In old times filmmakers used to operate huge bulky cranes and needed a big crew for smooth camera movements and cinematic shots. But independent filmmakers who need to shoot films in a budget can’t hire such crew or use big cranes; it becomes a really difficult thing to spend a huge amount of money on expensive gear which is not portable or even handy. With the new technological innovations, gimbals appeared and took filmmaking to a whole new level because when it comes to cinematography or filmmaking, the camera movements speak and matter a lot in creating emotion and flow in storytelling.
The right camera movements will help gain viewers’ attention, involving your audience in your story and hence creating an impact. Now, trust me I know how difficult it is to find the right gimbal but don’t you worry we have sorted it out for you. So, let’s get started right away with the list of best dslr gimbals for your work that will fulfill your requirement according to today’s need and demand. And for those who don’t want to get into any complexities can simply pick one from our top 3 picks. Also, those who are buying a gimbal for the first time should check out the buyer’s guide in the end.
Best Gimbals For DSLR
|DJI Ronin S||Zhiyun Crane 3||DJI Ronin M|
DSLR Gimbal Reviews
1. DJI Ronin S
Check the latest price on Amazon.All in one 3 axis gimbal is designed for any kind of professional film work. It can carry load up to 3.6kg, and it’s a great piece of work by DJI. When it comes to camera gear, DJI is ruling the market because of their reliable quality products. Ronin S has an ability to produce super smooth cinematic movements for your film or B-roll.
Built quality & performance:
DJI has constructed Ronin S mostly with metal; it weighs around 4.1 lbs. / 1.86 kg, a little more than the Crane 2 but the performance you’re going to have on Ronin S is remarkable. As the weight limit is up to 3.6 kg’s so, you can use it with heavy cameras like Canon 1dx Mark ii, C300, C200, etc. and other accessories too without any issues. When Ronin S is properly balanced, it will give you 12 hours of battery timing. When it comes to video stabilization it will handle camera jerks amazingly, just mount your camera and balance it manually first, then the autotune stability technology for gimbal calibration will tune it furthermore. The footage you will get from this beast is super stable.
DJI has enhanced Ronin S with Focus wheel for pulling focus, a joystick and trigger button so that one can change modes quickly while shooting different actions just by playing with the trigger. One thing that was found missing in gimbals was sports mode for quick movements that you need when your subject is involved in super-fast movements, and you have to follow at the same time, but most gimbals are not responsive enough in such situations. All thanks to DJI, they’ve solved this issue and provided Ronin S with sports mode for quick response capability so one can change their gimbal movements in seconds.
Another thing which I’ve noticed while using it is that the camera screen is not covered with the gimbal. Sometimes it gets really annoying when one can’t see camera screen properly while recording with a gimbal, but DJI has designed this gimbal in such a way that camera screen will be visible at all times. So, the gimbal will not block camera visual, and one does not have to spend extra dollars on another screen for a better viewing angle.
Whether it’s built quality or performance, Ronin S is all in one gimbal for getting creamy smooth footage out from your camera; it is quite responsive and can change movements quickly without camera shakes. I’ve compared it with Crane 2 and in my experience footage from Ronin S is more stable. While going from high to low angle or following your subject from low angle/underslung mode, a few gimbals give little jerks, but on Ronin S I’ve not had any issue like that. This goes without saying that the main thing is to balance your camera properly first. Once your camera is mounted and balanced properly, you’re good to go, and you’ll get a very smooth, cinematic footage using Ronin S.
In my opinion, Ronin S is the right choice for all kinds of work, yes it’s a little heavy, but the quality you’re going to get is outstanding.
What we like:
- Sports mode
- Payload capacity
- Super smooth footage
What we don’t:
- Little heavy in weight
Check the latest price on Amazon.The uniquely designed Crane 3 by Zhiyun has become the talk of the town in very less time, Crane 3 has enabled this beast with features like 360 barrel roll, sports mode, etc. that was missing in Crane 2. You will have full control over gimbal movements with this one, and also it’s much more responsive. Recording smooth cinematic shots has become much easier with this revolutionary designed Crane 3 for extraordinary responsiveness.
