We have lost count of the number of questions that we have seen from people regarding the Freefly Movi gimbal and we are only seeing more and more people showing interest in this premium-level smartphone gimbal stabilizer. Due to this, we have decided to publish our own Freefly Movi review to try and help any of our readers who are considering adding this to their collection of smartphone camera accessories.
Before we get into the review though, we just want to point a few things out. Freefly is a premium level gimbal brand who are still the premium gimbal brand for cinema gimbals that are used for the big screen. Due to this, Freefly has ensured that their Movi lives up to their high standards and offers you the best performance possible but it does come with the premium price tag to match.
In our opinion, there is absolutely no competition when it comes to the performance, functionality, design, build quality, and ease of use of the Freefly Movi and it being the undisputed king of smartphone gimbals. That said though, this is a premium, expensive gimbal that is specifically designed for users who want to capture cinematic video footage on their smartphones. We would imagine that the vast majority of our readers would be able to use the Zhiyun Smooth 4 and get everything they need out of it at a third of the price.
That said though, due to the massive increase in quality of smartphone cameras over the last few years as well as brands like Moment releasing their smartphone camera lenses, more and more people are getting into smartphone videography, especially in the vlogging space. If you are a vlogger or a smartphone videographer and want the best gimbal available to capture cinematic video footage with your device and have the budget available then the Freefly Movi is the best option out there.
Over the last few months since its release, it is slowly building up a decent reputation within the smartphone videography community that is steadily getting stronger as time goes on. That said though, one of the main weaknesses of the Freefly Movi is not actually with the gimbal itself but the actual smartphones you use with it. Even the latest iPhone does not allow the user to turn off the inbuilt image stabilization that can sometimes have a strange effect on your video quality when used with a gimbal. You can pick up the Filmic Pro app for around $10 that will allow you to totally disable the iPhones image stabilization to prevent this though and allow the Freefly Movi to work its magic.
Performance And Functionality
That said though, there are plenty of people who have used the Freefly Movi with the latest and heaviest smartphones on the market and report excellent image stabilization. On top of this, many users of the gimbal also choose to mount smartphone lenses to their phone while using the Freefly Movi as well as counterweights too. This gives us confidence that there is plenty of load capacity available to accommodate the heaviest smartphone payloads out there right now without issue.
The only confirmed limitation we could find for the gimbal is that it will only support smartphones with a width of 2.36 inches (60mm) to 3.54 inches (90mm). As the majority of smartphones on the market right now fall within this, you should not have any problems using the gimbal with your device and be able to use it to help capture the best possible image quality while you are out and about.
Moving on to battery life, the Freefly Movi will provide you with a maximum of eight hours of battery for each full charge of the gimbal. This should be more than enough battery life for the vast majority of our readers to capture all the video footage they want with it. Additionally, the gimbal can be recharged back to full in around three hours of charging via a wall-based power outlet and you are also able to charge it during use via the USB C connector on the gimbal too.
To help ensure that you are able to capture the best image quality possible, the Freefly Movi also supports five popular gimbal modes that you can use to get exactly what you require. The point of view mode, in particular, is excellent for helping you capture some excellent footage while having that more natural-looking image stabilization.
All in all, when it comes to performance, the Freefly Movi really does do an absolutely outstanding job but you should expect this level of performance due to its massive price tag. Just like we mentioned at the start of the article, unless you are specifically wanting to capture cinematic video footage with your smartphone, we would recommend you get the Zhiyun Smooth 4 for a third of the price as we are confident that it can meet the needs of most of our readers.
User Interface And Control System
Although the majority of the control is done from the buttons in the image above, there is also a press and release trigger on the opposite side to the handle shown above to offer some additional functionality. For example, when programming a movement, you simply press and hold the trigger, move the gimbal as required, and release the trigger for the gimbal to make the same movement.
If you are wanting to capture any time-lapses or use the Freefly Movi to capture video footage while you are in the frame rather than holding the gimbal in selfie mode, this simple preprogrammed movement can help keep your footage exciting for something basic. All in all, we really can’t fault the interface system on the Freefly Movi and feel that it gets everything done without the added faff that some competing gimbals have.
Although the gimbal will work flawlessly without you having access to the app, having the app on your phone massively increases the functionality the Freefly Movi is able to provide for you. This also includes providing the user with a bunch of advanced gimbal customization too. If you are an advanced gimbal user and want to tweak the settings of the gimbal for optimal performance then the app is a great tool to allow you to quickly and easily tweak anything you need to ensure optimal performance.
Additionally, depending on the actual smartphone that you are using, the app for the Movi is able to help you tweak your camera settings if required to get the best image quality possible. Most smartphone brands still lock their native camera apps down drastically limiting what you are able to capture with them unless you use a third-party app like this Freefly app for the Movi.
Additionally, even if you are an entry-level videographer, the smartphone app is definatley worth downloading due to the fact that it offers a bunch of pre-programmed modes and movements. You are able to press a button on the app and have the gimbal carry out that command to make your life much easier than having to do it manually.
Build Quality And Design
The designed of the gimbal ensures that you are also able to quickly place your gimbal and smartphone down without having to worry about it rolling too as you do with the traditional design. Another benefit is that if for whatever reason you have to hold the gimbal with both hands, you are able to hold the base plate with your spare hand with ease.
The design also includes an axis lock as standard so you are able to lock the gimbal in place when not in use. Now only is this beneficial when you are walking between locations during a session but it also helps when the gimbal is in storage or in transit too. We have lost count of the reports that we have seen where a gimbal has been damaged in transit due to the axis rotating into a bad position. Thankfully, due to the axis locks on the Movi, this is not an issue and you don’t need to worry about the axis rotating when in transit.
As we touched on earlier, the Freefly Movi comes with a USB C connector as standard, although this offers a few functions, our favorite one is that you are able to quickly and easily charge the gimbal on the go via it. Additionally, the gimbal also has a quarter-inch mounting thread in the base plate to allow you to mount it to all regular tripods that use the standard quarter-inch mount.
Now, the design of the Freefly Movi ensures that all major smartphones on the market right now will easily be able to mount to the gimbal. That said, as we mentioned earlier in the article, many smartphone videographers choose to use smartphone camera lenses with their smartphone that increases weight and slightly changes the center of gravity.
Just like with all other smartphone gimbals on the market, if you are using something like a smartphone lens when recording, you will need to use some counterweights to offset the change. Now, the official Freefly counterweights are on the pricey side but there are plenty of cheaper third-party counterweights that can get the job done.
Now, the only real flaw of the gimbal is that if you are using a cheap smartphone lens, the rear gimbal motor can be in your frame during use. Unfortunately, this is unavoidable but there is hope. When designing the Movi, Freefly worked directly with Moment, the largest producer of smartphone lenses by far to ensure that their wide-angle lens does not have this issue.
That brings us to the end of our Freefly Movi review and as we keep saying, the Freefly Movi is an excellent smartphone gimbal and in all fairness to it, out of all the options available right now, it probably is the best option you can take if you need the very best and have the budget available. There are a bunch of independent reviews from third-party users of the gimbal that you can read too if you wish that offer an external insight into its performance.
That said, just like we mentioned earlier, we feel that the vast majority of our readers who use their smartphone for videographer will be able to get what they need out of the Zhiyun Smooth 4. This will save you almost two-thirds of the price tag for the Freefly Movi while still offering excellent performance along with some great features and functionality too.