Zhiyun Crane3S, a powerful powered stabilizing gimbal designed for larger mirrorless, DSLR, and cinema cameras is made of high-quality materials. Zhiyun is well-known in this region, but the Crane 3S has a complete redesign from the previous Zhiyun Gimbals and a detachable handle option. We will be giving you a review of Crane 3S and some tips for using it
Zhiyun Crane 3S Review
- Payload: 6.5kg
- Two carrying options
- This is serious enough cine gear
- Handheld use: Very heavy
- Some controls are awkwardly placed
It Fills A Market Gap
We have seen one-handed gimbals for mirrorless/DSLR cams as well as smaller digital cinema cameras. In the past, larger gimbals like the DJI Ronin 2 and Movi Pro were made for larger digital cameras. It was impossible to find anything that could bridge that gap.
Moza Air X was one of the few exceptions. It is the only single-handed Gimbal I know of that can handle payloads up to 6kg.
There are some gimbals, like the Zhiyun Crane3 Lab and DJI Ronin S, that can take smaller digital cinema cameras if you’re a bit more persuasive, but this is not what they were originally designed for.
The Crane 3S bridges the gap between single-handed gimbals and gimbals specifically designed for use with large-sized digital cinema cameras.
There is a place in the world for a Crane3S gimbal, with many photographers using cams like the Canon C200/C300/C500 and Sony FX7/F9, Panasonic EVA1, and, to a lesser degree, the Kinefinity TERRA/MAVO offerings.
You could argue that operating a small- to medium-sized digital cinema cam with a single-handed gimbal on your left hand is counterintuitive. But we’ll explore this argument later.
Zhiyun’s gimbals have a long history of being praised for their excellent quality. Although they may have stopped innovating for some time, Zhiyun seems to be back to their old ways with the Crane3 range and the Weebill range. The Crane 3’s only competition is the Ronin S, which at the time of writing sticks to the same handheld gimbal design and helps the Crane3 score more points.
Professional-level videographers, cinematographers, and vloggers who use lots of b-roll will love the Crane 3’s multi-functional, adjustable handle. You can quickly switch between traditional handheld and underslung modes in a matter of seconds, allowing you to capture low-angle footage quickly and easily.
Dual handle design allows you to support your rig and hold it with one hand. Many mirrorless camera owners prefer the Crane 3 for their rig. While they can hold it with one hand, this is not ideal for longer sessions or heavier DSLR rigs.
The Zhiyun’s handles have comfortable grips that allow you to hold it even when using a heavy camera rig. Even long-established brands are tired of gimbal manufacturers making gimbals with poor quality grips, causing cramps and aches. Zhiyun is a market leader and has responded quickly to customer feedback. Their last few gimbals, including the Crane3, have great grips.
The handle of the Crane 3S can be detached with the TransMount EasySling Handle or the TransMountSmartSling Handle. SmartSling handles have an OLED control panel that allows for camera and gimbal parameter adjustments. You can change the shooting mode, adjust the shutter speed, ISO, f-stop, and f-stop (for supported cameras), as well as access the set menus. You can also find the zoom rocker at the base of the SmartSling handle.
The Crane 3S is similar in build quality to its Crane 3 Lab counterpart. In conclusion, Zhiyun’s gimbals are still improving over time. The Crane 3S feels a bit more polished than its Crane 3 Lab counterpart.
It’s still quite heavy, despite the fact that a lot of plastic was used. The buttons, switches, knobs, and knobs are all well-made. The Crane 3S’s build quality will please Zhiyun users who are already familiar with Zhiyun products. It was well-built and assembled. Nothing I noticed concerned me. It seems to be able to withstand harsh field conditions.
High Payload Capacity
The Crane 3S can carry 6.49 kg (14.3 lb) of payload. This is an impressive increase from the Crane 3 Lab’s 4.58kg (10.14 lb.) load capacity.
Companies have been creating one-handed gimbals capable of handling very heavy payloads in recent years. This is a major drawback to a compact, one-handed Gimbal. You can hold your payload for a shorter time if it is heavier than you think. A two-handed design is better for gimbal payloads that exceed a certain weight. This is particularly true if you plan to use a Canon C300 or Panasonic EVA-1 on a single-handed gimbal.
If you’re only going to use a small DSLR or mirrorless camera setup, I don’t think it is worth investing in a larger one-handed Gimbal that can handle high payloads. While having the ability to use multiple cams from a single gimbal is great, you need to consider how long it will take to operate a single-handed one-handed gimbal that has a large payload.
- Zhiyun Crane 3: 6.49 kg (14.3 lb)
- Zhiyun Crane 3 Lab: 4.58 kg (10.14 lb)
- DJI Ronin S: 3.6kg (7.94 lb).
- Moza Air 2: 4.2 kg (9.26 lb)
- Moza Air X: 6 kg (13.2 lb)
- Tilta Gravity X: 3.63 kg (8 lb).
