Reviews |Zhiyun Weebill 2 in progress

Zhiyun Weebill 2 in progress Review

Zhiyun Weebill 2 review
Review

Price when reviewed

£509

$549
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Our Verdict

We’ve used the Zhiyun Weebill 2 with a few cameras now and generally, it has impressed us with its ability to deliver steady footage. Although it can cope with full-frame cameras with 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses, it’s better good with smaller camera and lens combinations.

For

  • Great stabilisation for mirrorless cameras
  • Easy control via the touch-screen
  • Better ergonomics than the Weebill-S

Against

  • Noticeably heavier than the Weebill-S
  • Internal battery
  • No quick release plate

What is the Zhiyun Weebill 2?

Zhiyun is a widely respected manufacturer of motorised gimbals for stabilising cameras during video recording. The Zhiyun Weebill 2 is an addition to the company’s lighter range and an update to the Weebill-S. It’s designed for use with mirrorless cameras and smaller DSLRs, but according to Zhiyun, it can handle cameras such as the Sony A7 III and Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses mounted.

The Zhiyun Weebill 2 makes some significant upgrades on the Weebill-S, but the headline change is the addition of a 2.88-inch vari-angle touchscreen which enables a more intuitive user interface.

Specification

  • Product type: Motorised stabilising gimbal
  • Announced: 1st July 2021
  • Tilt mechanical range: Max: + 190°, Min: -150°
  • Roll Mechanical Range: Max: +80°, Min: -260°
  • Pan Mechanical Range: 360º
  • Gimbal modes: Pan Follow, Locking, Point of View, Follow, Go, Vortex
  • Battery life: 9 hours
  • Dimensions: 35 x 22.5 x 15cm
  • Weight: 1.47Kg including the internal battery
Zhiyun Weebill 2 review

Features

As it’s a 3-axis gimbal, the Zhiyun Weebill 2 has three motors that control the movement of the camera mounted on it. Its aim is to remove as much shake and wobble as possible during handheld video-shooting, but it can also facilitate smooth movements, pans and spins to create more interesting and dynamic footage.

In comparison with the Weebill-S, the Weebill 2 has a new Infineon sensor, upgraded core algorithm and better motor torque, all of which is designed to give it greater stabilising power.

In another significant change, the Weebill 2 has a built-in 2600mAh battery which is charged in situ via a USB-C PD connection. It takes around 1.6 hours to charge the battery with a 24W PD Fast Charge connection, and the claimed run time is 9 hours.

Zhiyun Weebill 2 review

Zhiyun Weebill 2 gimbal modes

The Weebill 2 has a collection of operational modes that govern which of the motors are locked in specific position and which are available to move the camera. They are as follows:

Pan Follow mode (PF): The tilt and roll motors are locked and the camera rotates when the handle is moved/panned horizontally. The joystick is used to control the tilt (up and down) and pan (left or right) angles. This mode is useful eliminating vertical movement such as when walking.

Follow mode (F): The roll axis motor is locked, and the tilt axis and pan axis motors follow the movement of the handle. Pushing the joystick up or down changes the roll angle.

Lock mode (L): All three motor angles are locked so that the camera will not move with the handle, it stays looking towards the same point. Pushing the joystick up or down changes the tilt angle and moving the joystick left or right shifts the camera’s horizontal orientation.

Point of View mode (POV): All three motors move when the handle is rotated so the camera follows the movement of the handle but shake is dampened.

Vortex mode (V): The tilt axis motor rotates upward by 90°, and the tilt, roll and pan motors follow the rotation of the handle. The joystick is used to control the rotation of the pan axis to create footage that spins.

Go mode (GO): The roll motor is locked, and the tilt and pan motors follow the rotation of the handle quickly. This is useful for following fast movements or creating interesting transitions

Portrait mode: The tilt axis motor rotates upward by 90° and the pan axis rotates by 90° for vertical shooting.

Flip-screen

Incredibly, the Zhiyun Weebill 2 is the first gimbal to feature a flip-out touchscreen. This screen folds in against the horizontal section of the gimbal’s body and is rotated out then flipped round for use.

