Zhiyun Crane Overview

GIMBAL  /   /  By el Producente

Zhiyun Crane

Zhiyun recently added a new gimbal to their handheld series – the Zhiyun Crane. While the Evolution is built for GoPros and similar sized action cameras, the
Zhiyun Crane is designed for larger action cameras like the Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera (BMMCC) or the E1 cam, mirrorless cameras and small DSLRs. Typical cameras are the Sony Alpha series cameras; from the new popular Sony Alpha 6300 to the well known Alpha 7 models, Canon M series, Nikon J series or Panasonic’s LUMIX cameras.

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, crane or rig. Great that these gimbals are now available for different kind of cameras – Evolution for small Action Cams, Crane for mirrorless cameras and Shining for larger DSLRs, which also match respective budgets.

Zhiyun Crane BMMCC gimbal

Zhiyun Crane with Black Magic Micro Cinema Camera (BMMCC)

 

What’s in the Box?

The 3-axis Zhiyun Crane is a handheld gimbal, the grip holds the batteries. Crane is compatible with 2 kind of batteries: 18650 LiPo batteries (the same ones used in the Z1-Evolution) providing 6 hours of operation and 26650 batteries offering twice as much time. 18650 batteries are included, a charger including microUSB cable and a battery box.
To mount cameras with larger lenses, a lens support comes with Crane as well as mounting screws.
An optional extra is the remote control, which is not necessarily needed to wireless control crane, as you can do so via Zhiyun’s app (Android & iOS).

Zhiyun Crane itself is about 40cm high and weighs 950g. The payload is 350g-1200g!

Zhiyun Crane with Sony Alpha 7

Zhiyun Crane with Sony Alpha 7

 

Mounting Options

On the bottom of Zhiyun Crane’s grip you’ll find a standard 1/4″ thread, so you can attach it to any standard tripod screw. You can easily extend the handle grip to create a small jib or to add some handle bars. For mounting Crane you can use a Manfrotto SuperClamp, as I did here with the smaller Evolution gimbal:

Z1-Evolution mounted on a Land Rover

Z1-Evolution mounted on a Land Rover

 

Functions

Zhiyun Crane Buttons

Zhiyun Crane Buttons

 

On the right side next to the joystick there is the on/off button and a shift lever. This switch is not only used to navigate the menu on your phone if connected, consequently it will also be used to control the camera interface. 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 the joystick and the camera levels within seconds. Now you can adjust the camera with the joystick or press it for the different modes 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 held upright and invers.

Most noteworthy: all 3 axes – Pan, Tilt & Roll offer 360° unlimited rotation!

 

Wireless Control

Zhiyun Crane - Wireless Control via Remote or App

Zhiyun Crane – Wireless Control via Remote or App

 

With the built-in wireless control module – also available on Zhiyun RiderM –  you can remote control Crane 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 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 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.

     

Conclusion

Zhiyun Crane seems is a very well further developed gimbal of Zhiyun’s product line including all the latest features. Wireless Control looks really promising. I use a Z1-Evolution and Z1-Rider2 which didn’t offer that feature back then. 360° unlimited rotation on all axes also became state of the art, great that this is available. I have not tested this gimbal, but I’m very much looking forward to try it with a Sony Alpha 6300, which seems to be a great match for me.

As I can’t show you a Zhiyun Crane video, here’s my Z1-Rider2 Review and a Z1-Evolution Demo video:

 

Video:

Zhiyun Z1-Rider 2 Review:

GoPro Hero 4 black mounted with a Zhiyun Z1-Rider2 on the helmet using an adhesive mount:

 

Here is a nice video from Matthias who used my Z1-Evolution with a Yi Action Camera.

 

Handlebar:

Soon a handlebar will be released for crane. This is a nice addition as crane with a Sony A7 & lens could be quite heavy when operated with one hand. Feiyu already has an option for their MG model, now Zhiyun follows suite.

Handlebar for Zhiyun Crane

Handlebar for Zhiyun Crane

 

Retailer / Price:

more information on Zhiyun’s website or Facebook site.

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:

 Gimbals for Action Cameras – Overview

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