Below you will see some of the payload capacities for other one-handed Gimbals. The Crane 3S’ payload capacity is nearly 2 kg higher than that of Crane 3 Lab and almost 3 kilograms more than that of DJI Ronin S.
Which Cameras Are Compatible With It?
Canon EOS 1DX compatible cameras include Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras and Canon Cinema EOS. There are many other compatible cameras, including the ARRI ALEXA Mini and the Panasonic EVA 1 series.
You don’t have to do it just because you can.
Although it is possible to mount a small or mid-sized digital cinema cam onto a single-handed Gimbal, is that the best option? It really depends on your use of the Gimbal. It is more of a gimbal that you attach to a crane, car mount, or another device than one that people use to take regular shots.
It might be a good idea if you’re someone who only wants to take a few gimbal shots with their main camera. You should avoid anyone who uses the Gimbal frequently and has to keep it for long periods of time.
The Crane 3S is, in many ways, a niche product. It is not going to appeal to everyone.
It Has A Relatively Small Footprint
The Crane 3S is still compact despite its high payload capacity. Although it’s still very large, the Crane 3S can be folded down to a practical size. It is much easier to transport. This is an advantage of the Zhiyun models over competing gimbals like the DJI Ronin-S or the Moza Air 2.
Who Is It Directed At?
The Crane 3S is designed for small- to medium-sized digital cinema cams, as well as larger DSLR and mirrorless camera packages. You can run heavier lenses with the crane 3S, even if your mirrorless or DSLR camera has a higher payload.
Many photographers are happy to use their DSLR or mirrorless cameras on a Gimbal. I don’t know how many would prefer to use their main camera on a Gimbal. A smaller, DSLR-type or mirrorless camera can be used on a gimbal. Most shooters don’t need a bigger gimbal, such as a DJI Ronin 2 and Movi Pro. It will be interesting to see if the Crane 3S encourages photographers to use their main camera on a Gimbal.
What Are You Going To Get?
The Zhiyun 3S is supplied in a foam bag that you can use to carry the Gimbal around. It is not strong enough to be used for air travel, so I don’t recommend it.
The case has custom cutouts that can be used to display the components of the Gimbal. It is easy to access all the components.
Although the Crane 3S is supplied in a case, once you have fitted the extension arm bracket, it will not fit back into the case. This is something that you need to be aware of.
A quick start guide is also included. This will help you quickly set up your Gimbal and get it running.
You also get the Crane 3S gimbal:
- Quick Release Camera Plate
- SmartSling Handle
- 3 x 18650 Batteries
- Batteries Charger
- Extension Arm
- Handle Adapter Base
- Support Base
- Lens Support
- Lens Support Rod
- Micro-USB Canon Control Cable
- Mini-USB Canon Control Cable
- USB Type-C Panasonic Control Cable
- USB Type-C to Multiple Sony Control Cable
- USB Type-C Charging Cable
- Foam Storage Box
- 3 x 1/4″-20 Screw
- Wrench Set (M1.3-M2.5, M4)
- Limited 1-Year Warranty
The Gimbal Is Heavy
It’s heavy, and there’s no way to sugarcoat it. I couldn’t hold it on to for long, even with a smaller digital cinema camera. I was unable to keep it up very long before I felt the need to take it down. This is not an attack on the Crane3S. I find the same thing with all the larger single-handed Gimbals.
The Crane3S (with the batteries) is 2.47 kg (5.45lb). You would need to transport around 8.5kg if you wanted to attach a camera package weighing around 6 kg. It is difficult to do this, and you will be putting it down in a matter of minutes.
What is the weight of this gimbal compared to other models? Here’s a link to the table:
- Zhiyun Crane3S: 2.47 kg (5.45 lb)
- Zhiyun Crane 3 Lab: 1.9 kg (4.19 lb)
- DJI Ronin S 1.86kg (4.1 lb).
- Moza Air 2 1.6 kg (3.53 lb)
- Moza Air X 1.4 kg (3.08 lb)
- Tilta Gravity X1.79 kg (3.95 lb).
Batteries & Run Time
Zhiyun claims that the Crane 3S can run for up to 12 hours on 3x 18650 batteries. Based on my experience with the gimbal, I found the battery life to be good. It should last most shooters an entire day.
You will need to remove the battery cover by unlocking the little lock switch at the top.
Zhiyun now offers an optional TransMount PowerPlus Battery Pack, which can hold 6x 18650 cells. This battery can also be used as a fast-charging power bank for your devices.
TransMount PowerPlus Batterie Pack can run the CRANE 3S for up to 18 hours. Zhiyun recommends the PowerPlus Battery Pack for camera combinations over 3kg.
The TransMount PowerPlus Battery Pack can be attached to the DC input of the gimbal.
The Crane 3S Lab has a latch on each of its axes, just like the Crane 3 Lab. This allows you to lock the latch off and make it easier to balance the Gimbal. This system has been slightly modified by Zhiyun and now features double locks.
Double locks are necessary because you don’t want your heavy lens and camera package to fall to one side or the other while you balance it.
These latches are made of aluminum anodized with a nice feature: they won’t break.
