[the crew 2 review]Zhiyun Weebill 2 Review

  The Zhiyun Weebill 2 (starting at $549) is an update to the popular Weebill-S. It’s able to support APS-C, Micro Four Thirds, and full-frame mirrorless cameras, and nets handheld video that’s nearly as stable as you’d get from a tripod. A flip-out touch display is new, so menus are a lot easier to navigate. Accessories are available to expand the baseline features, but even in its basic configuration, the Weebill 2 does a fine job keeping handheld footage level and steady. It costs a bit more than our Editors’ Choice winner, the $499 DJI RSC 2, but it’s easier to set up and use.

  The Weebill 2 falls into the category of small gimbals, at least among models that support interchangeable lens cameras. It comes in at 12.6 by 2.4 by 8.9 inches (HWD) and weighs 3.2 pounds. The included tripod feet add a little bit of height. They detach for storage, and fold in to add a bit of extension for handheld use.

  Zhiyun Weebill 2

  (Photo: Jim Fisher)

  It’s easier carry and stow than the heavier Crane 2S, without dropping support for heavier rigs. Zhiyun touts the Weebill 2’s support for full-frame rigs, including ultra-wide zooms that open to F2.8, like the Canon RF 15-35mm. I paired it with the Panasonic Lumix S5 and 20-60mm lens, as well as a lightweight APS-C mirrorless system for testing.

  Zhiyun Weebill 2

  The Weebill 2 fits into the side pocket of the Peak Design Everyday Backpack (Photo: Jim Fisher)

  It manages all this without folding in half, the approach DJI takes with its compact Ronin RSC 2 gimbal. That means it’s not quite as easy to find a place for it in every camera bag. I use the Peak Design Everyday Backpack as my daily driver to carry the photo gear I’m reviewing. I was happy to see the Weebill fit into its side pocket, but I’ve got plenty of backpacks that won’t fit the gimbal so easily.

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  $599.99

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  $149.00

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  If you prefer to carry your gimbal separately, you can add Zhiyun’s accessory carrying case. It costs $89 on its own, but it makes more sense to buy it in a bundle. The Weebill 2 Combo comes in at $649 and includes the case and a quick-release sling grip for low-angle use, available separately for $59. It’s contoured to fit your hand, and a better solution for low-to-the-ground footage than using a set of folding feet.

  Zhiyun Weebill 2

  This accessory handle is included in the Combo and Pro kits (Photo: Jim Fisher)

  The Pro edition, which we received for evaluation, includes everything in the Combo, plus a follow focus motor and a wireless video transmission kit. Adding the transmission kit opens up some welcome features, including the ability to view video from your camera on the Weebill 2’s LCD and to use the gimbal to keep the lens pointed at a particular subject.

  The Pro bundle comes in at $899 and is a good fit if you need to use manual focus control, or if you don’t have a camera with its own flip-out display for monitoring.

  Zhiyun Weebill 2

  This carrying case is also included in the Combo and Pro kits (Photo: Jim Fisher)

  For on-set use or other projects where you’re working with a crew, the Pro+ is available for $1,099. It includes everything from the Pro kit, plus a portable video monitor, the MasterEye VC100. The display includes a big 5.5-inch display with 1,000cd/m2 brightness and integrated controls to set gimbal tilt and adjust camera settings. It costs $349 on its own.

  Like most other powered gimbals, the Weebill 2 stabilizes your camera on three axes. To get started, you need to properly mount your camera at its center of balance. It’s old hat if you’ve used other devices like this, and the flip-out display comes in handy to help you along if you need to fine-tune balance.

  Zhiyun Weebill 2

  (Photo: Jim Fisher)

  Zhiyun includes mounting plates for your camera. I used the small riser and a long base plate for the Lumix S5—you can get away with just the base plate if you’re using a lens that doesn’t extend past the bottom of your camera, but I need it for this configuration.

  They attach using screws; a lightweight hex tool is included. It’s not quite as convenient as the thumb screws you get with the DJI Ronin RSC 2, but the tighter fit you get with installation tools makes the Zhiyun plates less prone to slip. I recommend swapping out the provided Allen wrench with a nicer one, or a decent flathead screwdriver for the best experience.

  Zhiyun Weebill 2

  (Photo: Jim Fisher)

  The plate slides into the main mounting point on the gimbal. It includes a distance scale, a visual aid to help you get it balanced. You’ll want to get it centered there first—move the plate back and forth until the camera stays still in place on its own. Once that’s set, lock the lever in place, tilt the camera straight up, and repeat the process on the vertical mounting arm.

  Once you’ve got those two set, you can repeat the process along the roll axis. When all three are set properly you can leave the camera pointed in any direction and it will stay in place, even with the gimbal powered down. Each axis has a lock switch, too.

