Zhiyun Smooth 4 Review 2021: Best Choice For You

Zhiyun Smooth 4 Review 2021: Best Choice For You

The idea of using a gimbal stabilizer for videos is an interesting one. The Zhiyun Smooth 4  makes this dream a reality with the stabilization and focus the camera can provide as it steadily moves around. If you’re considering making videos, this would be a fantastic choice to take your productions to the next level. Do you need help or more information on which drone to purchase? You should read the article Intro of Zhiyun Smooth 4 Review.

Zhiyun Smooth 4 Review

  • Compatibility: Smartphones (65-82mm width).
  • Stabilization: 3-axis
  • Dimensions: 123x105x328mm
  • Weight: 560g
  • Battery life (approx.): 10 hours

PROS

  • Smooth footage
  • High-quality build
  • Zoom/focus wheel
  • Battery time is long
  • Two-way charging

CONS

  • Weight
  • No joystick control
  • Payload limit
  • Face tracking is not done well

The Smooth 4 is a 3-axis, tilt-and-roll gimbal. However, the smartphone payload it can carry is surprising. It can hold most smartphones but weighs in at 210g. This excludes larger smartphones like the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max (228g) and the Samsung S21 Ultra (229g). They’re both phones that videographers and photographers love, so it’s not surprising that they weigh less than 210g.

The Smooth 4’s click wheel doesn’t provide joystick-style controls for manual movements, but the control panel is excellent. It is large and spacious and has many buttons, including pan-following for quick still photos, as well as locking the Smooth 4 to be used as a tripod.

The control panel’s left-hand side has a tactile wheel. This can be used to focus or zoom in, and there is also a button to switch between them. It is extremely easy to use. You can follow the rocker just behind the control button or do it faster in “phone go” mode.

The Smooth 4 omits face-tracking which is included in the Smooth XS for a cheaper price. Although it isn’t a major issue, it is surprising that it has not been included in Smooth 4.

Performance And Usability

Performance And Usability 

 

It isn’t easy to start the Smooth 4. A small lock wheel makes it easy to get a smartphone in a balanced position. However, we struggled to get the ZY Play app connected to the Smooth 4 via Bluetooth. Although it worked, the connection didn’t happen immediately the second time we tried it.

This app is very tech-savvy. You can use it to create semi-professional features such as time-lapse, time-lapse, and hyper-lapse. It also offers panoramic photos, time-lapse motion modes, and long exposures. It features HDR, scene modes, filters, manual tweaks, and the ability to shoot at up to 4K 60fps. The gimbal’s control panel has a lot of shortcut buttons that make it easy to navigate. There is, however, a learning curve.

The Smooth 4 is a reliable build that creates fluid, stable footage on all axes. The wheel at the side of the column is a special highlight, making it simple to fine-tune shots. You can switch between zoom and focus pull by using the shortcut on your control panel’s click wheel.

The Smooth 4’s battery power is one of its best features. It can hold 2,000mAh lithium-ion batteries for up to a 10-hour shoot. This is something you don’t have to worry about. But it gets even better. Two-way charging is possible with the Smooth 4, allowing you to attach your smartphone to the micro USB slot on the tilt axis arm. This allows you to charge the Smooth 4 and your smartphone simultaneously. It is most likely that the Smooth 4 can be charged from a battery pack, but it’s not clear why Zhiyun used the old micro USB specification.

Software

ZY Play is available on both iOS and Android. However, you cannot use all features of Android. Your phone model will also limit your capabilities.

The ZY Play app gives you access to all the features. However, some of them aren’t worth it. Zhiyun is very proud of Vertigo’s feature that uses the zoom wheel in order to recreate the effects from the movie of the same title.

The problem with the Smooth 4 is that unlike DJI and Parrot drones, which have this dolly zoom effect as well, it is difficult to set up. It also requires you to be skilled at zooming and walking backward, which can make it less likely that you will get great results. The zoom isn’t smooth; it’s jerky. Like other gimbals, zoom is in software. You can’t use the telephoto camera on your phone to achieve this effect.

Although the ZY play app provides subject tracking, we have found that it is not as effective as DJI’s. It doesn’t reliably track people if they move quickly, especially when they are moving fast. This is surprising, considering that we have heard amazing things about Smooth Q’s tracking system.

The good news is that the FiLMiC and Zhiyun have partnered to make the FiLMic Pro app fully compatible with the Smooth 4 so it can be instantly paired on the iPhone. You can now use the zoom/focus wheels, something that was not possible just a few short months ago. You can switch between standard, full auto, and manual shooting modes, and you can even switch between telephoto, standard, and selfie cameras.

This app is worth the investment if you are serious about creating a great video.

Build Quality

Build Quality

  • The Smooth 4 is a lightweight toy with a long battery time.
  • The Smooth 4 is designed for heavy-duty use and features a rigid structure.
  • Although it doesn’t feel fragile or fragile, it can still be damaged if your skateboard is stacked while you do crazy tricks.

The clamps on your head can easily expand or contract to keep your device stable. It’s also easy to adjust the balance without worrying about breaking anything.

