Zhiyun Weebill-S Long Term Review vs. DJI Ronin SC
August 12, 2021
The Zhiyun Weebill-S is a sweet little gimbal, and after using it extensively for about 4 months with my Sony a7III and lots of different lenses, I thought it was time for a review and to talk about the sweet setup I’ve been able to build for it. If you're looking for the best gimbal for the Sony a7III, I think that the Weebill-S is probably one of the best, whether you're looking for a portable gimbal or a more full-featured, because this little giant is tough.
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Here’s a summary of what I noticed with the DJI Ronin SC, and I only bring it up here because it’s the most direct competitor to the Zhiyun Weebill-S, because each are portable, smaller gimbals.
Review of the DJI Ronin SC:
It has a built in battery, meaning that you can’t keep extras in your bag like you can with the Zhiyun
Theres No Underslung Mode or flashlight mode with Larger lenses, there’s simply not enough room or clearance
Expanding the Gimbal to fit larger cameras means you cannot fold it back up without collapsing all your settings again, this means you end up spending too much time for each setup on a larger camera & lens..
Ronin SC’s Lower Capacity Motors have less margin for error, meaning you have to dial it in perfectly or it won’t work. It takes more time for setup.
You pretty much can’t use any typical zoom lenses, because they’re too big.
The extra riser plate means more points of change, increasing the complexity of setup, particularly when the camera is too big.
It was wobbly due to the underpowered nature of the whole setup.
Hilariously, after making that video, I’ve had dozens of comments on that youtube video and people saying “if you try really hard, you can get it to balance” or “man, I just bought this, and I wish I would have watched this video first.” I think DJI will do better next time, or at least paint an accurate picture of it’s capacity and what lenses it’s genuinely meant to hold..
I returned the Ronin SC and bought the ZHiyun Weebill-S
Here’s 9 things I love about the Weebill-S
It’s built for underslung mode, which I think creates the best compositions and most epic footage.
It’s motors are incredibly strong, easily taking zoom lenses, including the the Sony 24-70MM G-Master Lens
It has much wider clearance and room than the Ronin SC, providing adequate clearance which allows you to use large cameras, lenses and add many accessories.
You Don’t have to take the eyepiece off because of the clearance
The clearance and motor capacity means it will also hold accessories like a side mounted microphone
The ergonomics are very good, and it just feels right
Because of the large capacity, and the automatic tuning, setup is really fast and you don’t spend much time screwing around.
The battery life is very long and the external batteries are small and you can easily carry extras
It’s priced really good and seems to just work.
As you can see, I’m kind of a fan boy, but there’s definitely some things I dislike about the Weebil-S, here are 5 Specific criticisms I have with the Zhiyun Weebill-S Gimbal
5 Criticisms of the Weebill-S
My locking mechanism broke from having on the side of my bag for a couple weeks
Zhiyun instructions and documentation are always hilariously clumsy because this Chinese company struggles to provide clear explanations and pathways to solutions.
I have no idea how to actually get it warrantied
For both the crane 2, and the weebill-s, I’ve struggled to get the right cord and camera settings so that the buttons work right away, in fact, I never actually figured it out on the crane 2 and opted to just hit the button on the camera. Each camera has a specific protocol to allow it to be controlled by the gimbal, and the documentation from Zhiyun is always bad, which means it just takes extra time to stumble your way through trial and error.
The compact handle houses lots of buttons, and while they’ve created good menu systems to prevent inadvertent changes, it still happens occasionally.
Those are the first quick observations of the Zhiyun Weebill-S and the Ronin SC, but here’s what’s really caused me to fall in love with this gimbal
Weebill-S Features I've come to Love
It’s compact enough to throw on a side bag, and actually carry with you.
It’s shape can be a little awkward, but for the most part, it’s absolutely amazing to bring along with you compared to other options.
It’s still extra equipment, so it’s not really fun to lug along if you’re not sure that you’ll use it.
The Battery life is amazing, and the extra batteries are incredibly practical to carry around
I often go on walks with the Weebill-S, and put my 16-35 2.8 Sony Gmaster or the 24-70 Gmaster and go for a couple mile walk. One zoom lens gives me stupid amounts of flexiblity & it’s actually not bad to carry. I can easily throw it in a large or smaller backpack if I want to, but I find myself just walking around with the gimbal on, in underslung mode. I’ve gone on multi-hour long walks, with my massive lenses on it, and I’ll hardly ever turn it off. I get remarkable battery life, and I also have a total of 9 extra batteries, which you can easily throw in a bag and bring with because they’re so small.
This means you won’t miss shots if you don’t want to.
It’s Able to accommodate a cage & a microphone.
If you have a great microphone, you want to use it whenever possible. The weebill-s payload capacity and wide frame allows me to put my sony a7iii in this half cage by SmallRig, which I’ve added a cold shoe to the side of, and then I can actually balance it with my microphone on it. Seriously, this balances just perfect, it doesn’t destroy the battery life, and it means I’m not missing any of those priceless audio moments on a shoot.
Adding the handle & SmallHD Screen makes it amazing.
We know the tilting screen on the Sony A7III isn’t as nice as a flip out screen from camera’s like the Panasonic GH5. When you’re using the gimbal, you’ll often be flying blind and struggle to adjust the screen so you can nail your composition. I’ve experimented with two setups that would allow using an external monitor with the Zhiyun Weebill-S.
One setup used the side mount from SmallRig or Zhiyun, but this leads to the gimbal being difficult to hold because it’s very side heavy. While the side mounting bar allowed me to see what I was doing, the side mount makes it harder to keep level and leads to hand fatigue quickly.
The other setup is superior, it uses this handle from Small Rig that also has a perfect mount for an external monitor like my 5’’ SmallHD monitor. When you add a longer cable, you find yourself completely rigged out, and you can easily frame and compose shots, with all the added benefits from the SMALLHD features.
I’d add here that I would buy a handle no matter what with the weebill-S, because you’ll find yourself swapping the tripod from one position to another quite often. Underslung is amazing with the Weebill-S, and you’ll want to be able to quickly move into underslung after you pick up the gimbal.
TOTAL RIG - That means with the Weebill-S, I’m able to put my Sony A7III, with a large zoom lens like the 16-35 Ziess or Gmaster, or even the 24-70 Gmaster, add a microphone to the side, with a cage, and put the SMALLHD monitor on it, and the thing will get phenomenal, almost all day shoot with maybe one extra set of batteries.
In conclusion, the Weebill-s Seems superior to the Ronin-SC, and while I love DJI products, Zhiyun continues to get many things right. The main thing I’m enjoying about this company is that the weebill-s seems to be a response to all the customer feedback they had on the original weebill, which means they are receptive to what we all want. I think you’ll love it.
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