Zhiyun recently added a new gimbal to their handheld series – the Zhiyun Crane-M. Maybe you are in the same situation I was: I’m using action cameras, but also have a mirrorless camera, the Sony a6300. I chose this cam over my previous DSLR as I wanted to have a small and compact solution. I already had a gimbal for my action camera and didn’t want to buy the larger Zhiyun Crane just for the mirrorless camera. Now this gimbal seems to be right for both of these cameras, and I could use a smartphone as well.
In general gimbal stabilizers became my most favorite camera gear, as they not only provide smooth, non-shaky and therefore professional looking videos. They also replace other camera gear (up to a certain point), most of all a steadicam, but also a dolly, jib or rig. Great that Crane-M will hold all kind of cameras – from smartphone up to mirrorless camera:
What’s in the Box?
The 3-axis Zhiyun Crane-M is a handheld gimbal where the grip holds the batteries. 2x 26650 Li-ion batteries are used which allow a runtime of 12 – 18 hours. I never tested it, but I also never ran out of battery since I got it. Batteries, Charger, Micro-USB cable and Case are included.
An optional extra is the remote control, which is not necessarily needed to wireless control Crane-M, as you can do so via Zhiyun’s app (Android & iOS).
Zhiyun Crane-M itself is about 34cm high and weighs 740g. The payload is 125g to 650g!
All 3 axes have 360° rotation!
On the bottom of Zhiyun Crane M’s grip you’ll find a standard 1/4″ thread, so you can attach it to any standard tripod screw. For mounting you can use a Manfrotto SuperClamp, as I did here with the smaller Evolution gimbal. (SuperClamp holds 15kg, so Crane-M and camera are fine as well).
The controls look a bit different to previous Zhiyun models (e.g. Crane or Evolution). The joystick is not flat, I like the new designed stick. Below there are two buttons: on/off and mode – since you can’t press the joystick anymore. Another new feature (which crane doesn’t have) is the zoom lever. When you connect Crane-M with your camera you can use it to control the zoom of your camera. Works fine with Sony a6300 kit lens: 16-50mm. Above the joystick a status LED light which indicates the battery status and on the left side there is a microUSB plug for e.g. Firmware updates. The Calibration software is now available for PC and Mac via Zhiyun’s support website.
After turning on the camera with the on/off button, you have to press mode and the camera levels within seconds. Now you can adjust the camera with the joystick or chose a different operation mode of the gimbal:
Pan Following mode is the default mode. The Pan axis (rotation left and right) follows the movement of the gimbal, while the camera remains locked in Tilt (up and down) and Roll (level) to remain upright. In this mode, you can adjust Tilt angle.
Locking mode is accessed by short pressing the joystick. Now all three axes (Pan, Tilt and Roll) are locked and the gimbal faces in one direction only. In this mode, you can adjust Tilt angle by moving the joystick up and down. Move the joystick left/right to adjust Pan angle.
Pan and Tilt Following mode is set by double pressing the joystick. Now Roll axis is locked, hence Tilt and Pan axis rotate to follow the movement of the gimbal. In this mode, move the joystick left/right to adjust Roll angle.
You can of course use Crane-M held upright and invers.
Most noteworthy: all 3 axes – Pan, Tilt & Roll offer 360° unlimited rotation!
With the built-in wireless control module – also available on Zhiyun RiderM – you can remote control Crane-M by connecting the remote control or via app (available for iOS and Android).
The remote control is connected via Bluetooth works the same way as the joystick on the handle, furthermore several LEDs indicate battery & connection status.
Your smartphone is also connected with Zhiyun Crane-M via Bluetooth ans shows 3 main interfaces:
- Monitor interface: To check whether there is deviation in three axes in case for calibration.
Control interface: To directly switch operation mode and all functions similar to the joystick.
Calibration interface: When the gimbal’s three axes deviate from a level position you can calibrate using your smartphone as manual. The app displays how you have to position Crane-M in 6 steps to achieve level positions on all axes.
Update interface: In this interface you can check whether the gimbal firmware is the latest one and upgrade without needing a computer.
For Action Cameras
Other gimbals are often limited to certain action camera models, as you have to place them in a frame. Great thing about Crane-M is that you are totally flexible. You can use any type of action camera, any type of form factor such as Ricoh MG-2, Sony FDR-X3000, YI 4K or GoPro Hero5. You also got the option the use them in an underwater case or without. So you are prepared if your next action cam looks different.
For Mirrorless Cameras
Crane-M is compatible with my Sony a6300, BUT I’m limited to certain lenses. Especially the larger, popular lenses like the 18-105mm Sony G and the 16-70mm Sony Zeiss are too heavy for Crane-M. It tried the lighter of both, the 16-70mm and I noticed vibrations. If you want to use them, you have to go for the larger Zhiyun Crane:
So why did I choose Zhiyun Crane-M over Crane for my Sony a6300? I wanted a smaller and more compact solution and Crane seemed a bit too large. Crane-M is 210g lighter and 6cm smaller in height. It works pretty well with the Sony kit lens (16-50mm), I use my Sony 20mm 2.8 or 35mm 1.8.
And as I said before I wanted to have some kind of one for all solution. I can also mount a GoPro 5, YI 4K or different action camera, even those what have a different form factor!
Another factor is of course the price as Crane-M is 250 USD cheaper!
Zhiyun Crane-M seems is a very well further developed gimbal of Zhiyun’s product line including all the latest features. Wireless Control is great, I also use my Crane-M as remote head on a jib.
More infos and videos will follow!
Retailer / Price:
GoPro Hero 4 black mounted with a Zhiyun Z1-Rider2 on the helmet using an adhesive mount:
More about gimbals:
Here is an overview of many different available gimbals. Lately there were some interesting kickstarter campaigns launched with e.g. waterproof gimbals: