The Sony fs5 is a great little camera that offers some absolutely outstanding image quality with a ton of solid features. Due to this, it is proven to be an extremely popular option amongst the advanced videography and cinematography communities with many people opting to use the fs5 as their go-to camera body of choice. It is a solid camera for a large number of commonly encountered situations in both videography and cinematography so its versatility has managed to further increase its popularity over the years.
With the camera having such a large customer base with many of them working in professional-level jobs, we always see people reaching out and asking for information on a large range of different camera accessories that they are able to add to their collection to improve their image quality. One question that is just becoming more and more popular is based around the best gimbal for Sony fs5 camera users so we have decided to make this the subject for today’s article.
We are hoping that our article is going to be able to help as many of our readers as possible who use the Sony fs5 and are looking to add a solid source of image stabilization to their collection of camera accessories. Now, although there are a ton of excellent handheld gimbal stabilizers on the market right now, the weight, size, and lens dimensions of most popular fs5 rigs rule out many popular gimbals completely.
In our opinion, both the DJI Ronin S and the newer more up-to-date Zhiyun Crane 3 are the two better options on the market right now. They are excellent 3 axis gimbal stabilizers that have proven themselves time and time again within the videography and cinematography communities. They offer some of the best image stabilization available and both of them have recently received a reduction in their price tags too.
Now, although both options are great stabilizers and realistically, either of them will make a solid addition to your collection of fs5 camera accessories, we are going to opt for the Crane 3 as our primary gimbal recommendation. Unfortunately, although the Ronin S is an excellent option, it is a few years old now and definatley starting to show it when compared to the Crane 3 that is only a few months old with its new technology. On top of this, although the Crane 3 has only been available for a much shorter time frame than the Ronin S, it has already managed to earn itself a similar reputation amongst the community and appears to be set to overtake the Ronin S soon.
Performance Of The Gimbal
As we touched on briefly above, the Sony fs5 is surprisingly heavy for its size and comes in with a payload weight of around 1.76 pounds with its battery housed and no other camera accessories mounted. Thankfully though, although the camera body is bulky and heavy, the Crane 3 has the largest maximum load capacity of any 3 axis motorized gimbal stabilizer at the time of writing and can support total payload weights of just over ten pounds. This means that even with your fs5 mounted, you have around 8.38 pounds of available load capacity to load your fs5 up with all the camera accessories that you need.
Due to having so much load capacity free, this ensures that you can mount some of the heaver camera lenses on the market without having to worry about exceeding the supported payload weight of your gimbal. Additionally, these latest Zhiyun gimbal motors really are outstanding and it is hard to fault them in our opinion. They perform flawlessly with a camera rig that uses a long and heavy lens ensuring that you are able to get excellent image quality no matter what niche you are working in.
Now, in our opinion, the only real drawback for the Zhiyun Crane 3 is its maximum battery life coming in at just under eight hours per charge of its battery. At the time of writing, this is around two hours under the average battery life for the compeating gimbals on the market right now. That said though, there are a number of third-party battery packs that are able to be used to increase the battery life of the gimbal as well as some USB power bank that have a high load output and may be able to extend your gimbals battery for as long as required during use.
The Crane 3 does use the Zhiyun quick charge technology allowing you to recharge the stabilizer in as little as only two hours from totally empty all the way back up to full. This can help to let you quickly recharge the gimbal in any potential downtime that you have during your sessions if needed. For example, charging for an hour during lunch can help to get you around three to four hours of usable battery life to extend the time frame between full re-charges.
Due to the Zhiyun Crane 3 being one of the most recent releases to the Zhiyun gimbal range, it comes jam-packed with all of the latest technology from Zhiyun as well as with a new design. Although the gimbal has an absolute ton of positives going for it, one of the main reasons that it should be your primary consideration for your Sony fs5 is its outstanding detection and correction system that is probably the best on the market right now and just ahead of the DJI Ronin S system.
The new Zhiyun gimbal sensors on the Crane 3 have been improved in every way over the ones used in the Crane 2 to ensure that they would be the market leaders when released. Not only have the had a reduction in size and weight being around a third smaller around a quarter lighter but they have also been upgraded to improve their accuracy. This means that they are not only able to detect the smallest of movements to detect the required data to help the Zhiyun balancing algorithm efficiently work out how best to correct the movement.
Bringing us onto the balancing algorithm nicely, there is no doubt in our mind that the Zhiyun balancing algorithm is leading the way right now. Although DJI and Zhiyun used to leapfrog each other when it came to their gimbals and algorithms DJI has not released a new gimbal for a few years letting Zhiyun strengthen their position. Moza has put an absolute ton of work in with their balancing algorithm for the Aircross 2 and sites just behind the current Zhiyun algorithm. Unfortunately though, the Aircross 2 is more of a mirrorless camera gimbal and will likley struggle to support heavier cameras like the Sony fs5 ruling it out.
The final part of the Zhiyun detection and correction puzzle is the Zhiyun gimbal motors and their new next-generation technology is definatley dominating the market right now. The Crane 3 is dominating the heavier weight class gimbal market whereas their Weebill S is dominating the mirrorless camera weight class market due to these gimbal motors.
Not only are they smaller and lighter than the older DJI gimbal motors on the Ronin S but they are more power-efficient while also having up to three times the torque too. This means that while the Ronin S is able to support a very respectable maximum load capacity of 7.94 pounds, the motors on the Crane 3 allow it to support a market-leading 10.14 pounds of total camera payload weight.
Now, depending on what you are doing with your Sony fs5 and the niches that you will be working in, you may be using gimbal modes on a regular basis or not at all. Either way, it is nice to know that thee Crane 3 supports the standard pan, follow, lock, and manual modes that the majority of compeating gimbals also support. In addition to this, the Crane 3 also supports the new vortex mode that Zhiyun initially added to their gimbal range but compeating brands are not adding to their own range due to its popularity as well as their tracking mode.
Although DJI has managed to lead the way when it comes to gimbal tracking modes for years, we feel that the lack of new releases in the DJI gimbal line up has left the mode right open for Zhiyun to innovate away. They have managed to develop this new tracking system that is not only extremely good at tracking the subject that you tell it to but also very easy to use too.
With all of this, it is not surprising that the Crane 3 is rapidly growing its core customer base at an almost exponential rate amongst the videography and cinematography communities. Many of these who use the Crane 3 as their gimbal stabilizer of choice have opted to publish their own excellent independent reviews of the gimbal to share their experiences. They offer great insight into just how well the Crane 3 can perform in pretty much any situation you can think of, if you have the time, it is definatley worth reading a few of them.
User Interface And Control System
Zhiyun has made a few changes to the design of the Zhiyun Crane 3 that have had a direct effect of the control interface of the gimbal. The core components on the interface system such as the joystick and the most commonly used buttons are on one handle whereas the supporting buttons are on the main support. Although this breaks away from the traditional handheld gimbal control system somewhat and may require a little getting used to, many people have reported that they feel it is better for professional-level cinematography or videography.
Although Zhiyun had upgraded all of their gimbals to a modern omnidirectional joystick in their previous generation of gimbals, they have taken their gimbal joysticks a step further with the Crane 3. At the time of writing, outside of the Zhiyun Weebill S that uses the same joystick, it is without a doubt the most responsive manual gimbal controller going. Although the Moza Aircross 2 does come close, both the Aircross 2 and Weebill S are designed for use with lighter cameras and may struggle with a Sony fs5, especially with heavier camera accessories.
This new Zhiyun joystick controller allows you to seamlessly and effortlessly pan or tilt your gimbal head as required while capturing your video footage with your FS5. Although this may sound like it is a standard feature for modern handheld gimbal stabilizers, it, unfortunately, is not. The joystick on the latest Zhiyun gimbals also ensures that you get a clean and natural-looking pan or tilt and not the old school slightly robotic looking video footage too helping it score even more points.
Although we have seen a few people mention the balancing system for the Crane 3 is a pain, this is largely due to the design of the gimbal handle and supporting arm rather than the actual balancing process itself. In fact, the gimbal actually uses the same balancing system as their traditional handheld gimbal form factor units that has proven to be very easy and fast to balance. Once you are used to the slightly different design of the gimbal, we are confident that even with a long and heavy lens you should easily be able to get your Sony fs5 balanced within sixty seconds with ease.
Build Quality And Design
We have already commented on the changes made to the actual design of the Zhiyun Crane 3 above and how it has a main handle and a supporting arm so we will just be focusing on the build quality in this section of the article. Essentially the Crane 3 is still a regular handheld gimbal stabilizer with an additional handle and a regular handle in a slightly different shape to help support heavier camera rigs easier.
Now, as you can probably guess due to the maximum load capacity of 10.14, the Crane 3 is far from being a small or lightweight gimbal but this is common with these professional-level stabilizers. If you are a professional level videographer or cinematographer then chances are that you will be taking advantage of airline media rates when traveling to get your camera accessories to your destination as efficiently and cheaply as possible anyway.
Although not usually an issue for the Zhiyun, DJI or Moza gimbal ranges, some compeating brands have had a problem with their gimbals breaking quickly in recent years. Thankfully, this is not a problem with the Crane 3 as it is an extremely tough and robust stabilizer and we are confident that it will easily be able to take an absolute ton of punishment coming its way with ease before breaking. With it being a more premium price point gimbal stabilizer, Zhiyun have been sure to use tougher materials in its construction to keep it as robust as possible.
Although they have done a great job of keeping the Crane 3 as tough as possible, if you are traveling with your gimbal packed away or even just walking around your recording location with your gimbal powered down, you should take advantage of the axis locks. These are a new feature to gimbals that Zhiyun initially added to the Crane 3 and Weebill LAB but compeating brands have also started to add them to their own gimbal line up too.
They essentially let you lock each of the three gimbal axis in place within seconds to prevent them from accidentally rotating when they don’t need to rotate. This helps to keep them safe and minimize any potential risk to damage and ensure that your new gimbal will last you for years to come. All in all, Zhiyun has knocked it out the park when it comes to the build quality of the Crane 3 and we wouldn’t change a thing.
That brings us to the end of our article going over what we feel is the best gimbal for Sony fs5 camera users. As we have mentioned through the article, there are two main candidates and although the DJI Ronin S is decent, we feel that the Zhiyun Crane 3 should definatley be your primary gimbal consideration for your Sony fs5.
It is an absolutely outstanding professional level handheld gimbal stabilizer capable of providing you with some of the smoothest levels of image stabilization we have seen to date. We have absolutely no doubt in our mind that the Crane 3 will make a great addition to your fs5 camera accessories. That said though, if you are still on the fence then we would recommend that you check out some of these independent reviews that go into detail on the Crane 3 in a number of popular niches.