This replaces the small screen that’s integrated into the handle of the Weebill-S and it shows a simple menu that’s navigated by swipes and taps.

Zhiyun Weebill 2 review

If the Weebill 2 is used with the optional TransMount Video Transmission Transmitter AI, which can be bought separately or as part of the Zhiyun Weebill 2 Pro kit, the screen can also be used to preview the footage and to monitor the SmartFollow object tracking.

Zhiyun supplies a mini tripod with the Weebill 2 standard kit. This can be screwed on to the base of the handle so that the gimbal and camera can rest on a flat surface, or the legs of the tripod can be closed in to create a longer handle. Alternatively, the tripod can be attached to the end of the horizontal section to create a second handle.

Zhiyun Weebill 2 review

Build and handling

Like the Weebill-S, the Weebill 2 has an inverted L-shaped body with three motors and arms coming off it. The pan motor sits at the bottom of the three with the roll motor above it followed by the tilt motor at the top.

Pan-tilt-roll

From the Zhiyun Weebill-S user manual

While the body of the Zhiyun Weebill 2 is still made from plastic, it has a higher-quality feel than the Weebill-S. Its handle is also a little better-shaped and has a rubber-like covering that gives it more grip.

In addition, most of the controls have been moved on to the left side of the horizontal section of the Weebill 2’s body. This is a good move for right-handed videographers as they can either be operated by your right thumb or using your left hand. It’s a bit more awkward for left-handed users though.

Relocating the controls from the vertical section (the main handle) of the gimbal, means that they are less likely to be pressed or nudged accidentally than on the Weebill-S.

Zhiyun Weebill 2 review

Zhiyun has also swapped the pad-like joystick on the Weebill-S for a more conventional style stick on the Weebill 2. I find the new design easier to use.

As before, the Weebill 2’s arms and motor casings are made of metal and feel strong.

Once again, there are locks that can be flicked into position to prevent the arms from moving. These are useful when the gimbal is folded for transportation, or when it’s opened up for use and you need to balance each axis in turn.

Zhiyun has changed from the flat lozenge-shaped lock switches on the Weebill-S to conical switches on the Weebill 2. These sit higher from their surroundings and are easier to use. On several occasions, I’ve struggled to unlock one of the Weebill-S’s motors and I’ve had to jiggle the arm around until the lock suddenly decides to move. This has never happened with the Weebill 2.

Zhiyun Weebill 2 review

Another small but pleasing point is that if you use all the locks to fix all the Weebill 2’s arms in position as you walk between shooting locations, the arms stay still and don’t jitter as you move. It gives you extra confidence in the overall build quality of the device.

While the Zhiyun Weebill 2 feels better made than the Weebill-S, it’s also significantly heavier. According to Zhiyun, the Weebill-S weighs 1,015g (although I’ve also seen it stated as 926g) without the batteries and tripod, whereas the Weebill 2 is 1,470g with the battery and without the tripod.  I weighed the Weebill-S’s batteries and they’re 96g, making the overall weight without the tripod, 1,111g/1,025g. That means that the Weebill 2 is 359-445g heavier, and it’s noticeable in use.

Zhiyun Weebill 2 review

 

If you don’t have good upper body strength then you may find it helpful to keep the tripod on the horizontal section of the gimbal so you have a second handle. This sling-style handle is also very useful for shooting from a lower level.

Setting up and balancing the Zhiyun Weebill 2

As usual with a gimbal, after the Weebill 2’s battery has been charged, the camera needs to be mounted and balanced before it can be used.

Zhiyun supplies a riser plate in case the lens that’s mounted on the camera rests on the gimbal’s mounting plate. This is necessary, for example, when the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM is used with the Sony A7 III or Sony A7R IV, but it’s not required if either of those cameras is used with the Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS.

With the Weebill 2’s arms all moved into their working positions and locked in place, the release plate can be slid into position on the gimbal and locked tight.

