If you are new to videography, the name Zhiyun may not be familiar to you. But make no mistake. This is a brand you want to pay attention to.
I say this because I am pretty new to the video space, and up until recently, the only real player in the handheld gimbal game I was aware of was DJI. I had obviously seen others, but to me, it's hard to differentiate between the cheap knockoff brands and the real players in the space. That is, until I got my hands on the Weebill 3.
At first glance, the Weebill 3 looks fairly similar to the new offerings from DJI. But when you take a closer gander, this gimbal actually has things not available on the DJI. In fact, it has features that are not available on any other gimbal on the market.
For one, this gimbal has a built-in fill light with adjustable color temps. This light has a max output of 1,000 lumens and the color temperature can be adjusted from 2,600 K to 5,400 K. If you need more range than this color, the gimbal also comes with some color filters that can be quickly attached to the light. From here, the gimbal also has a built-in microphone for recording audio straight to your camera.
While these two features can only be found on this gimbal, the real question is: are they useful? And to that, the answer is, absolutely. But, the usefulness of these features doesn't necessarily make them worthy of use. So, while the microphone on the gimbal is better than what you have built into your camera, it's definitely not going to be as good as a dedicated shotgun mic or lav mic. The same goes for the fill light. While this light is absolutely helpful in a pinch, having a dedicated off-camera light will always yield better results. But for run-and-gun shooting, this light can definitely get you by. So, while there are better options available than what's built into this gimbal, these features can be lifesavers in the event you need them.
Still learning the smoothest way to track, but as you can see here, even with a basic understanding and zero stabilization in post, the footage looks smooth while chasing around a four-wheeler.
But what about the rest? New and innovative features are great, but they mean nothing if the base functionality of the device isn't good. Thankfully, that's not the case here. The Weebill 3 has an amazing set of traditional gimbal features, some of which are on par or better than the competition, one of which is the algorithm Zhiyun uses for its stabilization. This algorithm is now in its 10th generation, which Zhiyun says increases its computing power by 30%, which “precisely removes subtle shakes in footage by re-tuning the running curves based on practical data, delivering a revolutionary stable performance.” And while this is my first venture into the gimbal world, so I have no basis for comparison, I did see amazingly smooth footage. Especially when paired with the camera's built-in offerings. But one thing I felt was missing was adequate tutorials for this specific model. As a new user, the act of balancing was a bit confusing, and it took me some time to figure it out. It walks through the steps in the manual, but a single image diagram isn't really enough to get a good understanding, and it took me some time to figure out that the process is fairly universal. So, it would have been nice if they had some step-by-step videos showing the exact model in use (they may have this now, but when I first got it, there wasn't even a PDF manual online).
From here, one of my favorite features is the upgraded quick-release system. This system uses a dual mounting plate design, which makes it so you can remove your camera as many times as you would like without ever having to rebalance. So, no longer do you have to worry about the time and setup struggles when changing batteries or for situations where you need to set up the camera on a tripod or use simply handheld. The only stipulation here is that this only applies if you continue to use the same lens. Obviously, if you change the center of mass of your setup, then you will need to rebalance. But if you are like a lot of shooters who use something like a 24-70mm for all of their gimbal clips, then you could potentially never have to balance this gimbal outside of the initial setup. But if you do, this gimbal even has a built-in magnetic wrench, so you won't need to scavenge for a tool or coin to get things dialed.
Other useful features of this gimbal can be found in the wrist plate and suitcase handle. While this is my first gimbal, I actually would never want to use another gimbal without the wrist plate. It's supportive and really does help reduce fatigue. With this wrist plate, you can use a much looser grip on the gimbal, especially when using the gimbal at arm's length or waist level. For situations when you want to be even lower, the suitcase handle setup takes some strain off your back so that you don't have to bend over as much. Its handle is also adjustable so you can even use it to get the rig higher above your head if you need.
For ease of use, this gimbal also has things like a removable tripod stand, app control, a 0.96″ OLED touchscreen, and a customizable wheel and trigger (for things like roll, focus, mode change, camera settings, etc.). You also won't have to worry about running out of battery life because this gimbal rocks a stated 21-hour battery life with support for PD fast charging. So, even if you need to shoot for longer than 21 hours, you can charge from 0 to 100% in just two hours. Though the one downside to this is that the battery is not removable. Though with a 21-hour runtime, I don't see that being an issue for many people, and in my use, i never got close to draining it.
What I Liked
- Wrist support and suitcase handle
- Customizable wheel and trigger
- Double plate quick release with magnetic tool
What I Didn't Like
- Setup was confusing for a beginner
In conclusion, you absolutely don't want to sleep on the Zhiyun brand. The Weebill 3 is as good or better than the higher-priced competition. They are also innovative with their design and feature sets. It gives you things no other brand can offer while also giving you the stabilization and control you have come to expect with today's handheld gimbals.