Zhiyun Smooth-Q 3-axis Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer Review

Zhiyun Smooth-Q 3-axis Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer Review

Buy it at Amazon: Zhiyun Smooth-Q 3-axis Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Lightweight, fluid motion, easy to handle and operate, great for those on a budget.

The gimbal comes in a semi-rigid clamshell carrying case that you can wear with a 5' adjustable shoulder strap; included is a flat microUSB cable for charging and an instruction manual. The gimbal is made mostly from plastic that is lightweight yet seems fairly durable, considering. The gimbal uses a built-in rechargeable Li-ion battery rather than removable batteries, eschewing the need for a charger. Instead, it charges simply using a microUSB port on the side and that'll last up to 12 hours of use on a single charge. You can also use its battery as a mobile power pack via the full size USB output port on the front of the handle near the base. On the handle facing you where your thumb sits are some on-board controls. There's a 4-directional joystick for controlling pan, tilt, and roll, a zoom slider, mode button, and shutter/record/power button. All the buttons are easily accessible using your thumb and the handle is curved and ergonomic for a comfortable hold despite lacking any sort of rubber grip padding. There are also two indicator LEDs for battery life and status. On the bottom of the handle is a ¼" mounting hole for standard tripods and mounting systems.

The tension mount that holds your phone expands to accommodate phones with width of 3.25" and action cameras like the GoPro that are mounted in a special adapter (sold separately). My phone is on the large side with a 5.5" screen size and I found that with the case on it was a really tight fit and the thickness prevent the phone w/case from seating properly into the rubber grips. For most smartphones I think you'll find they'll fit a little better out of a case. The max payload for this gimbal is 200 grams or about 7 oz so consider this when deciding to add other accessories like a clip-on microphone or lens adapters.

The gimbal requires minimal balancing with a single thumb screw to control rotational level which can be accomplished in a few seconds. The grip mount itself slides up and down to a small degree which will also help with tilt and maybe even charging port/headphone access, but if the grip sits too far to either side, it will interfere with the tilt axis mobility.

When powering on the gimbal, it defaults into Pan-Follow mode which allows the camera to follow the movement of the gimbal when turning left/right but locks the tilt and roll axes. In this mode the joystick adjusts the tilt. The second mode is locked mode which freezes the motion of all three axes so that the camera is always pointing in the same direction. The joystick in this mode controls tilt and the pan. The third mode is Follow mode and the camera will pan and tilt based on the motion/direction of the gimbal. The joystick here controls the roll. Finally, triple clicking the mode button spins it around so the camera is facing you for selfie mode. The gimbal works in both upright mode and upside down orientation, although on some phones the video may appear upside-down.

There are some limitations to the tilt and roll compensations. While the pan lock allows you to turn the handle 360 degrees on end without a problem. The roll axis can only handle up to about +/-30° and the tilt axis -135° to +185° before it hits a safety stop. The other thing to know when using it is that you'll need to carry your weight differently when moving around with the gimbal since up/down, back and forth, and side-to-side motion are not accounted for by the gimbals' motors. There's still the potential for shakiness if you run with the gimbal but practicing moving fluidly with soft steps and flowing movements helps stabilize your footage even further.

While the plastic doesn't feel very high end and is more susceptible to damage than a full metal construction, it is remarkably lightweight weighing only 1.5 lb even with the max payload. This makes it more usable over long sessions by reducing fatigue and allows it to be very travel friendly. Zhiyun has two mobile apps available to control the gimbal over Bluetooth though from what I can tell they both cover the same features using different interfaces. The ZY Play and ZhiYun Assistant apps lets you manipulate the controls on your phone's screen or a separate device rather than using the controls on the handle. You'll also be able to better fine tune the transition speed of each axis for directional and joystick control. This is also a "face tracking" feature that lets you highlight a face for the camera to follow. This face tracking is not perfect but works most of the time.

Overall, the gimbal is a pretty nice stabilization solution is you prefer filming with your smartphone or action camera. It's lightweight, easy-to-use after a bit of practice, and budget-friendly.

Buy it at Amazon: Zhiyun Smooth-Q 3-axis Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer [Affiliate Link]

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