Built quality & performance
Just like other Zhiyun products, built quality of Crane 3 is also much solid and premium. Crane 3 is a remarkably built gimbal with innovative stabilizing technology; its design is totally different from the gimbals which we’ve ever seen in the market. Crane 3 weighs around 1.9kg, and it can carry load up to max limit of 4.5kg. It’s huge as with such load capacity one can remarkably play with their heavy lenses and cameras like Canon: 1D X Mark II or other big gear and accessories on it.
Dealing with a heavy load is not an issue when you’re using Crane 3. You will get a runtime of 7.5 Hours with Zhiyun’s 3 x 18650 Lithium-Ion batteries which are included in the package. With such heavy load capacity; 7.5hr battery runtime is a good deal. Zhiyun has made balancing process easy by providing great locking mechanism on each axis that keeps the camera safe from swinging here and there all over the place.
Zhiyun has featured this gimbal with Aviation grade powerful motors that deliver 150% speed improvement while responding and 100% increase in motor torque. It has two handles one is a standard straight up handle, and the other one is underslung grip to take better low angle shots.
The newly designed ergonomic structure in Crane 3 has made us record low angle shots much easily in Sling Mode. One can easily get their camera close to the ground level and can shoot smooth follow/tracking footage and can move the camera from down to up position in a super smooth way. Also, your arms don’t get tired while recording low angle shots because of its unique design. Modes like Pan Follow, tilt, POV, 360 roll, etc. all are available on Crane 3 and yes sports mode (Go mode) for quick and responsive movements is also available.
Dedicated buttons are also placed on the gimbal to change modes. Crane 3 is also featured with dual servo support for zooming and focusing at the same time from the handwheel. With ZY play app one can control bulk of camera options from smartphones. Zhiyun has also provided the facility of 1080p wireless transmission through which you can use devices like tablets and phones to be used as monitors in real-time.
It’s a powerful machine full of intelligent options like motion sensor remote control via smartphone, object tracking, 360 camera roll, Go mode, time-lapse and motion lapse, etc. If your work demands something pro to be at the next level in filmmaking, then Crane 3 is the right choice for you to carry on with your professional camera gear. Zhiyun has delivered all in one package in the form of new Crane 3. Whether its footage smoothness, load capacity, battery time, or advanced features; this gimbal is well equipped at all these levels. I can recommend this without any hesitation, as even a person who uses it once will like how this thing works.
What we like:
- Unique design
- Load capacity
- Extreme smoothness
- Shooting at low angles
What we don’t:
- Sometimes it may get disconnected from the phone, but I hope with latest firmware update this issue will be sorted out.
3. DJI Ronin M
Check the latest price on Amazon.It’s not wrong to say that Ronin M is DJI’s most professional video stabilizer for DSLR film making in terms of design, shape, durability, and performance. Forget about camera shakes when you’re working with Ronin M. This thing requires time to learn about its balancing, functions and other operations. For complete newbies, I would suggest you to go for Ronin S or Zhiyun’s Crane 3.
Built quality & performance:
DJI has built its frame mostly from magnesium and carbon fiber that feels very strong and durable. With handlebars, it weighs around 2.3 kg almost half of the weight of the original Ronin gimbal, and it can lift weight up to 3.6 kg. It’s easy to take Ronin M with you while traveling because it’s more compact and lighter as compared to the Ronin model.
DJI has designed this gimbal in such a way that it gives reliability and extra smoothness while shooting. Handling gimbal with dual arms gives versatile options for camera movements and yes with dual handle grip our hands also become less shaky when performing an action. Ronin M is powered with a 3400mAh battery which gives a runtime of 6hr. In my experience, its battery performance is much impressive and lasts more while shooting. I never ran out of battery… Ever.
DJI does surprise us with every product they build, same goes for Ronin M. Features, which I like the most are smooth track control and remote control for the second operator. Smooth track control provides the ability for a single gimbal operator to transform camera movements like tilt and pan into smooth and stable camera angle changes. With this feature, your camera faces the direction you want no matter how you move. Ronin M always translates those movements into stabilized camera angles and work becomes easy for a single gimbal operator to frame wide angles or close scenes.
