Zhiyun-Tech Crane 2: The Best Hand Held Gimbal Out There?

Zhiyun-Tech has taken the indie film world by storm over the last year. Their products are affordable and produce results that can be easily compared to much more costly gimbal systems. I've been using the Crane 2 for months now, here is my experience of using it.

Note: I am a Sony shooter so won't be looking in depth at the capabilities of the Crane 2 with other manufacturers, I have done some follow focus tests with the Canon 5D III as an example.

Feature wise, the Zhiyun Tech Crane 2 packs much more into the gimbal than the Crane 1 and Crane v2 combined. It's increased payload means that shooters using Canon 5D's or Sony a7's with Metabones adapters can comfortably operate the gimbal with less stress on the motors. I've even seen Canon cinema cameras, RED cameras and Sony FS5's rigged on them!

Using the Zhiyun Crane 2 while filming for Manfrotto

Using the Zhiyun Crane 2 while filming for Manfrotto

A brand new feature is the follow focus, in which I've seen some great examples of Crane 2 operators pulling and tracking focus on moving subjects. Zhiyun Tech has since updated the gimbal firmware so that a number of the camera control features are now available when filming on Canon, Sony, Nikon and Panasonic cameras!

The biggest improvement for me has been using a Manfrotto standard quick release plate, that simply slides on and off the gimbal. It means you can go from filming on a tripod or monopod straight onto the Crane 2. No hassle, no screws to undo and then re-balance the gimbal. It's simple, and it works.

Zhiyun Crane 2 Manfrotto Quick Release Plate

On a recent shoot, I swapped between filming with the Sony a7S II and Sony a6500 on the Crane 2, which was ideal!

Dual handles for the Crane 2 allow for more accessories such as a monitor or microphone to be added to the setup. There is also a follow focus unit now available too, that hooks up to the focus wheel on the handle. For more info about the gimbal and accessories, check out the product page here.

I use the Zhiyun Crane 2 on pretty much all of my video shoots, and combining it with 4K or slow motion really adds a level of production value that I hadn't been able to achieve before. Check out the next blog on the making of 'The Great Outdoors' for more gimbal action with the ZEISS Milvus Super Speed Primes!