have never had the need for a gimbal. So I thought.
Oh yes, I have played with phone gimbals such as the fabulous little DJI OM4, but the necessity for a big boy’s pants one for a dSLR or camcorder has never blipped my radar. Until now that is.
For the sheer fun of it, I recently shot a basic video of one of the staff at Jaycar blasting around the shop on one of the new electric skateboards, and in that process, discovered the joy of a gimbal’d camera – in this case the DJI Pocket 2.
I have here the FeiyuTech AK2000C (which retails for around AUD$370)and so married it to a Fujifilm X-T4 with a 56mm lens to have a serious play. To attach the camera, an ARCA quick release plate is utilised.
If you have never used a gimbal, you may not know that a critical part is setting up the balance correctly – and this is of course different for each camera you use on the unit.
It involves a process of unlocking each of the moveable “arms” of the gimbal and sliding them in and out with the camera in place, complete with lens, lens hood, battery and cables, until the balance is set for all 3 axes.
I also have here the DJI RS2 Pro Combo gimbal, and by way of comparison, whilst the FeiyuTech AK2000C is easy enough to set up in the balancing stakes, the arms of the gimbal do not move as smoothly when achieving the balance as the DJI unit.
What they do both share though is a quick-release locking mechanism for each axis arm. This keeps everything nice and snug when the gimbal is packed away for transporting and the balance reasonably secure for the current camera – although a quick test is of course preferable when re-using.
What I do need to add here is that for the first few times you do this balancing act, it can be terribly frustrating – no matter which gimbal it is. Perseverance will win the day however and eventually you will be able to balance any camera in a matter of minutes.
The AK2000C weighs around 1Kg and is made from aluminium alloy giving strength. A tripod extender is supplied and if you need to add external mics, monitors etc, there are some handy 1/4” threads on the gimbal itself to add brackets and so on.
Specifications include a payload capacity of 2.2Kg, a maximum tilt range of 230 degrees, roll range of 306 degrees and pan of 360° degrees. Battery life is said to be 7 hours of usage and 12 hours standby. To fully recharge takes 90 minutes.
Inbuilt modes available from the touch screen include Pan, Follow, All Follow and Lock, and each of these has its own parameters. You also get additional functions such as Selfie and Portrait modes, Timelapse and an interesting one called Inception, so called apparently from a fight scene in zero gravity in the movie Inception. In effect, in Inception mode the camera spins in 360° degrees and you can set the number and direction of the spin.
Depending on the camera used, a USB cable (there are a bunch supplied) connects the gimbal to your camera. In the case of the X-T4, the USB-C on the AK2000C is connected to the remote port on the camera.
Sadly, with the Fujifilm X-T4, none of the fancy stuff such as setting ISO, shutter speed or aperture can be performed from the AK2000C OLED touch screen and other controls; I was restricted to taking photos, record start/ stop and with a half press of the trigger, setting focus.
Additionally, the FeiyuTech app does not work with Fujifilm cameras, being restricted to Panasonic, Sony and Canon models.
What I wanted to do with the FeiyuTech / Fujifilm gimbal was shoot some scenes in the Jaycar shop. The idea was to put together a short promo film highlighting the mix or product ranges available that may not be immediately obvious to the casual observer.
For example, many know that Jaycar sells audio and video, plus a variety of USB cables, but may not be aware of the availability of solar or 12v based products. Gaining smooth footage whilst walking through the shop was the aim, and in practice, the combo worked perfectly without fatigue.
I’d imagine a long shoot (say 15 minutes or more) might be a different ball game, but for the task I had, it was no issue.
All of the controls fell easily to operate, and the touch screen was viewable and responsive.
For first time users (like me), there is a learning curve in using a gimbal, getting to know each of the modes and when to use (and not use) any specific one.
To aid in this, there is a good online manual for the AK2000C (the supplied one in the box is limiting and frankly, the text is too small) as well as a range of videos walking you through the gimbal’s features and functions.
Until I had used a gimbal, I didn’t know I need one as a part of my kit. Now I do. I can already see how I can improve my daily shooting in my areas of interest (motor sport and fishing in particular) and get different “scenes” inside my projects to add another level of interest.