The Nikon d810 is one of the most popular entry-level price bracket DSLR cameras on the market right now and its excellent functionality, image quality, and build have earned it a huge core customer base. The large amount of versatility offered by the camera has also enabled it to be a popular option for photographers, videographers, vloggers, and social media influencers. Although the d810 is currently priced at the absolute ceiling of the entry-level price bracket, in our opinion, the image quality it provides is comparable to some of the intermediate price point cameras making it a great option.
Due to the huge core customer base of the Nikon d810 as well as the great reputation it has within the community, we always see large amounts of people reaching out with various questions on-camera accessories they can use to improve the image quality they capture. One of the commonly asked questions comes from the videography and vlogging side of things and is based around the best gimbal for Nikon d810 cameras.
Due to seeing so many people reaching out on a regular basis, we have decided to take a look at the gimbals that are suitable for the d810 in today’s article. Due to the camera being a DSLR, it is double the size and weight of the majority of mirrorless cameras on the market right now excluding many of the popular options. Thankfully though, there are two great options that are suitable and we feel that the DJI Ronin S or the Zhiyun Crane 3 are excellent options for the d810.
They are both solid DSLR camera gimbals that can provide you with great levels of image stabilization to allow your Nikon d810 to capture the best image quality possible. Although both are handheld gimbal stabilizers, the Crane 3 does have a more modern design that can make your life easier if you are using a super heavy d810 setup. Additionally, the Crane 3 has only been on the market for a few months whereas the Ronin S is a few years old now meaning the tech on the Crane 3 is usually smaller, lighter, more efficient, and required less power to work.
Due to this, we are going to have the Crane 3 as our primary gimbal recommendation for any of our readers who own the Nikon d810 and are looking for a gimbal for their camera. Although the Ronin S is a great, the recent price reduction on the Crane 3 and its modern technology push it ahead in our opinion-making it the better option. Additionally, it seems many vloggers and videographers agree as it has managed to earn itself a great reputation within the community in a matter of months.
Performance Of The Gimbal
As we touched on above, the Nikon d810 is a pretty heavy camera for its size and price point with a camera bodyweight of around 2.16 pounds with its battery housed while free from any camera accessories. Thankfully though, the Crane 3 has a huge maximum load capacity, the largest of any gimbal in the sub-$1000 price point right now coming in at 10.14 pounds. This should easily be enough for even the heaviest of d810 setups ensuring that you are always able to get optimal image stabilization for your rig.
With your d810 mounted, the Crane 3 still offers around eight pounds of freeload capacity for your camera lens, video light, and external microphone. As you can probably guess, even most of the heavy s810 setups don’t come close to taking all of this up so you can safely use the heavier camera rigs without issue. Additionally, the design of the Crane 3, as well as its high torque, next-generation gimbal motors, ensure that you can mount any lens you wish to your d810 without issue. Thre are a fair few modern gimbals that are decent until you mount a heavy or long lens to them and then they run into issues but this is not the case with the Crane 3 and it is smooth sailing even with the heaviest of lenses.
Although likley still plenty for most of our readers, in our opinion, the only real let down for the Crane 3 is its maximum battery life that is currently just under eight hours. Although we have seen speculation that Zhiyun are working on a new firmware update to improve this, at the time of writing this is just speculation and not confirmed. That said though, a battery life of between seven and eight hours is likley plenty for many of our readers anyway and there are also a few third-party battery packs for the Crane 3 to extend this further if required anyway.
The gimbal can be recharged back to full in around two hours too offering a solid charing to usable battery ratio. This means that if you are on a long session, you can usually jack the gimbal into a mains outlet to recharge it quickly. Although we have not tried this ourselves, we have also seen reports of people using a high output USB power bank to recharge their gimbals too but this will depend on the power output capability of the power bank.
Zhiyun has been hard at work over the last two years or so and every gimbal that they have released within this time period has had some solid innovation and helped ensure that Zhiyun holds the top spot when it comes to gimbals. The detection and correction system used on the Crane 3 is just another area where they have innovated and dominated resulting in one of the best systems on the market right now. In our opinion, the only competitor that even comes close to the current Zhiyun system is Moza with their Aircross 2 but as it is a mirrorless camera gimbal, it can definatley struggle with the mid to heavy Nikon d810 setups so we discounted it in favor of the heavy lifting Crane 3.
The Zhiyun gimbal sensors have been updated since their previous generation of gimbals and although they were still top tier when used in the Crane Plus and the Crane 2, their improved accuracy and speed really help them dominate the heavy lifting range in the Crane 3. Not only do that have increased accuracy and processing speed but they are also slightly smaller and around a quarter lighter than the older version of the gimbal sensors too.
We have mentioned how we feel that the Zhiyun balancing algorithm is just ever so slightly ahead of the DJI and Moza algorithms but in reality, all three of them are top tier and leave the compeating gimbals for dust in our opinion. That said though, the Zhiyun is not only lightning fast but it also helps to ensure that every counter-movement from the gimbal is as power-efficient as possible. This is a solid feature for the Crane 3 as it has such a low maximum battery life potential anyway.
Although the gimbal sensors and Zhiyun balancing algorithm are great, in our opinion, the main reason that this generation of Zhiyun gimbals is dominating so much is the excellent motors that Zhiyun has developed. Although the variant on the Crane 3 is a little power hungry when using super heavy camera rigs, we doubt that any of the popular Nikon d810 rigs used right now will even come close to its maximum load capacity.
