Zhiyun Smooth-Q 3 Axis Handheld Gimbal for Smartphone
High quality gimbal that works better than I was expecting at this price point
I’m no cinematographer and it shows in this short video but without the Smooth-Q I would be a lot worse. I’ve played with other gimbals but not had anything like this before.
TL;DR – Everything I expect from a high end gimbal, smooth, precise, easy to use, but needs the ability to change how the joy stick operates.
► Adjusts easily for different sized phones
► Three modes of operation
► Completely silent
► Well-made and finished
► App needs to have access to location information removed
► Excellent product for the price
One thing I knew about these things was that you need to handle them with respect, move slowly and deliberately, have a plan before you start shooting the video. The gimbal makes up for minor jerky actions but any time I make rapid movements the device is not able to compensate. This isn’t a fault of the machine, it can only do so much. That said, it does respond quickly. It works very nicely to remain aimed it the right spot as I work on not tripping over something. When I need to adjust the position, it compensates smoothly and with a little practice I’m pretty sure that I can put out some very nice video’s.
The device itself is properly engineered and designed, the layout of the controls is good. However, I would like to see a few changes on the joystick. Right now tilting the camera is smooth and slow like it should be but it’s inverted. I would like to be able to change this. The pan control is problematic in that it changes the direction of the camera far too fast. If it moved as slowly as the tilt I would be happy except that it too is backwards.
Allow me to explain:
► When I want to tilt up I have to move the joystick down. Maybe this is correct for some people but for me an admitted novice it makes using the gimbal difficult.
► Panning right means I have to move the joystick control to the left and vice versa to pan left.
The device is virtually silent, I can detect no noise of any kind even when my ear is right next to one of the swivels and its moving. This is a very well-built gimbal. I also couldn’t detect any stutter in any of the swivels, everything is as the name says, smooth.
I’m not impressed with the app. First off if I don’t give it access to my GPS location it won’t even connect to the stabilizer. I don’t mean that it won’t let me navigate through the app, it literally will not allow access beyong the point where it wants location acess without GPS location enabled. Also, any text is all Chinese. Secondly, I get constant crashes. Since at first I assumed it could be caused by something on my phone I tried two others and got the same results. From what I can tell reading through the manual, the app would allow for controlling the camera zoom which would be a big bonus when really getting further into documenting anything I want and for taking snap shots. For downloading and installing the app in both iOS and Android search for “ZY Play”.
The manual is laid out very nicely and contains a lot of information as well as QR code links to training materials and their web site. It’s a nice change, not trying to work through a poor translation.
The handle does have a couple of LED’s located with the controls. One to indicate that the device is powered on plus battery level and one to give an indication to which one of three modes is being used. Modes are:
► Pan following, pans left and right following movement of the stabilizer while tilt and roll axis are locked.
► Locked mode, locks movement of all the axis but still keeps the camera stable and still.
► Following mode, follows the movement of the stabilizer while still allowing manual control of the joystick pan/tilt and left/right positioning
There are two USB ports on the handle, a micro USB port for charging the device and a USB A port for providing charge capability to a phone if needed. So far I’ve not yet drained the battery after about 5 hours of use.
The company does make firmware updating relatively easy using their own application. This was the first thing I did with the stabilizer after charging the battery. I had no problems with the software but there was no update required.
I used my BlackBerry PRIV, this is a fairly heavy phone, and had no problems with it handling the weight and length. I appreciate that the design allows for the addition of external lens to be attached to the phone without anything on the device interfering. The well-made, silicone rubber lined, clamps are far enough back that there’s plenty of room at the camera end for attaching anything I need without being interfered with. The various axis arms are adjustable which is something I needed. The knurled thumb screws are easy to use and adjust. The pieces slide together or apart smoothly and are not indented which allows for infinite adjustment ability. The only indents are on the phone clamp, it allows for setting the phone/camera at 90, 180, and two points in between.
► I did need to initially calibrate the setup. This is explained in the manual and very easy to do.
Included in the box was a standard micro USB cable and foldout tripod that threads into the handles base permitting a fixed point stable way to use the device if needed. Threading is standard and matches all camera accessories I have.
In the box there’s also a very nicely case to carry and protect the gimbal. It too is well made and not some cheap dollar store item.
Fit and finish here is excellent. This isn’t a toy, it looks and works like a high-end piece of photographic equipment because it is.
I’ve never heard of Zhiyun previously but will keep an eye on this company, it’s producing some very nice equipment.
If the joystick controls were able to be adjusted, made to respond slower or faster and the app kept from crashing there’s no reason I wouldn’t give this 5 stars. As it is however, I’m well pleased with the stabilizer.