Connect with us

Hey what are you looking for?

Zhiyun Crane 2 Test / Review

Zhiyun Crane 2 Review - 3 Axis Gimbal

Updated by Timo Altmeyer on February 16, 2022

The Zhiyun Crane 2 is the new 3-Axis DSLM / DSLR gimbal from the Chinese manufacturer "Zhiyun". This gimbal from its predecessor, the Zhiyun Crane V2, to which we published a detailed review only a few months ago, is strictly to be separated. This review covers the Zhiyun Crane 2, which has a few surprises in store.

Our rating

Foreword: Zhiyun Crane 2

Camera stabilizers have been around for a long time, but until a few years ago steadycams and gimbals were mainly used in professional film. A market for so-called 3-axis gimbals, which are now also available at affordable prices, has only emerged in the last few years. Whether for DSLM / DSLR, action cam or smartphone, 2 or 3-axis image stabilizers are available in every size and for every application. 

The Chinese company "Zhiyun" is one of the best-known manufacturers of semi-professional camera stabilizers. In addition to the inexpensive and functional, as well as qualitatively convincing smartphone stabilizers (e.g.  Zhiyun Smooth 3 ), the manufacturer also carries a steadily growing range of professional DSLR and DLSM stabilizers. The Zhiyun Crane 2, the successor to the  Zhiyun Crane V2 , appeared in October 2017.


Zhiyun Crane 2 vs. Zhiyun Crane V2

Before we devote ourselves to the actual review, let's take a closer look at the differences between the two Zhiyun DSLR and DSLM stabilizers. The product name could already cause confusion. The Zhiyun Crane V2 sees itself as a Zhiyun Crane in revision 2. It is therefore a slightly improved model of the Zhiyun Crane. The Zhiyun Crane 2, on the other hand, is a completely newly developed product.

Zhiyun Crane 2 VS Zhiyun Crane V2

 In general, there are the following differences: 

  • The first differences are noticeable after unpacking. The Zhiyun Crane 2 is delivered in a stylish EVA transport case, which, in addition to the typical accessories, also contains a tripod and connection cable for all compatible camera models. Especially with the Zhiyun Crane V2, these parts have to be bought separately!
  • There are also design differences. Despite being the same height, the Crane 2 appears bulkier overall, which is mainly due to the wider handle. At the same time, the handle offers a practical control element including a joystick, dial and OLED display.
  • There is also a decisive difference in the quick-change system. The Crane 2 uses a Manfrotto quick release plate, the Crane V2 uses a fixed support plate instead!
  • The different load capacities are also important. With a load capacity of 2 g, the Crane 3.200 has almost twice as high a load capacity as the Crane V2 (1.800 g).

If you are also interested in the previous model, it is also worth taking a look at this review. With a click on the following button, the review opens in the new tab. 

To the Zhiyun Crane V2 review

Design, workmanship and delivery

Anodized aluminum elements

As with the previously released Zhiyun Crane models, the Crane 2 is also made entirely of aluminum. This brings the gimbal to a total weight of 1.250g. The workmanship is first class. You look in vain for unsightly gaps. Threads and adjusting screws run without play and grip extremely smoothly. Thanks to the anodized aluminum parts, the gimbal not only looks chic, but also proves to be particularly resistant to dirt and corrosion.

Zhiyun Crane 2 in hard case with included

Construction of the Zhiyun Crane 2

 The gimbal is constructed as follows: 

Basically, the Crane 2 consists of a handle, the control element and the camera holder including the brushless motors. The handle is removable. The battery holder behind it is firmly connected to the control element and can be equipped with a total of three 18650 batteries. The handle has a ¼ inch tripod thread on the underside.

In contrast to the previous model, the control element has also been significantly improved and additional functions have been added. The most eye-catching features are the “Follow Focus Controller” on the side and the recently available OLED display, from which the status of the gimbal and the camera parameters can be read. A 4-way joystick for movement control is located below the display. Again underneath there are the mode button, for selecting the control mode, and next to it the power button, which can be used to start a video recording at the same time. Last but not least, there is a rotatable control element below the control buttons, which is used for menu control and also to control the camera parameters. In the middle of the control element is a pressable release button. On the opposite side of the Follow Focus Controller there is an 8V DC power output and a MicroUSB socket, which is intended purely for installing new firmware updates. Both sockets are provided with rubber covers and thus protected from external influences.

Zhiyun Crane 2 gimbal

The camera holder and the three brushless motors are firmly connected to the control element. Pan, tilt and roll axes can be adjusted manually to the respective attached camera. Printed scales help you to find your position. A particularly interesting feature is the Manfrotto quick-release plate of the Zhiyun Crane 2. Cameras can be connected to the gimbal even more easily and, above all, faster. To avoid excessive overhanging weight of the lens, an additional lens support, which is also included in the scope of delivery, can be screwed onto the quick-release plate. In order to establish a connection between the camera and the gimbal, the "Camera Control Interface" in the form of a MicroUSB socket is located on the motor of the tilt axis.

