One of my chief beefs with handheld gimbals is that they aren't very flexible when it comes to camera platforms. An independent isn't always going to be shooting exclusively on a smartphone, or a DSLR, or even an action camera. Nor do they want to have a dedicated gimbal for each one. They want a gimbal that can transform to handle as many different platforms as they can, and that looks to be what the Zhiyun Tech Crane M2 is all about...flexibility.

Designed with a host of balancing options, the Zhiyun Tech Crane M2 can work with multiple devices. It features a unique quick release plate that enables users to remove their camera and then put it back on without the need of rebalancing or recalibration. That's damned impressive. The plate comes with a scale mark and positioning memory system that enables the Crane 2 to rebalance in just a few seconds. 

The Crane 2 has three basic modes, including Pan Follow (PF), Follow (F) and Lock. There are also advanced modes including Full-Range POV for 360° synchronous movement on all three axis, Vortex mode for doing the barrel shots that have become very popular in creating transitions from scene to scene in online videos, and Go Mode that enables users to fast pan and tilt during fast-paced action scenes or when covering live sporting events.

ZhiyunTech's Crane 2 and its scale mark and positioning memory controls

Users can also control the Crane M2 via a smartphone connection, giving them the option of remote filming with the ZY Play app, when the filmmaker finds themselves' in the scene. There are also other advanced features including time-lapse, panorama, and vertigo shots like the ones made famous by filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg, where the came dollies out while the lens zooms in. 

Zhiyun has also made the Crane M2 more compact, without sacrificing the load carrying of their gimbal motors. There is a comfortable, ergonomic handle with control buttons, WiFi and Bluetooth control, and an OLD Display that will show the user the active mod, battery level, and other parameters. The Crane M2 also has a unique pin and latch design, which will lock down the gimbals and keep the axis' from flopping around during transport. That was one of my complaints on older gimbals. 

The Zhiyun Crane 2 Can Carry DSLRs, Smartphones, and even GoPros

Lastly, the Crane M2 has 1/4 -20" threaded holes built into the handle itself, so users can add an external mic, video light, or lightweight video monitor without the need to rebalance the camera gimbal itself or add any counterweights. Battery life is rated at up to 8 hours, and the Crane 2 can not only power your camera, phone or other devices, but it can also be powered by an external power bank while in use.

The Crane M2 is packed with a lot of great features and is far and above what Zhiyun Tech has done with their smartphone gimbals in the past. But I think the best feature it has is its flexibility. For those on a budget, it might be worth spending another $100 to be able to shift from one camera to another on the fly, and not get bogged down with trying to rebalance it as you go. That alone may make it worth listing your older gimbal on eBay and picking one up.

The price of the Zhiyun Crane M2 is $269 and it's available for preorder. Shipping starts August 15, 2019. For more information, visit Zhiyun Tech.

Zhiyun Crane M2