The Ronin design has come a long way in a short time. DJI’s original single-handed gimbal stabiliser, the Ronin-S, put advanced filmmaking tech in the hands of small production companies and amateurs. With the Ronin RS3 Pro, DJI gives access to filmmaking equipment that can expand with you from being used as a basic gimbal to a full-blow solution for large-budget productions with the addition of the many accessories available.
Taking just the base Ronin RS3 Pro into consideration in this review and it is incredible, with solid support for all mirrorless and DSLR cameras suited to filmmaking. In use, the RS3 Pro is fast to react and offers plenty of onboard adjustments and features. However, it really starts to shine once the accessories are attached, and while most accessories can wait there are two that you should consider purchasing at the outset; the RavenEye and Focus motor.
There’s also compatibility with the LiDAR AF system that will transform this small gimbal into a complete filming rig for those using manual focus Cine lenses.
In use, it’s hard to believe the level of professionalism that this new rig gives you. As a stand-alone single-handed gimbal stabiliser, the DJI Ronin RS3 Pro edges ahead of an ever-crowded market as the best gimbal – wire in the accessories, reaching another level entirely.
Huge potential through accessories
More expensive than rivals
Some accessories are equally expensive
What is the DJI Ronin RS3 Pro?
The DJI Ronin RS3 Pro is the latest version of the DJI Ronin series of gimbal stabilisers. As with the previous generation, DJI has released the Pro, which I’ll be looking at in this review and the straight RS3, which is the base version.
Outwardly there’s very little difference between the RS 2 and DJI Ronin RS3 Pro, a few small design tweaks such as the carbon arms that are slightly longer to accommodate professional cameras such as the Canon C70 and Sony FX6, but ultimately the compact size remains. The screen is also considerably larger, making it easier to navigate menus and access new features.
Motor power, payload and battery life all remain the same, but the only obvious sign that this new gimbal is very different is the slight increase in weight. That weight is due to the upgraded electronics that make the RS3 an incredible stabiliser and the core of a far larger eco-system.
You can pre-order the new Ronin RS3 Pro and the Ronin RS 3 from B&H Photo Video.
Build and Handling
DJI is known for their product design; they make imaging devices that don’t follow conventions, and some, such as the Phantom, have become iconic. The DJI Ronin RS3 Pro matches the quality of the products that have come before, with the stunning carbon arms sitting atop a sturdy-looking grip and base.
Lifting the relatively compact gimbal and while still relatively light compared with some larger gimbals, it’s not as light as the likes of the WeeBill 3.
The DJI RS3 Pro, however, is a very different device from most other gimbals on the market. Sure, it has accessories that enable wireless video transmission and control, but it’s part of an eco-system with the DJI RS3 Pro at the core.
Pro level stabilisation at an affordable price
What’s nice about the RS3 Pro is that it’s affordable at the base level of a single-handed gimbal stabiliser. Then as your needs progress, you can bolt on that additional functionality. Then, when you need something a lot more, the RS3 can be unbolted from the grip, placed onto a car, aerial or another rig, and incorporated. It is simply the most expandable and flexible gimbal out there.
Due to the huge variety of uses, I can only imagine the product designers and electrical engineers at DJI sweating over what seems like an impossible task. Setting up the DJI RS3 Pro at the base level is easy; plug it in balance, and you’re ready to go. At the next level, plug in the RavenEye, hook in a mobile phone, and you have wireless video transmission, all very clever; then you have the HighBright Control screen, and so on.
This expandability is all very nice, but for most of us, we’re never going to need half of what the new RS3 Pro has to offer, and this is where the designers at DJI have been so clever. The RS3 Pro, from the outset, seems simple, the design is uncluttered, and some tweaks to the RS2 model make the RS3 more than a worthwhile upgrade.
Easier to transport with auto locking axis
When handling the first of those tweaks, the axis locks. These are now automatic, so the axis locks automatically as soon as you switch off the gimbal, put it down, or need to move from one location to another. Then when you’re ready to start using the gimbal again, they automatically unlock. You can override these manually, but after a few hours with these locks, you realise just how handy they are.
Staying with the axis and the carbon arms, these have been extended slightly to enable the mounting of some of the new midweight professional cameras, such as the Sony FX6 and Canon EOS C70. For a gimbal of this size to take the weight of either of these cameras is impressive. While I don’t have access to either of these cameras, a Canon C100 MKII comfortably sat on the DJI Ronin RS3 Pro without issue and with plenty of clearance.
The other big handling feature worth noting is the new bigger touch screen. This enables you to flick through the camera’s settings and hook a cable in from the HDMI through RavenEye and into the gimbal for a small live screen view on the small screen. You can also transmit the video signal to your mobile phone.
The RavenEye module was shipped with the combo kit that I’ve been reviewing in this kit, and at £150/$150, it’s well worth the investment.
Ultimately once you work out where all the wires go for the focus motor, RavenEye and camera control, it’s all quite straightforward. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this review, there are few set-up notes; however, most of what applies to the set-up of the focus motor and Raven Eye again apply here.