What's in the box

The scope of delivery includes an EVA transport case with shoulder strap for safe and easy transport, connection cables for various Canon, Sony and Panasonic camera models, a MicroUSB cable, three 18650 lithium-ion batteries, a battery charger, a tripod and a user manual.

What's in the box

Preparation and commissioning

It is crucial never to switch on a gimbal without an inserted counterweight, otherwise the brushless motors can be damaged. If you want to enjoy your gimbal for a long time, you should take this advice to heart! This crucial point is pointed out again in the operating instructions. The recommended load capacity is between 500g and 3.200g. 

Manfrotto quick release plate

The previous model used a fixed camera bracket to attach the camera. The Zhiyun Crane 2 uses a Manfrotto quick release plate instead, so that the camera and gimbal can be connected to one another even faster. An additional safety device prevents the plate from falling out. The gimbal should be balanced before each use. Although this step is not absolutely necessary, it takes the load off the motors and ensures improved battery life. By scaling the quick release plate and all axes, the respective alignment can be easily remembered.

field test

For the practice test of the Zhiyun Crane 2, I took quite a few 3 months. I have used the gimbal with various camera models, including the ultra-light  YI M1 DSLM (650g) and also a much heavier Canon EOS 550D (1200g).

Fixed assembly

Like the Zhiyun Crane V2, the Crane 2 is not a gimbal that you just take on vacation trips. Especially because of the size and weight of the Crane models are especially for air travel mostly uninteresting, even if the gimbal can be transported in a compact and practical case. As already indicated, the gimbal is ready to go after only a short time. The Manfrotto quick release plate makes commissioning a lot easier. A change between gimbal and tripod succeeds fluently.

camera mount

OLED display

A clear advantage over the previous models is the OLED display, which informs the user about the current status of the gimbal, but also the camera (if compatible). It is particularly useful that the app does not have to be used to change the engine power. Almost all settings can be made conveniently via the gimbal thanks to the display. At the same time, the display is sufficiently bright, so that it remains easy to read in all weather and lighting conditions.


 The Zhiyun Crane 2 feels great in the hand. Compared to the previous model, the gimbal can be held even better thanks to the significantly thicker aluminum handle. The tripod, which is also included in the scope of delivery, can also be used as an extension or weight support, which enables even smoother one-handed operation. Despite the thick aluminum handle, the control buttons are close together and can be easily reached even with one hand.

Handle OLED

It gets more complicated with the numerous setting options that can be made directly via the gimbal. If you have also connected a compatible camera, you quickly lose track of things, especially at the beginning. Here you should first familiarize yourself with the respective control buttons and the selection of functions in general. The user manual provides sufficient information on this. After a short period of familiarization, the Crane 2 can be operated fluently.

Due to the very high dead weight and the additional camera weight, depending on the application, the Zhiyun Crane 2 is only partially suitable for vloggers and IRL streamers. After just a few minutes of one-handed operation, you can clearly feel the Crane 2 in your arm and wrist. A double handle is available as a separate accessory.

Handle focus wheel


 The stabilization performance of the Crane 2 is remarkable. Thanks to the extremely powerful brushless motors, smooth pan, tilt and roll movements are no problem even with a high load capacity. Pan and roll movements are possible with up to 360 degrees. The tilt movement range is between -135 degrees and +185 degrees (320 degrees).

The performance of the motors can be adjusted in 3 stages. Even at the lowest motor level, a Canon EOS 550D, which brought it to 1200g including lens, could be stabilized without any problems. Micro-stuttering did not occur at any time. Motor noises, which occur with many gimbals and can become a problem when recording videos, are also not noticeable on the Zhiyun Crane 2.

Functions and Zhiyun Play

The Zhiyun Crane 2 can be controlled in various ways. The most common control option is direct control via the control buttons on the gimbal. There is also a remote control option via the so-called Zhiyun Play app and via a separately available Bluetooth remote. The following movement modes are available:

Pan following fashion

After switching on, the Crane 2 is initially in "Pan Following Mode" (PF). In this mode, the tilt and roll axes are locked so that only the horizontal pan movements are followed. However, the tilt axis can be moved freely using the joystick.


Locking fashion

With a click on the mode button you switch to the so-called "Locking Mode" (L). In this mode all axes are locked. No matter how you move the gimbal, it always remains horizontally aligned on a line. The axes can also be moved freely using the joystick in locking mode.

Following fashion

With a double click on the mode button you get to the "Following Mode" (F). In this mode, the Crane 2 follows all pan, tilt and roll movements. The control of the roll axis is still possible via the joystick.


Bottom Up Fashion

Also on board is the so-called "bottom up mode". This mode enables overhead filming. Due to the high hanging weight, you usually have even better control over the gimbal.

