For our shoots we use all kinds of filmmaking tools: Tripods, sliders, jibs, hand-held rigs and gimbals. What we usually avoid filming with are phones. The rolling shutter, low bitrate and lack of manual control in video mode has made them unusable for professionals in the past. But phone cameras have become better and better over the years and with the right app, the video settings can be controlled manually. We decided to test Zhiyun Tech’s new camera stabilizer in combination with the latest generation of phones to see how they compare to professional video gear.
Watch our 4-minute video review below in 4K:
The Smooth Q is a 3-axis hand-held gimbal that is specifically designed to work with the Apple iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy series and other phones that are between 4.7 and 6 inches big and up to 220g heavy.
The phone can easily be attached to the gimbal and doesn’t require a complicated setup. All you need to do is mount the phone either horizontally or vertically and then press the ON button and the 3-axis gimbal will automatically adjust the phone’s position and angle. All three axis can be controlled manually as well as automatically by pushing the joystick which enables the cameraman to capture all kinds of shooting scenarios.
Overall the gimbal does a good job and there are not too many bumps or shakes visible. It’s not perfectly steady but overall very useable. But keep in mind that the result also depends on which phone you use. Rolling shutter and the lack of image stabilization can still be an issue even when using such a stabilizer.
It’s definitely great to see how good the video quality is of newer phones. Manual camera control can hugely impact how the footage looks like because the exposure or the white balance doesn’t change every 2 seconds which also gives the video a much more professional look.
The Zhiyun Smooth Q weighs 450g and is made from plastic so the built quality is not very high compared to the Crane gimbal series. But considering the price of 140 US Dollar it seems to be a good tool if you really want to get steady and smooth shots while walking or even running.
The gimbal can be charged via USB and the internal battery lasts around 9 to 11 hours. According to the manufacturer the battery lasts up to 12 hours.
An app from Zhiyun Tech called “ZY Play” also allows further control over the shooting modes but we haven’t really used that application while filming with the gimbal.
For us it’s not really a tool we would use often because we still prefer filming with video cameras but it’s definitely amazing to see how far consumer technology has come. Maybe we will film a project or at least a few shots for a project with it soon. Especially for vloggers and people who want to capture some quick but professional looking shots, the Smooth Q seems to be a good and affordable choice when it comes to mobile filmmaking.
You can order the gimbal from B&H Photo HERE!
Deutscher Shop / If you’re in Germany order the gimbal HERE!
You can watch our test of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S9 below for which we also used this gimbal!