Full compatibility with the DJI High Bright monitor system
What’s interesting is that DJI sees the huge potential of the RS3 Pro, so have given it the same access to the High-Bright Remote Monitor and control units. This means that you could mount the Ronin RS3 Pro on an exterior car rig and remotely control the unit from inside the car with full control over the gimbal and camera.
Even with the advanced features of the High Bright remote monitor, you’re still only looking at an investment of around £1500. For that level of handling and control, that’s incredible.
As with previous Ronin’s, the main gimbal is only part of the story. As a stand-alone product, it’s good, adds the optional accessories, and the Ronin RS3 Pro transforms into an essential filmmaking tool that can be used on any production size.
Looking at the features of the Ronin RS3 Pro and the first thing you notice is the enhancements in design. The longer carbon arms and large touch screen OLED make mounting the camera and navigating settings that much easier.
Fewer wires with Bluetooth shutter control
The weight of the DJI RS3 Pro has also increased over the RS2 due to the new technologies packed inside, including a Bluetooth module for greater connectivity options.
The RS3 Pro is all about saving effort for the filmmakers; in use, it’s there to assist and make difficult shots easy, as well as having wide camera compatibility. To that end, DJI has extended the carbon fibre arms to give more space to the mounted cameras. This means that professional bodies and lenses such as the Sony FX6 and Canon C70 with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens can now be fitted. The payload limit is still 4.5kg which is quite substantial.
The size of the upper base plate has also been extended to increase the contact area between the camera and the plate. This is due to user feedback and helps increase friction, preventing cameras from falling off when mounted in extreme conditions, which is not an issue I can say I have ever had.
A new auto-locking feature has been added that instantly locks and unlocks all axes when the gimbal is switched on or off. This is a simple idea but saves time, making sure everything is safely locked before the gimbal is transported.
Further adding to the ease of use is the physical mode button on the side. This enables you to switch from PF and PTF to FPV mode with a flick of the switch rather than having to go into the menu system. The FPV mode can also be customised to activate 3D Roll 360, Portrait or Custom.
Improved full colour touch screen
One of the instantly notable features in the new larger 1.8 OLED full-colour screen. This is 28% larger than the one on the RS2 and allows you to switch settings, with the optional RavenEye plugged in, you can also get a live view stream.
For some cameras that are BlueTooth enabled, the Ronin RS3 Pro now has BlueTooth connectivity. At launch, this works with a series of Canon cameras, and the compatibility list will inevitably expand at speed to cover most cameras with BlueTooth.
A big new addition to the Ronin RS3 is the LiDAR focus technology. This optional module sits on top of the camera’s hot shoe and plugs into the DJI Focus Motor (Also optional) and RS3 Pro. Once plugged in and calibrated, it then creates a fast AF system for manual Cine lenses. As each lens needs to be calibrated before use, DJI has ensured that up to three lens preset profiles can be stored.
Alongside the LiDAR sensor is the new ActiveTrack Pro. This enables you to highlight your subjects on the small screen by drawing a boundary box, and then the camera will lock on to them where ever you move. This is ideal for shots where you want to circle or pan past your subjects where tricky joystick manoeuvers are usually used.
Wireless video transmission with DJI RavenEye
While the small RavenEye is an ideal solution for most, DJI has also added Pro-Grade video transmission and monitoring compatibility. The DJI RS3 Pro is equipped with DJI O3 Pro video transmission technology. This enables video transmission to a distance of up to 6km and full compatibility with the High-Bright Remote Monitor that was launched alongside the Ronin 4D. This monitor supports 1080p/60fps live feed to multiple receivers.
The RS3 Pro can also be used with the 4D Hand Grips, Master Wheels and Force Pro for gimbal and focus control.
Enabling large-scale production technology to everyone, the RS3 Pro enables you to switch the grip for a battery so that the system can then be attached to other rigs as part of a Pro-Grade eco-system. Equipment such as Jibs, sliders, cable cams and Steadicams can be used.
There are many levels to the DJI Ronin RS3, firstly as a straight single-handed gimbal stabiliser and then as part of the larger Ronin eco-system. I’ll look at each of those components; Focus Motor, Rave Eye, and High Bright Monitor in separate reviews.
I’ll start by looking at the Ronin RS3 Pro in isolation, just the bare-bones gimbal, and it’s instantly apparent that it is an improvement over the DJI RS2. First and foremost, when mounting the camera, the process is easier due to several factors, the locks and their position, the new base plate and quick release mechanism and the longer arms that give more space.
As with the RS2, when setting up, you have to unlock the axis to spin the arms into position before relocking and mounting the camera.
Then you run through the usual set-up process of unlocking each axis and shifting the arm position until the balance is reached. However, while there is still some initial resistance as you move the arms, there’s more arm’s length to play with. The camera base plate also features a ratchet that enables more accurate position adjustment. After the manual calibration has been completed, you can select auto-calibration from the menu to finish the process.