  Zhiyun Weebill 2

  (Photo: Jim Fisher)

  If you’re having trouble, the on-screen display comes in handy. It shows visual indicators to let you know where the system is out of balance, and lets you fine-tune calibration along any axis.

  Be aware that Zhiyun has stuck with its own mounting plate system here. It’s possible to swap plates between the Weebill 2 and other Zhiyun gimbals. If you use tripods or other supports with dovetail Arca-Swiss plates, consider the DJI RSC 2 instead—its mounting plates comply to the standard.

  When the gimbal is set up properly, footage from your camera has a smooth, steady look. Vloggers can record walk-and-talk footage and concentrate on content, not holding the camera perfectly. For cinema projects, long handheld takes, like the famous Copacabana sequence from Goodfellas, can be made without a big Steadicam rig.

  Most gimbals put the thumb stick and other camera controls on the handle, so they can be operated with the same hand that’s supporting the system. The Weebill 2 moves them to the left side, just above the handle grip.

  Zhiyun Weebill 2

  (Photo: Jim Fisher)

  The joystick remains under thumb, but there’s an adjustment period. It’s also not possible to invert its y-axis response, something you can do with the Crane 2S and DJI RSC 2, which is worth noting if you’re used to that style of control. I had a lot more trouble getting used to dealing with the y-axis than with the side-mounted control.

  It’s joined by a Record button, a toggle switch to swap between the three main stabilization modes (Pan Follow, Low, Follow), and a flexible control wheel. With our Lumix S5, the wheel was able to set aperture, shutter speed, and focus lenses with support for electronic control.

  Zhiyun Weebill 2

  (Photo: Jim Fisher)

  The Power button is there too, next to a light strip that gives a visual indication of the charge level (a percentage is shown on the LCD, too). The button is a little hard to reach if the display is open, and requires a long press to turn the gimbal on or off. It can also be used to put the motors to sleep, helpful if you’re taking a break or get in a situation where the motors are struggling, typically a result of a poorly balanced rig.

  The Weebill 2 supports USB camera control for the mainstream mirrorless brands, including Blackmagic, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Sigma, and Sony. Its control port is USB-C, and cables for cameras that use micro USB and USB-C are included.

  Zhiyun Weebill 2

  (Photo: Jim Fisher)

  The LCD opens up additional functions. The gimbal can be set to move during time-lapse sequences, and it can also spin around for 360-degree rotating shots, the Vortex effect, or you can lock the roll axis to get more dramatic point-of-view shots in Go mode. There’s also a trigger button, at the front of the handle; a double tap recenters the gimbal and levels out the horizon.

  Zhiyun has skipped swappable batteries here. Its Crane 2S has some appeal for long days on location thanks to removable cells, but with the Weebill 2 you’re limited to charging via USB-C. High-power chargers are supported for quicker replenishment, and the gimbal can run from USB power, too. Zhiyun estimates nine hours per charge, and while that’s not as ambitious as the 14 hours DJI promises its RSC 2 can run, it’s more video than most of us will want to record in a day.

  The Zhiyun Weebill 2 is an appealing stabilization system for cinematographers and vloggers using mirrorless camera systems. It has enough power to support full-frame camera systems, but doesn’t feel oversized if you’re using Micro Four Thirds or APS-C equipment. Today’s consumer cameras are able to record stunning footage at 4K and beyond. The addition of gimbal stabilization makes handheld video look more professional, an instant level of production value.

  Zhiyun Weebill 2

  (Photo: Jim Fisher)

  Results are solid. The gimbal proved easy to set up and balance. Its flip-out LCD is appealing to video creators getting started with stabilizers—it introduces some visual help, both for setup and to swap between camera modes. We also like the rear mounting point for the low-angle handle—if you love making low-angle shots, the accessory grip is a worthwhile add-on.

  At $549 to start, you pay a little bit more than for the DJI RSC 2. We found the Weebill 2 to be a little easier to balance, and while tools are required for installation, its mounting plates held better than with DJI’s thumb screws. The touch screen is a plus too; we haven’t seen another consumer gimbal with one.

  Zhiyun Weebill 2

  (Photo: Jim Fisher)

  Spending more unlocks additional features. The Pro configuration ($899) includes follow focus and video transmission. If you plan on using the latter, the built-in display opens up subject tracking and lets you monitor footage more easily when using a camera without its own vari-angle monitor. If you use a Sony a7 III, a Nikon Z 6, or another camera that only has basic screen tilt, it’s worth spending some more.

  We’re happy with the Weebill 2’s overall performance and construction. It’s not quite enough to earn our Editors’ Choice award, which remains with the DJI RSC 2. The small, folding Ronin series gimbal costs less to start, and can be had in a similar pro kit with follow focus and wireless video transmission for $739.

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