One-handed gimbals built for mirrorless/DSLR cameras and smaller-sized digital cinema cameras have been available for several years. Larger gimbals, such as the DJI Ronin 2 and Movi Pro, designed for mid-to-large-sized digital cameras have also been available. There truly wasn’t anything available to help close the gap.
With the Zhiyun Crane 3S, you can shoot with bigger mirrorless, DSLR, or movie cameras thanks to its powerful stabilization system. Despite the fact that Zhiyun is already well-known in this field, the Crane 3S is a complete redesign of previous Zhiyun gimbals, with detachable handle choices, a big 6.5kg payload, and an upgraded axis-locking mechanism, an external power input, and the ViaTouch 2.0 motion control system. It is an upgrade to the previous Zhiyun Crane 3 Lab, although it has a payload that is approximately 45 percent greater than the prior model.
This is a heavy-duty gimbal developed for cine gear, and it’s a significant step up from standard 4K mirrorless cameras or DSLRs in terms of performance and reliability. It also has several innovative carrying features, such as a removable second EasySling or an optional SmartSling handle, which is more costly. In comparison to EasySling, the SmartSling features its own control panel and screen for a more direct and convenient camera and gimbal adjustment. The EasySling is designed for more comfortable upright usage (it may be fixed to the back or used to extend the vertical grip) and underslung use. You may even combine the two handles into a single handle.
Because of the retractable handle, the Crane 3S can be packed up more compactly and transported more easily than the previous Crane 3 Lab.
It contains the main gimbal, a compact tripod, the SmartSling, as well as a few more attachments and cables, as well as the free-to-download Crane 3S SmartSling software.
One aspect that immediately distinguishes the Crane 3S is its maximum payload of 6.5kg, which is significantly more than the DJI Ronin-maximum S’s payload of 3.6kg. There are two benefits to having an extra payload: first, it allows you to stabilize much larger and heavier cameras, and second, it makes your camera a bit more forgiving in terms of shake.
Other single-handed gimbal stabilizers have focused on performance, while Zhiyun has prioritized comfort. In addition to the standard folding micro tripod base that can be converted to a grip while not in use, there is a horizontal grip and the SmartSling. The Crane 3S’s multi-grip design makes it easier to grasp than other gimbals, even when using a hefty camera and lens combination, despite the fact that it is somewhat heavy.
Also taken into consideration was adaptability, and the Crane 3S is one of the few gimbals of this size that can be swiftly converted from being handled to becoming part of a bigger rig or being placed on a camera tripod. There are several mounting solutions available.
In addition to the option to customize the grips to meet your specific requirements, the arms and mounts may be modified to better accommodate both small and big cameras. In practice, this means that you may shoot with the Crane 3S and the Sony FS7, then swap to the smaller Sony A7 III mirrorless camera if you so choose.
It has also been improved upon in comparison to the prior version, resulting in increased security while being shipped. The Crane 3S is delivered with three batteries that can run the crane for up to 12 hours with a 3KG weight on board. The Crane 3S SmartSling Kit weighs 3.08kg when it is not equipped with a camera or a baseplate.
A DC input option is also available, which supports the new TransMount PowerPlus battery pack with a voltage of 25.2v. This allows the Crane to be used for an additional 18 hours, making it suitable for professional shots.
In particular, the effects of strong wind and G-Force, which lessen the customary stability that the Crane 3S would give, are a problem for many gimbal stabilizers of this type, as well as for many other gimbal stabilizers. Engineers have worked tirelessly to counteract these pressures with an entirely new algorithm that claims to let you shoot smooth, shake-free footage no matter how quickly the action is moving.
Also taken into consideration was the 55 inclined roll axis, which was precisely calculated to guarantee that you always have a nice view of the camera’s screen and that you have plenty of room to mount cinema and camera lens combinations.
When it comes to the mechanics of motion, it has a tilt range of 360 degrees, a roll range of 330 degrees with a maximum angle of 75 degrees and a minimum angle of -255 degrees, and a pan axis of 360 degrees. This provides a great deal of control and flexibility.
