments. I still prefer the drop position arm, as shown on the Crane 3S, but you do need the extra size to accommodate the drop position. It’s a decent balance for what it is; the arm is a nuisance, but when used in conjunction with either your mobile phone or a monitor, keeping the arm where it makes sense when it comes to maintaining maneuverability.
As far as stabilization geos go, the Crane 2S is on par with anything else on the market, plus it has the added advantage of allowing you to be slacker with your camera’s balance. Those motors will practically make up for your lack of coordination. Also worth mentioning is that it has a lot of versatility when it comes to camera lens combinations. In comparison to a Sony A7 III with Sigma 50mm T2.0, which fits and balances well, an A7 III and 28-135mm cine lens is a little too large in terms of size, but I doubt it will be too heavy in terms of weight. However, the Sony 28-135mm is not a lens that was created for this specific application.
The Crane 2S and Crane 3S are shown side-by-side to demonstrate the differences between these two stabilizers: the Crane 3S is larger and more supportive for professional jobs, whilst the Crane 2S is designed for filmmakers and amateurs to use in their spare time. In terms of overall quality, they’re both excellent.
In retrospect, the release of the Crane 2S seems to be a bit of an unusual choice, given that it came so soon after the introduction of the Crane 3. However, after a few weeks of using it as my primary stabilizer, it began to impress me, but it also revealed some of its limits, which clearly demonstrated the difference between this and the 3S model. At first glance, both gimbals appear to be extremely similar when comparing their specifications, but when you put them side by side, the discrepancies become immediately evident.
ZHIYUN has created a more cheap version of the Crane 3S, which is effectively the same thing. However, while the Crane 2S can carry an unknown amount of weight and has functions comparable to the 3S, the design is more conventional, and you must work harder and more intelligently to get the same outcomes as with the 3S. You can overlook the roll arm that covers the screen and the slightly plain grip design, but you get the impression that it was created to meet a specific price point.
To differentiate the 2S stabilizer from the competition (which includes companies like Manfrotto, DJI, Moza, and numerous others that produce equally durable and powerful gimbals), ZHIYUN has to do something a little bit extra. That little bit more is available in two formats: one is free, and the other is chargeable. The first is the Crane 3S App, which is nearly identical to the one available for the Crane 3S.
Additional capabilities available to you include full-range POV, Vortex, and amazing Go Modes. It also gives you access to a large number of other functions. Aside from that, there’s the standard selection of Panorama, Timelapse, Motionlapse, and Long Exposure Timelapse modes to choose from. In addition, there are a number of TransMount attachments available, all of which are optional upgrades that considerably enhance the usability of the gimbal. These include giving a few examples, the Focus/Zoom control motor and the Image transmitter.
The Crane 2S delivers amazing performance, and it is packed with innovative design elements. Although there are some areas in which the design feels a little out of date, such as the arm that covers the screen, there isn’t much to criticize about the performance as a whole. In usage, the Crane 2S performs admirably, and with the addition of the App and a wide selection of attachments, it is unquestionably a wise purchase. If you currently possess a ZHIYUN gimbal, such as the Weebill or an earlier Crane, you should consider this or the crane 3S as your next step up in quality and performance.