Not all gimbals are created equal. I wonder how many people have purchased one only to find it doesn’t fit their needs.
How so you ask? Surely a gimbal is designed to do a single job.
And that is true. A gimbal is designed to give stability and fluidity of motion to your video footage, but there are different models for different purposes.
If you take the Zhiyun range for example where there are three distinct ranges called Crane, Smooth and Weebill.
The Crane range is designed for compact cameras and mirrorless smaller models, the Smooth for smartphones and the Weebill is the grandaddy of the series for use by professional videographers who have cameras such as a Canon Cinema or in my case, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro.
Zhiyun has just released the Weebill 3 and I have had the opportunity to test it out for a short period initially. As I tend to do, I try and have a quick play to get a ‘feel’ for a product and then do a more in-depth review later.
The first thing I noticed is how light and compact it is. Made almost entirely of metal, weighing at 1.1Kg it is 200g lighter than the Ronin RS3 for example.
With the new 2/0 “Sling” design and the addition of a wrist rest, the Weebill 3 is also very comfortable to use for longer periods.
A nice touch is that although a screw in tripod affair is supplied, the Weebill 3 will also stand by itself.
The majority of the controls are located on the rubberized grip and there are the usual mode and record buttons, joystick, trigger, control wheel and a menu button. The OLED screen is also located here and whilst I think it could be made bigger, it is adequate with an easy-to-follow menu system.
The Weebill 3 is charged via a USB-C port tucked away into the base of the unit, and Zhiyun claim to get 21 hours out of a single charge which is nearly double that of the RS3.
Two nice touches on the Weebill 3 are the addition of an inbuilt microphone that connects to the camera via USB and a 1000 lumens LED with colour temperature control. You also get a few coloured filters supplied for good measure.
There is also a 3.5mm audio input port and two extra USB-C ports (one of which is for the mic).
Camera Mounting and Balancing
You get the usual camera mounting plate, a quick release plate and the added bonus of a riser plate if needed. All are made from metal and beautifully machined with easy-to-use levers to lock in place.
Balancing a camera on a gimbal has always been a tricky affair potentially fraught with frustration. I am happy to report though the Weebill 3 is the very first gimbal I have not had to hunt for a 3rd party video to show me exactly how to balance it. The 3 axes all move smoothly to get the exact balance – so many in the past tend to be jerky – and once locked are very secure.
I managed to balance my Canon 5DS in under 2 minutes which for a first timer, is definitely a record.
I reckon once you have it off pat, even a camera change or a lens swap would get you rebalanced in under a minute. The design of the mounting plate system means that if you simply remove the camera and then replace it (with no changes to it such as a new lens say), there is no need to rebalance – although personally I would do a quick check just in case.
One small thing though. To get the best from a gimbal and its built-in software, that is, have the gimbal control the camera’s focus, zoom, aperture, shutter release etc it needs to be compatible.
At this time, this is limited to Sony, Canon, Nikon, some Panasonics and a small selection of Fujifilm. Hopefully this will expand over time – I was disappointed my Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro is not in the list for example.
You can see the full list here.
As well as the on-board physical controls you can also control the Weebill 3 via the Zhiyun app for Android / iOS. The app will automatically find the gimbal and connect and then you can use it to pan, tilt and roll for example. The app is also used to update the gimbal’s firmware (which is the very first thing you should check of course!).
As it says on the tin, the Weebill 3 does what a gimbal should do and does it well. And that is good.
What sets it apart though is the comfort-in-use factor. For me, now particularly that is a major, major bonus as, because regular readers know, I suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome and despite an op a couple of years back, there are still some symptoms of it. Adding insult to injury I recently also damaged my right shoulder so anything that assists taking a load of that is on my New Best Friend List.
The battery life is also a winner and the ease of balancing a big, big plus.
I’d like the OLED screen to be a little bigger, but that’s possibly just me and slightly dodgy eyesight.
You can buy the Weebill 3 as just the gimbal, or as I have it, with the sling arm. I highly recommend the latter and that will set you back $999. Without, it’s $899.
I’ll have a field review with sample footage in the next day or so (weather always permitting of course).