When it comes to gimbals, there’s no shortage of them on the market these days. So, why has the Zhiyun Weebill 2 become my favourite over the last few weeks? Well, mostly because it makes my life a million times easier when shooting on my own or filming myself.
The Zhiyun Weebill 2 is the follow up to the popular Zhiyun Weebill-S. It’s grown a little in size and weight over its predecessor but comes with some new unique extras. Like that built-in flippy out touchscreen LCD.
For YouTubers and solo shooters who don’t have a crew of people to help them film, the Weebill 2 offers some distinct advantages over other gimbals currently on the market – particularly if you get the Pro Plus kit which includes the Zhiyun MasterEye Visual Controller VC100 and TransMount AI HDMI video transmitter.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start with the basic specs of the gimbal and how they compare to the Weebill-S.
As you can see from the table below, some things appear to have improved while others seem to have gone slightly in the wrong direction. It’s a little larger and about 50% heavier than its predecessor which will be frustrating for some, given that the whole point of the Weebill line was its small size and weight, although it’s still pretty small.
|Number of axes||3-axis (Pitch, Roll, Yaw)||3-axis (Pitch, Roll, Yaw)|
|Rotation range||Yaw (pan): 360°|
Pitch (tilt): 350° (-150 to 190°)
Roll: 340° (-260 to 80°)
|Yaw (pan): 360°
Pitch (tilt): 314° (-132 to 182°)
Roll: 314° (-67 to 247°)
|Battery type||3x18650 (non-replaceable)||2x18650|
|Battery runtime||9 hours||12-14 hours|
|Battery charge time||1.6 hours (with 24W USB-PD charger)||2.5 hours|
|Dimensions||13.8 x 8.9 x 5.9" / 35 x 22.5 x 15 cm|
12.6 x 8.9 x 2.4" / 32 x 22.5 x 6.2 cm (Folded)
|11.81 x 7.48 x 5.51" (30 x 19 x 14cm)|
|Weight||3.15 lb / 1.43 kg||2.04lb (0.926kg)|
The battery life has also dropped from 12-14 hours down to 9 hours. And the battery is non-removable in the Weebill 2. You can’t just carry a spare around with you to swap out if it dies. It does, however, allow fast charging at up to 24W over USB-PD from a power bank (from flat to full in just over an hour and a half) and you can actually charge it while you’re using it, so it’s not all bad.
The increased size and weight along with the decreased battery life is largely down to the fact that it has much stronger motors now. It’s designed to handle more substantial camera rigs than the Weebill S. There are more full-frame mirrorless cameras on the market now than there were in 2019 and the lenses can be quite hefty, too. So it’s a logical move.
If you can live with those differences, though, then the Weebill 2 as a gimbal performs as well as one would expect. If you’ve used the Weebill S, or even if you’ve used the Crane 3S and are looking for something a little smaller for those lightweight run & gun days, the Weebill 2 will offer a very familiar and comfortable feel.
The controls on the gimbal have moved slightly from what you might be familiar with. The joystick is in a much more convenient spot that makes a lot of sense. You can now easily adjust the joystick with the thumb of your right hand, although the focus wheel’s a little further back than I’d like. With or without the handle on the back, you can’t grasp the gimbal solidly with two hands and adjust the focus wheel at the same time with just one finger, which is a little annoying. You’ll have to hold the gimbal with your right hand while your left adjusts focus.
Above the controls, tucked away out of sight is the 2.88″ flippy out touchscreen LCD. This provides a new way to interact with your gimbal instead of the tiny OLED and joystick navigation of the past. It also allows you to preview your shot if you’re using the TransMount AI HDMI transmitter.
The LCD is a very nice addition to the Weebill 2, and it’s one that I hope we get to see in more gimbals going forward. It makes it so much easier to change modes and adjust settings without having to remember a million different button press combinations or whipping out the smartphone app.
