Best Compact Travel Gimbal: Zhiyun Crane M2 Review 2021

Best Compact Travel Gimbal: Zhiyun Crane M2 Review 2021
  • Staaker Drones

The Zhiyun Crane M2 Review is a popular choice for many. It’s an affordable 3-axis gimbal that has over 3000 reviews on Amazon. Below are the features of the Zhiyun Crane M2. The Zhiyun Crane M2 Review is popular with many people because it’s an affordable 3-axis gimbal that has over 3000 reviews on Amazon. The features of the Zhiyun Crane M2 are listed below.

Zhiyun Crane M2 Review: Smoothly Does It


  • Very well made
  • Cameras up to 720g can be stabilized
  • There are many shooting modes


  • Setup is easy with Fiddly
  • The app is not intuitive
  • Expensive

1. At a glance – Unboxing – Physical design

The Zhiyun-Tech Crane M2 is packaged in a reusable foam bag. For such a versatile product, I expected a more luxurious carrying case. The accessories include a compact mini tripod, hand strap and 1/4″ camera mount screw. A phone holder, quick-release plate, USB Type C cable, and a user guide are also included.

This gimbal is much smaller than I expected. The body measures 16 x 3 cm. The handler is coated with a leather-like anti-slip material. The Crane-M2’s head can be locked out of the box by a small red switch at the back. There are no chaotic movements as with other gimbals. It can be used with many cameras because it has numerous adjusting scales and clams.

This fact scared me at the beginning. Once you are comfortable with the adjustments, it is possible to be ready for shooting in a matter of minutes. The brand new quick-release mounts and memory lockers make this easy.

The included mini tripod can be easily placed on your table for easy camera installation and balancing. If needed, the tripod can be folded to extend the grip’s length by approximately 9 cm.

It has the tripod mount at the bottom and a 1/4″ threaded hole on its left side. This allows you to attach a second camera or live-view display, microphone, or other accessories.

The OLED screen displays the current working mode, battery level, settings menu, and other helpful information.

A micro USB socket on the tilt axis motor allows you to charge your camera using a suitable cable (not included).

Zhiyun Crane M2 Review: Smoothly Does It

2. First Impressions

While I was familiar with gimbals from previous shoots, I hadn’t opened the box to get one and followed the instructions blindly. It was not difficult, but I wouldn’t lie if I said so. It was far from easy.

The included instructions were difficult to follow, so I decided to look at ZY’s tutorials via their app. The tutorial was prolonged and rushed at times, or it would not show any close-ups of the action. This was frustrating for me as a first user. I had to look elsewhere for tutorials to help me get started with the gimbal.

My Canon M50 is compatible with this list. However, I could not use Vortex mode because both the Canon M5 and the Canon M50 viewfinders may cause interference with the roll-axis motor underbalanced. It was easy to set it up once I understood how it worked.

However, for someone who has never done this before, it can be frustrating. It wasn’t easy to connect the camera to the gimbal. This may have been due to the camera’s connection more than the gimbal. However, I was unable to use the start button on my gimbal grip to begin recording.

I found the gimbal to be easy to use and very comfortable. It’s a massive bonus that it is so light. It was easy to use and very comfortable to hold. I have experienced heavier gimbals. It seems like an excellent choice for people who travel frequently and don’t need heavy equipment. Because it was so light, I didn’t take the tripod bottom off once I had attached it. I like the flexibility to either put it on the ground or use the tripod for specific clips.

I found the most challenging aspect of using this gimbal to be its different modes for filming. Before you start shooting, it is essential to know what each method does and which one you should use. This was my first mistake. I thought I could pick and forget, but now I realize that I should have thoroughly reviewed each mode. It can also be confusing to change the ways, as you don’t just press one button. Tap the trigger back on the handle and use the “mode button” to find the correct mode.

The footage was great. Even though there were moments when I felt like I should put it back in my bag, the gimbal handled the camera well enough that I could not fault the product for quality. This is what you can expect from every gimbal on the market today. It is lightweight, which makes it easier to use for more extended periods. I also enjoyed it once it was set up.

3. Specifications

ZHIYUN’s three-axis stabilizer is designed to work with multiple devices and users of all skill levels. Before buying it, ensure that you thoroughly check that your camera and lens combination is compatible with the gimbal. There are several Sony, Panasonic, and Canon cameras on the list. An action cam mount can be purchased separately.

