First Look: Zhiyun Crane M3 Combo

Zhiyun is well known in gimbal circles, and their products can be purchased via most decent camera shops – eg Camera House. I have just been sent the company’s Crane M3 Combo and it’s is rather impressive.

                DJI Ronin S2

Now a caveat here first. A Ronin S2 as made by DJI – which I also have – it is not. So any thoughts I had of whacking my Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K on it were quickly dispelled.

Even my Canon 5DS is a no-no; these models are just too large in the body to fit onto the quick release plate. So, having seen an Insta 360° mounted on one in the excellent (mostly) video tutorials, I opted for my GoPro 10 Black with the Media Mod.

Now Zhiyun has realised this, and even state in those same videos that the ideal camera type is the Sony alpha 7 series (so therefore a Panasonic GH series and similar offerings from Nikon, Olympus etc should also be fine) and have also thoughtfully included a universal smartphone mount in the kit This is all packed in a mini backpack along with the various USB cables necessary, a quick start fold out card, small multi-language manual and the aforementioned quick release plate plus a tripod mount that is screwed on to the base of the main unit..

There is also a version of the kit you can get that comes with an additional more compact quick release plate as well as a mic.

Set up is as straightforward as any other gimbal; that is balancing whatever camera you bolt to it is a right royal pain in the arse, and the associated online training video is a bit awry in this is showing the various lock / unlock levers and switches, plus a few ancillary ones are not immediately clear. Because of this, it took me about an hour to get it “almost” right.

You see there was an instruction I felt out of sequence, and I only discovered it after seeing that in a gentle lift, the GoPro was jerky, which obviously is not the intended plan.

On the main shaft of the Crane M3 is a LCD screen an operational buttons and thumb wheel to control the unit, and as mentioned, you are also supplied with an extension piece that folds out to become a tripod.

Depending on your particular camera, some direct operations from the gimbal can be performed such as shoot, zoom and so on, but in my First Look I couldn’t get the GoPro to react to anything.

On this quick bolt-it-together-and-have-a-play operation, the Zhiyun Crane M3 Combo shows a lot of promise. Being able to mimic something like the DJI Osmo phone gimbal, but also allow bigger more sophisticated cameras than a smartphone only gimbal gives it kudos. Added benefits include a built-in LED light which can have the colour temperature altered. A bunch of ,magnetic coloured filters are also in the kit.

Over the next day or so I am going to investigate the innards of the workings in much more depth as well as try out various other cameras / camcorders I have, to see how they all stack up.

The Zhiyun Crane M3 Combo (without the mic) as I have it here retails for $749. Full specs are at



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