Reviews |Zhiyun Weebill-S

Zhiyun Weebill-S Review

Zhiyun Weebill-S
Review

Price when reviewed

£319

$339
Check current price

Our Verdict

While it’s not as rock-solid as the Zhiyun Crane 2S, the Weebill-S does an excellent job with full-frame (or smaller) mirrorless cameras. Like any gimbal, it takes a little time to get familiar with how to access all the settings and which modes work for the type of video that you want to create, but it delivers where it really counts by enabling smooth, watchable video that’s a significant step up from shooting hand-held and is more dynamic than footage shot with the camera on a tripod.

If you’re just getting into video and you’re thinking about getting a gimbal, the Zhiyun Weebill-S makes a great choice.

For

  • Great size and weight
  • Copes with full-frame mirrorless cameras
  • Two-in-one release plate is compatible with Manfrotto RC2 type tripod heads and Arca Swiss heads

Against

  • Fiddly locks
  • L-shaped body makes the screen hard to see at times

What is the Zhiyun Weebill-S?

The Zhiyun Weebill-S is one of the smaller, light motorised gimbals in Zhiyun’s range and it’s designed for use when shooting video with cameras like the Nikon Z7 II or Sony A7 III or smaller models like the Sony A6600.

A cable connection also enables the Zhiyun Weebill-S to control the mounted camera (follow the link to check camera compatibility) and optional extras can add focus or zoom control or remote control and image transfer. There’s also a free app (ZY Play) that lets you adjust key settings, control the gimbal and upgrade the firmware using your smartphone.

At under £300/$350, Zhiyun Weebill-S is an attractive choice for anyone with a compatible mirrorless camera who is looking to make their video footage less static and more dynamic.

The Zhiyun Weebill-S is available from Amazon UK and Amazon USA.

Specification

  • Product type: Motorised stabilising gimbal
  • Announced: February 2019
  • Tilt mechanical range: Max: + 182° Standard: 314° Min: -132°
  • Roll Mechanical Range: Max: 247° Standard: 314° Min: -67°
  • Pan Mechanical Range: 360º
  • Gimbal modes: Pan Follow, Locking, Point of View, Follow, Go, Vortex
  • Battery life: 12-14 hours
  • Weight: 926g / 32.66oz excluding tripod and batteries
Zhiyun Weebill-S

Features

The Zhiyun Weebill-S is a 3-axis gimbal, which means it has three motors to control the mounted camera’s movement. At the base of the gimbal, directly above the body (or handle), there’s the pan motor which controls left and right panning or yaw movements.

Above this, is the roll motor which controls rotational movement. And closest to the camera, is the tilt motor that pitches the camera up or down.

Pan-tilt-roll

From the Zhiyun Weebill-S user manual

These motors can be used to compensate for accidental movement and to create intentional movement of the camera. Their operation is governed by the selected gimbal mode and any pressure applied to the joystick on the handle of the gimbal.

Zhiyun Weebill-S gimbal modes

 

Pan Follow mode (PF): The tilt and roll motors are locked and the camera rotates with the handle while panning horizontally. Use the joystick to control the tilt (up and down) axis angle, and push it to the left or right to control the pan angle. This is useful eliminating vertical movement.

Following mode (F): The roll axis motor is locked, and the tilt axis and pan axis motors follow the rotation of the handle. The joystick is pushed up or down to change the roll angle.

Lock mode (L): All three motor angles are locked, and the camera will not move with the rotation of the handle. Push the joystick up or down to change the tilt angle and left or right to shift 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.

Vortex mode (V): The tilt axis motor rotates upward by 90°, and the tilt, roll and pan motors follow the rotation of the handle. Push the joystick to the left or right 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 quickly follow the rotation of the handle. This is useful for following quick movements or creating interesting transitions.

The selected mode is show on the small screen on the gimbal handle/body. In the image below, the Weebill-S is in Pan Follow mode.

Zhiyun Weebill-S

Build and handling

On the whole, the build quality of the Zhiyun Weebill-S is very good, especially taking the price into consideration. The gimbal arms and motor surrounds are made from metal and feel very strong. The body itself is a little plasticky, but its okay.

I have had a few issues with the axis locks sometimes being tricky to unlock. The tilt axis lock is the main culprit and sometimes it’s seemed stuck fast but I’ve always managed to resolve the problem by jiggling the camera little in the tilt plan while pushing the lock switch.

At 926g without the tripod and batteries, the Weebill-S is about half the weight of the Zhiyun Crane 2S, which makes it considerably more attractive to carry on the off-chance that you might want to use it. It’s also preferable for long shoots, but of course, it’s not designed to work with big cameras such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III or the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro like the Crane 2S.

Like the Weebill Lab, the Weebill-S has an upside-down L-shaped body or handle. This has pros and cons. On the plus side, there are threads in both ends of the L to attach the supplied tripod which doubles up as a handle extension.

 

Zhiyun Weebill-S

With the tripod/grip on the bottom of the gimbal, you have an extended grip so there’s room for both of your hands. Plus, the tripod legs can be splayed to enable the Weebill-S to stand upright.