Smooth 4 has a nice texture of hammer paint that gives it a feeling of quality and also provides a level of grip.

The Smooth 4 has stronger brushless motors than the previous model. It can hold devices up to 8.5 cm (3.35m) high and 210g (0.46lb) in weight. You have the option of tilting and rolling at 240 degrees and panning at 300 deg to really get creative.

Controlling the Zhiyun Smooth 4.

Controlling the Zhiyun Smooth 4.

The Zhiyun Smooth 4 has many controls, unlike the DJI Osmo Mobile 2. You don’t have to touch your phone’s screen to adjust settings such as the exposure level or resolution.

You can adjust the zoom and focus using the dial to the left of your hand grip. This feature is great for creative filmmakers as most gimbals won’t allow you to physically adjust the focus. The digital zoom was smooth and did not have the small increments that you might notice on other gimbals with physical-digital zoom control.

You can also press the button in the middle of the controls to turn on the flash. This provides more convenience. It was not something I used often, but it is definitely useful in certain situations.

It is a time-saver to be able to access menus, zoom in/out, turn on the flash, and so on using the controls on the gimbal.

There is, however, one caveat: most of these functions are only available when you use the ZY Play App. It’s a decent app, and the latest version has fixed many issues that it had with Android users. However, I don’t like the fact that so many of the functions of the gimbal are tied to the app.

Missing Joystick

Many gimbals have a joystick that can be used to tilt and pan the camera electronically. This feature is present in the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 and Zhiyun’s older Smooth Q.

But, DSLR gimbals, as well as the Movi Cinema Robot for smartphones with high-end features, don’t have pan/tilt joysticks.

Shooting Modes

Three basic gimbal shooting modes are available for the 3-axis Zhiyun Smooth 4.

Pan and Follow are the first, which maintains the horizon at its level. The gimbal will track your movements in the pan axis, but it will also counteract movements that point the camera upwards or downwards.

The second mode, called the following mode, will allow it to follow your movements on the tilt and pan axes. It will, however, lock the roll axis. This means that if the camera rolls to one side or the other, the gimbal will stop it from doing so to keep it parallel to the ground.

Locked mode, where all three axes lock, is the last mode. The Zhiyun Smooth 4 will keep your camera’s orientation steady and help it focus on its target. This is helpful when recording on the stage at a concert or mounting it on a vehicle.

PhoneGo Mode

The Smooth 4 has a neat feature called “PhoneGo,” which can be activated by pressing a trigger button on the back of your grip. The motor speed is increased, making the gimbal responsive to movement. This is useful when you need to quickly capture changes in direction in your recording.

Photo modes

The ZY Play app allows you to easily take multiple types of photos.

  • Single-shot photos (very easy thanks to the dedicated snap button on your gimbal).
  • Panorama shots (180-degree panoramas, 3×3 panoramas).
  • Timelapses and motion timelapse
  • Vertigo Effect

We haven’t seen the vertigo effect mode on any other smartphone gimbals. Although it’s a neat little camera effect, I haven’t found myself using it often.

FiLMiC Pro App- Supported Third-Party App

FiLMiC Pro App- Supported Third-Party App

To unlock the full potential of Zhiyun Smooth 4’s ZY Play App, most users end up using it to record their videos.

The app is a great companion app for gimbals. Many of the larger issues with Android have been fixed, despite having had some issues in the past.

Battery Life

The Zhiyun Smooth 4 is powered by lithium-ion batteries and can record for as long as 12 hours.

This makes it one of the best gimbals in terms of battery time. Most people won’t need to worry about batteries.

It is a little disappointing that the Zhiyun Smooth 4 cannot double up to be used as a portable power bank, despite having a great battery. This is unlike other gimbals.

Performance

We tried the Smooth 4’s clamp with an iPhone X. It fit well. The iPhone XS Max is a bit too heavy and large. Even at full extension, it couldn’t balance properly. It must have required more battery power to keep it horizontal.

It can be difficult to get used to the trigger for tilting, as it takes some time to become comfortable with. But persevere, and you will eventually see the results you desire. The gimbal would flutter if it was being moved too fast when we used the ZY Play app. This was something that we could not get used to. There were also a few connection problems where the gimbal could not see our device in the list but would not connect immediately.

Despite all the criticisms we have about the Smooth 4, it produces stunningly stable footage. The Smooth 4 is able to capture usable video even when you are standing still, walking, or running.

To access all modes, it might be best to use the native app of your phone’s camera. We found that we couldn’t choose 25fps at 1080p or 4K in the app. However, we could use the native app. However, it doesn’t allow you to use the buttons on the gimbal, so it’s not an ideal workaround.

You can check other Gimbals if you feel this gimbal with a high price: 

Conclusion

The Smooth 4 is more than a clone. It offers many features that you won’t find anywhere else. However, while the ideas are admirable, the execution could be improved. However, it does a great job of stabilizing your phone’s video.

The price is the only thing that matters. If it were more expensive, we would recommend the Osmo 2 instead. But if you want to save a little money, it will do a good job. Or you can buy Smooth at a great price on Black Friday.

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