Want to make smoother, more professional-looking video? Then your first port of call is a gimbal, and the Zhiyun Crane M2 could be just the job for filming mountain biking.
Choosing a gimbal is a bit of a minefield. There are a lot of brands out there offering gimbals that work with various different cameras so, on top of trying to find the right gimbal brand, you also need to choose a gimbal that works with your camera, and then you have to ensure it has all the features that you want too.
Over the next few months, I’ve decided that I want to shoot more video, but the issue I had was I wanted a gimbal that was both small and powerful. I wanted a gimbal that would pack in my riding pack, but still, have the grunt to balance my Sony A6300 mirrorless camera.
To make my search even more tricky I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money, AND I also wanted the ability to mount a GoPro or even a smartphone too.
In all honesty, I thought I was asking too much and looking for a gimbal that couldn’t possibly offer it all, but unbelievably I’ve found one and I have it on my desk next to me.
Zhiyun Crane M2
Zhiyun is a Chinese technology company that has been releasing gimbals now for a few years. The brand started with smaller mobile phone type gimbals, but over the years has increased it’s range to include full-size, full-feature products that rival DJI’s Ronin.
The Zhiyun Crane M2 is a bit of a crossover product because it’s as small as the mobile phone dedicated gimbals the company makes but powerful enough to handle a mirrorless camera. On top of that though, the Crane M2 ships with mounts for fitting a GoPro or mobile phones, and if you do choose to shoot with your mobile you’ll get impressive features such as automatic targeting tracking.
After reading the specifications I was a little sceptical after all this is a gimbal that costs just £259 shipped, and ticks every box I wanted ticking. Before pulling the trigger I decided to check out a few YouTube videos of the Zhiyun Crane M2 to see if it was really up for balancing a mirrorless and surprisingly those reviews and tests proved it was.
The M2’s powerful motors aren’t just to keep your camera steady but can also be manually controlled via buttons located on the handle.
A joystick on the rear of the device enables manual movement over the gimbal which is great for tracking or panning shots. Below the joystick is a record button which will use Bluetooth to start recording on your camera, and next to that a mode button for flicking through the various modes the gimbal supports including a POV mode, GO mode for sports and fast-moving subjects and even a Vortex mode that spins the camera around for some very creative shots.
There’s also a trigger on the front of the handle which can be used to quickly tap from mode to mode, plus it has a triple tap feature that spins the camera around for vlog-style selfie filming.
Depending on the camera that you set up with the Zhiyun Crane M2 you’ll also have remote control capabilities and from the handle, you’ll be able to shoot video, photos and even control the zoom. This does all depend on your camera though. I first tested it with the Sony A6000 but the firmware of the camera only allows photo controls remotely whereas the A6300 will run video and zoom too.
The gimbal also packs useful axis locks for easy transportation and to aid balancing, and it ships with a phone holder, a screw-in mini tripod too, USB Type C wire, and the case it ships in is sturdy enough to use as a protective case.
As this is a first look I just wanted to run over a few of the features and tech specs of the Zhiyun Crane M2 with the aim to delve into a full review in the coming weeks. If you have any questions about the M2 though then let me know in the comments section below and I’ll answer then as fast as possible.
Zhiyun Crane M2 Features
- Maximum payload: 720g
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2 and Wi-Fi 2.4G
- Tilt Mechanical Range: 310° / Roll Mechanical range: 324°
- Mechanical range: 360° unlimited rotation / Tilt Adjustable angle: -45°~ 260°
- Roll Adjustable angle: -70° ~ 70° (Switch from landscape mode to portrait mode with a 40° angle)
- Adjustable pan angle: -180° ~ 180° /Operating temperatures: -10℃ ~ 45℃
- Battery Capacity: 1100mAh
- Battery life: 6h
- Charging time: 2h
- Price: £259.00