If you have a compatible camera, such as the Panasonic GH5, the Crane 3S is a formidable piece of equipment; if you possess a Sony A7 III, the Crane 3S is still a formidable piece of equipment, but you’re restricted to basic camera control and the powerful stabilizer, respectively.
At this time, the SmartSling and App are compatible with a wide range of cameras, including the Nikon D850, Nikon Z6, Canon 5D Mark IV, 6D, and R, Panasonic GH5, and Sony A7R3 among others. Check out the webpage for your camera to see if it’s on the list, which is always expanding.
Build and Handling
In addition to superb motors and a completely new modular design, the Crane 3S is an incredibly strong gimbal with an impressive history of innovation. It is designed for more application flexibility and intuitive control. There’s no denying that this specific model is intended squarely at high-end filmmakers with larger production facilities.
There is no way to sugarcoat it, so let’s start with the most significant issue for filmmakers who shoot handheld — the weight of the gimbal in question. Although I was using a tiny mirrorless camera, I couldn’t keep my hands on it for too long before I felt the urge to put it down. What you should bear in mind is that the Crane 3S weights around 2.47kg without any attachments, which is a significant amount. My camera configuration (Fujifilm X-T3 with 16-55mm f/2.8 lens) is around 1.3kg in weight. This results in an overall weight of around 3.37kg. However, if you try to hold that weight out in front of you for more than a few minutes, it will become apparent that you will need to take a break shortly after.
Was it possible to use it with a camera like the Sony FS7 or the RED and still consider it to be a handheld run and gun style gimbal? Most likely not. Or, if so, just in brief spurts, as the case may be. However, the increased cargo capacity and power make a significant impact. My favorite part of the experience was being able to utilize my most flexible lens (the Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f/2.8) on a gimbal for the first time, something I’d never been able to do with my smaller DJI Ronin SC due to the weight of the camera.
The undersling mode on this gimbal is the most effective option to employ for a run and gun style video shot (such as the one shown in the video below). Everything felt a lot more natural in this mode, and the handled grip at the top was not only much simpler to shoot with, but it was also a great method to transport the camera about. I never use my smaller gimbal down low in this manner since it is simply not practicable to hold in this position. The Crane 3S, on the other hand, is suited for shooting from the ground up, making it suitable for skateboarders or extreme sports enthusiasts, for example.
Even with all of that said, it’s evident just how powerful this gimbal is, and exactly where it’s going to be most useful. When working on a larger production or mounting the camera on a chase car, I wouldn’t hesitate to make sure this was one of the top priorities for the crew – especially with the ability to control it using the updated ViaTouch 2.0 iOS or Android smartphone app via Bluetooth 5.0 for remote motion control as well as to manage the gimbal settings and movement from a distance.
The Sony A7 III and a range of lenses were utilized for the majority of the shots in this test. In the first place, if you thought the DJI Ronin-S was hefty, you should know that the DJI Crane 3S is an entirely different level of weight. Despite this, the Crane 3S’s design provides many of handling choices, and if you’re only shooting for a day, I’d recommend a Flycam Flowline or something similar.
This is the beauty of the Crane 3S: it provides you numerous alternatives, which is something that other gimbals just do not do. When it comes to using the Crane 3S with the Panasonic GH5, the experience was flawless; the two cameras are wonderfully suited, and their compatibility is excellent.
Because of the gimbal’s smoothing and stabilizing capabilities, the film is smooth and stable. The SmartSling provides extensive control over the settings. With the Sony A7 III, the gimbal continues to perform effectively, despite the fact that you no longer have the opportunity to alter settings through the SmartSling. The loss of LiveView through the app is also a disappointment, but it is not a deal-breaker for most people.
One thing that becomes clear very early on is that the Crane 3S is a very forgiving machine. Because those motors are built to support the weight of a professional stills or video camera, a compact mirrorless camera may be balanced and carried with relative simplicity. However, there is a limit to this forbearance, and if you keep the gimbal to near to the maximum or minimum rotations while the camera isn’t exactly balanced, you will experience a little degree of judder. It was discovered during testing that there was occasionally a little flicker from the motors while shooting at low angles, particularly when shooting at a low angle. If this were to occur, a simple rebalancing would be sufficient to resolve the situation.
