Zhiyun Crane M3 overview: A gimbal for each your iPhone and your digital camera

Zhiyun Crane M3 overview: A gimbal for each your iPhone and your digital camera

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The Zhiyun Crane M3 is a gimbal for prosumer video creators who need one thing effectively suited to iPhone movies in addition to for compact mirrorless cameras.

Videographers who wish to enhance their filmmaking can generally look to a gimbal as a solution to shaky footage. A gimbal may even out most jerks and turns a videographer may make utilizing motors, leading to fairly easy footage that does not require an excessive amount of fixing within the edit.

There are gimbals of various sizes accessible in the marketplace, designed to suit every thing from smartphones to cinema-style cameras. You possibly can get a Zhiyun Clean 5 if all you wish to use is an iPhone for filming, or there are gimbals like Zhiyun’s Weebill 2 for greater DSLR-style initiatives.

Whereas the previous is good for individuals who use their smartphone for filming, it isn’t nice for anybody who desires to make use of an precise digital camera. Likewise, the latter could possibly be used to carry a smartphone, nevertheless it’s overkill for the duty at hand.

Zhiyun Crane M3 standard kit

Zhiyun Crane M3

The Zhiyun Crane M3 is a well-rounded gimbal to your iPhone and small cameras, providing lighting and audio choices in a compact bundle.

Purchase at Amazon
Purchase at B&H
Purchase at Adorama

The Zhiyun Crane M3 goals to take a middle-ground method, offering a manner for smartphone videographers to increase their work in the direction of utilizing a bridge or light-weight mirrorless cameras. All with out the expense or bulk of a full-scale skilled gimbal setup.

Compact and full-featured

As a gimbal that handles smartphones and small cameras, there’s certain to be slightly give by way of measurement. Whereas this gimbal is bigger than your typical smartphone-holding model, it isn’t unwieldy.

Absolutely deployed and stood on its included fold-out tripod that additionally acts as an extension, the gimbal itself measures simply 12 inches in peak, although it may achieve one other 5 inches in size with the tripod in its closed deal with place. On this state, it is also about 5.5 inches in width and 5 inches in depth.

The Crane M3 can easily handle an iPhone on a mount, though you can also use it with smaller cameras.
The Crane M3 can simply deal with an iPhone on a mount, although it’s also possible to use it with smaller cameras.

Packing it down for storage, the Crane M3 can simply match into an area measuring 10 inches by 6.5 inches by 3 inches, together with the indifferent tripod. The Crane M3 is larger than your typical smartphone-only gimbal however nonetheless completely manageable.

It is also not a massively heavy gimbal, because it weighs in at 700 grams (1 pound 8 ounces), across the identical weight as a bottle of water.

Anybody who goes for the Combo Equipment or Professional model of the bundle can even achieve a compact and trendy white bag to hold the gimbal and its equipment. Positive, it is one other factor to hold round as an alternative of maintaining the gimbal in the identical bag as your digital camera, however in the event you’re carrying round quite a lot of equipment for the Crane M3, it is smart.

Mounting, weight, and balancing

The Crane M3 is a three-axis gimbal with three motors controlling the angle of the digital camera or smartphone when enabled. When it comes to vary, the Crane M3 affords a 360-degree pan, a 333-degree roll vary, and a 309-degree tilt at a most.

To get your digital camera or smartphone mounted and the gimbal balanced as shortly as attainable, Zhiyun features a few helpful options. For a begin, the motors are lockable in a number of positions, so you may simply stability every of them in flip.

Each motor also has a lock to pin its position. You can also see the USB-C and microphone port.
Every motor additionally has a lock to pin its place. You may also see the USB-C and microphone port.

The balancing course of itself is slightly fiddly, with switches used to lock and unlock the sliding of the arms alongside the place it attaches to the motor. There’s a little bit of a studying curve, nevertheless it’s manageable when utilizing the motor locks, and in the event you’re utilizing one digital camera, it is actually a one-time process.

Zhiyun has included a quick-release plate to which you’ll connect a smartphone mount or a digital camera. The plate clicks right into a catch with a slide-and-press locking mechanism, making it comparatively simple to take off or exchange your imaging system if you have to change batteries, for instance.

This all does rely on what precisely you are going to match onto the Crane M3. Within the case of including a large mirrorless digital camera, we discovered that we needed to horizontally slide one arm up to now to the suitable that it could come into contact with the principle physique.

A quick release plate simplifies adding and removing a camera from the Zhiyun Crane M3.
A fast launch plate simplifies including and eradicating a digital camera from the Zhiyun Crane M3.