Balancing the Weebill 2 is much like balancing any other gimbal, you need to balance around each axis in turn starting at the top with the tilt axis, then moving down to the roll axis and finally the pan axis.

Each of the adjustment points has a nicely-sized lever lock which means they are easy to loosen and tighten by hand and there’s no need for a tool of any sort. Most of the adjustment action is also quite smooth and easy to make although one of the tilt adjustments can be a little tricky.

Using the Zhiyun Weebill 2

Some gimbals seem to have controls scattered all over them, but on the Weebill 2, there’s just the small selection on the left of the horizontal section, a trigger switch on the front and the flip-out screen. This means that it doesn’t take long to get to grips with the basics of using the Weebill 2.

There’s a switch that enables you to flick quickly between Pan Follow, Lock and Follow mode, and pressing and holding the trigger button activates POV (point of view mode). The other modes can be selected via the touchscreen.

There’s also a customisable control wheel that can be used adjust camera settings such as the aperture, ISO, shutter speed or the electronic focus, or it can the roll movement. Strangely, none of the other axis movements can be controlled via this wheel.

The level of control you get over the camera depends upon the degree of compatibility so it’s worth looking at Zhiyun’s camera compatibility chart before making a purchase.

The Weebill 2 is also compatible with Zhiyun Play, Zhiyun’s free smartphone app. This enables the gimbal to be paired with the phone and lets you control the gimbal’s movement remotely. It can also facilitate firmware upgrades, saving you the trouble of connecting the gimbal to a computer.

Once the phone and Weebill 2 have been paired for the first time, they quickly spot each other when they are in range and they connect without a hitch.

Zhiyun Weebill 2 review

Performance

So far, we’ve used the Zhiyun Weebill 2 with the Nikon Zfc, Panasonic GH5 II and the Sony A7R IV, rebalancing the gimbal between each.

The Nikon Zfc isn’t actually listed as compatible with the Weebill 2 and we had to use the camera’s controls to start and stop recording, but the gimbal still did a good job of smoothing out the movement.

The results from using the Panasonic GH5 II are very impressive, the Weebill 2 really flatters your gimbal technique. We were able to get steady, smooth footage even when walking over rough ground and going up and down hill.

Using the Sony A7R IV with the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM is a bit more challenging for the Weebill 2. The lens is quite heavy and naturally that means you have to be very careful with the balancing. There’s also less room between the back of the camera and roll axis, which you have to take into account when tilting the screen. Nevertheless, we were able to get smooth, steady footage from the A7R IV on the Weebill 2, it just isn’t quite as forgiving as with the GH5 II.

Switching to the Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS on the A7R IV makes life a bit easier as it’s a smaller, lighter lens. It means that there’s a bit more room around the camera and the motors are fighting less weight.

All of the gimbal modes work as you’d expect them to and it’s easy to switch between them. One surprise, however, is that you can’t fine tune the position of the camera with joystick in Portrait mode.

Zhiyun claims that the Weebill 2’s battery lasts for 9 hours. We think that’s a bit optimistic, but we’re going to look into it further and update this review accordingly.

We’ll also add more sample videos.

Zhiyun Weebill 2 sample video

This video was shot on the Nikon Z fc with the Nikon Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE. The camera was set to record 4K (3840 x 2160) 25p MOV files with Auto-area AF (animals) in AF-F mode.

The video below was shot on the Panasonic Lumix GH5 II at 4K (3840 x 2160) 25p.

Early verdict

So far the Zhiyun Weebill 2 has impressed us with its build quality and easy of use. It’s also proved easy to balance and rebalance. Most importantly, it does a great job of steadying the footage recorded from a range of cameras, especially with smaller lenses. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to use the Weebill 2 more and will update this review with any findings, including how it performs with some of the accessories.

While the improvement in the build quality is welcome, and the touchscreen makes it easier to set-up and use the Weebill 2, the increase in weight over the Weebill-S is immediately apparent and it takes a toll during a long shoot. The price has also been hiked, which perhaps adds to the appeal of the older gimbal which is still available.

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