Now that I have had a chance to use the Smooth Q smartphone gimbal from Zhiyun-Tech for a little while, I wanted to share some thoughts on it. While I knew very little about smartphone gimbals in general before getting my hands on this device, I managed to acquaint myself fairly quickly. And there is a lot to like with this device. Is it right for everyone though? Read on and let’s discuss!
The bulk of the body and handle is plastic, but not cheap. Its got a well rounded grip that makes the Smooth Q easy to hold, even for longer periods of time. The metal frame that holds the smartphone in place looks tricky and complicated, but it isn’t. It’s got a good heft to it, but it’s not so heavy you can’t tote it around. It’s also able to be expanded with a host of other OEM and aftermarket features via the ¼” threaded hole on the bottom of the handle. This can allow you to incorporate a flash, external mic (such as I have) or even carrying handles if desired, making the Smooth Qs basic hardware even more versatile.
For what it does, it’s pretty remarkable. You’re able to shoot video via your smartphone, stabilize and control your device, and you can even charge your smartphone using the built in USB port. The handle contains all the controls, which are limited to a power button, mode button, a joystick controller, shifter lever, and 2 additional information LEDs.
There are 3 different modes you can choose from to shoot video from, Pan Follow, Locked, Follow. Both following modes allow an increased amount of flexibility with stabilization along the pan, tilt, and roll axis. The Locked mode does just that; locks you in so that you can keep the camera still and stable. Joystick control of any axis is smooth and rotates the gimbal fluidly. Buttons are responsive, serve their purpose, and are well labeled. There is even a companion app available for both iOS and Android that allows you to control a stable Smooth Q remotely to give you a chance to participate in the action you are recording.
In a word, excellent. Zhiyun boasts an impressive 12 hours of continuous usage, and my experience has been great. I’ve had the device last for over a week on a single charge, and it has easily handled shooting sessions of 45 minutes to an hour without breaking a sweat. It does get warm around the motorized portions, but nothing that would concern anyone. It’s really impressive what Zhiyun Tech has done with this mobile device gimbal – make no mistake. Add to it the fact that the whole unit charges off a single micro USB charger (which are cheap, plentiful, and readily available) and you have one powerful long lasting easy to charge package here.
What else can I say that hasn’t already been said? The Smooth Q from Zhiyun Tech at a base price of $139 USD is a great value. The feature set, battery life, and overall design and function are such that I have a hard time believing you get so much for so little. There’s even a guitar style hardshell case that comes with the Smooth Q to protect it during your travels. And travel with it you will, as this an excellent way to capture video during any downtime activity. Considering this is the entry level unit, and there are other upgrades available, the Smooth Q serves as a solid “gateway” gimbal that will likely satisfy the needs of most aspiring filmmakers, hobbyists, or parents with children in action sports.
***UPDATE: Zhiyun has lowered the price to $99, making this an even better value. You can find a link here to purchase from Amazon, at the time of this update***