Hohem has a history of producing decent mobile gimbal stabilisers, but with the sector dominated by the DJI OM4, the company needed something more, a product with impact and of course Wow factor.
To an extent, Hohem has managed this with the iSTEADY V2; for instance, there’s no doubting the AI tracking ability, and technically it’s outstanding, but aesthetically there’s something lacking.
But then who goes on looks alone? Possibly, the greater part of the buying public, especially when you look at the price of the iSTEADY V2 and compare it against the identical price, but better aesthetics, of the DJI OM4.
OK, the Hohem is the better stabiliser with the enhanced features, AI tracking and ease of use, but the DJI at the same price looks and feels like a far more premium product.
When it comes down to it when you buy the DJI, you are paying for the brand, build quality and design aesthetics; when you buy the Hohem, you are buying into the latest technology, ease of use and features that will make your vlogging life simple.
It’s a hard call to make…
Impressive Moment Templates
Easy use with Social media
Build quality could be better
Not much to the design aesthetics
What is the Hohem iSTEADY V2?
Mobile Gimbal Stabilisers are handy devices. They essentially add mechanical stabilisation to your smartphone enabling smoother and more professional-looking footage.
Take a look online, and you’ll see that there are quite literally tens if not hundreds of different options, and to be honest, it’s a bit of a minefield out there to find which are decent.
Initially, the Hohem iSTEADY V2 looks much the same as its predecessor, which was a perfectly good stabiliser, although nothing much to get excited about.
The iSTEADY V2 is initially very similar, has mediocre build quality, minimal aesthetic product design, but it does fulfil the function of smoothing out handheld wobble etc.
However, check through the specs, and it seems to offer a lot more than expected, including AI Tracking without an App, which is interesting. This isn’t the first time AI tracking on a gimbal has been touted, but this feature has almost always turned out to be woefully lacking on other models.
However, the phone mounted and gimbal powered on, and it whirls to life with an assertiveness that I’m unfamiliar with for this size of gimbal.
With a quick push of the AI button, and a predefined hand gesture the AI Tracking jumps to life, tracking me happily around the room.
AI is the headline feature of the iSTEADY V2, and it’s impressive, setting a high precedent for the gimbals other features and functions.
Built-in AI Tracking: Yes
Guesture Control: Yes
Dual Orientation: Yes
Video Lamp: Yes – 3 levels
Stabalisation: Mechanical 3-axis
Template modes: Yes
Build and Handling
This is difficult as there is nothing overtly wrong with the build quality; the plastic used feels decent, but it’s the cheap shiny metallic plastic of the AI unit, plastic knobs, and slight lack of design aesthetics that give it a cheap feel.
It’s also incredibly light, which for a device that packs in an internal battery and motors is surprising. Put this next to the DJI OM4, and it all feels light and cheap.
However, at the same time, that’s what you want from a mobile gimbal stabiliser. Something that is compact and lightweight. The OM4 might be a joy to use, but it’s big and cumbersome in comparison.
The iSTEADY V2 has no thought for ergonomics; the handle is a cylinder with two buttons, power and orientation, a joystick and a zoom button on the side.
The fold-out mechanism is likewise simple, with click locks and a thumbscrew to lock the vertical arm into position.
As I say, it all works, but it doesn’t feel finessed.
However, once you pop your smartphone into the sprung phone holder and power on, the whole experience of using the iSTEADY V2 transforms.
Before delving into the App and opening up the full potential of the Hohem iSTEADY V2, I checked out the flagship feature, the AI tracking.
This is essentially a small, built-in module on top of the phone clamp. Using this rather than the App means that you get the power of AI tracking in whatever social media platform or video app you want, without having to faff around with connections from one App to another.
Set-up is easy, pop your smartphone into the clamp, power up, push the button on top, wait a few seconds for the lights to flash, and it’s set. Then make an OK gesture with your right hand, that’s the diver style OK rather than the thumbs up, and the small red light flashes green. This green light highlights that the gimbal is now primed to track you.
Seeing it in action is impressive, and it works far better than any system I’ve come across before.
The OK gesture isn’t the only one that the small AI unit recognises; a holt hand stops the tracking, two thumbs up switches the orientation to landscape. Two thumbs to the right rotate it to portrait.
Hand gesturing to tech is always fascinating and can keep you amused for quite some time, especially when it’s as responsive as this.
Along with the AI tracking, there’s also a small horseshoe light that circles the AI Sensor. This is designed as a video light with three brightness options, but as you can imagine on a small device, those lights only affect lower light conditions rather than full-on daylight fill in.
The main controls on the gimbal enable you to manually control the direction of the mobile with the joystick and flip the orientation.
The other direct features come into play once the App is installed and connected to the device through Bluetooth.
The App is nicely designed. Initial set-up is quick and easy, although you do annoyingly have to sign-up for a Hohem account. This is standard practice these days, and while annoying once done, you don’t have to worry about it again.
Within the App, functions and features are easy to find, and it’s nice to see plenty of options for adjustment. For example, the timelapse option enables you to adjust the interval, time limit and motion of the gimbal if you want to pan.
These are some advanced features for a gimbal of this size.
Moving through the options and there’s far more. The photo and video options are pretty standard, with no ability to adjust shutter speed or mimic aperture. However, there are a good variety of filters that can be directly applied. I rather liked the Mint and Valencia options.
The real hero of the App is the Moment templates; these give you a full 360º rotation and Dolly zoom. There are other options, of course, but these two stand out.
Once saved, these videos are stored directly in your camera roll, so easy to find and no digging around in apps to try to locate and export.
As apps go, I’m highly impressed again with the ease of use. But, while all these features are good, I’m most impressed with the reliability.
This is the first mobile gimbal that I’ve used for a while, aside from the DJI OM4, that’s been 100% reliable. It just works.
AI Tracking and the App are all exceptional, and before I forget it’s worth saying that the actual stabilisation is pretty impressive as well.
For normal walking and talking vlogging, the AI tracking easily keeps up with the action. This tracking ensures you or your subject are always in frame, so there’s no trying to use the joystick on the fly to recompose.
The smoothness of the footage is excellent, and even when picking up the pace, it manages to stabilise well.
You have to remember that this is a 3-axis stabiliser, so walking with a special glide is the only way to cut out the bob, but still, it’s exceptionally good.
Comparing the digital stabilisation of the iPhone 11 Pro against the Mechanical Stabilisation and you can see the difference. The quality of the mechanical is far better, and of course, you benefit from the full image rather than it being cropped by the iPhone’s digital stabilisation processing.
At the start of this review, it was difficult to compare the Hohem iSTEADY V2 against the DJI OM4. OK, they’re both mobile gimbal stabilisers, both come in at the same price and essentially do the same job.
The DJI OM4 has build quality and design aesthetics. It’s also incredibly reliable and a solid beast that will suit amateurs and Pros alike – it’s also packed with features including excellent tracking through the App.
The Hohem iSTEADY V2 is smaller, lighter weight but is mechanically just as good as the OM4, although it lacks the build and aesthetic quality. However, it makes up for that with the AI tracking and App that give you all the features you could want as a filmmaker.
It also works seamlessly with applications such as FILMiC Pro, which, while the OM4 has fully integrated, still doesn’t offer quite the same level of tracking as the iSTEADY V2.
After the test, the Hohem iSTEADY V2 proved itself to be a very competent mobile gimbal stabiliser. My only reservation was the design aesthetics and built quality when compared against the DJI OM4.
However, if you’re a filmmaker or vlogger, then you need to forget the aesthetics and focus on the tool that will enable you to get the best result, and at present, that is the Hohem iSTEADY V2.
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