Remote control feature for a second gimbal operator enhances production quality as a second person can now handle pan, tilt and roll camera movements when the first operator is stuck in controlling the gimbal. It enables filmmakers to achieve more complex and creative shots by working together. There come situations where gimbal handling, its movements and changing modes becomes hard for a single operator; in such situation, this feature helps a lot to achieve more complex camera movement with perfect framing. Focus can also be controlled wirelessly on set with DJI Focus controller.
DJI has provided three modes in this machine; Briefcase Shooting mode to hold gimbal like a briefcase and record smooth footage from your legs level. Underslung Mode is to hold gimbal at chest level and Upright Mode to record from or above eye level.
It’s a pro machine for filmmakers who are not newbies. Things which I’ve found to consider is that balancing this gimbal is a little bit tricky; you need to invest time to balance it properly. So, keep in mind that you’ll need to stay patient if you’re going to get this machine as in start, it requires time to understand its functions fully. Nevertheless, after 3 to 4 times of usage, you’ll get to know the process to work with Ronin M.
Quality and performance-wise it’s a great and premium product to get your hands on and if you want something that can be handled in a simple way then go for Ronin S or Crane 3 because DJI’s Ronin M is not something for beginners. But yes if you can give yourself some time in learning and practicing with this machine, then I will recommend you to get this premium machine for your filmmaking gear. It’s worth the money.
What we like:
- Design and build quality
- Precise and stabilized camera movements.
- Powerful motors
- Smooth track control.
What we don’t:
- Requires time to learn assembling and balancing. It’s not a con but something to have on mind before buying it, but overall, I have not found any negatives to mention for DJI’s Ronin M.
Check the latest price on Amazon.If you’re new to gimbals and need something solid and reliable and one which can be easily balanced and is ready to use in no time, then Zhiyun’s Crane 2 – 3 axis gimbal is the right choice for your DSLR and mirrorless cameras. A solid machine that you can balance in maximum 2 minutes. Awesome… Isn’t it!! Once you get a hold of its balance and assembly settings, it becomes super easy to use it for your daily work. This thing can carry weight up to 3.2kg and gives smooth cinematic footage but keep one thing in your mind; it requires practice. One must invest time in learning gimbal movement techniques to operate it as your body properly, and arms movement also need to be in a flow and harmony.
Built Quality & Performance
Crane 2 is constructed with a solid, premium-looking body that feels like a gun, it’s mostly made up of aluminum with black finishing and for balancing one needs to put this gimbal on a plane surface so that while your gimbal is off you can balance your camera on it correctly. It’s got Manfrotto’s standard quick release plate on top, so you just have to mount your camera on it, and after balancing it correctly, you’re ready to go.
If you have a mirrorless camera like Sony a6300 or a6500, then you will get an outstanding battery performance, and if your camera body and lens are heavier, you’ll get a slightly less battery timing. Its because gimbal motors need more power to maintain balance if the weight is heavy, anyways one doesn’t need to worry about the battery backup while shooting with Zhiyun’s Crane 2. With 2000 mAh battery capacity you can use your gimbal for shooting up to 18hr.
The best thing about Crane 2 is a follow focus controller wheel; one doesn’t have to grab or touch their camera for focusing as the follow focus wheel gets the job done for you. You just have to connect your camera with gimbal using USB cables included in your package… Easy right!! One can always keep its subject in focus while performing an action with Crane 2. Zhiyun has equipped Crane 2 with a joystick for smooth pan and tilt options; Crane 2 is enabled with 360° pan, 320° tilt, and 360° roll adjustment. OLED Display will help you identify battery status and gimbal modes like POV, PF, etc.
One thing which I found missing in this gimbal is the extra quick response for movements, Zhiyun has not enabled this gimbal for following quick movements, but overall it’s a piece of good equipment to carry on.
