Zhiyun Crane 4 is a beefed-up Weebill 3S for cinema cameras

Jul 12, 2023

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.

Zhiyun Crane 4 is a beefed-up Weebill 3S for cinema cameras

Jul 12, 2023

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 announced the Crane 4 gimbal (buy here), and it doesn’t look like either the Crane 2S (buy here) or Crane 3S (buy here) series gimbals. Instead, its design resembles the Zhiyun Weebill 3S (buy here) with its sling grip and wrist rest attached.

Despite looking like the Weebill 3S, the Crane 4 offers some distinct advantages and new features. For a start, balance indicator lights have been added to each motor to ensure your gimbal is well-balanced. It also supports larger cinema cameras.

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Zhiyun Crane 4 – How it compares

The Zhiyun Weebill 3S is designed to handle mainstream mirrorless cameras and smaller cinema cameras like the Sony FX3 (buy here). It’s also designed for compact cinema and photography lenses. The Crane 4, on the other hand, is designed to handle much larger cinema cameras like the Crane 3S.

The Crane 4 is significantly lighter than the Crane 3S, coming in at 1,673g vs 2,470g. But it’s heavier than the Weebill 3S weight of 1,054g. Those stepping up from the Weebill 3S might take some time to get used to the increased weight. However, those moving over from the Crane 3S will welcome the reduction.

Bigger, beefier, brighter

Like the Weebill 3S, the Crane 4 features a built-in bi-colour LED light. The 10W light on the Crane 4, however, is significantly brighter at 3,200 Lux. The Weebill 3S LED light is 1,000 Lux. It’s still not going to be a great key light, though. It’s still blasting onto your subject from the front. But it should act as a more useful fill light in brighter conditions.

Also like the Weebill 3S, the Crane 4 provides both native vertical orientation shooting and Bluetooth camera control. For social media shooters, native vertical shooting is a big time-saver that doesn’t rely on cages or L brackets. Bluetooth control also helps to speed up camera interaction from the gimbal without an extra cable dangling down.

The wrist rest on the Zhiyun Crane 4 has also been beefed up to help handle the extra weight of the gimbal and the cameras it can carry. It has a more flexible structure to provide additional comfort, with a skin-friendly texture to prevent abrasion during long sessions.

It sports a 1.22″ touch-screen for configuring the gimbal settings, with a customisable trigger and front wheel dial. These can be modified to control ISO, aperture and shutter speed, as well as focus motors and gimbal mode control.

Compatible with all the usual accesories

The Crane 4 supports the Transmount AI transmitter (buy here) and MasterEye VC100 Controller (buy here). And, of course, it supports the usual lens motors. Dual follow-focus ports for both follow-focus and zoom or aperture control.

The battery in the Zhiyun Crane 4 runs for up to 12 hours using four 18650 batteries. This provides plenty of power for demanding on-set use. And if it does happen to die on you, it charges back up from flat to full in only an hour and 50 minutes over USB-PD.

It feels like Zhiyun’s kind of running out of ideas for gimbals now. Of course, there’s only so much you can really do when it comes to gimbal design. But it fees like we’re seeing a lot of repeated elements with only incremental changes or increased capacity.

Personally, I think the Weebill 2 (especially in the Pro Plus kit) has been the most exciting new design they’ve released over the last few years. The built-in display that streams the camera’s view still remains pretty unique amongst gimbals from all manufacturers, yet it’s not a design that Zhiyun seems to have pursued since then.

The Crane 4, though, does offer advantages for Crane 3S users who want an overall lighter rig or Weebill 3S users who want a bit more load capacity.

Price and Availailability

The Zhiyun Crane 4 is available to pre-order now for $669 in the standard package or $749 in a combo package which includes the sling grip and wrist rest.

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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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