Most cameras allow you to take photos, record, rewind, stop recording and zoom in/out when using the gimbal handle. You should carefully review the compatibility list to ensure you don’t get disappointed. Some cameras may not have zoom control, such as the HERO5 camera.

Crane M2 also comes with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi built-in. Wi-Fi lets you connect to your camera to improve filming control. Bluetooth allows your camera to sync with ZY’s mobile app for iOS or Android. This app provides a range of remote control options as well as tutorials.

Gimbal offers 360deg pan and tilt at 310deg, 324deg roll rotation, and 310deg tilt through six modes.

  • PF (Pan Following mode): This allows the camera to the pan while you move the gimbal left or right.
  • F (Following mode): The camera will follow the movements of the handle
  • L (Locking Mode), the camera is locked in one direction.
  • V (Vortex Mode), for 360deg barrel shots
  • POV (Full Range POV Mode: Allows 360deg synchro movement on all three of the axes
  • GO (Go Mode), Capture fast movement

It also features an OLED display that displays battery level, connection status, as well as your chosen shooting mode. You can attach the mini tripod to the bottom to use it either as a stand or, if you prefer, to hold and control the camera. The packaging includes a mini tripod, quick release plate, a micro-USB Type C Cable, smartphone mount clip, and Micro-USB Type C Clip. It retails at $269 currently.

Zhiyun Crane M2: Should You Buy It?

4. Controlling the stabilizer

Just below the status screen are a decently sized 4-way joystick and record buttons. The power switch can be found to the right of your grip. This is a soft switch. To turn it on/off, push it up and hold it for a few seconds. The menu button can also be found on the right and opens the following screens: Wi-Fi history, Motor torque, Wi-Fi history, Joystick, About, and Wi-Fi history.

The trigger switch is located on the back, just below the gimbal headlock. It has the following functions.

To enter Full Following mode, press once; to return to the previous method, press again.

Hold for longer than 2 seconds to trigger Full Following mode. Release to return to the previous method.

Double-press to return the motor to its original mode.

Triple-press to rotate pan axis motor 180deg. (selfie mode).

The Mode button lets you toggle between different working modes. To toggle between PF and L, press once. Press twice to switch to V.

5. Gimbal modes

Zhiyun-Tech claims that their Crane M2 has 6 modes (Pan and Follow, Lock, POV. GO, Vortex, Lock, POV. GO, and Vortex). But if you add the selfie mode, it has 7. Many YouTube videos explain the Crane M2’s functions and how to use them. I won’t go into detail because there are so many.

The “VORTEX” mode is my favorite. The camera aligns with the central axis when it is activated. (Tilt axis rotates upwards 90deg automatically.) It then rotates in any direction that you choose (clockwise or anticlockwise).

The “Go” mode makes the gimbal respond more to movement by increasing its motor speed. This mode is useful when you want to capture moving subjects, such as your dog.

6. Zy Play APP

The APP unlocks a variety of features, such as remote control and auto-panorama. First, I tested it on an Android phone. Even though my Samsung S7 phone can record 4K videos, I captured Full HD videos using ZyPlay APP.

There was also a limitation on the frame rate. Next, I installed it onto an iPhone 7. It seems to be more compatible with iOS devices. The resolution options were the same as for the stock camera utility.

There are two types of interfaces for the Zy Play APP: phone and camera. It also has eight main functions: zoom control, zoom control, stabilizer settings, and calibration.

7. It does what it promises?

First, set the motor torques according to your installed camera type (valid payload is between 130 and 720 g). There are three rates available:

GoPro and similar action cameras are very affordable;

  • Medium (default) for smartphones, compact cameras and other small-sized devices.
  • High demand for interchangeable lenses with Mirorless cameras.
  • Note: An inappropriate motor torque level can cause shakiness in the stabilizer, which could affect its performance.

First, I tested it with an Osmo Action camera (170 grams plus mount). Next, I tested it with the iPhone 7 and Samsung S7 smartphones. It worked flawlessly. Then, I decided to test Crane M2’s limits by installing a Canon DSRL camera and a 24mm lens (total weight 696g).

The camera body is significant, but I was able to mount it on the gimbal. After many re-balancings, the ZY CRANE M2 failed to stabilize. It died after a few seconds or when it made a faster movement. The motor power settings were not remembered, so I switched from medium to high. Everything went smoothly, and my 6-year-old camera was stabilized for the very first time.

