Zhiyun has been upgrading its gimbal lineup at a breakneck pace, with the superb Crane 3S, Weebill 2, and now the Crane M3, which replaces the Crane M2, which was the smallest and lightest in the lineup at the time of its introduction.
The Crane M3, despite the fact that it is mechanically comparable to the rest of the line, is significantly different. First and foremost, the white finish, rather than the traditional black, gives this gimbal a fresh and fashionable appearance. When compared to their other goods, the M3 is intended for a more youthful and, dare I say it, less experienced audience. While its basic functionality is comparable to that of their other products, the cameras that it is meant to work with are rather different.
The lack of weight in the gimbal will cause all axes to shake violently if you try to mount an action camera or a mobile phone on top of it; you’ll even notice that some small mirrorless cameras and lens combos are similarly underweighted if you try to mount an action camera or a mobile phone on top of a gimbal. These little cameras, on the other hand, are precisely what the M3 has been built to work with.
The compact, lightweight form factor of your mobile phone or action camera is ideal, but it will also work with your mirrorless camera if it isn’t overly weighted.
Zhiyun Crane M3 Handheld 3-Axis Stabilizer, Gimbal Stabilizer for Mirrorless Camera, Gopro, Smartphone
- 【Compact Size But Not Compromised Performance】 With upgraded motor performance and algorithm, compatible with smartphones, action cameras, compact cameras, and even full-frame mirrorless cameras with certain lenses. The compact motor structure, smaller in size but compatibility remains. All-new quick release plate with dual safety locks that are secure and easy for assembly and disassembly.
- 【3-sec Super Quick Release&Save You from Balancing Repeatedly】 Upgraded quick release system with general quick release plate for easier balancing, assembly, and disassembly. Locks with transverse palm-rejection design to protect cameras while ensuring efficiency.Dedicated tiny quick release plate for all mainstream cameras. Cutout battery cover and customized design make camera battery changing easier without camera disassembly.
- 【Touch Screen&Lighting】 1.22" full-color OLED touch screen. New interactive UI and parameter display that supports status display (camera connection, battery level, etc.) and parameter adjustment (gimbal mode, follow speed, and other settings). Built-in LED fill light for reducing image noise and avoiding improper lighting situations. The control wheel supports step-less-dimming on the color temperature level and brightness. Supports coloring with light filter. Adopts high-level cooling technology to quickly dissipate the heat while providing great brightness.
- 【Charge Fast and Faster】PD Fast Charge, Type-C charging port and 1150mAh battery capacity allow you to enjoy the following: Charge only 2 hours but work for 8 hours, using the gimbal while charging via power bank.
- 【Take A Shortcut with Adjustment Wheel & Joystick】Find the buttons, wheels and the newly added round joystick at your comfort reach with the ergonomic control panel. Support adjustment on aperture, shutter, ISO and roll axis.
It is the first gimbal to successfully bridge the gap between small handheld mobile stabilizers and professional gimbal rigs, and it does it in a spectacular fashion.
Its tiny shape (apart from the fact that it is white) is the most notable aspect of the Zhiyun Crane M3. Once the gimbal is removed from the carrying bag that it arrives in, the sheer size of the device is impressive. Due to the fact that it is far lighter than the DJI RSC 2, you will be able to hold it for significantly longer periods of time without experiencing wrist fatigue – which is a significant advantage if you have ever had to use a stabilizer for a lengthy amount of time.
The fact that it can accommodate a mirrorless camera, a smartphone, or an action camera was also a big plus for us, making it the ideal all-arounder, especially if you’re looking for something for traveling. It also means that no matter the device you use to record your video, you’ll always get smooth, professional-looking results.
It features a built-in light that has three different colored filters, as well as several other settings, including vortex and portrait modes, that you may choose from. Almost everything about this gimbal appears to be excellent, except for the fact that it is difficult to balance because of the clumsy sliding arms and tight locks.