And having what is essentially a built-in monitor to view what your camera sees, even though you can see the LCD on the back of your camera, is more invaluable than you’d think. It’s a lot easier to ensure horizons are level and the overall shot is composed well when you’re looking at it separate from the camera. Slight tilts can easily slip by when you’re just looking at the camera. And it means you don’t have to bolt on a separate external monitor.
The Weebill 2 comes in four different kits. There’s the basic standard Weebill 2 kit, which comes with the gimbal and a mini tripod that can also be used as a handle. Then you’ve got the Weebill 2 Combo kit which also includes a dedicated top handle (as well as the mini tripod) and a bag to carry it in (with a shoulder strap, yay!).
Above these, you’ve got the Pro kit which includes everything you get in the Combo kit, but with the addition of the follow focus motor and the TransMount AI HDMI transmitter. And finally, the Pro Plus kit extends the Pro kit by adding the Zhiyun MasterEye Visual Controller VC100.
All four of the kits can handle the larger full-frame mirrorless cameras that have flooded the market over the last year or two because they’re all the same gimbal. With certain cameras, you’ll even get complete remote control over exposure and start-stop recording as well as manual focus control without the external focus motor. You can see the complete camera compatibility list here.
If you do only go with the basic kit, the Weebill 2 comes in the usual hard foam case that most other gimbals ship with these days. But the gimbal’s small enough that you can stick it in a backpack. For the Combo kit and up, you get a really nice split-level bag with it that allows you to store all of the bits together and it actually has a shoulder strap (something I’ve sorely missed on gimbal cases since the original Crane 2 case!).
But how is it better with solo shooting?
The self-shooting and solo shooting advantages of the Zhiyun Weebill 2 that I’ve become really fond of do come with a caveat. To make the most of them, you really need to get at least the Pro kit or ideally, the Pro Plus kit – for reasons you’ll find out soon. This is mostly because you need that HDMI transmitter in order for the gimbal to see what the camera sees.
Even for regular shooting, the HDMI transmitter with the flippy out LCD on the Weebill 2 has been invaluable to me. No longer do I need to try to mount a 5″ or 7″ monitor onto the gimbal handle just to check the composition and see where my subject is in the frame. And because it rotates, I can easily flip it around for when I want to shoot underslung.
Even with a flippy out LCD on the camera itself, having that separate screen on the gimbal makes it a lot easier to compose your shot and make sure that your horizons are actually level.
But the big advantage that the AI HDMI transmitter offers in conjunction with the Weebill 2 is that it can actually understand what you’re looking at, identify subjects that you might want to follow while recording, and then track them. In my tests, I have found that this tends to work better with wider angle lenses, where it has a larger view of the overall scene and the subject to more easily track them. With telephoto lenses, it can get a little confused sometimes and lose its subject.
But can’t I do that with my phone already?
Sure, you’ve been able to do object tracking with some gimbals for a while now, in conjunction with your smartphone by either using your smartphone as a monitor or mounting it to your camera’s hotshoe as your tracking camera. But when tracking with your phone on the hotshoe, aligning your smartphone to look in exactly the right spot relative to your camera’s lens isn’t easy, and the two can drift from each other during the middle of a shot very easily.
Such tracking features work wonderfully with gimbals that are actually designed for smartphones because the same camera in your smartphone is doing both the tracking and the filming. The Weebill 2 essentially brings that functionality to “real” cameras.
This functionality means that you and your subject can move in completely different directions to each other and the gimbal will stay locked on the subject the entire time. It means you can concentrate on where you’re walking instead of walking around aimlessly with your eyes staring at the screen. Or it means you don’t need to have somebody else guide your movement while your attention is elsewhere.
You can, of course, still use your phone to do object tracking if you have the TransMount AI transmitter, as your smartphone will also see the feed from the camera and it no longer needs to be mounted on top of your camera.
Ok, I’m in, but what about filming myself?
The subject tracking recognises faces. So, you’re able to set your gimbal down in front of you and have it track your face the whole time you’re filming. Even if you’re seated, if you move around a bit in front of your camera and you’re not watching a monitor to check that you’re still properly in the frame, it’s not a problem, because the gimbal’s moving to track you as you move around.
