Zhiyun has made itself a good reputation in the gimbal world and I was super excited to get my hands on the new Crane 2s for a few reasons. In this review, we will cover mostly my experience and thoughts, but first a few key highlights and availability. Keep reading to see why I am left a bit disappointed.
Zhiyun Crane 2s Highlights
What sets the Crane 2s apart from other gimbals are a few things
- Landscape and vertical orientations. Not to mention it’s easy to transition from one mode to the next.
- The transition from the gimbal to a tripod without losing the balance settings.
- Supports heavy cameras and rigs.
- Easy menu to navigate.
You can pick up the Crane 2s in a few places such as Amazon, B&H, and Adorama.
What I Like About the Zhiyun Crane 2s
The Zhiyun Crane 2s is a beast of a gimbal. It’s got great features that have been nice in the past and have added some new ones. As far as my experience goes, here is what I like.
Heavy Camera + Lens Support – I love using my Sony A73 with the Sony 24-70mm GM lens. It’s my go-to combo and use it for so many different shoots. I’ve used the Ronin S for a long time at this point and have tried to use my favorite camera and lens combo, but it was a 50/50 shot if the gimbal would work or not. Many times the gimbal would go limp like it just got tired of holding up the heavy camera/lens lol. However, with the Crane 2s there has not been any issues supporting the Sony A73 and Sony 24-70 GM lens.
Also, this gimbal can hold up my Z Cam E2-S6 with a cage + decent size battery. That’s impressive to me. With that said, you will want to read the next section of this review…
Appless – You don’t need an app to get going. You’re able to autotune and such without the need to connect to an app. In order to autotune the Ronin S, you have to connect to the app. I use gimbals for professional work and my company has teams. It is nice to send out a gimbal to a team member without them needing to use their phone and not to mention when using the DJI app you need to use personal login info. That’s info I need, not my team members. There is an app for Zhiyun and it works well.
Good for Run and Gun Shooters – Most of my shooting style is run and gun. I cover a lot of events and weddings. In many situations with uncontrolled environments, so I need to be able to make quick transitions. The Crane 2s allow me to swap from the gimbal to a tripod with ease. Also, if I want to shoot in vertical I can do so with just a few steps.
Locking Points – Each motor axis have locks to prevent the gimbal from swinging around. This is helpful for transporting, settings, and balancing.
Lightweight – The gimbal itself while being big in stature, is lightweight in comparison to the Ronin S. The Crane 2s does support heavy cameras, but the gimbal doesn’t add to the weight badly. Your arms and back will thank you later.
What I Don’t Like
Weakest Points – The Zhiyun Crane 2s lives up to the ole saying, “you’re only as strong as your weakest link.” What’s the weakest link? The screws are soft and end up stripping out. I was attempting to move the top motor to the bottom support so I could use my Z Cam E2-S6 and not have the back battery hit against the back motor of the gimbal. I was only able to get about half the screws out and the others ended being stripped, along with the provided Allen wrench.
The Crane 2s is built to support the payload of a Z Cam. I was able to balance the gimbal with a cage on the camera and a decent size battery. However, there is not enough clearance on the back motor for the battery to pass by. Therefore, I need to move the back motor down on the bottom support. This would allow clearance but would allow the screen to be in full sight if I want to use something like the Sony A73.
User Friendliness – Another issue I have with this gimbal is more along the lines of instructions. There are none in the box. There is a QR code that is supposed to lead to more tutorials, but the code would not work on my iPhone. The other QR codes did work for the app store links. So, much of the time I had to figure out things on my own or spend time watching YouTube videos hoping there would be things mentioned I needed to know. Zhiyun’s website does not seem to have proper instructions either or difficult to find.
Here is the official Zhiyun Crane 2s User Guide
Lack of an Essential Accessory – Zhiyun does have a handful of accessories to purchase for an extra cost. That’s cool, but there is one accessory at least that I think should be included in the base package which is an extension arm. Some competitors include an extension arm in their kits and I SO appreciate it! The extension arm helps the experience a ton. The gimbal is a lot more comfortable to hold, you can attach other accessories to it, and gives an under carrying position that can get some great shots.
The Zhiyun Crane 2s overall is a great gimbal, but there are some weak points that spoil the fun. I feel like I am missing out on the action and intention I had with this gimbal. I really want to use my Z Cam with this gimbal. I love the idea of using a cinema camera on a gimbal. It was going to be my first chance to do so, but then little things like poor quality screws screwed up that idea. I also wanted to be as transparent as I can with what my experience has been like using the Zhiyun Crane 2s.
It does get the job done, well, for all the other ways to use the gimbal. I LOVE the fact I can get buttery smooth vertical footage with this gimbal using a high-quality camera and lens combo like the Sony A73 + Sony 24-70mm GM lens. This will be my go-to gimbal for my heavy camera setup.
If I have any updates about my experience I will add to this post.
What do you want to know about this gimbal?
So…long story short, I reached out and let my contact know of my concerns. The response is below. More backstory, I was asked to purchase the gimbal from Amazon and when I provided the purchase info I would be refunded half, and then once the review was complete, I would be refunded the rest last half. They still have not paid the rest of the money. This is why I normally never purchase review items first because of getting scammed like this… Learn from my mistake and never purchase a product at all. I’m ok with the company providing funds first and then purchase, but not like how this happened. I gave the benefit of the doubt for a couple of reasons. First, I thought Zhiyun could be trusted. Second, I could use the gimbal for my business, Evergreen Creative Company.
Fortunately, Amazon was gracious to accept the refund request to which I was able to get my money back. If the gimbal was fully functional, this whole situation would be different.
So a warning to people looking to buy this gimbal, don’t. Also, to creators as a heads-up, if you’re looking to work with Zhiyun, I would be careful.
None of this was posted to put anyone in a bad light, but I do want to be transparent and honest in my reviews, my experience.