The Crane 2 from Zhiyun is an absolute beast of a gimbal that is capable of carrying your favorite DSLR or mirrorless camera and capturing perfectly smooth footage. We pull back the curtain and look at the details of this first-class gimbal.
The quality of the parts on the Crane 2 is nothing short of phenomenal, I was super impressed with every detail. Even the hard case and tripod really impressed me, the whole thing is just great. The instructions are easy to follow and cover what you need to know.
The Crane 2 is a beast of a gimbal. It had no problem balancing my relatively small Sony APS-C mirrorless cameras like the Sony a6300 as well as a much larger DSLR. It can take a minute or two to get the balance right, but that is to be expected. With a really large zoom lens on a large DSLR, the gimbal was incapable of stabilizing well – the camera would oscillate a few times after every motion. This is not a very realistic application, however. Typically, you will be using smaller lenses on the gimbal while your big zooms will be used with a tripod for taking pictures of birds or whatever.
On the flip side, when I put a small 16mm lens on my smaller A6300, the center of gravity could not be moved high enough. I fixed this problem simply by clipping in an external flash to make the camera more top heavy. Zhiyun also sells weights you can screw into some female threads that are located various places to adjust the balance. You can also fashion something yourself like I did. I added a small quarter-20 screw to the gimbal to just move the center of gravity up a tiny bit more when using a medium-sized lens.
The gimbal came with 4 cables for connecting the gimbal to Sony, Canon, and Panasonic cameras. This allows you to use the shutter buttons and do some other basic functions using the controls on the handle of the gimbal. This is a huge benefit and a key feature of the Crane 2. Unfortunately, some of the functions, like the focus knob, are not fully compatible with my Sony.
The gimbal is compatible with both the original Zhiyun app and the updated Zhiyun Play app. I was able to control the gimbal with my smartphone and setup motion time-lapses with no problem. Check out our video that shows you how to use the ZY Play app and balance the gimbal.
This is the first gimbal of this scale that I have tried. I probably would never have bought a Zhiyun product that is so expensive if I had not first tried out the much smaller Smooth Q that I use all the time for my iPhone. Both gimbals are top notch and are actually leading the competition from what I can tell.
We test a lot of drones and you may already know that DJI is at the forefront of all things drone. DJI also competes in the handheld gimbal market, but they are playing catch up in a lot of ways to Zhiyun. DJI just announced the Ronin-S, but the release date and pricing have yet to be announced. The Ronin-S looks to be very nice but is lagging in release date to the Crane 2. The DJI Osmo Mobile 2 was just released as a response to the Smooth Q, and the Smooth Q is in many ways better and much less expensive than the original Osmo Mobile. In the low and mid-range gimbal market, DJI seems to be playing catch up to Zhiyun.
Should you Buy the Crane 2?
In short, yes. I can’t stress enough the high quality of the build. This gimbal will be particularly effective if you use a Canon camera, but we were plenty pleased when using it with our Sony. You could wait around for the Ronin S from DJI, which will certainly have some innovative advantages but will also certainly come with a higher price tag. If you want a much less expensive yet very effective gimbal, check out the Smooth Q, also from Zhiyun.
If you are interested in a smaller smartphone gimbal we cover the best ways to use the gimbal while achieving a wider field of view than you get with your stock smartphone camera.