We additionally discovered it could not actually deal with a heavier lens on a mirrorless digital camera, with our 24-240mm lens protruding far in entrance and weighing the association down within the entrance. For smaller prime lenses or lighter zoom lenses, the Crane M3 was higher.

This limits how far you may push the Crane M3 with extra intensive digital camera assemblies, however the limitations should not be a difficulty when utilized in a extra regular vary of movement and with lighter payloads.

Controls and utilization

Utilizing the Crane M3 includes studying a couple of controls, all accessible from the forefinger and thumb when held right-handed.

On the again is a joystick to handle gimbal rotation together with a pair of buttons. The “M” button is used to modify between a couple of gimbal modes on the fly, whereas the Photograph/Video button for taking images or beginning and stopping filming video with suitable gadgets.

Above that may be a 1.22-inch touchscreen, offering methods to modify between totally different modes, monitor the stability of the digital camera or cellphone on the gimbal, handle calibration, and different settings. Although it’s a little small for bigger fingers, the interface is navigable and easy sufficient for many customers.

The Zhiyun Crane M3 has a compact touchscreen on the rear.
The Zhiyun Crane M3 has a compact touchscreen on the rear.

On the right-hand facet is the ability button, above the USB-C port used to recharge the system. Utilizing a 12W charger, it may regain full energy inside 2 hours, with a battery runtime of 8 hours.

On the left-hand facet, a wheel manages a built-in gentle video gentle.

On the entrance is a set off used to recenter and rotate the digital camera or smartphone shortly. Above that’s an adjustment wheel that may change settings seen on the display screen, handle the roll axis, and a few digital camera capabilities when linked.

In use, the gimbal is good and lightweight in that it does not add a cumbersome weight to the digital camera or smartphone. You possibly can simply use this for lengthy intervals with out feeling too drained.

The gimbal can also be very responsive with a compact payload, with greater than sufficient modes to fulfill most filmmakers.

You can operate almost all of the controls on the Zhiyun Crane M3 with one hand.
You may function nearly the entire controls on the Zhiyun Crane M3 with one hand.

These modes embody typical choices reminiscent of Comply with Mode, Pan Comply with Mode, and Lock Mode. A Go Mode supplies a snappier different to Comply with Mode, one that does not essentially require customers to trawl by the settings to enhance responsiveness manually.

Two different modes present additional artistic choices. A Portrait Mode supplies stabilization for cameras whereas angled at 90 levels to regular. Lastly, Vortex Mode factors the digital camera straight up, so customers can tilt it ahead and absolutely rotate the digital camera round a degree for a cool impact.

To regulate a digital camera extra instantly from the gimbal, you need to use a USB-C port close to the fast launch plate’s mounting level to attach an included cable to your digital camera. Not all cameras will work with the cable for management, however many cameras will nonetheless take cost from the gimbal by the connection.

For different unsupported cameras, Zhiyun says to make use of the TransMount Crane-M3 Bluetooth Management Unit for gimbal-based management.

Bundles, sound and lightweight

The place the Crane M3 differs is that it has built-in capabilities that can assist fanatic video producers, particularly if they’re engaged on their very own or with a really restricted crew accessible. For YouTube creators and different solo filmmakers, the Crane M3 helps by presenting some sound and imaginative and prescient options.

Usually, you may’t add a lightweight to a gimbal since attaching one to the digital camera can probably intrude with motion. To repair this, the Crane M3 has a fill gentle on the left-hand facet of the digital camera, a small rectangular panel that may output as much as 800 lumens.

The facet wheel controls the sunshine, with a press-and-hold turning it on and off. Spinning the wheel can change its shade temperature and brightness with a fast press switching between them.

The Crane M3's light is bright and handy, and you can manage the color temperature and brightness with your thumb.
The Crane M3’s gentle is brilliant and helpful, and you’ll handle the colour temperature and brightness along with your thumb.

If a extra artistic gentle is required, Zhiyun has already considered that, by offering quite a lot of fill gentle filters that may clip out and in when wanted.

Simply as with gentle, there’s sound to think about, as you may’t normally instantly join a microphone cable to a gimbal-held digital camera, once more for motion-related causes.

Within the Professional bundle, Zhiyun consists of what it calls the Growth Base, which homes an additional enlargement port, a holder for a Bluetooth digital camera management unit, and a quarter-inch mic enter.

When linked, this port feeds audio by the gimbal and out through a 3.5mm jack subsequent to the digital camera, close to to the USB-C port. The cable can then be linked to the digital camera’s microphone port for recording.

