There is absolutely no doubt in our mind that Zhiyun is one of the best gimbal producers in the world right now and we would not be surprised if their massive, loyal and dedicated fan base would argue that they are the best. Time after time, they have released their latest generation of gimbals and absolutely smashed the ball out of the park helping to grow the excellent reputation that they have within the community today.
With the Zhiyun Crane Plus (Click here to check for product prices and availability) having recently been released onto the market as the primary entry-level Zhiyun gimbal to replace the rapidly aging Zhiyun Crane v2 (Click here to check for product prices and availability) it is no surprise that we are seeing a ton of interest in the latest Zhiyun offering with a large number of people asking for a dedicated Zhiyun Crane Plus review each month.
Due to this, and the fact that the Zhiyun Crane Plus has rapidly earned itself a well-deserved reputation within the community in a very short period of time we have decided to publish our ultimate review of the gimbal. We hope that our article will help any of our regular readers who are considering adding the gimbal stabilizer to their collection of camera accessories as well as anyone who finds our article via social media or Google. When checking the other content available covering the Zhiyun Crane Plus we noticed that the majority of it was short and pretty low quality so we hope that you will find this article useful.
Performance And Functionality
Not only does the Crane Plus come with a much lower price tag than the DJI Ronin S but it’s battery life also blows it out the water. The Crane Plus has a maximum battery life of 18 hours whereas the Ronin S can only last around 12 hours. Keep in mind that this is the maximum battery life of the gimbals and the average battery life comes in closer to 12 hours for the Crane Plus and around 8 hours for the Ronin S.
That said though, being almost half the price of the Ronin S, the Crane Plus absolutely destroys it when it comes to battery life. Additionally, the Crane Plus also has a recharging time from empty to full of only three hours offering it another advantage over gimbals in this price range.
The Zhiyun Crane Plus also comes with a maximum load capacity of 5.5 pounds too ensuring that it is able to easily support the weight of the majority of popular videography and vlogging camera rigs on the market right now. Although this is the latest entry-level Zhiyun gimbal that comes with the most budget-friendly price tag out of their range, it can easily support the weight of most of the professional level and all of the intermediate level DSLR and Mirrorless cameras too.
We want to share the sample footage below captured using the Zhiyun Crane Plus and a Panasonic GH4 to show you exactly how smooth your video footage can be when using the gimbal. As you can see, it performs extremely well and the latest generation of Zhiyun motors make easy work of balancing the camera payload.
Point Of View Mode Updates
In addition to improvements to the payload capacity and battery life of the gimbal, the Crane Plus also has an improved point of view mode that you can quickly and easily turn on and off via the control panel. Although the usefulness of this will depend on what niche you are working on and what you are wanting to capture, it can be a nice little feature.
Essentially, the overhauled point of video mode will limit the stabilization that the gimbal provides for your camera rig. This allows the gimbal to roll the camera left or right in sync with you up to a maximum of 45 degrees allowing you to capture some excellent point of view video footage.
Although this mode can be very hand in a number of situations, an easy example to share is to think of extreme sports. Say you are snowboarding down a mountain and carving the snow up as you descend. Without the improved point of view mode, the image stabilization on the gimbal will keep your camera level none stop all the way through your run. Although this can provide some exciting video footage, it does have its limitations.
With the point of view mode turned on, your camera rig will roll left and right with you as you carve your turns in the snow offering a better experience for the view and helping to increase the excitement of the viewer. In our opinion, it also helps to add an additional dramatic effect to your video footage that the older generations of gimbals simply can’t compete with.
Night Lapse Mode
Essentially, the mode allows you to take advantage of the timelapse features on your camera while blending in the motion that your gimbal is able to provide you. As you can see in the video above, this allows you to slowly pan or tilt your camera as you wish during the timelapse to off an additional layer to your footage.
Zhiyun has also improved the controls for night lapse mode by allowing you to pre-program intervals, the number of activations, movement angles, movement speed, and a few other features to fully customize your night lapse. You can then set your night lapse off at the click of a button and your camera will capture exactly what you want it to.
The motion memory and intelligent object tracking have both also been slightly improved on the Crane Plus when compared to older generations of crane gimbal now offering full 360° rotation along all three axes. The list below shows some of the motion capabilities:-
- Following deviation in motion state – min: ± 0.05 ° to max: ± 0.2 °
- Following deviation in a static state – min: ± 0.01 ° to max: ± 0.03 °
- Tilt mechanical range – standard: 360 ° unlimited rotation
- Roll mechanical range – standard: 360 ° unlimited rotation
The motion memory setting allows you to save panning, tilt, speed, and time configurations to the gimbal too. This allows you to prep it to work while you are not there or while you are busy controlling another camera to get a second angle of what’s happening.
