Zhiyun Crane-M2 review: Gimbal for small cameras

Moritz Janisch Zhiyun Crane M2 Outdoor Filming

The Zhiyun Crane-M2 is designed for point-and-shoot cameras, action cameras, smartphones and very small mirrorless camera setups. But I think that the best use for it are point-and-shoot cameras due to the right size fit and the full compability.

One of the best improvements over the original Crane-M is the mounting plate which can slide to the left or right to balance and mount the camera precisely.

The variety of modes is a welcome addition to the original Crane-M which was introduced almost three years ago. Besides the regular axis modes the M2 also features a POV and GO mode. The POV mode follows all axis which means even if you tilt the gimbal sideways the gimbal is going to follow instead of staying leveled which can be useful for vlogging. But I personally think the GO mode is more useful because it does follow every axis except it doesn’t turn sideways so the horizon will always stay leveled.

Zhiyun Crane M2 Axis
The Crane-M2 offers a variety of modes

Of course like in every modern gimbal the vortex mode is also included in the M2 which is a nice feature to have but probably not necessary for most uses.

One of the biggest downsides is the lack of an inverted mode which makes it tricky to get low angle shots. It’s still possible but the axis could be in frame especially when filming very wide. This is probably due to the compact design which would make it tricky to switch into an upside down mode without hitting the gimbal or camera on the side.

Zhiyun Crane M2 Hand Held
Unfortunately Shooting inverted is not possible due to the small design of the gimbal.

The mobile app works well with most smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras but in some cases doesn’t connect. So if you rely on full control through the grip to zoom or start and stop recording, better make sure first, the gear is actually compatible.

The battery lasts for 5 to max. 7 hours which is not too bad considering the small size of the M2.

The motion speed when using the joystick isn’t the same in every direction. This is probably an issue that can be fixed via a firmware update. Besides the current issues with the responsiveness of the joystick it also isn’t properly glued or attached to the gimbal. Mine actually came off when I carried the gimbal in a backpack, so either leave the gimbal in the case when travelling or take it off and keep it separately in a box or pouch.

Moritz Janisch Zhiyun Crane M2 Lumix Lx100 Filming
Moritz filming with the Panasonic LX100 fixed lens camera on the Crane-M2 gimbal.

The Crane-M2 doesn’t really have any competitors right now. In fact even the previous version didn’t have any competition either, probably because the market for those compact cameras is constantly shrinking and not growing. Most other gimbals are rather big to fit DSLRs or much smaller because they’re designed for smartphones. So there pretty much no alternatives if you’re planning to get one for your point-and-shoot camera.

Zhiyun Crane M2 Gopro Hero7 Black Mount
Not very effective: Using a GoPro Hero7 Black with internal Hypersmooth stabilization in combination with the gimbal doesn’t improve the stability or smoothness of the shots.

The M2 can also carry lightweight action cameras but with the latest generation of in-camera stabilization this combination doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, at least the results don’t look any better with the camera mounted on the gimbal compared to when filming hand-held.

Considering the features and high built quality the price (USD 269) is fair although it’s hard to know how well the built-in battery is going to perform in the long run.

You can purchase the Zhiyun Crane-M2 at B&H Photo by clicking HERE!

Written by filmmaker Moritz Janisch on August 30, 2019

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