Within the case of utilizing an iPhone, you have to to make use of Apple’s 3.5mm headphone jack adapter to benefit from this characteristic.

The Zhiyun Crane M3 Pro Kit includes a great microphone and an extension.
The Zhiyun Crane M3 Professional Equipment features a nice microphone and an extension.

Following on the audio practice of thought, Zhiyun additionally consists of in its Professional bundle a microphone. White to match the Crane’s housing, the mic might be unscrewed to entry an AA battery compartment, has a change on the facet to go between Cardioid and Hyper-Cardioid modes, and a Zhiyun-branded windshield.

Zhiyun consists of an XLR-to-quarter-inch coiled cable for connecting the mic as much as the enlargement port, making it an entire bundle for formidable filmmakers. The mic sounded surprisingly first rate in testing and ought to be ok for individuals eager to degree up their video manufacturing.

App management

When you can clearly connect an iPhone to the gimbal for filming, there’s one other manner you need to use the 2 objects collectively. Utilizing the ZY Play companion app, you need to use a smartphone or pill to manage the gimbal remotely.

As soon as linked, the app can deal with altering the gimbal mode, movement, and setting the digital camera to report and cease. A Sync Movement choice additionally permits the iPhone or iPad’s gyroscopes to deal with which path the digital camera factors, which could possibly be an excellent management technique for individuals who do not wish to cope with an on-screen joystick.

The companion app can control the Zhiyun Crane M3, as well as update its firmware.
The companion app can management the Zhiyun Crane M3, in addition to replace its firmware.

That is extra helpful for conditions the place you might want to manage the digital camera’s place whereas at a distance from the gimbal or for a second individual to manage the digital camera angle whereas the primary handles normal digital camera movement.

There are alternatives within the app for scene modes, setting the digital camera model, calibration choices, and so forth. The app additionally handles firmware updates for the gimbal.

Bundle pricing

Zhiyun sells the Crane M3 in three packages and at three worth factors.

The Normal Equipment, priced at $369, consists of the Crane M3, a mini tripod, the fill gentle filters, a few USB Sort-C cables, and an EPP carrying case.

For $80 extra at $449, the Combo bundle modifications the carrying case for the backpack, switches the mini tripod for the bigger model that works as a deal with, and provides a cellphone clamp.

The Professional Equipment, which prices $649, begins from the Combo bundle however provides the Growth Base, the microphone, and extra audio cables for connecting the mic to the gimbal and the digital camera to the mic port.

A critical gimbal to improve your videography

The Zhiyun Crane M3 makes an attempt to unravel a number of issues {that a} would-be YouTube sensation must cope with in the event that they wish to take their productions extra critically.

At its most elementary, it supplies refined movement stabilization and steadiness past the entry-level smartphone gimbals in the marketplace. It packs fairly compact however affords rather a lot.

It additionally supplies much-needed enlargement if the would-be video artistic desires to unfold their wings and transfer to a devoted digital camera. Positive, too massive or heavy a digital camera and lens mixture may show too cumbersome for the gimbal to perform absolutely, however the choice is at the least there to take.

The 'M3' of the gimbal's name lights up when in use.
The ‘M3’ of the gimbal’s identify lights up when in use.

There’s an try to unravel the necessity for lighting, a necessary a part of video, and it does so effectively. There’s greater than sufficient gentle emitted from it and quite a lot of management to regulate how that gentle shines.

Sound can also be thought of, at the least for individuals who go for the Professional Equipment. It could be a reasonably costly choice, nevertheless it does supply a compelling argument for anybody who was taking a look at upgrading their audio tools concurrently shopping for the gimbal within the first place.

After all, it will not be capable of supply every thing {that a} cinematography-grade gimbal can. However not everybody desires an answer like that until quite a lot of management is required.

The Zhiyun Crane M3 is a well-rounded bundle for any starting videographer who desires to be extra formidable with their creations. It will not flip you into Edgar Wright in a single day, nevertheless it’ll provide you with a step in the suitable path.


  • Packs small and lightweight
  • Straightforward to make use of and stability
  • Mild, Microphone to assist with manufacturing
  • Helps iPhones and small cameras


  • Measurement and weight of cameras can hinder efficiency
  • Restricted digital camera management compatibility
  • Requires Professional bundle for audio equipment

Score: 4 out of 5

The place to purchase

The Zhiyun Crane M3 retails for $369 as a Normal Equipment, with Combo Equipment and Professional Equipment variations accessible as effectively. You may order the Crane M3 at:

  • Amazon: Priced at $369
  • B&H Photograph: From $369
  • Adorama: From $369


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