YouTubers and amateur filmmakers can often be seen wielding DJI RSC 2 gimbals to help steady their shots, but rival Zhiyun has just launched a new camera stabilizer that's one of the lightest full-size gimbals so far.
The Zhiyun Crane-M2S effectively offers a sweet spot between its larger and pricier Crane-M3 gimbal, and the more stripped-down Crane-M2. Despite weighing only 549g (that's less than half the weight of the 1.2kg DJI RSC 2), the stabilizer can hold full-frame cameras like the Sony A7S III.
The slight catch there is that the Crane-M2S can only support an A7S III if it has small prime lenses like the Sony FE 24mm f/2.8 G attached, rather than longer zooms. But those are likely to be the kinds of lenses that vloggers and YouTubers will be looking to use, and the new gimbal can support other full-frame cameras including the Nikon Z7 II and Canon EOS RP.
Despite its size and tempting price tag (US$269 / £259, around AU$470), the Crane-M2S packs in some handy features that you won't find on the Crane-M2, including the ability to charge the gimbal while you're filming, a built-in fill light for illuminating subjects, Zhiyun's latest Quick Release 4.0 system and a much longer battery life.
That battery life is a quoted ten hours, which is some way short of the 14 hours you'd get on the DJI RSC 2, but still enough for most shoots. Zhiyun also says that support for USB Power Delivery fast-charging means you can get the battery recharged in around 100 minutes.
Naturally, you can also adapt the Crane-M2S to work with your smartphone or action camera too, which means it's shaping up to be a strong option for mobile filmmakers. You can buy the gimbal right now in a standard bundle (US$269 / £259, around AU$470) and a Combo option (US$349 / £329, around AU$595) that includes a customized bag for the gimbal.
Analysis: Smoothing out the rough edges?
Gimbals help remove undesirable shake or wobble from your videos, which has made them popular with YouTubers and vloggers who are looking to step up their video production quality. And while Zhiyun isn't quite as big a name as DJI in the field, the Chinese manufacturer certainly isn't far off – particularly with offerings like the Crane-M2S.
While we've found Zhiyun's gimbals have performed well in the past, our main criticism has been around their usability – both in the lengthy setup and balancing process, and also their companion apps. For example, in our tests of the Zhiyun Smooth Q3, we didn't find the app to be quite as intuitive as DJI Mimo app, while some features are locked behind a membership paywall.
Luckily, the Crane-M2S appears to address those issues, particularly with its new quick release plate that should make balancing and adding new cameras much easier than before. Add this to other quality-of-life upgrades like the built-in fill light (which can produce up to 1,000 lumens of light) and the fast-charging, and it should prove to be a bit more approachable for beginners.
The DJI RSC 2 remains a more powerful option for pro filmmakers, and we're also big fans of its folding design and app. But the Crane-M2S is shaping up to be a more affordable alternative for those with smaller mirrorless cameras, or full-frame models with compact prime lenses.
- Check out our guide to the world's best phone gimbals
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Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at both TechRadar and Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.