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How I use gimbals in my work

Zhiyun Crane 3S Pro

They are everywhere now, for your phones, your DSLM, and your cinema cameras. What was once out of reach is now available for everyone. To a point where sometimes we do overuse them a little bit... and I plead guilty. Let me share with you how I use them now, and how this cool tool can be really effective when used wisely.

Everytime you get a new toy, you want to use it… all the time. That’s what I usually do, and I do this for 2 reasons. It's new, and I feel like a kid and find everything I do with it super cool… and 2, I want to master that tool as fast as possible, to be able to use it as soon as possible in my work.

Like any tool out there it has a purpose, and should be used only when needed and when necessary. Do you need those floaty super stable shots all the time? No, because after a while it diminishes their effect in your video. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you have to. I am not a fan of handheld footage with small light cameras. I believe it’s hard to watch.

That’s why when I needed that hand held or over the shoulder look, I used to add weight to my rig with different accessories if needed. Otherwise I use tripods, which sometimes can be enough for an entire project.

For the following shortdance film, I mainly filmed handheld and on a tripod:

And then I got my first gimbal, and that additional control, made things easier. These days, when I want to introduce a character, emphasize a moment, when I want the audience to dive into the video I do fancy a little push in, or pull out to reveal something.

In the following video, pay attention to the intro:

Depending on your settings, you can avoid that perfect floating shot and find something in between that makes it less perfect. And then you do have these projects where you want it super stable throughout like in the one shot video I’ve done a while back. For dance videos, this works well because everything happens in the frame. The Rhythm of the scene is imposed by the performer and not by the editing with multiple cuts.

So if my performer uses very little space, chances are I will be on a tripod. If the dancer covers greater distances, uses much more space than I will probably use a Gimbal! Simple shots I used to do handheld are now made with with a stabilizer. I save time, and my footage looks good right away. If I had to summarize in one word why I use gimbals: "efficiency"

The following test video was entirely shot with the Zhiyun Crane 3s:

I recently had the Zhiyun crane 3s pro in my hands because I needed that extra room on the gimbal to test longer lenses. Plus it has a max payload of 6.5kg which makes it perfect for heavier loads.

Here is a test video I made with Jake Oob a hand balance artist. A mix of static shots and gimbal sequences. I mainly used the L “locked” and PF “Pan & follow” mode of the Zhiyun Crane 3s.

The ability to lock each section when balancing the Gimbal eases the process… a feature that came later on DJI’s RS2. I know this model came out a few years ago, but it doesn’t mean it’s outdated. I quickly compared it to the RS2 because they were direct competitors at the time. I’ve worked multiple times with the RS2 so I was able to see the similarities and differences, and I believe they are 2 different beasts. I have the pro package, with the TransMount accessories. An additionnal external battery, the easy and smart handles, the phone holder, the video transmitter and zoom and focus system.

The main differences between the Crane 3s and the RS2 for me are in the way they are built, and the max payload. If you work with cinema cameras, heavy kitted cameras, long lenses and so on… I recommend the Crane 3S Pro.

If you are a low angle shot type of shooter… then again I recommend the Crane 3s pro. I had a better experience shooting with it because of how it’s made, and this is directly linked to my shooting style.

Overall… It is well made, you feel they paid attention to details. I prefer their system over DJI’s RS2. The only complaint in terms of build quality, is the battery compartment. It feels fragile. The additional handle too is mainly made of plastic, and I understand that it makes it light and this is definitely a plus, but I wish they chose another material that would give us a better feeling. And, that hand grip… I wish it wasn’t that slippery!

Beware of the weight, make sure your setup is well balanced if you don’t want it to tip. I know what I am talking about, I learned the hard way.

My assistant uses the RS2 more, and I recently switched to the Crane 3s. It is still a great gimbal, worth every penny. One remark though, here in France, it is hard to customize and add accessories to the Crane 3s, if you want to go beyond what the brand proposes. I don’t know if DJI officially partnered with other brands, but you have an entire ecosystem of accessories made by Tilta and Smallrig… which can help customizing and further adapting your gimbal to your needs. Now Do you need to upgrade to the latest gimbal that just came out? Not really, especially for these simple movements I showed you in the video. And even for more ambitious projects and camera movements, the crane 3s pro will for sure do the job! Prices usually go down after a while, deals are round the corner, it’s the end of the year. DJI released the RS3 this year… Will there be a Crane 4s soon? I don’t know, but since I really enjoyed my experience with the 3s I would be curious to see what they will change, in a future version. Do you use Gimbals for your video work, or are you more a handheld, or tripod filmmaker ? Tell us in the comments below. If you have any videos, shortfilms where you used any sort of stabilizer or gimbal, feel free to share them down below. I am always curious to see what other creators do.


Michael Guo
Michael Guo
Nov 14, 2022

great video!

Haze Kware
Haze Kware
May 29, 2023
Replying to

Thanks a lot!

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