Review: DJI Ronin RS2 Pro Combo (Part 1)

Which is the coolest tech  company on the planet?

If you put your hand up and said “Apple”, I reckon you are wrong. Yes, yes, Apple make snazzy smartphones, and its computers are pretty good – if overpriced (and no Apple did not “invent” the personal computer) – and sure the iPad started a whole new trend. I’ll even grudgingly admit the AppleWatch might be starting to gain some traction beyond the fashionistas and fan-folk.

But Apple hasn’t really created something “new” for quite a time now have they? Not really new. Not since Steve and Jony’s collaborations ended anyway.

Nah, I reckon the current Cool Kid on the Block for consumer tech is DJI.

If you have been out of the loop the last few years, and let’s face it, many have for the last 12 months at least, DJI’s range of consumer gizmos and gadgets covers a wide breadth of technology, mostly based around its expertise designing drones.

In addition to industrial strength flyers, DJI has a consumer range of drones that sits alongside action other products like action cameras, pocket cameras, educational robots and what I want to discuss here, gimbals.

DJI got its gimbal chops from the models used in its industrial drones that are used to fly cameras and camcorders for all sorts of purposes including agriculture, health, life saving, mapping and so on. This expertise has been brought down to gimbals used in its consumer drones like the Mini 2, gimbals for smartphones such as the OM4 and bigger units for dSLR and mirrorless cameras from companies such as Fuji, Panasonic, Sony and Canon.

Over the last week or so, I have been learning the ins and outs of the latest model, the Ronin RS2 Pro Combo.

I will be performing some major tests as time goes on, but here are my initial findings. Much of this will be known to existing gimbal users, but for the newbies out there, hopefully it will give you a heads up and so why and how you can use a gimbal, on top of the description of what they RS2 Pro Combo gives you.

Packaging

I got my first real taste of DJI packaging while building the DJI Robomaster EP Core (a still ongoing project by the way).

And it is sublime. Almost a work of art in its own right. Every single item is packed in a logical location along with its siblings eg all cables are carefully packaged together as are all machines parts and so on. This means nothing needs to come out of the Styrofoam or its little envelopes until you need it, when building whatever device it is.

And every eventually is covered (I came across one exception) in that every permutation of USB cable you might need is supplied or when there are screws, nuts, fasteners or other smaller parts included, DJI make sure there is a surfeit of them just in case some go astray.

Likewise, all the tools you might need (spanners, screwdrivers etc) are also all included along with detailed instructions that are backed up with in-depth online videos and tutorials.

And a special mention of the engineering of the components. You know when you see an advert on TV for a burger chain and the (usually) teen assembling said burger does it slowly and lovingly with a look of bliss on their face at a job perfectly done?  Sometimes they even pat it. You get the impression this is REALLY how the engineers and manufacturing folk at DJI treat their products. And it shows.

Oh and everything comes in a quality carrying case by the way.

The RS2 Pro  Combo

There is little assembly to be done for this device having said all that. But yes, every known cable you might need in the areas of USB or HDMI are all supplied in the box. But here is the one exception I mentioned. I use a Canon 5DS and the USB port on this is USB 3 and that is the one cable not there!

Not a huge problem as a quick trip to Jaycar got me one a for a few dollars, and as I say, so far this has been the exception to the rule.

Once the tripod and battery grip have been fitted, its time to add the camera. As mentioned, I am using a Canon 5DS, and this was first mounted to a base plate and then this itself slid into a mounting slider and locked in place.

And this is where the fun starts, and I urge anyone to take their time over these next steps as it will make all the difference in your usage of the gimbal (any gimbal for that matter).

As there is an infinite combination of cameras and lenses suited to the Ronin RS2, the camera with its lens needs to be individually balanced to all three axes of the gimbal. If you have never done this before, even following the videos can be a little confusing and daunting, but if you find it difficult to grasp, persevere and I promise you will get a light globe moment when it all makes sense.

Once this part is completed, you can test the gimbal/ camera / lens Combo via a self test the Ronin does. If it passes the tilt, roll and pitch test, then thumbs up all around, otherwise the smartphone app used (and to later remotely control the Ronin) will inform you what is wrong and provide a little video tutorial (sadly in Chinese  but with English subtitles) on how to rectify it.

I admit, it took me a few goes of trial and error, amid realizing that such things as adding cables or even forgetting to remove a lens cap can make a difference.

Once this is done and everything charged up, you are good to go in the basic format (which is the Ronin RS2 Pro Combos sibling, the RSC 2, essentially).

With the Pro Combo though, you also get the Raven Eye wireless system as well as a motorized focus unit for those manual focus only lenses in addition to some extra mounts and I’ll cover these in Part 2 as well as the different modes when using the Ronin RS2 Combo.

The DJI Ronin RS2 Pro Combo retails for AUD$1599 and full details can be obtained online at the DJI Shop.

 

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