Zhiyun’s new lightweight Crane M2 is designed for travel filmmakers and vloggers

Jul 22, 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.

Zhiyun’s new lightweight Crane M2 is designed for travel filmmakers and vloggers

Jul 22, 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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Zhiyun has refreshed its popular Crane-M with a new model. Not surprisingly, it’s called the Zhiyun Crane-M2. Designed to be as versatile as possible for travelling filmmakers, this lightweight motorised 3-axis gimbal is designed for use with small mirrorless cameras, compact cameras, phones and action cameras.

It offers up to 8 hours battery life, features “enhanced camera control”, Bluetooth and WiFi control, and a Crane 2-style OLED display. Zhiyun says that the Crane-M2 is “a revolution in affordable camera stabilisation technology”.

YouTube video

The Zhiyun Crane-M2 includes many of the shooting modes we’ve come to know and love from Zhiyun’s other gimbals, including Full-Range POV Mode for 360° movement on all three axes, Vortex Mode for barrel shots, and Go Mode for faster pan & tilt movements for things like sports and action. It also features a Selfie Mode for when you want to vlog.

Zhiyun’s list of highlight features also mentions a new quick-release system for getting your camera on and off the gimbal easily when needed.

  • Great compatibility: compatible with compact cameras, light mirrorless cameras, smartphones and action cameras (A phone holder is included in the box).
  • Whole new quick-release system – Lite: enable users to quickly mount or dismount camera with a single press of the lock button.
  • Scale mark and memory lock: facilitate balance adjustment, saving much trouble of readjustment every time.
  • Unique locking mechanism: a unique locking pin and latch design to prevent the axes from swinging around during travel.
  • A variety of creative options: Full-Range POV Mode, Vortex Mode, Go Mode, Pan Following Mode, Following Mode, Locking Mode.
  • WiFi-and-Bluetooth control module: allow you to control your camera wirelessly through the gimbal handle.
  • Zoom in/out: a single push of the slider on side of the handle, you can zoom in/out to capture smooth footage at a distance.
  • Two 1/4 threaded holes: allow you to add various filmmaking rigs to it
  • Intuitive OLED display: for display of gimbal mode, Bluetooth & WIFI status, battery level and various gimbal parameters.

As for the actual specs…

  • Payload: 130-720g
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.2
  • WiFi: 2.4Ghz
  • Battery capacity: 1100mAh
  • Battery life: Up to 7 hours
  • Charge time: 2 hours
  • Weight: 499g

From the payload capacity and Zhiyun’s own description, the gimbal should be able to handle mirrorless cameras up to something the size of a Sony A6500 with a small lightweight lens. But its minimum load capacity also means that it should work equally as well with your phone or small action camera, like a GoPro Hero 7.

The built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, Zhiyun says, “provides seamless wireless camera control through the gimbal handle and Zhiyun’s exclusive app”. Hopefully, the app has been developed a little better for the Crane-M2 than it has for some of Zhiyun’s other gimbals. Certain features still aren’t working quite as intended for many users, who’ve pretty much given up on the app now. With a bit more focus on phone usage for the Crane-M2, though, Zhiyun might finally surprise us with decent app integration.

YouTube video

As with many of Zhiyun’s other gimbals, the Crane-M2 has several 1/4-20″ threads for attaching microphones, lights, monitoring equipment, etc. Although, being such a lightweight gimbal, you probably wouldn’t want to load it down too much. The battery lasts for up to 8 hours, and can also charge cameras, phones and other devices. The Crane-M2 itself can be charged from power banks while you’re on the go, too.

The Zhiyun Crane-M2 is available to pre-order now $269 in the USA and for £259 in the UK, which is significantly cheaper than the $499 price tag on its predecessor at launch. There’s no word on an exact release date yet, but Amazon estimates I should receive it by August 8th if I order today.

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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 “Zhiyun’s new lightweight Crane M2 is designed for travel filmmakers and vloggers”

  1. udi tirosh Avatar
    udi tirosh

    definitely interested to see how this one goes. Gimbals were getting bigger and bigger to the point that you needed to go to the gym to use one. Happy to see something targeting folks with smaller biceps

  2. Patrick Shipstad Avatar
    Patrick Shipstad

    The sure to come Youtube comparisons between this and the DJI Ronin SC will be interesting. No doubt the M2 price of $269 vs the Ronin SC’s $439 will be a factor for a lot of people. I gotta say the force mobile mode on the SC of controlling the gimbal with your phone is pretty sweet, but the quick set-up on the M2 will appeal to a lot of people too. It does seem the M2 is for smaller devices with a much smaller payload limit and there doesn’t seem to be the same phone/monitoring capability that the SC has either. This may clearly be a case of you get what you pay for in conjunction with simply being a slightly different market. The M2 could simply appeal to the nimble gimbal user who wants something to work with their smaller point and shoots, phones and smaller mirrorless rigs. So looks like between the two, there will be something for everyone :-)

    1. Frank Feng Avatar
      Frank Feng

      I saw the review of SC is not rock solid steady either when you run with it. For the price and for serious work I’d go with a larger gimbal like Moza Air 2. And for half the weight M2 is definitely my go-to travel gimbal to pair with A6400, RX100, and any smartphone. Its small form factor even fits in a messenger bag whose primary use is commuting.