The Crane 2 is an ideal choice if you need a strong and reliable video stabilizer for your heavy full-frame or even lightweight mirrorless cameras. In my personal experience, after using it for like 3 to 4 times, one can easily understand its modes and can properly control it to get super smooth footage without any jerks. It’s easy to carry and is not that heavy, so if you work 5 to 6 hours a day with a gimbal, then this thing is perfect for you as compared to DJI Ronin S which is heavier than Crane 2.
If weight is an issue for you and you also need something solid which has advanced technology and can hold heavy cameras and lenses, then you should go for Crane 2. This thing is not going to disappoint you for sure, and once you start using Zhiyun’s Crane 2, it will become an evergreen buddy for your camera gear.
What we like:
- Continuous 18hr battery runtime
- Not that much heavy
- Easy to balance
- Smooth footage
What we don’t:
- Lack of sports mode for quick movement
5. DJI Ronin SC
Check the latest price on Amazon.The smallest, lightest and the most intelligent single-handed 3 axis gimbal by DJI is now in the market for filmmaking enthusiasts, content creators, and vloggers who love to use mirrorless or light weighing cameras for their work. DJI has made this gimbal especially for those who don’t want to get tired from holding heavyweight gimbals. Instead, they can just buy the lightest ultra-portable Ronin SC for their mirrorless cameras.
Built quality & performance
The newly launched Ronin SC is constructed with aluminum and steel mostly and weighs only 2.43 lbs. / 1.1 kg. It’s almost half of the weight of Ronin S and design-wise also same to Ronin S but smaller in size. DJI hasn’t made any compromise on its performance at any level. The gimbal works absolutely fine with mirrorless cameras and gives smooth footage. Carrying Ronin SC anywhere with you is much easier because of its compact size and lighter weight. It can carry weight up to max limit of 4.85 lbs. / 2.2 kg. Load capacity is lesser than Ronin S that’s the reason DJI has announced this version for the owners of mirrorless or small cameras that are lighter in weight.
DJI has enabled Ronin SC with 2450 mAh battery capacity which will provide a continuous runtime of about 11hrs, and in my opinion, such battery timing with an ultra-portable gimbal is worth every penny. Balancing your gimbal has also become much easier, thanks to the well-constructed switch locks on each pan, tilt and roll axis on this gimbal that will let you balance your camera in a quick and simple way and after that, you just have to autotune your gimbal.
So here is a selling point for this new gimbal, DJI has enabled Ronin SC with features like Active Track 3.0 which were only available in DJI drones and Osmo cameras in which you let your camera track and follow your subject. Now, with Ronin SC, you just have to lock your target and your camera will track your subject smoothly and will keep it in the frame without any jerks, shakes, or any other issues.
Ronin SC users have to connect their phone with DJI app and just mount their phone on the camera’s hot shoe, and you’re good to go. Another interesting feature that DJI has provided in it is Force Mobile. This function will let you change gimbal movements by moving your smartphone in the desired direction from a max distance of 82 feet away. I believe these features really make Ronin SC stand out from the rest.
DJI has amazingly constructed this machine in a great value product, and the price tag is also nice. All the other features, like focus pulling, joystick, pan, tilt, 360 barrel roll or sports mode for extra responsive movements, are also available in this new version. Also, you can control your camera and shoot photos at specific intervals by using the DJI Ronin app on your smartphone. Time-lapse/Motion lapse can be created in an easy go with this new toy.
Gimbals are now a basic need of every filmmaker, and we need to travel a lot to record stuff for our YouTube channels, for short films or documentary projects and portable gimbal with such advanced features is the thing which every content creator wishes for. It’s lighter in weight and can hold mirrorless cameras for long shifts.
One main issue which was faced by most of the gimbal users was weight and believe me I know the pain of holding a heavy gimbal for long hours constantly and that too with the stress of getting the perfect shots but DJI has really come to the rescue. In my opinion, one should definitely give this new version by DJI a go, its more worth the money you’re investing and a reliable item for your camera gear.
What we like:
- Compact and ultra-portable
- Active track 3.0
- Force Mobile
- Lighter weight
What we don’t:
- There is not much to add in this section; a few people argue that it can’t carry that much weight, but this version is produced for people only with mirrorless or lighter weight cameras, and it works very well with that so in that context it’s good to go.