Review: Zhiyun Smooth Q4 Gimbal

In 1983, three memorable things happened. Firstly, Australia won the America’s Cup via one Mr Alan Bond and a slippery yacht out together by a brilliant designer, the late Ben Lexcen. Second, Time Magazine awarded its (then) Man of the Year to The Computer (well the IBM PC in reality). And thirdly, my tenure at Tandy Computers was coming to an end after 5 years.

Who would have thought then what technology we could have now?

Cameras still took “film” and would for some time to come, data was stored on floppy disks, and hard disks, if you could get one, cost a fortune (around $6K for 8 MEGABYTES and mobile phones were a futuristic dream for StarTrek fans.

Now we have mobile phones with more memory than we could ever imagine, and that are also cameras (and many other things).

If ’83 then was the Year of the Computer, this is surely the Month of the Gimbal. In the last 6 weeks or so there has been an avalanche of gimbals appear on the market, notably from the two biggies in the game, DJI and Zhiyun.

The latest to arrive is the Zhiyun Smooth Q4 Combo a smaller unit designed specifically for smartphones.

And it has a particular suite of party tricks that take it above the norm.

At its most basic, the ZHIYUN Smooth Q4 is a 3-axis gimbal letting you tilt, pan and roll your smartphone). The roll x-axis is used to keep the smartphone’s horizon level. Of course there is more to it than just that.

As well as a screw in tripod, a nice touch is the built-in selfie stick. Sort of. Basically, the main body of the Smooth Q4 can be extended out to a length of 215mm thus giving more flexibility when shooting. Also clever is a magnetic detachable LED light (supplied with different coloured filters) that pumps out an impressive 141LUX.

Once you have the smartphone on the gimbal and balanced – a 30 second operation and a much easier process than some of its bigger brethren – the Smooth Q4 communicates with the phone via Bluetooth and an app. This means that no cables are necessary and also gets rid of the problem if you have an older phone not supporting USB-C.

To change operation, a Mode button on the Smooth Q4 changes how the gimbal reacts. Eg F mode kicks in pan and tilt whilst L mode locks the gimbal in a single direction. The front mounted trigger switches the smartphone orientation from landscape to portrait via a triple press.

But it’s when using the app that the Smooth Q4 really shines.

You can make the gimbal pan and tilt, zoom in or out of your subject and trigger the recording on and off all from the app.

Also clever is a Follow and Shoot mode. If you have the smartphone and gimbal on the tripod, by raising you palm it causes the gimbal to track your face, including panning and tilting as needed. Very useful for doing one person pieces to camera when you don’t want to be static but instead move around.

Hyperlapse mode is used for shooting a time lapse sequence and Pano shoots a sequence of images while rotating, and then stitches these together to form a single image.

People will undoubtedly compare the Smooth Q4 to DJI’s OM5 as they are similar in features and operation.

The major difference is DJI’s magnetic mount for the smartphone as against Zhiyun’s expandable clamp style and of course the OM 5, while it does have a magnetic light available, it is an extra purchase.

The Zhiyun Smooth Q4 as a combo set as described here is available for AUD$279 and you also get a nifty carry case. If you just want the gimbal and tripod, it is AUD$229.

 

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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