MagicLantern is still capable and capable of miracles. Any suggestions for a 4K camera that is good for video vlogging are welcome.

It took a few minutes to balance and mount different types of cameras. But it was all done without any problems. You will need to add weight to make lighter action cameras like the Xiaomi YI 4K work,

You may hear strange noises coming from the motors or an axis turning unexpectedly. This is usually a sign that your weight limit has been exceeded or that your balancing was not done correctly.

The complete Crane M2 compatibility list can be downloaded from this link.

8. Battery life

According to manufacturer labor tests, the 1100mAh lithium battery can provide approximately 7 hours of work time with Minolta’s X700 camera and 45mm F2 lenses (520g +125g). These numbers can fluctuate depending on the camera weight, balance, camera weight, movement, and rotation of the gimbal head.

After 3 hours of testing, the battery was still at 25% (1 of 4 lines). The battery cannot be replaced because it is built-in. If you wish to continue filming for hours, an external power bank is your best option.

You can also reduce the overall battery life by charging your phone/camera via the gimbal. Don’t charge the stabilizer through the USB socket.

9. Build Quality

The Crane M2 retains the traditional Crane M2 design of a handheld 3-axis gimbal stabilizer. Still, Zhiyun put in the effort during the procedure to ensure that the gimbal was as compact and small as possible. It is, to our knowledge, the smallest and lightest available gimbal for sub-two pounds payload weight. This gimbal also delivers outstanding performance.

This allows you to add the Crane M2 without taking up too much space if you’re involved in niches like travel videography or travel vlogging. The lightweight of the gimbal means that you will not be charged extra for excess baggage.

Zhiyun also did a great job making sure the Crane M2 was as sturdy as possible. This will ensure that it is resistant to bumps during use or transit and that no long-term damage occurs. Gimbal manufacturers are trying to be as competitive as possible to offer image stabilization with their accessories.

Zhiyun has also added their locking pin system for the Crane M2 after it became popular with the Weebill line. It adds various locking pins to your gimbal in multiple locations and allows you to close all three-axis.

This prevents your gimbal from rotating or being damaged if you place it in your bag for transit. It also locks the axis in place while keeping your gimbal still to prevent it from rotating freely. You also get a balance lock that locks the system, so your gimbal should still be balanced and ready for action after releasing the pin locks.

During use, the Crane M2 supports these axis ranges:

  • Tilt mechanical range: 310deg, Roll mechanical range: 324deg
  • Mechanical range: 360deg unlimited turn / tilt Adjustable angle: -45deg260deg
  • Roll Adjustable Angle: -70deg > 70deg (Switch between landscape and portrait mode using a 40deg angle).
  • Adjustable pan angle: -180deg ~ 180deg

The gimbal has a great range of movement, so you will find it can do them all no matter what your needs are. The Zhiyun Crane M2 provides the same direction as other competing stabilizers, even if you use a mirrorless camera with an extended lens. This ensures that you can move freely and get superior image stabilization from it.

Zhiyun also managed to reduce the size of the gimbal by a few inches. It measures 10.5×2.7×5.4 inches. This means that you can carry it in your handbag, backpack, or pocket, depending on what you need. The gimbal is light at 1.1 pounds, so you won’t even notice it.

We want to mention the Zhiyun Crane M2’s handle grip. The handle grip is very comfortable, allowing you to reduce aches and pains while working for more extended periods. It also makes it easy to hold even when your hand is cold or wet. It ensures that your gimbal is always in your grasp and reduces the chance of it being dropped.

10. Pricing and Availability

Zhiyun’s newest CRANE-M2 gimbal is now available to purchase at a retail price of $269. It is available at Zhiyun’s official store and significant photo retailers across the US and internationally, including Amazon.

Zhiyun Crane M2: Should You Buy It?

Although the Zhiyun Crane M2 is not the most expensive gimbal, it’s a good option if you want to smoothen footage from your action camera or smartphone.

For smartphone owners, the DJI Osmo Mobile 3 is a great option ( You can also refer to our DJI Osmo Mobile 2 vs Pocket comparison below). It is half the cost of the Zhiyun and offers a variety of creative shooting modes. Plus, it’s easier to set up and use.

However, the Zhiyun Crane is an excellent choice if you are looking for something more flexible and can use it with your more expensive cameras. It can also be used with your action and smartphone cameras. There will be some learning curves with the setup, as well as the somewhat unintuitive app.

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