As well as providing a convenient and safe way to put the gimbal down, the tripod is useful for when you want to control the gimbal remotely using Zhiyun’s free ZY Play app.

With the tripod/handle attached to the top part of the Weebill-S, you have a sling grip that’s useful for shooting from below waist height.

The downside the L-shaped body of the Zhiyun Weebill-S is that status screen can be hard to see because its sometimes obscured by the top part of the body. You could argue that it also makes the additional handle/tripod necessary, but the shape makes the Weebill-S very compact and the two attachment points make it more versatile.

 

Zhiyun Weebill-S

Setting up and balancing the Zhiyun Weebill-S

The Zhiyun Weebill-S is pretty straightforward to set-up, the first step is to unlock all the arms and move them into their working positions before looking them again.

Next, you need to connect the release plate to the camera. If you’re using a big lens on a small camera, there’s a riser plate that’s designed to lift the camera so that the lens doesn’t rest on the release plate.

Now double-check that all of the locks are closed and slide the release plate into position, checking that the safety lock engages.

Before you start to balance the camera on the Weebill-S, make sure that you have it set-up exactly as you intend to use it. Take the lens cap off and fit and filters that you want to use, for example, and if your camera has a tilting or variable screen, move it to the position that you plan to use it in. Also fit the cable that attaches the camera to the Weebill-S.

Balancing the Zhiyun Weebill-S isn’t hard, but if you’ve never balanced a gimbal before, give yourself 20-30minutes. You’ll get faster over time – and you’ll get plenty of practice if you swap lenses or cameras on a frequent basis.

It’s important to balance the camera carefully on the Weebill-S as it will give better performance and battery life – plus the motors will last longer.

The aim in balancing is to get to a point where you can move the camera with your hands to any angle on the gimbal when it’s powered off and it will stay in position. To do this, you need to balance the camera around each axis in turn.

Start by unlocking the tilt axis and with the camera facing forwards, move the camera and release plate forward or backwards until it doesn’t tip in either direction. Then tilt the camera upwards through 90° and adjust the height of the plate it’s sitting on until it doesn’t tip forwards or backwards – there’s a thumb screw to release and the plate.

Once that’s done, lock the tilt axis and unlock the roll axis. This time you need to move the camera to the left or right until it stays level.

Finally, move on to the pan axis. This time you need to keep the roll axis unlocked (as well as the pan axis) and flip the gimbal on its side. Move the gimbal forwards or backwards on the handle to get it to balance.

Zhiyun Weebill-S

Follow the link to watch a video tutorial about how to set-up and balance the Zhiyun Weebill-S.

Once you’ve finished balancing the gimbal, it’s worth setting it on its tripod on a level surface and activating the Auto Tune feature via the menu. This activates the motors, assessing and tuning their responses.

Zhiyun Weebill-S

Using the Zhiyun Weebill-S

It doesn’t take long to get to grips with the basics of using the Zhiyun Weebill-S. There’s a small collection of controls on the body/handle with single or double presses switching between the modes. Pressing the POV button, for example, activates Point of View mode and double pressing it activates Vortex mode.

A sliding switch on the side of the body swaps between Pan Follow and Lock mode. By default, pressing the Fn button activates Go mode.

Whichever mode you’re in, pressing and holding the trigger on the front of the body activates Follow mode while double-pressing the trigger centres the camera.

There’s a pad-like joystick for moving the camera and beneath that, there’s a control dial and pad for accessing and navigating the menu. The menu is where you’ll find options to specify the make of camera that your using and fine-tune aspects such as the speed and direction of the movement in Vortex mode.

Zhiyun Weebill-S

Performance

The primary goal for most people buying a gimbal like the Zhiyun Weebill-S is to produce more stable footage on a consistent basis. I’ve used the Weebill-S with a variety of cameras including the Nikon Z7II, Nikon Z6 II and Sony A7R III with either 24-70mm f/4 or smaller lenses, and it’s performed extremely well.

Even with a gimbal, there’s an art to walking or running with a camera as you shoot video, but the Weebill-S doesn’t show you up. In fact it flatters your skills. I mainly used it when shooting on uneven ground and even though I slipped and slithered on a few occasions, the footage looks good.

Park of the skill of  using a gimbal like the Weebill-S is to select the right mode for the subject and the effect that you want to achieve. Pan Follow is the default setting and it’s a good starting point that works well when walking with the Weebill-S.

All the gimbal modes work well with Follow mode and Lock mode being good support options to Pan Follow. Point of View, Go and Vortex offer creative opportunities, but be careful to not overdo Vortex mode unless you want viewers to turn green.

Zhiyun’s ZY Play app works well and is intuitive to use. Every time I’ve fired it up, it’s connected quickly with the gimbal the Weebill-S responds promptly to movements made via the app.

It also lets me know when there’s a new firmware update and gives me the option to install it. Each time I’ve decided to update the firmware, it’s downloaded and installed quickly and without a hitch.

 

The Zhiyun Weebill-S is available from Amazon UK and Amazon USA.

Zhiyun Weebill-S sample video

I’ve used the Zhiyun Weebill-S for some of our camera tests. As you can see for the videos below, it enables more dynamic footage to be created and does a great job of ironing shake, wobble and walking movement.

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