A more rudimentary solution was to simply tilt the handle up slightly to give the gimbal a bit more wiggle area. These are user-related concerns rather than issues with the gimbal; it’s only that the power of the motors allows the user to be a little more careless with the setup because of the power of the motors. The effects of the stabilised footage are very remarkable. Handheld and static sequences demonstrated that the framing and hold on composition are both good; the film has a natural smoothness to it that is pleasing to the eye.
Once again, the Crane 3S performs admirably, allowing you to take smooth, professional-looking video with ease when out for a brisk walk and attempting to adapt the stride in order to minimize any bobbing. To complete the final stability test, the Crane 3S was put through its paces. It’s not a particularly long video because it weights a lot, but it does demonstrate just how incredible those motors and new algorithms are.
Okay, the speed wasn’t particularly high, but the terrain was bumpy and the descent was steep, and you can see how effectively the motors performed in order to generate a smooth pan. After a leap, there is a tiny jolt in the video clip, but the Crane 3S manages to smooth it out so that it appears to be a minor blip, but it was actually me losing my balance and just barely recovering from what might have been a face plant. With regard to the performance of the stabilizing system, there was very nothing to criticize.
The app is the final component of the Crane 3S that I have described but have not gone into detail about. ZY Play is utilized on all Zhiyun gimbals, and it provides additional functionality for the gimbal as well as the ability to make changes. Although the UI is well-designed, it does take some time to become accustomed to it. Its two most notable features are the timelapse feature, which allows you to create spectacular timewarp-style movie, and the panorama option, which allows you to shoot gorgeous panoramic footage.
The Panoramic mode allows you to specify a start and finish point, after which the gimbal calculates the number of shots required and automatically shoots the series. Even though it’s a function that’s been widespread among gimbal stabilizers for a long time, it’s still rather stunning.
The Moza Air X was arguably one of the rare exceptions to this rule. As far as I know, it is the only other single-handed gimbal capable of supporting weights of up to 6kg.
With some coaxing, there are gimbals like the Zhiyun Crane 3 Lab, DJI Ronin-S, and Moza Air 2 that can accommodate smaller digital cinema cameras, but that is not what they were built to accomplish in the first place.
The Crane 3S fills a vacuum in the market between single-handed gimbals and gimbals that were expressly built to be used with mid-to-large-sized digital cinema cameras, and it does so at a reasonable price.
With a large number of photographers employing cameras such as the Canon C200/C300/C500, Sony FX7/FX9, Panasonic EVA1, and to a lesser extent the Kinefinity TERRA/MAVO and Z-Cam offerings, a gimbal like as the Crane 3S has a place in their arsenal.
Although it is true that using a small to mid-sized digital cinema camera on a one-handed gimbal appears to be counter-intuitive, we shall discuss this point in further detail further down the page.
Canon EOS 1DX, Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras, Canon Cinema EOS, Sony FS & FX series, and RED Digital Cinema Cameras are among the cameras that are compatible with the system. In addition to the KInefinity camera possibilities, you may use cameras such as the ARRI ALEXA Mini, Panasonic EVA 1, Z-Cam series, and any of the ARRI ALEXA models.
You may obtain the complete list of camera compatibility from the link provided above. This list is intended to demonstrate what functionality is available when utilizing the various camera and lens combinations on the Crane 3S, rather than to provide specifics.
Zhiyun gets a lot of credit for this. When it comes to gimbals, it is always upgrading its products and has been at the forefront of innovation and features for many years now. While Zhiyun has undoubtedly packed the Crane 3S with features, there is no hiding the fact that it is an extremely feature-rich device. Although you have access to all of the features, it’s comforting to know that you aren’t obligated to utilize any of them if you don’t want to.
The business has succeeded in developing a gimbal that can be used to capture smooth and stable footage while also supporting a wide range of cameras. The speed and fluidity with which the camera moves are outstanding. The camera motions are excellent. It features a large payload capacity as well as a lengthy battery life. Although it is light and portable, it is not something you would want to carry around with you all day as a run-and-gun gimbal. For those who need to shoot handheld or ground-level video with cine gear that is a step up from a typical mirrorless camera, this is the equipment to have on hand.