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The Zhiyun WEEBILL-S gimbal was announced last year in Bangkok. It is the latest addition to the Zhiyun’s extensive selection of camera stabilizers such as the WEEBILL Lab and the CRANE3 Lab.

Since there are plenty of professional reviews of the WEEBILL-S out there on the web and we’re just operating a small YouTube channel, we thought it might be more suitable for us to look at the Zhiyun WEEBILL-S from the perspective of a beginner filmmaker.

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This written article acts as a supplementary to our video review. We highly recommend you to watch the video instead as there are many things that are easily shown but difficult to describe.

Unboxing

The WEEBILL-S comes in a compact-sized box to highlight the portability of the gimbal itself.

  • WEEBILL-S gimbal
  • Quick-release plate
  • Tripod
  • 2x 18650 Li-Ion battery
  • 18650 battery charger
  • Camera backing base
  • 3x 1/4-20 screw
  • ZW-Micro-002 camera control cable
  • ZW-Mini-002 camera control cable
  • LNMBUC-B01 camera control cable
  • ZW-Multi-002 camera control cable
  • Type-C USB firmware upgrade cable
  • Quick start guide

You don’t get a dedicated carrying case so you’ll have to resort to reuse the foam case and try to fit it in your current carrying case/bag but the WEEBILL-S is easy to carry around by itself.

Or, just take out the batteries and chuck the whole gimbal in the foam case into your luiggage bag.

User Experience

Foldable Compact Size + High Payload Capacity

During the launch event, Zhiyun has repeatedly highlighted the small form factor of the WEEBILL-S by comparing its folded form with an A4 paper. That is pretty impressive considering that the gimbal itself at 926 grams is capable of supporting payloads such as the Sony A7III + FE 24-70mm F2.8. That is great news if you plan to use the gimbal for a long term as you upgrade the camera and lens. Refer to Zhiyun’s official camera compatibility guide for more info.

Zhiyun WEEBILL-S

Our setup is consists of a Sony A7S + FE 24-70mm F4.0 which is well below its maximum supported payload.

Gimbal Arm Latches & Balancing

The gimbal arm has a couple of red latches to lock the gimbal axels in both storage or balanced positions. It is extremely useful during transportation as you don’t have to worry your camera dangling around the gimbal. It also helps to keep other axels in place while you’re balancing the camera on the gimbal which is crucially important.

Zhiyun WEEBILL-S

Speaking of balancing, the use of the two-in-one quick-release plate (Manfrotto/Arca-Swiss) makes it a versatile option if you ever wanted to take off the camera for a shoot and then mounting back the camera without worrying about messing up the balance.

Button Layout & Independent Operations

The buttons and controls are located at the main handle, including the small LED display. While the buttons & joystick quality could have been better, the included display is magnificent as it will show pretty much all the required information when you operate the gimbal including changing the gimbal settings. This is what I really like about the Zhiyun WEEBILL-S, you don’t need to have the app in order to have full control of the gimbal.

Zhiyun WEEBILL-S

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the company’s development effort in making the Zhiyun Play a wonderful companion app. You see, during a video shooting session, the videographer is actually fully occupied with the task they need to perform, such as shooting angle, focus points and etc. Sure, the uses of the mobile phone’s gyro sensor as the gimbal control are pretty interesting I must say, but the added wireless delay makes it difficult to work with during actual shoots even if you have an assistant. That’s why I personally think that having the gimmick of connecting the phone to the gimbal via Bluetooth actually increases the hassle.

That being said, we certainly hope to get our hands on the official accessories such as the TransMount Image Transmission Module and Remote Control to test on a multi-crew filming workflow as well as the full capabilities of the Zhiyun Play app.

Camera Control Connection

The supported camera can be connected to the gimbal to provide extra controls from the gimbal buttons without having to touch the camera. Zhiyun has provided various USB interfaces used across different camera manufacturers. Make sure to connect the control cable first before powering on the gimbal and then followed by the camera.

Unfortunately, our aging Sony A7S is no longer supported by the WEEBILL-S. Despite so, we found out that, changing the camera connection settings on the gimbal to Canon actually allows us to send commands to the Sony A7S + FE 24-70mm F4.0. The control wheel changes the aperture and the record button will start/stop recording. That was totally unexpected.

Stabilizer Modes

The WEEBILL-S supports 2 stabilizer modes – the standard up-right mode and low-angle briefcase mode. Just change the position of the detachable tripod and instantly operate the camera from a different perspective.

Take note that the gap between the handle and the motor is not too far apart, for those with bigger hands might need to take extra precaution when shooting in briefcase mode.

Zhiyun WEEBILL-S

If only if Zhiyun includes a dedicated briefcase mode handle to be mounted at the top, in that way we can keep the tripod permanently mounted to the bottom which provides extra gripping point and at the same time allow you to put down the gimbal at the upright position. Right now we need to detach and reattach the tripod before we could put down the gimbal.

The footage shot on the WEEBILL-S is, as expected from a gimbal, smooth and steady. At first, you might face some jittery footage or over-sensitive movement from the gimbal. That can be easily fixed by auto-tuning the motor to match with the payload. I’ll leave you with sample footage for you to judge.

Battery Life

Zhiyun has stated that a single full charge would last about 14 hours of usage that’s pretty standard when compared with other models across different manufacturers. In fact, the actual strength of Zhiyun WEEBILL-S lies within the use of standard 18650 batteries instead of a proprietary battery.

Zhiyun WEEBILL-S

That means users can purchase a replacement or spare battery without having to pay for that “exclusive” rights. Not to mention that you can charge the spare battery on a dedicated battery charger.

Wrapping up Zhiyun WEEBILL-S review

We have plenty of gimbal choices available in the market. How each gimbal brand differentiates from each other is mostly depending on the motor’s performance consistency, accessories as well as the software features. At the end of the day, a gimbal’s task is to provide a steady handheld video shooting platform and the Zhiyun WEEBILL-S did a splendid job at that.

At the official retail price of RM1,499 or US$439, the Zhiyun WEEBILL S is a great gimbal for beginner filmmakers to invest in. It combines both affordability and functionality without having to tie the user down with any of that proprietary nonsense. The battery is easily replaceable with third-party options and the optional standalone TransMount Image Transition Module can be used by itself to transmit video footage wirelessly. All those features make it one of the most versatile and cleverly designed ecosystems that focuses on pleasing the users.

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