Build and Handling
When it comes to Zhiyun’s gimbals, visual design features are just as important as functionality when it comes to the finished product. This is evident in the Crane M3 not just in terms of its overall size, but also in terms of its color contrast. Gimbals are often painted in black and gray, but Zhiyun has opted for a more sophisticated mix of black and white contrast, with some red accents, as opposed to the traditional black and gray.
When fully folded, the Zhiyun Crane M3 measures around 11 x 6.2 x 3 inches (280 x 157 x 75 mm), according to the manufacturer. It does, however, grow to around 10.2 x 5.3 x 5.9 inches when fully extended (259 x 135 x 150 mm). As a result, this small gimbal, when not attached to its tripod, is about the size of a regular water bottle.
It’s useful if you compare this to Zhiyun’s Smooth Q3 and Weebill 2 since it gives you an idea of the sizing tradeoff that allows it to handle mirrorless cameras while only weighing 735 grams.
The gimbal and drone sectors have seen a significant and welcome shift in recent years, with firms such as Zhiyun eliminating most of the plastic packaging in favor of providing the client with something a bit more useful within the cardboard box.
In this review, I’ll be looking at the Zhiyun Pro-Kit, and you’ll see that you get a lot for your money. The kit costs £649. Along with the compact gimbal, which is ideal for anything from your mobile phone to an action camera to a mirrorless camera, you also get a built-in modeling lamp and an extension base, which allows you to plug in a high-quality shotgun mic for further versatility. There’s also the bag, which has had a generally mixed reception; some people enjoy it, while others, like me, don’t like it. Say for the sake of argument that I am not the intended audience for this bag.
Portability and Travel
Taking advantage of the Crane M3’s small size makes it simple to take it with you on the road or to the office.
With the Crane M3, Zhiyun has continued its tradition of providing a portable backpack that provides adequate storage space for the gimbal, camera, lens, and other equipment to customers who purchase the Combo or Pro Package of the crane. If you don’t like the default sections within the bag, you may easily alter the velcro straps to your liking by pulling them tighter.
For those who choose to stick with Zhiyun’s regular box, ordinary tote bags or a personal backpack will be sufficient for transporting the tiny gimbal without causing any harm.
Mounting, weight, and balancing
The Crane M3 is a three-axis gimbal with three motors that, when activated, adjust the angle of the camera or smartphone being used to shoot video. A 360-degree pan range, 333-degree roll range, and 309-degree tilt range are all available on the Crane M3 when operating at its maximum.
Zhiyun has a number of useful tools to help you get your camera or smartphone mounted and the gimbal balanced as soon as possible. Starting with the fact that each of the motors may be locked in numerous places, you can simply balance each of them individually.
The procedure itself, is a little complicated, as switches are used to lock and release the sliding of the arms along the rail where it connects to the motor, which is a little difficult to manage. There is a slight learning curve, but it is doable when utilizing the motor locks, and if you are just using one camera, it is essentially a one-time operation.
Besides the smartphone mount and camera that Zhiyun has incorporated, they have also included an accessory plate that can be attached quickly. In addition, the plate clicks into a catch that has a slide-and-press locking mechanism, making it quite simple to remove or replace your imaging device if, for example, you need to change batteries.
All of this is dependent on what you intend to load onto the Crane M3 in the first place. In order to accommodate a wide mirrorless camera, we discovered that we needed to horizontally slide one arm all the way to the right until it made contact with the main body.
We also discovered that it was unable to cope with a bigger lens on a mirrorless camera, with our 24-240mm lens protruding far in front and dragging the entire contraption down in the front. The Crane M3 performed better while using smaller prime lenses or lighter zoom lenses.
Because of this, the Crane M3 is limited in how far it can be pushed when used with more extensive camera assemblies. However, when utilized in a more regular range of motion and with lesser payloads, the constraints should not be an issue.
Controls and usage
It takes some time to get used to using the Crane M3, which has just a few controls that can be accessed with the forefinger and thumb when held in the right-hand position.