The high torque Zhiyun gimbal motors on the Crane 3 help to ensure that no matter what you are planning to do with the gimbal, they should easily be able to provide you with all the power you require for your setup. At the time of writing, for their size and weight, the offer some of the highest amounts of torque available right now and really shows the age of the motors on the DJI Ronin S.
User Interface And Control System
Zhiyun has made some changes to the interface for the Crane 3 due to it having been designed for use with mid to super heavy rigs that the Nikon d810 definatley falls within. To try and keep everything as comfortable as possible, the setup is based around the main handheld gimbal design while also having a supporting arm to allow you to easily use two hands to support the heavier payload weight of your camera. Due to this, the control interface is split between the main gimbal handle as well as the supporting arm too.
The majority of the control system, as well as the gimbal control joystick, is on the main gimbal handle keeping everything as familiar as possible with the supporting buttons for the gimbal being on the supporting arm. Although it is likley that you will have to spend some time getting use to this new design, especially if you are used to a traditional gimbal interface, we do feel that it offers more control for professional-level videography or cinematography.
The actual joystick on the gimbal is outstanding too and really does ensure that you are getting the absolute best control possible out of the stabilizer when using it in manual mode. Due to being fully omnidirectional rather than an old school four way joystick, you can seemlesley control the gimbal head to pan or tilt as smoothly as possible with ease. One of the main benefits of these newer omnidirectional gimbal joysticks is that they are usually free from that robotic feel that some of the older gimbals had to ensure that you are capturing the smoothest footage possible for your clients.
We have seen a few people comment on how they found the balancing system on the Crane 3 a pain but in reality, it is the same balancing system that the previous generation and other gimbals in this generation of gimbals use. We feel people just find the supporting arm a little offputting when balancing their gimbal but once you are used to it, we feel that it actually makes the process easier, especially if you have a longer lens mounted to your Nikon d810.
In our opinion, once you are used to the balancing process for the Crane 3, you should easily be able to get your gimbal balance wit your d810 mounted to it and be ready to go. After going through the process a few times you should easily be able to get it ready to go in less than sixty seconds and be out and about capturing the video footage that you require.
Just like all modern gimbals, the Crane 3 also comes with a fully adjustable quick release plate too. This allows you to quickly and easily mount or unmount the d810 from the gimbal as and when required within seconds. Chances are, you will have to be switching your camera body between your gimbal, your tripod, and your hands for various types of shot throughout your session and the system on the Crane just make the whole process a breeze.
The Zhiyun smartphone app has had a ton of growing pains recently but the recent updates to the app covering both iOS and Android have fixed the various problems that it had. It has an all-new navigation menu now that is much easier to follow than the old one and it also has an updated connectivity system. The two main problems with the old version of the Zhiyun app was that it was a total nightmare to actually sync to your gimbal and once it did sync, it would randomly disconnect a whole bunch of the time anyway.
This new version of the app has been totally overhauled and it now syncs almost instantly and we have not seen a single report of the app randomly disconnecting since it was updated around three months back. We are happy to see that the Zhiyun has finally managed to catch up with the DJI and Moza apps as they were definatley leaving it in the dust.
All that said and done though, the app is not essential for use with the gimbal and it is essentially a quality of life gimbal accessory that makes some of the gimbals features much easier to use. In our opinion, the tracking mode is insanely hard to use without the app but everything else is very similar to how you would activate it via the regular physical interface anyway.
Build Quality And Design
We have mentioned the design changes to the Zhiyun Crane 3 above with the only real change being the addition of the supporting arm. Due to this, we don’t plan to rego over that point and we will just jump right in with the build quality of the gimbal. Now, as you may be able to guess due to the nature of the Crane 3 being a heavy lifter, it is not small or lightweight by any means.
This may present a problem if you have to travel via plane on a regular basis but if you do travel around with a bunch of heavy kit, we would guess the majority of our readers will be taking advantage of airline media rates anyway. This is a great way to get your gear from point A to point B while keeping the costs low and negates the heavyweight and large size of the Crane 3. The Crane 3 also has an extremely tough build quality and can easily take a bunch of bumps and knocks with ease.
Due to being designed for heavier camera setups, Zhiyun has ensured that the handle grips on the main handle and supporting arm are as comfortable as possible too. This ensures that if required, you should easily be able to hold your Crane 3, even with a super heavy Nikon d810 setup mounted to it for those longer sessions that last over an hour without getting cramps in your hand.
That concludes our article going over what we feel is the best gimbal for Nikon d810 cameras owners on the market right now. Although the DJI Ronin S is a solid gimbal, in our opinion, the Zhiyun Crane 3 sneaks out ahead to take the title. If you are looking to add a handheld gimbal stabilizer to your collection of camera accessories then the Crane 3 should definatley be your primary consideration for the d810.
As we mentioned earlier in the article, a large number of people have opted to post their own third-party, independent reviews of the Crane 3 online too. If you are yet to make your mind up then reading over them are a great way to see what the wider videographer, vlogging, and cinematography communities think of the Crane 3. They offer some great insight into how well the Crane 3 performs in a number of situations from people who have been using it as their go-to gimbal of choice for a long period of time too.