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The Intersection of Strategy and Story

Field Test: The Zhiyun Crane Plus & Panasonic GH5S

Field Testing the Zhiyun Crane Plus

In celebration of a new city ordinance allowing greater food truck access to downtown, Grand Rapids welcomed a food truck festival for a great day of community and culinary creativity. We thought it would be a great opportunity to get some test footage and provide you with a review of how the Zhiyun Crane Plus worked with our mirrorless setup (Panasonic GH5S w/Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 II). The Zhiyun Crane Plus is a 3-Axis stabilizer featuring POV mode, bluetooth remote control, smart follow, nightlapse, and many other features in a small, but sturdy package. The crane plus is powered by a 360° brushless motor in a full aluminum housing that provides both DSLR and mirorless camera mounting (max payload 5.5lb). With an 18 hour continuous runtime and easy to use controls, the Crane Plus is an interesting option for the budget-minded content creator. 

 The Zhiyun Crane Plus includes a robust carrying case that conveniently housed everything we needed to shoot. Assembly is quick and straightforward. 

The Zhiyun Crane Plus includes a robust carrying case that conveniently housed everything we needed to shoot. Assembly is quick and straightforward. 

The Crane Plus really impressed us with it's ease of use and overall build quality. It didn't take long to figure out the motion memory, intelligent object tracking features and various shooting modes. The stabilizer is easily controlled via the handheld controls or via the app. We did notice that while using the GH5 S we did encounter some instances of the unit 'running into itself' with the larger lens/body combination. However, while using our smaller GX85 setup, we didn't encounter any issues whatsoever. Mind you, this was at the extremes of motion and wasn't enough of an issue to be a problem in most applications. 

The Details At A Glance

  1. Compact size: This thing is tiny! Folds up in an incredibly small carrying case, perfect for travel. 
  2. Payload capacity: Great for smaller mirrorless cameras, and even a GH5 or equivalent with a lighter lens. However, with the 12-32, and our heavier Voigtlander lens the motors struggled when rotating on the roll-axis. Definitely be aware of the 5.5lb payload limit. 
  3. Motion Lapse: A great feature that lets you add motion to your time-lapse footage or even create unmanned camera moves. 
  4. Object Tracking: Paired with Zhiyun Play app you can mount a phone on the hotshoe of your camera and use the phone's camera to track objects on screen. A great feature for trying to keep a subject centered while flying your gimbal. Perhaps an even better use is adding a motion to slider movements during interviews or track a subject during a vlog. The use cases are as vast as your imagination. 
  5. Flying it with a GX85 proved to be a much better experience than the GH5S. The smaller body and lighter weight meant the gimbal never struggled with weight, or accidentally "bumped" into itself. 
 Our smaller mirrorless setup, the GX85 really worked well on the Crane Plus. Be mindful of lens selection, however; as larger lenses may exceed the weight limit and become cumbersome. 

Our smaller mirrorless setup, the GX85 really worked well on the Crane Plus. Be mindful of lens selection, however; as larger lenses may exceed the weight limit and become cumbersome. 

How can this help my video production?

Although we pride ourselves on our ability to hold a camera steady, the Crane Plus took a lot of pressure off the operator and allowed more creative freedom while shooting. The battery life was sufficient for a full day of production without worry. While we did have to be mindful of the range while using our larger mirrorless camera, we didn't find this to be disruptive of our goals. For the price, we felt the Zhiyun Crane Plus to be an incredible value. While we wouldn't recommend attempting to exceed the weight limit; for smaller, mirrorless and DSLR video stabilization we highly recommend the Crane Plus. 

Final Thoughts

For the budget conscious filmmaker looking to add dynamic motion to their production, the Zhiyun Crane Plus offers a viable alternative to more expensive stabilization options. Considering how bulky some of the alternatives are, the Crane Plus has tremendous upside as a traveling option as well. With it's compact size and robust case, it fits perfectly in the kit of any traveling freelance content creator; especially those utilizing smaller camera systems. 

 

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