A joystick for controlling gimbal rotation, as well as a set of buttons, may be found on the rear of the camera body. The “M” button may be used to quickly switch between a few different gimbal settings, while the Photo/Video button can be used to take images or to start and stop video recording with a compatible device.
Above it is a 1.22-inch touchscreen, which can be used to switch between different modes, check the balance of the camera or phone on the gimbal, manage calibration, and adjust many other settings, amongst other things. Despite the fact that it is a touch too tiny for larger fingers, the UI is accessible and easy enough for the majority of users to understand.
Power is controlled by a button located on the right-hand side of the gadget, above the USB-C connector, which is also used to recharge it. In 2 hours, it can return its full power, and the battery can last up to 8 hours on a 12W charger.
A wheel on the left-hand side controls a built-in video light that is controlled by a video camera sensor.
The camera or smartphone may be rapidly rotated and recentered using the trigger on the front. There is an adjustment wheel located above the screen that may be used to alter the settings displayed on the screen, regulate the roll axis, and perform some camera tasks when a connected camera is utilized.
When in use, the gimbal is a pleasure to operate because it doesn’t add any more thickness to the camera or smartphone’s already small weight. Using this for extended amounts of time without getting exhausted is simple.
There are also plenty of options to suit the majority of filmmakers, and the gimbal is quite responsive even carrying a little weight.
Following Mode, Pan Follow Mode, and Lock Mode are some of the most common options available. In contrast to Follow Mode, a Go Mode is a more responsive option that does not have users trawling through the settings in order to boost responsiveness.
Two more modes give even more creative possibilities than the previous two modes combined. A Portrait Mode, which is 90 degrees to the regular viewing angle, provides stabilization for cameras. In addition, the camera is pointed straight up in Vortex Mode, which allows users to tilt the camera forward and fully revolve the camera around a point for a unique look.
If you want to be able to operate your camera more directly from the gimbal, you may attach a supplied cable to a USB-C connector located near the quick release plate’s mounting position. Although not all cameras will be able to be controlled by the wire, many cameras will be able to get power from the gimbal via the link.
Zhiyun recommends using the TransMount Crane-M3 Bluetooth Control Unit for gimbal-based control for additional cameras that are not supported by the TransMount Crane.
- Weight: 730g
- Dimensions: 24.1 x 155 x 72.5mm (folded)
- Payload: 2.2 kg
- Power: Li-Ion, USB charging, charging time 1.5hrs
- Battery life: Up to 8 hours
- Charging time: 2 hours
- App: ZY Play
In addition to being a beautiful gimbal, the Crane M3’s small size and high power make it a powerful filmmaking tool that will appeal to a wide range of filmmakers and photographers.
The ability to utilize a tiny mirrorless phone or action camera on the same gimbal is a fantastic feature that is significantly more helpful than you may immediately believe.
The power of the motors is outstanding in terms of performance, smoothing out the customary handshake and wobble associated with handheld videography and photography. In addition, the straightforward controls on the handgrip make it exceedingly simple to operate.
At first appearance, the Zhiyun Crane M3 piques your interest and makes you desire one. The white, black, and red finish distinguish it from other gimbals; nonetheless, the weight of the gimbal makes it feel very comfortable in the hand. However, after you begin to utilize the gimbal, you will see why DJI gimbals have become so popular. Working to make the gimbal balanced on all three axes was a time-consuming and aggravating procedure, especially because the sliding arms weren’t particularly smooth and the locking mechanisms were quite tight.
While this gimbal would be a decent choice for a filmmaker who works with a variety of devices, there are better alternatives available for those who prefer something that is easier to balance (this is especially crucial if you change lenses frequently). However, while the handle is generous in size, the sliding axis appears to be inadequate for dealing with some of the larger cameras with which it is compatible.
If the size of the gimbal handle remained the same, but the distance between the sliding axes was increased by a small amount, we would give the gimbal a significantly higher rating. The fact that we were unable to get it to balance as recommended without the rubber viewfinder collapsing on the gimbal knocked it down a few notches.