Once the camera balance has been found, a cable can be plugged into the camera’s USB-C port and directly into the side of the gimbal. The shutter can easily be activated from the direct control button on the grip.
In use, the DJI RS3 demonstrates the power of the motors inside. Firstly there is no noise; these motors are eerily silent. Once connected to the App, a huge amount of adjustability can be made to the balance and control settings.
The camera’s OLED is clear and used as a straightforward gimbal, with the camera mounted high above the rear arm. Even dropping the camera down to ground level, there’s enough arm clearance to pull out the screen so you can see what’s happening. The only time seeing the screen becomes difficult is when using the 3D Roll 360.
Back to the power of the motors and for walking, the standard settings are more than enough to keep up with the action. Increase the motor speed, and the response time picks up. However, the adjustments in camera position aren’t jerky; the gimbal buffers the direction change smoothly as the camera’s position changes.
Picking up the speed and using the gimbal when running, again, the gimbal is more than able to cope with the relatively slow speed of my downhill run; the power of the motors holds the jilting movement well, keeping the camera balanced and footage surprisingly smooth.
Switching modes on the new DJI Ronin RS3 has also been made far easier, and the inclusion of the physical button on the right side of the grip enables you to switch from Pan Follow (PF) to Pan quickly, Tilt Follow and FPV, where all axes can move.
Dip into the menu screen, and it’s only a quick tap or two to other modes and features such as the 3D Roll 360, portrait etc.
Using the App opens up some of the more advanced features; these are generally accessible through the grip but easier to understand through the larger interface of your mobile screen.
Imaging modes such as panoramic and timelapse, along with a few others, can be accessed and, with the automatic shutter release, are all simple enough to use, with the App taking control of most of the difficult features.
The performance of the Ronin RS3 Pro in isolation is excellent. Other manufacturers don’t, as yet, match the build quality; the fact that it will equally easily balance a Sony A7 III or Sony FX6 without issue means plenty of scope for all levels.
While there is no doubt that the Ronin RS3 Pro is an amazing gimbal in all respects, it is not the most comfortable to use. To make the Ronin RS3 as inclusive as possible, the joystick is mounted on the back of the grip so that the screen, buttons, and joystick directly face you. The joystick is positioned slightly over to the right, but this is far from the comfort of the Xhiyun WeeBill 3.
Then there’s the weight; once loaded, the Ronin RS3 Pro, while small, isn’t as lightweight as some of its competition. Attaching the optional side arm does help to add to the comfort, but again compared to the wrist supports and grip design of some other gimbals, the RS3 isn’t quite there.
Ultimately in isolation, the DJI Ronin RS3 Pro is an excellent gimbal stabiliser with so much potential, especially once you add the Focus motor, Raven Eye or High Bright control monitor, which I will look at in a separate review.
Once the Focus motor and Raven Eye are added to the mix, the already excellent RS3 Pro takes another leap in function and features.
I use the original Ronin-S regularly for filming as it’s an easy option compared with using a tripod. It enables free movement and although my arms ache like fury at the end of the day, that day finishes a lot quicker due to the convenience the Ronin brings.
While I liked the DJI Ronin RS2 I wasn’t so taken with the new design or system over the old Ronin-S. It looked great but there were some functions and features such as the small screen, small amount of clearance with larger cameras and the stickiness of adjustment that meant until now I have stuck with the Ronin-S.
The DJI RS3 Pro however has convinced me that it is time for an upgrade. It’s that time when most of my kit is due for a refresh and while the Ronin-S is still in fine working condition the addition of RavenEye and Active Track 3.0 make the RS3 Pro a worthwhile update.
For me, the key feature is using ActiveTrack without the need for a mobile phone, although you do need the optional RavenEye. Other systems have excellent ActiveTrack style features but all require you to select using a mobile device, not having to do so here makes a huge difference.
Then there’s the camera compatibility. Being able to take the larger cameras is extremely useful, and now that I’m about to change from the Sony PXW FS7 to a Canon EOS 5R C this gimbal will provide all the performance I need and in a very small form.
What I also really like is the expandability of the system. For myself, I don’t need the optional High Bright Remote Screen, but it’s nice to think that one day I may be running a production that requires more than just myself monitoring what’s going on!
Then there’s the ability to use a battery base (Optional), which seems essential for me, being able to set the Ronin on a motorised slider with ActiveTrack, is possible at the moment, but with a lower centre of gravity, it would just make things so much more stable.
Ultimately the Ronin RS3 Pro is a little overwhelming as there is so much to it once the accessories get involved. The base system is well priced, and solid and will provide you with the performance needed for all sorts of situations. The thing about the Ronin RS3 Pro is that as you’re business or filmmaking aspirations expand so does the Ronin, therefore it’s an investment and worthwhile purchase.
While it does take a while to figure everything out there’s absolutely no doubt that the Ronin RS3 Pro is at present the best single-handed gimbal stabiliser out there.
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