If you’ve tried taking a video on your iPhone without image stabilisation, you’ll know that the videos turn out very shaky. It ends up giving a “home video” look to it, especially when combined with a too-high 30fps. Optical and digital stabilisation, though helpful, doesn’t always cut it. The trick? A stabiliser or gimbal. Usually, a good three axis gimbal will set you back around $500, but the Zhiyun Smooth Q is just $139.99. The drawback is that the gimbal doesn’t have many of the features that more expensive ones do, but it still uses the same principles and techniques to give you buttery smooth video. By using three different motors and a plethora of various sensors, the Zhiyun Smooth Q corrects your rolling, tilting, and panning movements.
The Zhiyun Smooth Q features a different design to a lot of other gimbals. Since it’s a budget-oriented gimbal, it trades the metal body of older, more expensive gimbals, like the Zhiyun Smooth 2, for a plastic body and handle. While it’s not as nice as metal, it still looks decent. The plastic also helps to keep the weight down, which is great, since gimbals can get quite heavy. It’s closest relative in terms of design would be the DJI OSMO Mobile, which is a full $160 more than the Zhiyun Smooth Q. The build quality is superb, for the materials, and for the price, and it’s well designed too.
Comfort can be an issue, as the smooth plastic handle isn’t very grippy. Unlike most gimbals, the handle doesn’t have any indent for grip, so using the gimbal with one hand, as well as operating the control panel on top with your thumb could be uncomfortable, as well as risky. You can stick on a makeshift grip, which may be advisable, but it ruins the smooth aesthetic of the gimbal. Overall, the Zhiyun Smooth Q looks good, but doesn’t feel as good as I hoped it would. It comes in four different colors, fitting with Apple’s own – Black, Space Gray, Gold, and Rose Gold. I prefer the Space Gray version, as it fits with my Space Gray iPhone 6s, but if your phone doesn’t fit those colors, black goes with everything.
Obviously, the Zhiyun Smooth Q’s main feature is stabilisation for your videos, but it also has a few secondary features. Since the battery isn’t replaceable, Zhiyun has managed to squeeze in a massive 26650 battery. While it can keep the gimbal running for ~12 hours, it can also charge your phone, through the USB A port at the bottom. Unfortunately, you can’t have your phone stabilised and charging, since the weight of the cable will mess with the stabilisation. At the top of the gimbal, there’s a control panel.
When combined with the ZY app, it can control zoom, start/stop, as well as gimbal control. As well as integration with the Gimbal, the ZY play app also has another trick up it’s sleeve. Much like the DJI OSMO Mobile, the Zhiyun Smooth Q has facial recognition, so it can track you in a shot, and keep you centred. It doesn’t work as well as the one on the DJI OSMO mobile, and for $139, I wouldn’t expect it to. Like mentioned before, the control panel is easy enough to access, but the slippery grip means that it can be uncomfortable and dangerous to try and manipulate it using your thumb.
Overall, the stabilisation from the Zhiyun Smooth Q is very good. It’s smooth, and corrects unwanted movements very well. It also has a wide range of positions, and the rotating axis is 360 degrees. It’s not as good as the DJI OSMO Mobile, but it’s definitely close to it. The only place the Zhiyun Smooth Q really falls short compared to the DJI OSMO Mobile is app integration and facial tracking. The joystick control on the control panel is also far too sensitive straight out of the box. The Zhiyun Smooth Q has 4 different modes:
In this mode, you can control the pan, with tilt and roll controlled with the joystick.
In this mode, you can control the tilt as well as the pan.
In this mode, everything is locked, and the Gimbal will do everything in it’s power to keep the phone completely still on all axis
The smartphone turns around and faces the user.
All of these modes can be used in both portrait and landscape modes.
The Zhiyun Smooth Q is not the only Gimbal made specifically for use with mobile phones. Among the others are the Zhiyun Smooth III and the DJI OSMO Mobile. In addition, there are similar products around the same price point, most notably from Feiyu Tech. Both the Zhiyun Smooth Q and DJI OSMO Mobile cost in excess of $100 more than the Zhiyun Smooth Q, and the DJI OSMO Mobile costs more than double. If you’re on a super-tight budget, you could consider a two axis gimbal, which only stabilises for roll and tilt. However, I wouldn’t recommend this, as panning motions are left completely unstabilised and subject to a lot of shaking.
Value For Money
With functionality and design like this, it’s difficult to fault the Zhiyun Smooth Q, especially for the price. Though the build quality isn’t stellar, it’s still a very good gimbal for $139.99. The DJI OSMO Mobile is it’s closest relative, but it doesn’t even come close in terms of value for money, since it’s price tag is exponentially higher at $299. It’s prohibitively priced for most causal users, so if you’re just looking to shoot your holiday or an outing, the Zhiyun Smooth Q represents much much better value for money
The Zhiyun Smooth Q is one of the most heavily featured gimbals on youtube today, and it’s no surprise – the Zhiyun Smooth Q is a brilliant gimbal. With it’s low cost, attractive design, color options, superb performance, I’d recommend it to anyone on a tight budget looking for an affordable gimbal. It’s performance rivals that of the $299 DJI OSMO Mobile, and it has a few extra features which can make it replace your power bank. It’s a versatile and affordable gimbal with great performance, and for that reason, I’d recommend it.