Stabilizer News review – Zhiyun Crane 2

by Matija Petrovic

Two years ago, we tested Zhiyun Smooth-C/R and right a way we could see Zhiyun gimbals are different from anything else. Zhiyun Smooth-C/R’s stabilization and it’s build quality were a way ahead from the rest of their competitors.

Two years after we’ve got a chance to test the newest Zhiyun’s gimbal Crane 2. We’ve been reading many comments about Crane 2 and heard stories it literally swiped the competition being the best and also the best buy gimbal. We’ve got it now, so we bring you our impressions and video test.

But first, technical specifications of Zhiyun Crane 2

– Supports cameras weighing up to 7 pounds
– Improved torque, response, and image stabilization over prior models
– Quick, direct camera control via handgrip buttons
– OLED screen displays camera and stabilizer settings
– Manfrotto-standard quick release plate for quick camera mounting
– Maximum of 18-hour runtime with included batteries
– “Slow-fall” feature protects your camera from a sudden drop when the Crane-2 is powered down
– Power select Sony cameras through the gimbal

Operating Voltage Minimum: 9.8 V, Standard: 11.1 V, Maximum: 12.6 V
Operating Current Minimum: 110 mAh, Maximum: 6000 mAh
Output Voltage USB: 5 V, Camera Charging: 8 V
Output Current USB: 1 A, Camera Charging: 2 A
Battery Runtime Minimum: 12 h, Maximum: 18 h

Following Accuracy Static: ±0.01° to ±0.3°, Motion: ±0.05° to ±0.1°
Rotational Angle Range Tilt: -135° to +185°, Roll: 360°, Pan: 360°

Operating Temperature Minimum: 14°F (-10°C), Standard: 77°F (25°C), Maximum: 113°F (45°C)
Payload Capacity Minimum: 1.1 lb (500 g), Maximum: 7.1 lb (3200 g)
Dimensions (WxDxH) 8.3 x 4.6 x 17.7″ (21.0 x 11.8 x 45.0 cm)
Weight 2.8 lb (1.25 kg)

Packaging Info
Package Weight 8.5 lb
Box Dimensions (LxWxH) 19.7 x 10.9 x 6.1″

What’s in the box?

Gimbal arrived within 3 days from the order from Zhiyun warehouse in Europe. Package was very well packed, so there is no chance of damage during transport. The box contains Crane 2 bag which is shock resistant and can be carried over the shoulder, so there is no need to buy additional bags.

The bag contains:
– Crane 2 gimbal
– Tripod
– 18650 Li-ion battery x3
– Battery charger
– Canon camera control cable
– Panasonic camera control cable
– Sony camera control cable
– Micro USB cable
– Shoulder strap
– User guide

Batteries and charger
Zhiyun Crane 2 uses 3 18650Li-ion batteries. Fully charged batteries last for aprox. 18 hours, while older model Crane V2’s batteries lasted for aprox. 12 hours. Of course, the battery usage is affected by external conditions and also by the possibility of camera charging. Crane 2 gimbal can be used as a camera charger through its batteries. Of course, such usage shortens battery life. Crane V2 gimbal comes with the original Zhiyun charger and it takes aprox. 90 minutes to fully charge the batteries, which is a great result concerning the fact of 18 hours battery life.

Zhiyun Crane 2 is a big gimbal, but if we acknowledge the fact, it can be used with cameras heavier than 3 kg (7 lb), it’s size isn’t a surprise. There is a big difference in allowed camera size on Crane 2, as the older mode Crane V2 supported only half of that size cameras.

This gimbal uses standard quick release plate compatible with Manfrotto QR systems, so one can quickly and simply change from monopod or tripod to gimbal. Gimbal weights aprox. 1.5 kg (3.3 lb). It’s OLED display is superb. The biggest problem with other gimbals is a lack of display. This display shows the exact info of current mode and battery life. It offers the following modes: “F” for follow mode, “PF” for pan-follow mode and “L” for locked mode. OLED display also offers the possibility to adjust gimbal’s settings i.e. if we mount smaller or bigger camera, we will adjust the engine power according to the camera size. Currently, only Canon cameras can use the full options of Zhiyun Crane 2 gimbal; we can adjust ISO, aperture, shutter speed and exposure and it’s all being showed on OLED display. We are still waiting for these options to become available for all the other cameras. Another great thing is a small tripod which is mounted to the gimbal and which really helps the balance and laying off the gimbal without shutting it down or putting it in a bag or on the floor.

Follow focus
Zhiyun Crane 2 is first and only gimbal which comes with follow focus. As previously stated, it only works with Canon cameras. When camera is mounted, the only thing we need to do is to start the focus wheel and the thing works. There are three different speed sensitivities available for the focus.

Zhiyun Crane 2 gimbal balancing is pretty much the same as the other gimbals. Another great option is “slow power down” meaning turning off the gimbal doesn’t immediately turn off the engines, they are being turned off gradually, so in case the mounted camera isn’t well balanced, there is no chance it will be damaged or hit during the gimbal shutting down.

Here is the video explaining how to precisely balance Zhiyun Crane 2

ZY Play app
ZY Play is a mobile application for Zhiyun gimbals (there is also Zhiyun Camera application, which is for Smooth 2 gimbal only). The application is really simple, it allows us to connect to gimbal using bluetooth connection. There are available versions for Android and IOS mobile devices. ZY Play app acts like a remote control for the gimbal.

Tutorial video for the App

Our test
We’ve tested Zhiyun Crane 2 on Zagreb’s Advent. Zagreb’s Advent has been chosen as the Best Christmas Market third year in a row and it was an ideal setup for our test. The temperature was around 0°C (32 F), so we could immediately see how the batteries act in cold weather. During the 3 hours shooting not a single battery line indicator changed. We’ve used Sony A6500 camera with Samyang 12 mm f/2.0 lens. You can see our test bellow, and we can only say we are really satisfied with the result. You can also watch “behind the scene” video how this shooting with Zhiyun Crane 2 gimbal went.

Our test

Behind the scene

Final words
After all the stories we’ve heard and after getting a chance to spend time with Zhiyun Crane 2 gimbal, all we can say is one thing: Zhiyun Crane 2 deserves all the recommendations it can get! From smaller mirrorless cameras to bigger DSLRs or even RED cameras, all can be mounted to Crane 2 without any issues. Simplicity at the first place, very easy to balance, great build quality, top stabilization. Zhiyun Crane 2 gimbal is really a top product and all we can say is we will use it in the future for a lot of shooting. We think this says it all. Zhiyun Tech we can hardly wait for your next product!