Although there are a large number of uses for this feature, the one that we have seen people ranting and raving about the most is for travel vloggers wanting to capture b-roll of a famous landmark. For example, say you arrive at Tower Bridge in London but you are busy and have to get online to video call a client. You are able to set the Crane Plus up in its motion memory mode to keep recording the same panning path of the bridge while you are able to video call your client or do whatever it is you need to do.
Not only does this save you time by allowing you to do more than one thing at once, it also captures the bridge at slightly different times so the lighting and water flow will be different allowing you to choose the better clip for your YouTube video. As we said though, there are a number of uses for this feature and you will know how to best implement it into your needs.
Intelligent Object Tracking
The intelligent object tracking feature on the Crane Plus is one of our favorite features on the gimbal and we feel that the vast majority of the people who invest in the Crane Plus will use it at some point. Additionally, to our knowledge, at the time of writing, no other gimbal at this price point in the market offers a similar feature either. On top of that, the higher price point gimbals on the market that do offer a tracking feature are not as efficient as the tech in the Crane Plus.
Algorithm And Motor Upgrades
The Crane Plus uses the sixth generation of Zhiyuns instune algorithm system to offer the very best computing to balance your camera rig when in use. Not only is it very quick to activate the motors but it is also very sensitive and can detect a change in position down to 0.01 of a degree. This ensures that no matter what you are using the gimbal for, you are getting some of the best possible image stabilization on the market, especially at this price point.
Additionally, the actual motors in the Crane Plus have been overhauled when compared to previous generations of the Zhiyun range. Not only are the motors in the Crane Plus able to support more weight but they also require less power when doing so. Although improvements to the battery system are also responsible, the upgrades to the motor are one of the reasons the battery life of the Crane Plus is so much better than that of the Crane v2.
Performance When Using A DSLR Camera
Until recently, entry-level gimbals would struggle to support the weight of a decent DSLR camera and would often fail to provide any solid image stabilization during use. Thankfully though, the recent advancements in gimbal motors are making this a thing of the past.
The Canon EOS 1d in the image above comes in at around 2.7 pounds for just its camera body. You then have to factor in additional accessories such as a lens and a microphone that can easily bring the payload up to around the 4-pound mark. With the 5.5 pound payload that the Zhiyun Crane Plus provides, the weight of a DSLR rig is nothing to worry about.
To our knowledge, the Zhiyun Crane Plus is the first entry-level gimbal stabilizer on the market that is able to fully support the weight of many professional camera rigs and still provide the user with some excellent image stabilization during use.
That said, there is one drawback of the gimbal having such a high payload that we have seen people report and that is that their arm starts to cramp up when using the gimbal for extended periods of time. To counter this, we would recommend that you consider picking up a decent dual handle grip (Click here to check for product prices and availability) to allow you to hold the rig with both hands.
Performance With Mirrorless Cameras
As most people who purchase an entry-level gimbal like the Crane Plus usually end up using it with some form of a mirrorless camera, it is safe to say that the Crane Plus will easily support your camera rig and provide excellent image stabilization for you.
Performance With Action Cameras And Smartphones
Now, as we mentioned back at the start of this section, the Zhiyun Crane Plus actually has a minimum load capacity that it requires to provide you with accurate image stabilization and that is at least 0.77 pounds. As most smartphones and action cameras on the market right now come in between 0.25 pounds and 0.33 pounds this can present an issue as they simply do not weigh enough for the Crane Plus to correctly stabilize.
Thankfully though, if you really do want to use your Crane Plus with your smartphone or action camera there is a way to get them working together. You would have to pick up some gimbal counterweights (Click here to check for product prices and availability) to increase the weight of your action camera or smartphone.
We would recommend the type with the strap that we linked so you can attach them to your device rather than the screw-on ones as it makes your life a little easier when mounting the weights to your phone or action camera. They can usually be added to your action camera without issue but your smartphone can be a bit of a pain. The easiest way to add the weights to your phone is to up a short charging cable for your phone and then mount the weights to them before tieing the charging cable to secure them in place.
Now, as you can see, this is a bit of a faff around but like we said in the previous section, the Zhiyun Crane Plus was primarily designed to work with mirrorless cameras whilst also being able to support the weight of a DSLR camera too.
