Zhiyun Smooth 5 : Professional Smartphone 3-Axis Gimbal – Use with Filmic Pro! : REVIEW
Zion have presented various gimbal models in the past and now take gimbal control to the next level with their latest device. The smooth 5. zions previous gimbals have been aimed at the youtube audience prioritizing lightness and a small size for easy transportation and use, and while the new zion smooth 5 gimbal can certainly be used in this way, with a stronger 3 axis motor, its built more for Professional level, filming especially with larger or heavier smartphones, like the iphone 13 pro range and that heavier build quality, is certainly evident on initial inspection, with a very substantial feel in the hand, constructed of metal and plastic, with some rubberized sections thrown in for added grip and Comfort, we have a really solid design here, which certainly looks the part with all those controls dotted around the place. We have that typical three motor gimbal design at the top, with each axis motor being in a physically locked position for transportation and being slightly larger than the competition catering for the added power that they bring with them easily enough for larger sized smartphones. Talking of smartphones. Getting one into place is a relatively straightforward affair, thanks to the clamp attached to the tilt motor arm, saying that switching between landscape and portrait orientation is a manual task, a simple twist and lock for. However, you wish to shoot, but that does mean you cant switch between them while shooting and will need to power down and manually readjust, which could be a deal breaker for some also notice.
The magnetic connection points on either side of the clamp used for accompanying video lights, which are available to purchase separately or as part of a combo package, if needed. So with the smartphone mounted into a landscape position. Note a small camera icon indicating which way the smartphone camera should be placed. We can go ahead and unlock the tilt motor, as well as the roll motor, which also needs to be balanced. Fortunately, its a simple process of releasing the locking lever and sliding the arm back or forth until the handset is balanced before locking back into place and within a few seconds, youre balanced and ready to go. Also notice a usbc port beside the tilt motor used to apply power to your smartphone, a little difficult, considering the handsets power port is now covered, though, which also means you cant easily attach external accessories either a bit of an oversight from zyun there, but otherwise the Motor design is pretty much standard with the roll motor also being placed slightly further down in order to provide a clear view to the front display, while shooting anyways moving down to the main hand, grip which carries a really nice chunky and comfortable feel with that. Rubberized finish: adding grip too, if the handle isnt quite long enough for you or you prefer two handed operation, we have a built in quarter inch 20 tripod thread at the very bottom. Besides a lanyard attachment point where we can attach the included accessory now providing added length, as well as opening to provide a handy tripod, which does sit rather stable too, at your thumb, there are plenty of controls for the gimbal.
Now do bear in mind, though the buttons used will depend upon how you intend to use the camera, as well as the accompanying app, which well get to in just a moment. In essence, though, we have a thumbstick that can control the orientation of the gimbal, which is very smooth and progressive too. So the deeper its moved, the faster the gimbal will move. It also doubles up as a button when pressed inwards too. Just above we have a menu button, as well as a spinning dial, with a d pad for adjusting settings such as iso as well as a light button in the center, which would be used to remotely control any light modules connected beside the phone clamp we mentioned Earlier below, this is a mode button for switching between gimbal operation modes alongside a start or stop capture button. Just beneath moving to the side, we find a nice large rubber, lined dial which can be used when connected to the app providing zoom and focus control with a button in the center to switch between both moving to the opposite side. We have the main power button. Alongside a function button and another quarter, inch 20 thread for attaching external accessories, while around the front is a lock release for the pan motor, which does allow it to spin a full 360 degrees by the way, as well as a trigger button for resetting the gimbal And swinging around into selfie mode and finally, a rubber flap, covering the usb port used to charge the built in battery rated to provide up to 25 hours of usage on a single full charge.
All in all, a well rounded unit may be a little overbearing at this point, though, so definitely has a slight learning curve, saying that switch the unit on and the gimbal instantly recalibrates itself and is ready to shoot with all three motors working together to stabilize across All three axis no problems there at all the motors feel silky smooth and are practically silent in operation too. The small thumbstick allows for finer gimbal control and is relatively smooth, while a double tap of the trigger around the front will quickly reset the gimbals orientation. If you do happen to get into a muddle, a triple tap of the same trigger swings the unit round into selfie mode 2.. Talking of modes, there are 5 available with a small, led strip, highlighting your current active mode. The pan follow mode will follow your movements as the stabilizer pans, left and right, but will keep the tilt up and down and the left and right roll level hitting the mode button once will move over to the lock mode, which will lock the stabilizer in a Single position, no matter how much you move it next up, is the follow mode which will follow movements, panning, left and right and tilting up and down, but will keep the roll axis locked to keep the horizon level in your shot. One more press takes the gimbal to pov mode, which will follow all movements, panning, left and right, tilting up and down and rolling, left and right, but well just smooth everything out for you.
Lastly, the vertical mode orientates, the camera straight up in this mode. You can get some rotating shots by holding the gimbal straight forward and using the thumbstick to rotate a full 360 degrees, for example, be warned, though, take it beyond its limits, and it does throw the odd panic attack too, although this becomes few and far between. As you become accustomed to the motors limits, the gimbal movements really do feel silky, smooth and switching between modes is certainly very streamlined. Although to unlock most of the functionality, youll need to install the zykami app freely available on both the ios and android platforms. The app has some smart templates that will create automatic movements, allow you to add music, all the fun ways to create content. But, more importantly, once connected to the gimbal itself, which is a painless procedure, we open up a whole host of extra functionality. Here we can change a range of camera modes and settings such as shutter speed, iso frame rate and resolutions and so on, as well as switch quickly and easily between different camera shooting modes. And there are quite a few to select here even a live mode as well as plenty of templates to choose from too. More importantly, the app provides the ability to use the gimbal controls rather than reach for the handset itself. So not only can we start and stop capture and quick access settings. We now also unlock the control wheel on the side where we can easily adjust zoom level on the fly.
The other great feature is object, tracking. By selecting your subject in the app, the gimbal will lock onto the subject in the middle of the frame and move the gimbal to track that object. And although it can drift from time to time and lose your subject on the whole, it seems to work pretty. Well, with slower movements, the app does a decent enough job of unlocking some great features, but those who want to take you to the next step at a more professional level will be pleased to know the system comes with full support for filmic pro. Although this is a paid app, it will unlock full control of the gimbal and make it truly professional level, with the zoom wheel, also controlling focus, for instance, something well test in a future video. Nevertheless, when it comes to general performance as we would expect nowadays, everything worked perfectly well like other handheld stabilizers. It cant do much about the up and down motion as you walk or run. So you really need to adjust your walking and shooting style too, but it still manages to iron out a lot of movement to give really smooth footage with those added shooting modes. You can really pull off some impressive shots and, to be fair, i found the unit to be incredibly smooth in overall operation, a real joy to use, and i can see how this could be used in a more professional level with apps such as filmic pro it Just feels more premium over other gimbals ive tested in the past, saying that, while the zion smooth 5 is a great all round, gimbal its certainly not for everyone, its a little overpriced compared to some of the competition.
But you do get a healthy number of features for your money. On the other hand, if you pick this up as a first time user, you would no doubt be completely lost thanks to the various buttons triggers and controls, and only a few of them make their functions obvious. Getting set up is a bit of a clunky process and you cant, auto switch between landscape and portrait, either its a more manual adjustment instead, even though this really isnt a beginners gimbal, the construction fit and finish are all superb, no issues there at all. Although some may find the number of controls a little overbearing, theyre well placed and once you get used to them, they work really well. There is a little setup time so its more for shots that you plan and prepare beforehand, which is why i see it for more professional level use rather than a typical run and gun type device, and when considered in that respect, it actually really shines.