Even out on location – especially out on location – you can set the gimbal down either on the ground with the mini tripod or by attaching it to a larger tripod to track you as you walk and talk at a location. This can be extremely handy when you’re visiting somewhere and having a conversation in front of the camera. You’re not stuck with a static tripod shot because it’s tracking you as you move and you don’t have to have anybody else hold the camera to film you.
But where I think the Weebill 2 Pro Plus kit shines, especially, for filming yourself is with that VC100 controller. This is essentially a 5″ field monitor – for not much more than the cost of a regular 5″ field monitor – that talks directly to the HDMI transmitter mounted to your gimbal. And that communication is 2-way.
Unlike a regular field monitor, though, where you’re just watching the video output, the VC100 offers a number of controls that allow you to send commands back to the gimbal. Such as moving it to point it in a different direction or remotely controlling the focus wheel.
If you’re a solo shooter, and especially one that’s filming yourself, this alone is invaluable. I cannot count the number of times I’ve gone to film myself speaking at a location and had to go back and forth to the camera a dozen times to record a test clip, check it, tweak the camera position and focus, record another test clip, rinse, repeat, before finally getting something I was happy with and then completely screwing it up by standing or sitting somewhere slightly different from where I was in the aforementioned test clips.
Having a monitor that lets you not only see your composition and focus but also adjust it without having to get up and move every 2 minutes is a massive time saver and pretty much guarantees that every shot will be a keeper. Or at least, every shot will be exactly what you told it to be. The focus will be where you set, as will the composition.
And with cameras that can communicate directly with the Weebill 2 gimbal, you can even start and stop your recording from the VC100, too. It also features a microSD card slot to let you record a second copy of the transmitted signal internally, too. For some reason, though, microSD screen recording doesn’t appear to be working for me at the moment. I’m not sure why this would be the case. It doesn’t require data communication between the gimbal and camera to send video (which is handy because there is no data communication with the Panasonics I use). It just needs an HDMI feed from the camera to the transmitter. But I’m looking into it and will update this review when I find out more.
Update: I’ve heard back from Zhiyun and screen recording from the VC100 only works if your camera has data communication with the gimbal so that it can start and stop recording the actual camera at the same time. So, if there’s no data cable between the TransMount AI and your camera, you can’t record the screen to the microSD slot.
Because my Panasonics don’t communicate with the VC100, I have to hit record before I get myself into position in front of the camera to tweak the composition and focus from the VC100. So I just hit record when I set the gimbal down, walk away and then adjust everything remotely. Having an extra few seconds at the beginning and end of each clip isn’t a problem vs having a dozen or more useless 2-minute clips on the card at each spot I want to shoot at just for setting up compositions and focus.
It’s worth pointing out that you don’t have to get the Weebill 2 Pro Plus kit to get this functionality. The Zhiyun VC100 works with the Zhiyun Crane 3S, Crane 2S and a number of other Zhiyun gimbals, although you will also need to purchase the TransMount AI HDMI transmitter as well.
So, if you want to do this with a different Zhiyun gimbal, it may be possible. Of course, the Weebill 2 is the only one with the built-in flippy-out LCD if you want that easy mode object tracking without having to pull out your phone. At the moment, it appears that there’s no way to enable the tracking remotely from the VC100. If there is, I’ve overlooked it and been unable to find it. The manuals for gimbals – and even the VC100 – is a little slim these days, and you’ll probably have to hit up YouTube to find out how certain features work.
Hopefully, Zhiyun will find a way to add a feature to the VC100 that lets you send that front trigger signal to the Weebill 2 so that you can just sit in front of it, move things around to have it find your face, press a button and then it just tracks you.
