Are you in the market for a new gimbal? Here’s my review of my 2 favorite models: Zhiyun Smooth Q vs. Dji Osmo Mobile 2 and why I chose the Smooth Q.
A few weeks ago I got the DJI Osmo Mobile 2, a long awaited 2nd generation to DJI’s revolutionary smartphone gimbal. I could never afford the $299 first generation so had to stick with cheaper, less fancy brands like the Zhiyun Smooth Q and paid for it $119 (now sells for $99), before they launched their newest Smooth 4 model.
I had a rough entrance to the mobile gimbals world, being a pro photographer (I’m a Canon guy) in the past, it took me some time to learn how to work with a new hardware gadget. The 1st unit I bought from eBay was malfunctioned and I had to buy another one from a local store, as the eBay store (called tomtop) wouldn’t repair it after the 14 days warranty period.
I’ve been playing with the Smooth Q for quite a while now and it’s definitely the best value for money gimbal out there, still haven’t tested the Smooth 4 yet, but reading online tells me it has it’s problems. When DJI sent me their new gimbal I was overjoyed, finally I have a DJI product to compare and play with.
It’s been a few weeks now and I can honestly report that i’ll be keeping my Smooth Q. While DJI’s main win over the Smooth is the software, the Smooth has a few hardware wins that the DJI OM2 can’t reach. I got some feedback, that people would choose the DJI only for the superior app. I generally don’t use the apps at all when using the gimbals. I use the gimbals to document and reduce shakiness in my videos. The apps are great for the “gimmicky” part of the motion time-lapses and special effects. If that’s all you are looking for in your gimbal, go ahead and choose the DJI. My review and point of view are about the hardware, less the software.
For instance, the rotation range of the Smooth is nearly full 360° (Pan: 360°, Roll: 320°, Tilt: 320° (-135 to 185°)) while DJI’s is limited to half of that (Pan: ±160°, Tilt: ±155° (horizontally mounted)). When taking panoramic motion lapse or looking to cover a wide area in one shot this becomes crucial.
Also, the Smooth handles XL phones better, with a mounting weight of 220g, compared to DJI’s 202g. When working with large smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy s8/9+ or iPhone8+, every gram counts, as you usually have extra weight added from the case, which you don’t remove every shoot. Also, I found that when using a large phone, the DJI’s phone mounting plate sometimes gets stuck at certain angles.
When shooting mobile, you want to carry less and get more. When I got my DJI out of the box I was looking for the carry case, but couldn’t find any. It wasn’t a big deal until I realized I’d have to use the Smooth Q carry case to carry the DJI, so it doesn’t damage. A carry case is an important element, especially when dealing with such delicate hardware gadget that can get out of balance or even lose a motor and stop working from small hits it can suffer when traveling.
Battery wise, they both have a solid battery to last for a full day shoot (DJI: 2,800 mAh/ Smooth: 3,600 mAh). The difference shows when you want to charge your phone while filming, which you can do with both, but which battery will last longer? You guessed right, the Smooth’s.
As I mentioned above, I should have compared apples to apples (Osmo 2 vs. Smooth 4), but if you are looking to buy the best gimbal for your money, the Smooth 4 lacks from some of the issues the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 already has (limited angles, smaller battery, heavier).
If you are looking to extend your Smooth (Q or 4) capabilities, see below some of the gadgets and add-ons I use:
Vello CB-600 Straight Flash Bracket– this bracket attached to the bottom of the gimbal and adds one more cold shoe.
Moondog counterweight– Adding lenses will make you phone heavier than what the gimbal can carry, you will need this counterweight to balance it.
To see the other items and gadgets I use for mobile photography, click here.