The Ronin-S was a hit, but now we have the Ronin-SC catering to the growing mirrorless camera market.
DJI packed a lot of features into the original Ronin-S of last summer, but one of the few quibbles we had with the original design was that in some ways it felt too big, especially in the battery.
While 12 hours of battery life was great, we would have happily bought a smaller single-handed battery grip for that only gave us 6 hours of life for the trade-off in weight savings.
Well, DJI has just announced the Ronin-SC, which has that smaller battery grip we were hoping for, but it actually smaller all over, with a reported 30% size reduction and a 40% weight reduction making it an exceptionally appealing stabilizer.
By targeting the mirrorless market and letting go of some of the heavier platforms the Ronin-SC has a payload limit of 4.4lbs, unlike the 8lbs of the original Ronin-S. The 8lbs limit of the S made some users want to put an Alexa Mini and a lightweight prime on it, but that was never the intent, it was simply meant to be strong enough for items like the Canon C-line or heavier DSLRs, with their mirrors, and heavier lenses.
Cameras like the Canon EOS-R line, the Nikon Z line, Panasonic GH and S, the Sony Alpha, and Fujifilm XT all have prime bodies for pairing with the Ronin-SC. These mirrorless cameras, combined with a prime, will come in well under the 4.4lb weight limit.
The weight limit is a limit, after all, and you're going to get the best performance from any stabilizer or gimbal with some overhead room.
In addition to the size reduction, the big marquee changes include better in-app integration for the stabilizer, which manifests in two major ways. The first is face detection. Mount your smartphone on top of your camera, launch the DJI app, and click on a face. The Ronin-SC will follow that face actively to keep them in frame.
This tool borrows tech engineered by DJI for their drone platforms and is a truly stunning feature of the platform that will be incredibly useful when working fast in solo operator situations.
In the demo, we even wondered if it might be useful on a tripod for operating on tutorial videos. The feature works best when the camera is set to something like 35mm or wider, closer to the framing of a smartphone.
The other major app integration is a cellphone-based version of DJI Force Pro. The DJI Force Pro unit is a device that can be mounted on a tripod or held in your hand to work as a remote controller for your Ronin.
Pan and tilt can be controlled using the accelerometer in the device, meaning our long-practiced habit of using a tripod head to operate can be mimicked when remote controlling a camera head.
With the SC you now have 'Force Mobile', so you can do that with your phone, holding it in your hand, or mounting it to a tripod and remote controlling your SC head. It's amazing.
We can easily imagine scenarios where you operate the head but hand a particularly finicky director or client the app and let them fine-tune final framing precisely how they want it, or even have a relatively inexperienced operator handle framing since it's so intuitive to use.
The unit is available both as a basic kit and as a Pro kit that adds a run/stop cable and an external follow focus motor for less than $100 more. While the SC can do the same trick done by the original S by plugging into a camera's digital port and controlling focus with a knob, that doesn't work for Sony cameras or even the Fujifilm XH1 (though it does work with the XT2 and XT3) and won't likely do so in the future.
Thus it probably makes the most sense to get the pro kit, which comes with the ability to pull focus, unless you are 100% sure that your camera is compatible with the focus control and that you won't ever need to work with other cameras in the future.
One camera notably absent from the above list of natural partners for the SC is the very popular Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4k. That is a camera that works best with a stabilizer, but is also very wide, and likely will need a third party bracket to work with the SC. Not the end of the world and more than worth it for the benefits it provides, but still something to consider when planning out a camera package.
The Ronin-SC is available now, with a standard package for X and a Pro package for Y. We got our hands on a unit and will have a follow up soon with hands-on experiences. Available as a basic kit for $436 and then a "pro" combo including a run/stop cable and a follow focus motor for only $539. For more check out the DJI Site.
- 4.4lb (2kg) payload limit
- Camera run-stop control for Sony, Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, and Fuji
- Remote focus control for Canon, Nikon, Panasonic
- Full App integration including face tracking and Force Control
- 10-hour battery life