The Zhiyun Crane 3 goes up against the DJI Ronin-S in this side-by-side real world comparison

Jun 8, 2019

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 Zhiyun Crane 3 goes up against the DJI Ronin-S in this side-by-side real world comparison

Jun 8, 2019

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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The Zhiyun Crane 3 LAB comes with some pretty noticeable physical differences as well as tech upgrades over the Crane 2, and I recently posted a video on how those two compare. But how does it stand up to the DJI Ronin-S? That’s what Parker Walbeck discusses about in this video after spending some time using both of them out in the field.

Parker compares a number of factors with these two gimbals from the obvious ones such as price down to how they actually handle and the quality of the footage they produce. And when it comes to price, the DJI Ronin-S wins. It costs a couple of hundred bucks less than the Crane 3 LAB, but then so does the Crane 2. Whether or not the Crane 3 LAB is worth the extra will depend largely on your own needs, as Parker explains in the video.

A couple of the big differences parker talks about are things that I’d also mentioned in my Crane 3 vs Crane 2 video, too. Namely that the Crane 3 LAB makes it super easy to go into underslung mode, and it balances really well in that position. He also spoke about the general design style of the Ronin-S (and similar style gimbals) being easier to deal with in certain shooting circumstances than the two-handle design of the Crane 3 LAB. For me, that was mostly for close-up orbits around a subject. For Parker, it was the weight distribution on long takes.

For remote control, Zhiyun gimbals have come a long way from their early days, but the app still isn’t perfect. As new firmware and app updates come out for each of their gimbals, bugs get fixed, but new ones always seem to get introduced. The DJI app, on the other hand, appears to work perfectly, according to Parker, and that’s something we’d expect from a company like DJI who has a lot of experience developing mobile apps. I mean, just about all of their drones use one, too.

The Crane 3 has a higher load capacity, the Ronin-S has better battery life, both offer excellent camera control options (assuming you’re using a compatible camera), although the Crane 3 has a more substantial follow focus wheel and offers external motors for manual focus & adapted lenses or unsupported cameras.

Looking at the footage, it’s close. Sometimes the Ronin-S was smoother, sometimes the Crane 3 LAB was smoother, and sometimes they both looked about the same.

Overall, both gimbals are pretty close and both offer advantages over the other. But if you’ve been thinking about one or the other, and which may best fit into your workflow, hopefully, this video will help.

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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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