A powerful, three-axis gimbal that allows for both horizontal and vertical shooting.

Key Features

  • FlexMount System
  • Axis Lock 2.0
  • Vertical Shooting
  • Digital Focus Control
  • 0.96″ OLED Screen
  • Carbon Fiber Grip
Specifications

  • Brand: Zhiyun
  • Selfie Stick: N/A
  • Class: DSLR
  • Maximum Payload: Unstated
  • Smooth Motion: 3-axis (pan, roll, and tilt)
  • Bluetooth: Yes – ZY Play app
Pros

  • High Load Capacity
  • Double Safety Mechanism
  • No-Swing Locks
  • Easy to Transfer (FlexMount)
  • Visual Improvements
Cons

  • Auto-Tune (Hit or Miss)
  • Small Glitches

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While striving for the best video, videographers have an ever-growing list of technology to aid them. This can blur the line on essential equipment and makes finding a good fit increasingly important.

So when comparing gimbals suitable for DSLRs, you want a device that’ll both last a long time and support the cameras and lenses already in your collection. Zhiyun’s Crane 2S will address both concerns.

Specifically, the Zhiyun Crane 2S seeks to replicate the success of the Crane 2 while also bettering the experience. The Crane 2S succeeds in both areas, making it a great piece of gear for your collection.

For a better idea of how the Crane performs and what’s changed, watch our review video:

Unboxing The Zhiyun Crane 2S

 

Zhiyun offers two options for the Crane 2S: standard package or combo.  The standard version of the Zhiyun Crane 2S comes with the following:

  • Crane 2S
  • Quick Release Plate
  • Quick Release Plate Base
  • Battery Charger
  • USB Type-C Charging Cable
  • 3 18650 Li-Ion Batteries
  • Backing Base
  • Tripod
  • Lens Support
  • 4 Camera Cables
  • Mounting Screws
  • Hexagonal Wrench (M1.5, M2, and M4)
  • Storage Box

crane 2S case topdown view

If you purchase the combo package, you’ll also receive the TransMount Mini Dual Grip Lite, and three additional batteries.

When you first unlatch the locks and open the storage case, you’ll notice everything has its own dedicated space. The largest area is naturally dedicated to the Crane 2S body, so once it’s out it’s easy to pop out the rest. Most of the smaller items also reside in one small black box, so the actual unpacking occurs mostly from it.

crane 2S case tilted

If you’re the forgetful type, everything distinctly fits by form. So you won’t have to worry about snapping a photo of the original placement.

While filming on the go, I’d prefer a gimbal bag (or suitable backpack), but the storage box is durable enough for transport.

Zhiyun Crane 2S Features

crane 2S closeup

Like the Crane 2, the 2S is a 3-axis gimbal with access to the same modes: Pan Following, Locking, Following, Full-Range POV, Vortex, and Go mode.

When looking at the Crane 2S, there’s a lot of attention geared towards ease of use and security. These come across in the design choices behind the FlexMount system, axis-locking system, larger screen, digital focus, and carbon fiber grip.

crane 2S flexmount

The FlexMount system allows you to easily transfer between horizontal mount, vertical mount, and any external tripod. Secondly, it makes sure you don’t accidentally drop your camera during these exchanges. Nothing will release unless the levers are fully switched over, and you’ll have to push in the safety buttons to also unlock.

crane 2S lock

The upgraded axis-locking system works similarly. If you don’t move the button from unlocked to locked, the action won’t register. This comes with a fairly noticeable click sound, so you’ll know your gimbal won’t move during travel or storage.

Crane 2S screen

The remaining features aim to boost your comfort and workflow. The 0.96″ OLED screen provides an easy read for any menus, settings, or mode selection. The focus wheel allows for digital focus control (needs a compatible camera and lens) without having to touch your camera.

crane 2S grip close

The carbon fiber handle reduces weight while still supporting larger cameras. You need to still make sure your camera and lens work with the Crane 2s by checking the compatibility list, but many more cameras are supported versus the Crane 2 alone.

Balancing Your Camera: The Most Integral Step

Before properly talking about how it feels to use the Crane 2S, it’s important to note how important it is to balance each axis. If you don’t, you’ll cause stress to the motors and possibly damage.

The auto-tune feature also doesn’t always work, so going by a passed result does not mean the Crane 2S is properly balanced. If the motor doesn’t seem strong enough, you’ll find better results adjusting the preset or individual numbers.

It’s best to unlock each axis one at a time and balance the tilt, roll, and pan axis in that order. Every bit of weight also impacts the device’s balance, so remember to attach any accessories and the cable between your camera and the Crane 2S first.

How Does It Feel to Use?

holding crane 2S

Once everything is balanced, the Crane 2S feels great to use. It does possess a small learning curve if you aren’t familiar with gimbals of its size. However, many of the usage tweaks for the Crane 2S soften the effect of unfamiliarity.

Swapping between modes is as easy as learning the button press shortcut. You can tap once to alternate between the Pan Following and Locking Modes. Holding the front button will activate the Following Mode.

Pressing twice in succession alters between Full-Range POV or Vortex. Finally, pressing three times will bring up Go Mode.

The larger screen made it easy to eyeball relevant information, and the scroll wheel was easy to use even one-handed. Recording with a single press also made it easy to set-up a shot then immediately begin recording.

Like with the Crane 2, you’ll feel some burn in your arms after using the device for an hour or so. The swap from aluminum alloy did help the weight some, but you’ll still feel the weight once everything is loaded up.

crane 2S over shoulder

However, this feeling mostly resulted from active use. In transport, I would lock each axis and fold up the tripod base to sling the gimbal over my shoulder. Nothing moved, everything remained stable, and it wasn’t too much weight to deal with when slung over the shoulder.

The promised twelve-hour battery life also held up. The only hiccup was that the battery life would display incorrectly prior to turning my camera on, but it would automatically correct afterward.

Utilizing the FlexMount System

lens support closeup

When it came time to take advantage of the FlexMount system, it delivered on its promises. If you’re moving to a tripod, it’s as easy as releasing a lever and pushing in the safety buttons to loosen the quick release plate base. Then simply mount it on your tripod like normal.

crane 2S vertical mount

Similarly, mounting vertically doesn’t take long. Instead of removing the full base, you can just grab the quick release plate and mount securely in the provided track with a few simple adjustments.

After a bit of use, the Crane 2S felt like a perfectly natural tool that I could use as needed.

ZY Play App

The ZY Play app is required for activation, and I utilized it for a firmware update. However, I didn’t find it particularly integral to the device afterward.

You can utilize some limited templates, watch videos, and get some access to the Crane 2S directly once connected. However, the in-built device menu makes most of these a non-factor.

Don’t Forget: You Can Accessorize

With the Crane 2S, there exist several accessories under the TransMount system. Using the two 1/4″ screw holes with crown gear and one 3/8″ screw hole, you can tailor your set-up to your liking. It’s a small touch, but if the Crane 2S becomes integral to your filming, you can enrich the experience.

Should You Buy The Crane 2S?

If you’re looking for a gimbal for your DSLR camera with the power to match, you can’t go wrong with the Crane 2S. With its improvements over the original Crane 2, it also makes it as user-friendly as possible.

Is this enough to upgrade if you already have the Crane 2? If you need support for a new camera, the Crane 2S expands compatibility. If not, you have to judge if the performance and safety tweaks are enough.

For those new and ready to take a more serious look at videography, it’s a great tool to have in your reach.


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