Review: Zhiyun Crane 2 gimbal for DSLR cameras is one smooth ride [Video]

zhiyun crane 2 gimbal

If there’s one thing that instantly screams “amateur” when it comes to video, it’s camera shake. Whether you’re making youtube videos for fun or product videos for your next Kickstarter project, smooth video always looks better. Now with the Zhiyun Crane 2 gimbal you can get that smooth action, even with heavy cameras like mirrorless and DSLR cameras carrying big lenses, lights or microphone attachments.

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The Zhiyun Crane 2 gimbal

As someone who posts multiple videos each week on a few different fairly healthy YouTube channels, I spend a lot of time fumbling with camera gear.

And while running and gunning is always great, the gear that can get you the best shot is important when it comes to making your videos stand out.

That’s why I do my best to avoid shaky handheld footage by using a gimbal when possible. For quick shoots I can sometimes get away with my cell phone camera and a smaller, budget-style gimbal. But when I want things to look more professional, there’s no substitute for larger cameras with swappable lenses. But that also requires a heavier duty gimbal.

Enter: the Zhiyun Crane 2 gimbal.

Video review

See the Zhiyun Crane 2 gimbal in action below, then read on for the entire review.

Why use it?

What I love about the Zhiyun Crane 2 gimbal is that it has all of the features found in more expensive gimbals, but stuffed into a more affordable package.

It can support cameras up to 7-pounds, which should cover nearly any of your DSLRs and even some fairly heavy lenses. It includes a number of filming parameters that are great for different styles of panning and moving shots.

It even has a follow focus feature which is a great way to pull focus using the onboard controls. However, not all cameras are setup to support this feature… including mine, unfortunately. Check with the manufacturer of your specific camera, or the one you’re currently looking at (isn’t window shopping fun?) to see if the camera body supports external follow focus.

The stabilization of the Zhiyun Crane 2 gimbal is excellent and even includes adjustments to dial in the sensitivity to your taste. If you can already hold your hands decently still, the camera will almost look like it is on a tripod. And even if you have a bit of movement, the gimbal will smooth that out for you.

When you want moving shots, the gimbal will give you nice and smooth shots as you move the camera according to your shot. Of course you will need to practice moving with a gimbal first, especially if you’ve never used one before. It requires a different gate, almost like a heel-toe march. If you ever played in marching band then you’ll be well on your way to moving smoothly while holding the gimbal.

I really like the including tripod stabilizer that screws into the bottom of the Zhiyun Crane 2 gimbal. It is nice and wide, which is what you want to avoid tipping over the gimbal with your expensive camera on top. But it also folds down into a fairly long handle which helps you maneuver the gimbal and camera combo around while filming.

The balance sliders are also high quality.

They don’t click into predefined grooves like on cheaper gimbals, but instead have a free range of movement through a dovetail rail system. Another score for the Zhiyun Crane 2!

The OLED screen on the gimbal is easy to read indoors and outdoors, and the runtime is excellent at 18 hours. The gimbal can also charge your camera, which is great for long shoots. You can go through an entire day of filming without having to swap batteries or recharge the gimbal. And because it uses standard 18650 Li-ion batteries, you could swap them out for your favorite model of battery cell and perhaps get even more run time.

In addition to the main features, the Zhiyun Crane 2 gimbal also has a number of less sexy but equally important features. For example, it has a “slow-fall” shutdown where instead of just cutting power to the gimbal’s motors, it slowly lowers your camera lens as it shuts down. That prevents your expensive glass from crashing down on shutdown.

The button layout is also nicely designed and feels quite ergonomic. If your camera supports it, the dial wheel can even be used to change camera features such as aperture, ISO or other settings on the fly.

At around $549, the Zhiyun Crane 2 gimbal isn’t the cheapest gimbal on the block, but it’s definitely in the affordable class. And it offers great performance compared to other more expensive options.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

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