Zhiyun Crane 3-axis Gimbal Review: Hacks and Tips for the best All-In-One Gimbal for GoPros, Smartphones and DSLR Cameras

170721 UPDATE: Thanks to Carlos Loya on Youtube for pointing out the latest version of the Manfrotto tabletop tripod has switched to a 3/16 inch thread, making an adapter like this necessary. But there are also many less expensive 1/4-20 tabletop leg options like this one that seem to be a great alternative.

One Gimbal to rule them all!!

That was the goal anyways. After ordering several and putting them through their paces, I’ve finally figured out a system worthy of sharing. Sure there are gimbals to accommodate cameras of various sizes, but could there be a beast that could work with anything from my tiny GoPro Hero5 Session to my favourite DSLR’s?

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Not out of the box. But here’s my gimbal hacks and tips that makes the Zhiyun Crane 3-axis gimbal the one gimbal that can tame anything including your GoPro, Smartphone and small DSLR Cameras.

Problem: the single shaft is nice and simple, but lacks secure holds allowing , requiring a rather tight grip to prevent drops.

Solution: Most other handlebar additions add 2 handles separated from the central handle. While great for holding, it makes it inconvenient to switch hands and get to the joystick and adds unnecessary bulk. In contrast, the carbon fiber handlebar below adds minimal bulk and weight while giving additional hand-holds and security without sacrificing balance and one-handed joystick access.

Problem: smaller cameras (like my Gopro, Smartphone and even my beloved Sony Point and Shoot) are too light, and the Crane vibrates uncontrollably when under-weighted at times.

Solution: Add a USB battery pack for weight and additional power for a win-win of increased record times AND gimbal happiness.

The Zhiyun crane already comes with 2 sets of batteries that can last anywhere from 3-6 hours. But I wanted longer run times without worrying about wapping batteries. Thankfully, Zhiyun designed the crane to work with a larger battery: just remove the plastic sleeve and you can put these BIG batteries in and run for an entire day without swapping out.

NotSoAncient Tip: If you take the time to perfectly balance your camera on your gimbal you can as much as double your battery life and preserve your motors!

Don’t forget the charger! True: it’s not micro-USB powered, but is a jack-of-all-trades charger which can charge Li-ion and Ni-MH/Ni-Cd chemistries of various sizes from AAA and up!

Bonus time! Adding the battery for weight allows us to power our gadgets forEVER. No more worrying over, “How much battery life do I have?” and record as long as you want!

And because I get asked a lot what camera/lens I’m using, here’s the DSLR kit I use on my gimbal.

NotSoAncient Tip: I use this (relatively inexpensive) 24mm lens on my gimbal pretty much all the time. Keeping it simple and sticking to one lens lets me quickly balance it and forget the fuss of swapping lenses and having to re-balance the whole rig. I also switch to DX crop in-camera to get a 35mm field of view if I don’t want something as wide as a 24mm which adds flexibility with a single lens.


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