By pressing the mode button three times, a 180 ° swivel is carried out automatically. The active mode can be read on the display and is marked with PF (Pan-Following Mode), F (Following Mode) or L (Locking Mode).

Zoom, shutter and recording

Many of the functions of the Zhiyun Crane 2 are only available to special camera models from Canon, Sony and Panasonic. According to Zhiyun, the most comprehensive compatibility is offered by the Canon models 5D2, 5D3 and 5D4. Except for the zoom, all camera parameters of these Canon camera models can be controlled via the button on the Crane 2.

Models from Sony (with multi-interface) and Panasonic (GH3 / GH4 / GH5), on the other hand, only offer the option of triggering photo and video recordings via the gimbal. In addition, the Crane 2 enables the Sony models to zoom manually directly via the control unit of the gimbal.

 The Canon EOS 550D connected in the test could be completely controlled via the gimbal despite the compatibility not mentioned. All the functions that Canon models are entitled to, such as manual focusing, the choice of ISO or the light value, could be controlled directly via the Crane 2. Photo and video recordings could be triggered at the push of a button.

Zhiyun play

One option for remote control is the “Zhiyun Play” app, which is available for both Android and iOS mobile devices in the respective app stores. The connection is easily established via Bluetooth.

The app includes the ability to control all of the manufacturer's gimbals. Accordingly, the app is also equipped with many functions that are intended purely for controlling the Zhiyun smartphone gimbals. The fact that these functions are also available when selecting the Crane 2 and are displayed although they cannot be used quickly leads to confusion.

Options offered by the app for controlling the Zhiyun Crane 2 include a virtual joystick with a corresponding mode selection, setting options for motor power and gimbal calibration and, more recently, a panorama mode that turns the gimbal into a time-controlled and automatic 360 degrees Moving mode offset.


The Crane 2 is operated with three IMR 18650 lithium-ion batteries with a total capacity of 6000 mAh. According to Zhiyun, the running time is up to 18 hours. This value is quite realistic. In the practical test, there were 8 remaining battery bars left after about 2 hours of running time. The battery level is communicated via the OLED display. If you simultaneously charge your (Sony) camera via the interface USB slot or your Canon via the 8V DC output, the battery life will be reduced accordingly. The charging time of the batteries, using the charger included in the scope of delivery, is around 3 hours.

Zhiyun Crane 2 Test / Review

Zhiyun Crane 2


Very good build quality
Camera holder with scale
Manfrotto quick release plate
OLED display
Easy to use
Very high load capacity
Very precise stabilization
Very good battery life


Compatibility with camera models
App to be improved


The Zhiyun Crane 2 is an all-round DSLM / DSLR 3-Axis Camera Stabilizer, which has a lot of new but improved features compared to its predecessor. Starting with the quality of workmanship, the scope of supply and also the handling and commissioning, the Crane 2 convinces right down the line. The stabilization performance is first class and due to the very high load capacity of 3.200g nearly every consumer camera including lens can be stabilized with the Crane 2. The newly introduced OLED display and the Manfrotto quick release plate simplify commissioning and operation immensely.

The biggest criticism of the Zhiyun Crane 2, for which the gimbal manufacturer is less able than the camera manufacturer, is the severely restricted usability of the control functions. For example, the new Follow Focus Controller can only be used with certain Canon models. Although the Crane 2 is also compatible with Sony and Panasonic models, the functions supported by the Camera Control Interface are manageable.

All in all, the Zhiyun Crane 2 is an excellent and very recommendable gimbal, which is almost unrivaled in the price range under 800 €.

Timo Altmeyer avatar

Timo is the founder of and a real technology expert. From smartphones to e-bikes, from home cinema to smart homes, he always has his finger on the pulse of the latest trends.

1 comment

1 comment

  1. Jurgen Kramer

    1. April 2018 14 to: 42

    I am desperate right now. Since my camera is crooked, I'm trying to calibrate it ... but I can't get past step 1. Step 2 is not completed, no matter what I do ... who has any advice?

Leave a Comment

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked with * marked

More from Zhiyun



Zhiyun Crane 2


Axes: 3 axes
Material: Aluminum/stoneware
Capacity: 500g - 3200g

Tilting Angle: 320 °
Rolling Angle: 360 °
Panning Angle: 360 °

Type: IMR 18650 lithium ion
Capacity: 6000 mAh
Running time: up to 18 hours
Charging time: ~ 3 hours

Tripod socket: 1 / 4 inch
Operation: Handle + App + BT Remote
Size: 21 x 11.8 x 45 cm
Weight: 1250g

What's in the box

1x gimbal
1x Hardcase
1x Softcase
1x Micro USB Cable
2x Canon interface cable
1x Sony Interface Cable
1x Panasonic Interface Cable
3x 18650 battery
1x charger
1x lens support
1x Tripod
1x user manual