I recently reviewed a couple of gimbals from Zhiyun-Tech, the Crane M2S and the Crane M3. After this, I thought it might be great idea to ask the company some questions about itself, its plans for future enhancements and products and of course about the gimbal industry and video in particular.
AV: How did the company start?
ZT: Our company was founded in June 2015. We are dedicated to the innovative design and quality manufacturing of gimbals for cameras and smartphones, where we devised and published the very first industry standard.
AV: Do you only design and create gimbals?
ZT: Currently, yes, although our gimbal product line has grown rapidly since our incorporation. Our future roadmap also includes professional photography equipment that we are now designing.
AV: Are there plans for other products in the future?
ZT: Yes. Later this year we will introduce new products, expanding our product lineup.
AV: Why do you think that a videographer should have a gimbal ie: what are compelling reasons to purchase?
ZT: To achieve a professional looking video, you need to focus on at least two factors: image stability and shot creativity. For stability, there is no alternative to a gimbal. The inbuilt motor offsets unwanted movement in the camera while shooting, providing a much smoother momentum. Secondly, a gimbal also allows for creativity in movement that can never be achieved simply by hand.
AV: In your opinion what would be the perfect gimbal / camera combination?
ZT: It’s very difficult to judge the perfect combination since each filmmaker has their own unique needs, and ultimately, they always want to try more and do new things. That drives up to keep upgrading our gimbals. We’ve filled them with lights, microphones, using faster, more effective processors for more accurate and responsive movement, improved the handle for a more ergonomic grip experience. We are always attempting to create something closer to perfect each time, and that is what drives us to keep breaking the boundaries of innovation.
AV: You make gimbals for cameras, camcorders and smartphones. Which is dominant at the moment in terms of sales?
ZT: Overwhelmingly camera users want to use gimbals. Our best-seller, WEEBILL S, helps hundreds of thousands of compact mirrorless camera filmmakers record perfect moments. However, we also are extending our professional-grade products into prosumer and consumer-level products, so that everyone can improve their videography experience and film capture quality. The Crane M3 and SMOOTH Q5 are typical of our professional-grade technologies that have been successfully transplanted into consumer products.
AV: Will smartphones ever overtake a dedicated camera or camcorder?
ZT: There are some prestigious directors, such as Sean Baker and Steven Soderbergh, who have made films entirely using smartphones. Whichever product you choose to shoot, you must use a gimbal system to achieve professional-looking smooth and stabilized images in the film.
AV: What future enhancements may we see in gimbal firmware?
ZT: As we provide a wide range of products, it really depends. For each gimbal we offer continuous firmware updates to correct bugs, and sometimes introduce a new function. We intend to keep perfecting our existing products to meet our customer’s ever-changing needs.
AV: How do you suggest people who buy gimbals get the best usage? That is, how best to learn all the features and functions?
ZT: We offer a lot of educational content on our YouTube and Instagram channels: Zhiyun-tech. Our goal is to raise the awareness and we intend to continue teaching our customers how to capture great, professional-looking footage using our gimbals. Shooting like a pro really isn’t that hard. We present some tricks and shortcuts that have been proven by our pool of collaborative talents.
AV: Do you have any training available for using your products?
ZT: Yes. Our YouTube channel is full of tutorials for each of our products. These can also be found in our website, and our apps ZY CAMI and ZY PLAY. A lot of our collaboration partners also share their useful insights in their personal channels too.
AV: How can people buy your products? Online? In retails stores? Direct?
AT: We have an official online store in our website: https://store.zhiyun-tech.com/. Other major online platforms include AMAZON, B&H and AliExpress and we also have thousands of distributors supplying our products in major continents.
AV: What accessories are available for after-market purchase?
ZT: We offer different kinds of tripods, grip handles, an image transmission system, microphones, and fill light for our customers to accessorize their gimbals with to meet their filmmaking needs.
AV: Can you point to any examples of footage shot on your products (and name the product involved) to inspire users?
ZT: This beautiful documentary was shot using a SMOOTH 5, our latest smartphone gimbal :
AV: Do you have any place your users can showcase their footage?
ZT: Yes, our Facebook group is a popular place where fans share their work. We also organize regular competitions to offer them an incentive to challenge them to create interesting films using our products. In our domestic market, we run a large, well-established content sharing platform called Lightollector: https://lightollector.zhiyun-tech.com/
AV: Do you accept suggestions from users to improve your products? If so, how do they submit them?
ZT: Of course! Working with filmmakers it is one of our biggest sources of inspirations for product innovation. Our customers can submit their feedback and suggestions in any one of our communication channels such as YOUTUBE, INSTAGRAM, Email. Our collaborative KOLs also submit their feedback on our products.
AV: If any Zhiyun product fails, how does a user get repairs or warranty? Is there an equivalent to something like DJI Care for example?
ZT: We provide a 7-day return and 15-day replacement policy. The free repair warranty period is one year, and two years in Europe. We have repair centers in America and Germany, while consumers in Asia can also send items to our headquarters in China.
AV: Are there any improvements / updates to our apps in the pipeline? Will it be made available for non-Android / iOS platforms eg Windows for use on the Microsoft Surface Go (Personally I’d love this!)
ZT: We are always working on updates for our software/apps. We base our decisions on what our customers use most, and at this time we have no comment on whether it will be available for a Windows system.
AV: Are there any 3rd party applications / products that complement the Zhiyun products you are aware of?
ZT: Yes, like SMALLRIG and FiLMiC Pro