The Zhiyun Crane M2S gimbal is the newest in a long line of gimbals manufactured by Zhiyun, and it is the most expensive. When you use these devices, you may pan, tilt, and roll your camera to create smooth and stable camera movements.
The Crane M2S is marketed as a multi-device gimbal that can handle anything from phones to mirrorless camera setups. However, the Zhiyun website does not specify a maximum payload, and retailer B&H lists the M2S as having a maximum weight of 2.2lb (1,000g), which suggests that a lightweight mirrorless camera with a light prime lens would be its limit. A tiny camera such as the Sony ZV-1 or the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III may be a better choice for this situation. We put it through its paces on an iPhone 13 Pro Max.
The introduction of built-in smartphone stabilization technology has prompted some to question the necessity for a gimbal altogether. When it comes to shooting smooth handheld pans or tracking motions, the iPhone 13 Pro Max that we utilized in our test is more than capable of doing so without the need for post-production stabilization software.
Tilting the horizon is possible when using a portable smartphone, however, it is not always possible or desirable. In Final Cut Pro or Premiere Pro, you’ll need to adjust the horizon to make it more straight. Furthermore, if you shoot with the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s wide-angle camera, there is no built-in stabilization available for that lens, so you will have to correct camera shake/wobble in post-production.
The Crane M2S will ensure that the horizon of your gimbal-mounted camera is always horizontal at all times. It will also allow you to capture stunning wide-angle footage that is far smoother than you would be able to produce with a traditional camera. Check out the test video we recorded to see how the Crane M2S performs in real life.
When we looked at the Combo package, we saw that it gives the Crane M2 S a stylish and useful bag that is meant to keep the gimbal and all of its attachments secure while in storage (such as charging cables and even colored gels that clip onto the built-in fill light to change its color).
You can lock the gimbal’s pan, tilt, and roll motors using three separate red buttons to ensure that it is transported safely. On the other hand, if you neglect to unlock one of the three motors, later on, the gimbal will automatically enter Sleep mode when you attempt to use it. When we took the Crane M2S on its first test shoot, the lethargy caused us to scratch our heads for a few moments, but as we completely freed the three motors, everything was fine.
The Menu button on the gimbal allows you to switch between different shooting modes. Some modes, such as Follow, force the gimbal to tilt and pan as you move it, whilst others, such as Pan Follow, cause the gimbal to the pan but not tilt as you move it.
In addition, there is a trigger button on the front that may be used to conduct a variety of operations. If you click the trigger three times quickly, the gimbal will pan 180 degrees, allowing you to effortlessly move from front-facing subjects to take a selfie (and then rotate back again if need be).
Furthermore, there’s a red record button on the gimbal, but this will only activate a mirrorless camera that’s physically connected to it by means of the included connection. On a smartphone, you must manually press the record button that appears on the screen.
On the Crane M2S, you can also slide a switch to turn on the built-in fill light, which delivers up to an amazing 1000 lumens of light when fully operational. The brightness of the light may be adjusted in five-step increments by using the switch.
Build and Handling
Metal is used in the construction of the component of the gimbal that allows you to roll, tilt, and pan your camera. Each axis is controlled by a motor, which ensures that the movement is smooth.
In order for the motors to operate at their maximum capacity, you must spend some time balancing the camera/smartphone on the gimbal during the setup process. This entails unlocking, sliding, and finally locking the camera in position in order to ensure that it remains level. It should therefore be simple for the gimbal to tilt, roll, and pan the balanced camera with the least amount of effort by employing its motors to achieve the desired results.
The initial balancing procedure can be difficult to grasp, and Zhiyun’s assistance videos tend to be more promotional in nature rather than informative in nature. Although we were unable to locate a complete third-party tutorial of the setup procedure, a simple YouTube search turned up a detailed third-party overview of the process.
Due to the plastic construction of the gimbal’s body, its weight is kept under 549 grams. This also allows you to hold it for a longer period of time without experiencing arm strain while on set. On the second day of our test shoot, we were surprised to discover that the plastic joy-stick control knob had come loose. We were fortunate in that we were able to locate the detached knob in the gimbal’s bag, and it was easily hooked back onto the gimbal.
Our test clip demonstrates that the Crane M2S is capable of swooping your smartphone around smoothly and effortlessly with ease. But when we installed a Panasonic GH5 with a 15-35mm lens on the gimbal, it went to sleep within a few seconds, indicating that it wasn’t thrilled with the additional weight of the larger camera.
Despite the fact that the GH5 is listed as a compatible camera, we would be extremely cautious in suggesting the Crane M2S for usage with a camera of this size and weight. It can also be more difficult to secure a bigger camera on a gimbal since the camera’s broader body can prevent you from tightening some of the locking mounts on the gimbal.
The Crane M2S, on the other hand, operated well when we were transporting our iPhone 13 Pro Max. When filming in POV mode, we had a lot of fun experimenting with the different settings, especially with the floating movement that seemed like it came from a drone. Using modes such as Follow or Go, the gimbal will pan and tilt, allowing you to quickly and easily create intriguing camera work that conveys a story in a matter of seconds.
It is possible to create sweeping and gliding camera movements with the Crane M2S and a smartphone that are as seamless and spectacular as those seen in Hollywood films with this combination. The gimbal’s several Menu modes enable you to do complicated camera movements like tilts, pans, and even drone-like banking maneuvers with your camera (see the POV section in our test video). In the event that you need to add some camera movement to your standard video clips, this equipment will undoubtedly increase the commercial potential of your movie.
Unfortunately, you may need to keep an eye on the plastic joystick knob to ensure that it remains securely attached to the controller. The joystick isn’t absolutely necessary, but it does assist you in fine-tuning the starting position of the gimbal for the best possible composition.