Review: Zhiyun Weebill-S – is this the mirrorless gimbal you have been looking for?
A solid gimbal for beginners and professionals alike.
If you’re looking to up your videography game, you’ll know that to get that silky-smooth footage, you need a gimbal for your camera. The main players in the consumer space are DJI, Moza, and Zhiyun. These three companies make a huge range of gimbals to go with every camera type, from action cameras and smartphones, all the way up to smaller cine cameras.
The thing is, for most home users, you don’t need a gimbal from the upper end of the market. Those are designed to work with the heavier camera and lens combos and are completely overkill for home use. What you need is a lightweight gimbal that has motors strong enough for the majority of consumer cameras, while still providing for flexibility in shooting style.
We’re looking at one of those gimbals from Zhiyun Tech, the Weebill-S, which is designed for mainstream mirrorless and DSLR cameras.
Give me the skinny
Okay, so the most important thing to me about the Weebill-S is that it’s designed to easily swap between upright and underslung positions. That’s huge for shooting position flexibility, and something that most low-cost gimbals don’t do well, requiring annoying setup steps to achieve. With this gimbal, all you have to do is reposition the bottom handle to the other mounting position, and you’re away. That’s made easier if you get Zhiyun’s quick release handle accessories, and I highly recommend picking two up.
The gimbal comes packed in a well-protected foam box, housing the gimbal body, a quick-release plate, a whole bunch of USB cables, and two chunky rechargeable batteries and their charger. Those batteries can last for up to 14 hours according to Zhiyun, and we didn’t have any issues with day-long testing sessions.
The Weebill-S weighs under a kilogram, which is good considering the length of time you’ll be holding it while filming. Balancing it is simple, with locking axis switches so you only have to deal with balancing one axis at a time. It’s kinda tricky to get the hang of it the first few times you do it, but once you get the hang of adjustments, balancing any new camera setup only takes a couple of minutes. That also lets you lock the axes between locations, so you can set it up once and then use the same settings once you’ve moved. Time-saving is always a plus.
Everything feels solidly built, which lets me just worry about my accident-prone hands holding my camera, and not about the gimbal.
So, how stable is stable anyway?
The Weebill-S has uprated motors from the earlier Crane Lab, so it can technically handle heavier camera + lens combinations. There is one proviso here though, with some larger lens combos interfering with the back motor when put into the underslung mode. Then again, if you’ve got a larger camera setup, you’ll probably be looking for a larger, two-handed gimbal so you can use secondary support to save your aching arms. I can’t imagine running around all day with cinema lenses one-handed, ouch!
The controls are well laid out, with everything in reach while holding the gimbal. You can also use your smartphone as a motion controller if you prefer. This is kinda tricky to get used to, as anyone who’s played the more complicated sheikah shrines in Breath of the Wild on Nintendo’s Switch console knows, but once you’ve tweaked the response in the app it works well.
The TransMount Image Transmission Module gives the app some superpowers though, turning it into a professional monitor with histogram, pseudocolor, LUT support, zebra stripes, clipping, reference line, focus peaking, monochrome, and mirror-image; adding a huge range of tools. Depending on your camera, you can use your smartphone’s touch screen to control image and shooting controls, and SmartFollow, which lets you tap on an object that you see on your screen, and the gimbal will follow it to keep it in the frame. Nice.
Okay, so we’ve covered the gimbal itself, but that’s only part of the story, and we all love a completed story, right? Zhiyun has brought out a huge range of accessories for the Weebill S, even before you consider all the aftermarket companies that make accessories for devices such as this. We’ve got a fold-away phone holder to go on that rosette mount, a quick-release for the 1/4 screw holes for easily swapping the mini tripod or other mounts on and off, a wireless zoom/focus controller, a mini-tripod, a monopod, a bag for all your stuff, an Image Transmission module, an Image Transmission receiver, and even a joystick to use with the Image Transmission package so you can control the gimbal from afar. Whew, that’s a compelling ecosystem.
The Weebill-S also has a huge range of third-party accessories from all the names you would expect, made possible by Zhiyun using industry-standard 1/4 inch mount holes and adding a rosette clamp to the handle, for easily attaching things like a camera monitor. That’s a big deal, as manufacturers haven’t always played nice with the industry at large. I actually use a Smallrig cage for my iPhone 11 Pro as a monitor, as the OLED screen is great.
We had the Image Transmission module for testing, and it did a great job of wireless image transmission to our iPad Pro, turning it into a touchscreen director’s monitor. It didn’t always play nice with our testing camera, the Fuji X-T3 but the gimbal itself did so maybe there’s a future firmware update that will resolve this. This just goes to show that you should read the compatibility notes before buying hardware, as gimbals have traditionally supported the major camera models only, from manufacturers from Sony, Canon, and Nikon. Fuji is a fairly recent addition to adding gimbal controls to their cameras and still has a way to go for feature parity with the big three.
So, should I buy the Zhiyun Weebill-S?
At $400, the Zhiyun Weebill-S brings a lot to the table. It’s small, easy to set up, and most importantly – able to provide pretty good stabilization. It’s my favorite gimbal for mirrorless and DSLR under $1000 and is a cost-effective way of getting that silky smooth footage so you don’t have to fight your footage in post. After all, the less post-production you have to do, the better in my experience. It’s still getting firmware updates, even well after a year, with fixes and additional camera compatibility.
Zhiyun also makes a ton of accessories for this gimbal, from the Image Transmission package that doesn’t even need to be used with the gimbal, for wireless image monitoring from any device, to the focus follow kit (not tested) that should make changing focus mid-shot a cinch. The app can be a little glitchy, but it’s certainly improved in reliability during the time I’ve spent using the gimbal after Zhiyun pushed a few updates out, so it feels like Zhiyun is in the long haul for supporting the Weebil S, something we always like to see.
Overall, it’s a great gimbal with a huge value proposition and will appeal to beginners (like me) and to professionals alike.
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