As a final note, let’s talk about power. The Zhiyun MaserEye VC100 features an internal battery that provides up to 8 hours of use on a full charge. Like the Weebill 2 gimbal itself, the VC100 also supports USB-PD as well as QC 2.0. It will negotiate voltages from 5v to 20v, but only up to a total charge rate of 16 Watts for a charge time of around 1 hour and 50 minutes. With a standard 5V 2A charger, it’s around 2 hours and 16 minutes. If you are running low on juice, though, and don’t have a power bank handy, you can also power the VC100 from a standard Sony NP-F style battery, but do note that the unit doesn’t act as a charger for NP-F if you’ve got one connected while it’s plugged into USB power. It’ll only charge its own internal battery.
Ok, but what if I do have help?
The Zhiyun Weebill 2 with the VC100 is also a very handy setup if you’re working in a team, too. You can be holding the gimbal and moving with your subject while your focus puller is holding the VC100 monitoring your shot (because they can see exactly what your camera sees) and be able to adjust the focus as they go.
They can also adjust the composition, too, because there’s another joystick on the VC100 (it’s that thing at the top right below the “MasterEye” wording). So, if you’re drifting off a little in one direction, they can turn the camera the other way to compensate. The director, if you have one, can also monitor the display and see exactly what the camera’s seeing as you’re shooting it. The TransMount AI transmitter will allow viewing from multiple devices simultaneously – but only one of them (whichever is first to connect) gets remote control.
The VC100 is also super handy if you want to mount your gimbal to a vehicle, for example. No longer will you need to (probably illegally) dangle yourself out of a window or the back end of a moving vehicle. You can simply mount your gimbal to the vehicle using your preferred method and then watch and control everything from within the safety of the car’s interior.
Shooting sports is another area where the Weebill 2 and VC100 combo shines. Want to put your camera somewhere that it would be impossible to stand with it? Perhaps by goal of a football field? Well, now you can mount it where you need it to be and monitor and move the gimbal remotely as much as you like, up to 100 metres away. At least, that’s the distance that Zhiyun claims. I haven’t tested quite that far yet, but I’ve had no problems at distances up to about 20-25 metres or so.
As I mentioned earlier, the pros of the Weebill 2 easily outweigh any losses it might have vs its predecessor – like the reduced runtime. At least for me. Sure, it’s a little bigger and heavier than the Weebill S, but it’s still smaller and than both the Crane 2S and Crane 3S I would normally use. And if you’re using a camera rig that the Weebill 2 can handle, then it makes sense to use the lighter setup in many situations over the other two.
But let’s look at the pros of the Weebill 2 Pro Plus…
- 2.88″ Flippy out touchscreen LCD
- More ergonomic design (focus wheel notwithstanding)
- Stronger motors for use with today’s full-frame mirrorless rigs
- Object tracking works incredibly well with the TransMount AI
- They’re finally an actual bag with a shoulder strap
- The VC100 is just amazing. One of the most useful gimbal accessories I’ve ever used – for any gimbal.
- USB-PD fast charging
And on the cons…
- Built-in non-removable, non-swappable batteries – although, this is somewhat negated by the USB-PD charging while it’s in use if you can figure out a way to mount a battery to it.
- Why did they move the focus wheel? I can’t hold the gimbal with two hands and adjust the focus wheel easily at the same time.
- There’s no start/stop object tracking with the VC100 remote (at least, not that I can find)… Yet? Maybe this can be fixed in a future firmware update.
If there’s one thing I wish this had that it doesn’t, it would be the removable mounting system found on the Crane 2S. Being able to just slide off the whole camera assembly and then slide it straight back on again without having to rebalance is invaluable.
Overall, though, it’s a great little gimbal rig for mirrorless cameras, especially if you’re filming yourself. If you’re not filming yourself, you could probably get by with just the standard or pro kit, but that VC100 is a fantastic addition to the whole setup. You can buy that later, though. The VC100 is available separately, although you’ll also need to get the TransMount AI transmitter to go with it. And it does also work with some other Zhiyun gimbals, so if you’re happy with the gimbal you already have (make sure to check compatibility first), this setup is potentially worth looking into.