I have reviewed quite a few smartphone and action camera gimbals over the time and | can tell you that they have become one of my favorite gadgets that allow me to shoot professional looking videos. The Zhiyun-Tech Smooth III is by far the best smartphone gimbal we have ever tested. Learn more in our full Zhiyun Smooth 3 review.
The gimbal ships with some paperwork, a charging cable and a strap that can be attached to a high-quality gimbal case that I found to be really handy once I’m on the go.
DESIGN and FEATURES
The gimbal is made entirely of metal and it just screams quality. Everything is precisely assembled and it is really comfortable to hold it in one hand. Also, I love those those red accents that make the gimbal match with my Manfrotto camera supports.
The Smooth III is thicker and a bit heavier than the previous generation Smooth II gimbal but it looks less bulky than the budget Smooth Q.
If you want to start using it, you just have slide your phone in, make sure it sits nice and tight, press the power button for a few seconds and you are good to go.
It’s worth mentioning that the Smooth III has a built-in counterweight system, meaning that you don’t need to use any counterweights like on some other gimbals. There is an extendable axis to balance the gimbal by just one step.
The gimbal holds the phone in landscape mode, which is the mode I used most of the time. If you want to use the phone vertically e.g. for some live streaming services, you simply need to unscrew the screw holding the phone cradle to change the position. That is a huge upgrade over some other gimbals like the Smooth II since you don’t need to buy any extra accessories.
In fact, I used to vertical mode to mount my action camera even though this gimbal is designed for smartphones. I can’t say it worked perfectly once I started moving the gimbal but it can get the job done for some shots. Anyway, you can buy an action camera plate to make the gimbal work perfectly with action cameras.
There are a few control buttons on the gimbal that are clicky and tactile. The mode button allows you to switch from one mode to another.
The default mode is called the pan following mode and I used it most of the time. If you press the mode button once, the gimbal will enter the locking mode, which is great for smooth pan or tilt shots if you want to film a particular object. If you press the mode button twice, you will enter the pan and pitch following mode, where the gimbal moves towards the direction you point the camera to. This mode works pretty well too. Even if you move the gimbal quickly, you will get a smooth shot since all the axes move slowly. The last mode is the selfie mode and it is triggered by pressing the mode button 3 times.
You can also control the gimbal manually using the joystick and I found this feature to work great. However, I suggest you reducing the pan and tilt speeds in the app to get those nice slow cinematic shots.
You can use the gimbal either with your stock camera app or with the ZY Play app that is an upgraded version of the Zhiyun Assistant app, and control the phone over the Bluetooth using the buttons.
Obviously, you can take pictures or shoot videos, switch from the main to the front-facing camera and so on. Also, the rotating wheel is really cool once you want to zoom in or out quite smoothly. Also, the ZY Play apps offers some new cool features like a time-lapse, slow-motion, long exposure or panorama modes. You can also use an object tracking feature, which works quite well with moving objects. See the video review for a more detailed look at the camera app.
I have to tell you that the footage looks just stunning as I was simply walking normally and I didn’t try to hold my hands steadily at all but the video still looks very smooth.
We made a quick comparison how the 4k video from my Samsung Galaxy S8 looks with the gimbal and without the gimbal while I’m climbing up and down the stairs. The difference was pretty obvious. I remember that the Smooth II gimbal started wobbling a little bit under very strong wind but the Smooth III now has 40% stronger motors and the gimbal works just fine even on a very windy day. That is really impressive.
I remember that the Smooth II gimbal started wobbling a little bit under very strong wind but the Smooth III now has 40% stronger motors and the gimbal works just fine even on a very windy day. That is really impressive. See the video review for video samples.
What I love is that the phone stays firmrly in the gimbal no matter how hard you move it, so you wont end up breaking your device. Also, the Smooth III is very silent since it uses brushless motors.
The 1/4 screw mount on the bottom of the gimbal allows you to attach the gimbal to all sorts of accessories like tripods. What I love about the Smooth III is that it can stay vertically without any tripods.
The Zhiyun Smooth III has a replaceable 4600mAh battery that performs just great. The official claims are about 14 hours of continuous use and I can assure you that I was able to achieve similar results. That means that you won’t need to charge the battery very often.
Speaking of charging, it takes about 3 hours to fully charge the gimbal. One of my favourite features of the Smooth III is that you can charge your phone from the gimbal. However, you need to use the microUSB to microUSB cable, which is sold separately and the charging speeds are just 1A.
The Zhiyun Smooth 3 is by far the best smartphone gimbal I have ever tested. I’ve used it for about a month and it has been working absolutely fine. I love that it looks and feels premium, it has a ton of features and most importantly it stabilizes the video very well even under poor weather conditions.
The main shortcoming would be that there is no microUSB to microUSB cable included in the packaging, so you would need to buy it separately.
At the end of the day, the price of about $300 may sound steep for some but the Zhiyun Smooth III has everything to be called a great smartphone gimbal and thus, I can easily recommend it.