The new modular Zhiyun Crane 3S gimbal is built to handle big beefy cameras

Mar 19, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

The new modular Zhiyun Crane 3S gimbal is built to handle big beefy cameras

Mar 19, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Zhiyun has just announced their new Zhiyun Crane 3S motorised gimbal, and it’s a bit of a monster. It’s based around the design of the Crane 3 LAB, but the Crane 3S is a very different animal indeed. For a start, the weight capacity has been raised to an impressive 6.5kg, thanks to newly engineered motors. It’s not a replacement model for the Crane 3 LAB, but more a higher capacity version of it.

To account for the bulk of the larger weight capacity, the Crane 3S is also modular, allowing you to reconfigure it in different ways to account for different cameras. It features a whopping nine mounting points, has a couple of removable handles, and comes with an arm extension to handle cameras as large as the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro G2.

YouTube video

Ok, so, let’s have a look at the specs of the Crane 3S and how they compare to the Crane 3 LAB.

Zhiyun Crane 3SZhiyun Crane 3 LAB
Max Load6.5kg4.5kg
Weight2.47kg1.88kg
Dimensions346 x 98 x 344mm (excluding stabiliser sling handle)295 x 201 x 305mm (including stabiliser sling handle)
Image transmissionExternalBuilt-in
DC InputYes (up to 25.2v)None
ViaTouchViaTouch 2.0Interactive System
Mounting points93
Axis lockInterstitial free lockLatch locking
HandleRemovableFixed
Runtime12 hours (18 with TransMount PowerPlus battery pack)7.5h

So, yes, it’s a little bit bigger, at least in 2 axes. The Crane 3 LAB is larger in one because the handle cannot be removed from the gimbal, whereas with the Crane 3S it can. This allows you to pack it up into a smaller package when not in use and throw it in a backpack (and I’ve been told it actually will fit in one), or it allows you to mount the gimbal to things like vehicles, cablecams or cranes without the handle getting in the way and reducing the weight a little.

There are two handles available, there’s the EasySling handle to extend the grip underneath for more comfortable hand-holding, as shown in the image at the top of this post, or you can mount it directly to the lab in place of the regular handle, which may prove more useful for bigger, bulkier cameras. The other is the SmartSling handle, which is more like the handly we’ve come to know from the Crane 3 LAB.

And speaking of bigger, bulkier cameras, one major feature over the Crane 3 LAB, which allows the Crane 3S to take advantage of its 6.5kg load capacity is that the arm to which you mount the camera is extendable. And we’re not talking about some flimsy push/pull thing. The extension arm is locked into the unit by four bolts on either end.

Zhiyun lists relatively small cameras like the EOS 1DX Mark III, Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras, but also larger systems like the Canon Cinema EOS, Sony FS and FX series, as well as RED digital cinema cameras. As you can here, it can even accept the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro G2 with the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 attached.

Despite the increase in load capacity, the Crane 3S can run for up to 12 hours on three 18650 lithium-ion batteries. This is a pretty significant upgrade over the 7.5 hours of the Crane 3 LAB. This can also be extended a further 18 hours when used with the TransMount PowerPlus Battery Pack which houses six 18650 batteries through the Crane 3S DC-IN port.

The Crane 3S also boasts improved zoom and focus control, with a dedicated larger lens support and zooming and focusing available in the same way as the Crane 3 LAB using the focus wheel on the side and the zoom rocker on the SmartSling handle. Remote control for focus, zoom and other features comes through either ViaTouch 2.0, included in the ZY Play smartphone app or by using the TransMount Image Transmission System, depending on your needs.

Zhiyun says that the Crane 3S is faster and more responsive than the Crane 3 LAB, offering improved smoothness, and it offers higher wind resistance. The 55° tilted roll axis is designed to both help you see your camera’s LCD more easily when using a DSLR or mirrorless, but also to allow larger cameras (or smaller cameras with large lenses) to extend further back for easier balancing.

Again, though, the Crane 3S isn’t necessarily a replacement for the Crane 3 LAB. It’s more the next step up in power. If you already have a Crane 3 LAB, you’re mostly using smaller cameras and you’re happy with what it offers, then you might not see any real benefit from switching up. After all, the Crane 3 LAB is a very capable gimbal. I have one of my own and I posted a video on how it compares to the Crane 2 to my own YouTube channel, and you can also see DIYP’s complete review of of the Crane 3 LAB here,

But if you’re using larger cameras, like the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro, Canon EOS Cinema, RED, etc. then the Crane 3S should offer some real tangible benefits with its extra weight and size capacity.

The Zhiyun Crane 3S is available in three different packages. The first two can be purchased now from the Zhiyun Store and will come to all the usual retailers soon. These two packages are essentially identical, except for the handle. The third “Pro” package will be available at some point, although it’s not currently listed as available.

  • $739 – Crane 3S (with SmartSling handle)
  • $649 – Crane 3S E (with EasySling handle)
  • $1,149 – Crane 3S Pro (with SmartSling handle, PowerPlus Battery Pack, Zoom & Focus Controllers, Image Transmission Transmitter and Smartphone Clamp)

Shipping is expected to begin right away, although with what’s going on in the world right now, you may want to prepare for delays in its arrival depending on where you live.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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3 responses to “The new modular Zhiyun Crane 3S gimbal is built to handle big beefy cameras”

  1. David Perault Avatar
    David Perault

    Thank you for the post! It looks very promising.

    For the S Pro, are the Zoom & Focus Controllers and Image Transmission Transmitter stand alone? What I mean is, do the zoom and focus come as a kit with rings to mount to your lenses, motors, or is it just the controller for it if you have it from another company?

  2. Luke Shaw Avatar
    Luke Shaw

    I am so happy I found this post. I’ve been dying to know how it would perform with the ursa mini. Would you say it handled well. Or does it need to be babied? You can balance and ursa without the battery on a ronin s but it’s definitely not usable on a real job. Would you say it was maxed out or do you think you may even be able to put some other accessories on it? Also, is it able to go into underslung mode?

    1. Georg Avatar
      Georg

      I am also very interested in the question. I’m not sure because the Ursa Mini Pro is not in the manufacturer’s list.