What I like about this is that you can lock all the axes while you travel from one location to another and have your camera on the tripod. You can then unlock the axes when you return to your destination and go. You don’t need to rebalance the Gimbal each time you change locations. This saves you tons of time. If you’re like me, I prefer to leave my camera on the Gimbal. It is too tedious to have to switch between different cameras all the time. This is one of my favorite aspects of the Crane3S.
It is as simple to take your camera out as it is to remove it from the quick-release plate. This allows you to quickly and easily put your camera back on its Gimbal.
Balancing smaller cameras and lenses packages, such as a Panasonic S1H and a BMPCC6K, is fairly straightforward. However, larger cams can be more difficult to balance.
It was difficult to balance a Kinefinity MAVOLF on the Crane 3S. The balancing process is more difficult when using larger cams.
Another problem is that if you place a heavier camera on the Gimbal, it makes it very difficult to move the adjustment arms. These require that you use so much force it becomes difficult to make subtle micro-adjustments.
It is difficult to adjust larger, heavier cams because of all the weight and inertia that the camera has against you.
Quick Release Plate
Manfrotto’s quick-release plate is used in the Crane 3S. Attach the plate to your camera and slide it on. Then lock it in place. The Crane 3 Lab’s locking mechanism has been slightly revised and is now more secure.
You can attach the rods included with the redesigned plate directly to the plate’s front
The 3S features a 3/8″ mounting point at the base of its main handle. This is where the Mini Tripod Legs can be attached or placed onto a pole or light stand.
The back of the Gimbal has a 3/8″ mounting point. There are also two 1/4-20”tapped mounting holes.
Zhiyun includes a mounting bracket, which you can attach to the same mounting point with two screws. This allows you to mount accessories and move the long handle backward.
There are two rosette-style attachment points located near the back of the Gimbal. One on each side allows you to attach the TransMount phone holder with Crown Gear or an accessory arm or monitor arm. You can also tap this hole from 1/4-20″.
If you’re looking to purchase the Crane3S, the optional TransMount Phone Holder and Crown Gear are a must. It’s still a mystery to me why this accessory was made optionally and that it costs $49 USD. This accessory should have been included as a standard item with the Gimbal.
You can use the PhoneGo Mode to track people and objects that are moving quickly. The Gimbal will follow at its maximum speed when you tap the Go button. This is useful if you’re filming sports or any other fast-moving motion. This mode is similar to the Sports mode on Ronin-S.
Motion Sensor Control
You can remove your smartphone from the Gimbal to make it a motion sensor controller. You can control the Gimbal by simply moving your smartphone. This is a great feature, and it’s amazing that the app has it as a free feature. Similar features are available if you’ve used Mimic with Freefly Movi or the Ronin 2 controller mirror mode.
Although it takes some time to learn how the gimbal works, once you do, it’s quite easy to use. This feature is useful if the gimbal is being used on a jib, or as a remote control.
Focus & Zoom Motors
It can be difficult to get a good focus when you are shooting 4K with a full-frame sensor camera. Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen a lot of follow focus systems for gimbals. The 3S comes with a built-in focus control on the handle. However, they also offer two optional follow focus motors (or zoom) that can be connected to it. The 3S can be connected to two followfocus motors. This allows you to use one for zoom and one for focus.
There are actually two versions of this motor. The TransMount Lite Servo Focus Controller is one, while the TransMount Max Servo Zoom/Focus Controller is the other. Although they may look the same, the TransMount Max Servo Zoom/Focus controller is slightly larger. Both controllers can be used on the Weebill Lab, the Crane 3 Lab, and the Crane3S.
Focus Controllers include the mounting bracket, 15mm rod, and power control cable.
The Focus controllers are tool-less and attach to the Gimbal with the provided thumbscrews. Attach the controller to the provided mounting rod and support bracket using two thumbscrews. Finally, attach the assembly to the baseplate of the Gimbal with the third thumbscrew. The servo is then connected to the Gimbal using the supplied USB cable. Finally, t the camera can be connected to the device via one of the included camera control cables. The USB cable connection allows for zero-latency signal transmission.
You can control the external follow focus in one of two ways. One is by using a tactile wheel on the body or via the app on your smartphone. You can control the zoom using the app or the zoom rocker on your Gimbal.
External follow focus motors are lightweight and work well. It is easy to connect the cable to the Gimbal, and you can then control the focus on the side. The motor is completely silent and makes no noise.
Here is the full of Zhiyun 3S reviews. If you are interested in knowing more about other Gimbal reviews, then check here:
- Zhiyun Smooth Q2 Review 2022: Best Choice For You
- Zhiyun Crane Plus Review 2022: Best Choice For You
- Zhiyun Crane V2 Review 2022: Best Choice For You
Zhiyun deserves credit here. It continues to improve its products and is at the forefront of innovation and features for gimbals. Zhiyun certainly has packed everything into the Crane3S. It is undoubtedly very feature-rich. It’s great that you don’t have to use all the features despite them being there.
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