User Interface And Control System
In our opinion, the user interface on the Zhiyun Crane Plus is one of the best to be released on a gimbal system to date and it is no surprise when you factor in all the experience and feedback that Zhiyun has gained from their previous generations of gimbals. The image above shows the main control system on the handle of the gimbal that allows you to quickly and easily tweak the major settings using just your thumb.
Although this simple design is common in this day and age, back in the day, Zhiyun was one of the first companies to release a comfortable gimbal handle that allowed full control of the gimbal with just the thumb. Over the years, they have perfected this via various tweaks resulting in the gimbal handle we see today on the Crane Plus.
The Four-way stepless joystick on the control system is very responsive and easy to use. If your thumb is wet or cold the joystick still responds to your touch without issue ensuring you have optimal control of your gimbal no matter the conditions.
Although additional functionality for various Panasonic and Sony cameras is supported when they are mounted to the Zhiyun Crane Plus, you will have to ensure that your camera body has been updated to the latest version of firmware for optimal functionality. These additional functions include zooming and focusing functionality as well as a number of other small functions. Additionally, there are a number of guides online to provide this functionality to other camera bodies but we would not recommend it as it can void your warranty for both the gimbal and your camera.
Build Quality And Design
It is based around the tried and tested 3 axis gimbal design that has dominated the handheld gimbal market for years now. This allows you to easily upgrade to the Crane Plus from another gimbal and see a ton of similarities between it and your previous gimbal. That said though, if you are looking to purchase your very first gimbal then this is an excellent product to start with. Not only is it very easy to learn, but it is also very easy to use optimally if you don’t have much experience with gimbals too.
The balancing procedure for the Crane Plus is also very easy and can take less than a minute to complete once you have had a little practice. This ensures that your gimbal has been calibrated to work optimally with the weight of your specific camera rig and that its motors are working optimally. Additionally, having the gimbal calibrated to your specific camera weight can also help to increase battery life as the motors will be working optimally.
The build quality of the Crane Plus is just as you would expect from a Zhiyun, excellent. The materials that have been used are high-quality and it has resulted in a lightweight gimbal unit that is surprisingly robust and small. The lightweight of the gimbal body helps you hold the gimbal for extended periods of time when needed without your arm cramping up and the comfortable hand grip design ensures that your hand won’t cramp either.
One of the main problems with the older generations of the Zhiyun gimbal range was that they could be pretty limiting if you wanted to use longer lenses on them. Although a few third party support bars were available for the Crane v2, they were a pain to use. Thankfully, the Crane Plus uses a offers detachable lens support to help increase performance when using a longer lens as part of your camera rig.
The final thing that we want to mention when it comes to the build quality and design of the Zhiyun Crane Plus is that it comes with a 1/4 inch mounting thread in the base to allow you to mount the gimbal to a tripod when needed. Although you would expect this as standard in this day and age, some gimbals in this price range still don’t come with a mounting thread!
Smartphone App Support
We have already touched on the intelligent object tracking the functionality of the gimbal under the performance section of this article and the video in that section shows just how good the tech is. Simply touch your smartphone screen when set up and the gimbal will start to track the object that you touched and set it as your main point of focus.
At the time of writing, the Zhiyun smartphone app has been fully tested with all popular iPhone, Samsung, Huawei, and Google Pixel camera bodies. We would imagine that this would mean that the app would work for any of our readers with smartphones offering increased functionality.
Edit – It has been pointed out to use that the latest build of the app has a few issues with it. Let’s hope that they can be fixed as soon as possible.
Third Party Reports
Additionally, you can also Click Here to read some additional third-party reports that have been posted online by videographers, vloggers, and photographers who have purchased the gimbal. Reading a few of them offer an excellent insight into its performance from people who use the Crane Plus as their go-to gimbal unit of choice.
That brings our Zhiyun Crane Plus review to an end and we really do feel that this is the best entry-level gimbal stabilizer on the market right now. As far as we are concerned, Zhiyun has totally smashed the ball out of the park again when it comes to the Crane Plus and we expect their dominance in the gimbal market to continue.
We have no doubt in our mind that the Crane Plus will make an excellent addition to your camera accessories and provide all the image stabilization you need for your camera rig. It will help improve your image quality and the build quality ensures it is robust enough to last you many years without issue. Additionally, if you own a mirrorless camera, the Crane plus came out on top of our article on the best gimbal for mirrorless cameras too.
Shared under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
leetneko – Tower Bridge at Night – https://flic.kr/p/kwtLJ8