While Zhiyun's Smooth X isn't so smooth, it certainly packs a punch for the price point.
Love or hate them, gimbals are all the rage right now. If you’re one of the crafty creators shooting short films and videos with your phone, you’ll want to check out the Smooth X gimbal from Zhiyun.
Zhiyun sent me a Smooth X smartphone gimbal to review, so I did! Let's take a closer look.
Filmmaking on the Go
This extremely affordable gimbal can fold up and fit in the palm of your hand. What makes this rig so compact and travel-friendly is that it has two axes instead of the standard three.
The motorized gimbal has pan and roll controls, as well as a telescoping handle for all of the vloggers out there. There’s a joystick, mode and record buttons, as well as a zoom control on the side. While it does feel a bit fragile, it doesn’t feel cheap.
Throw in an extra ten dollars to get the combo pack, which comes with a mini-tripod and carrying case.
If you plan on using all of the features of the gimbal (timelapse, motionlapse, etc.), you’ll definitely want that mini-tripod.
ZY Cami App
The gimbal connects to the phone via Bluetooth and is controlled through the ZY Cami app. You can find a list of compatible phones here.
FYI, I tested out this gimbal using my Huawei P Smart 2020, which was not listed as a compatible phone, and it worked just fine. The compatibility list will also show you which features will be available when working with the gimbal.
The app is a bit clunky at first, but after some tinkering, I found it easy enough to navigate.
Not So Smooth…
Ironically enough, the Smooth X isn’t so smooth.
But honestly, what do you expect from a $59 2-axis setup? A lot of this relates to the internal stabilization features of the specific phone. Some phones will work better than others, and as I mentioned earlier, my phone was not officially listed on Zhiyun’s compatibility list (Huawei P Smart 2020). Nevertheless, I did take a compatible phone for a test drive (Samsung Galaxy S10), and I encountered the same issues.
Check out the video review to see a side-by-side comparison of me walking down some stairs, one time holding the phone by hand, the other with the gimbal.
It's certainly an improvement when using the gimbal, but still bumpy and shaky. I did get some good results when I employed my videographer legs and properly rolled my feet.
The gimbal has three main following modes, which controls how the gimbal will react while filming:
- Pan/Follow (PF). The phone will pan and follow in the same direction as the gimbal body. This is perfect when vlogging or doing simple point-and-shoot style filming.
- Lock (L). Locks the camera off, no matter where you move the gimbal.
- Roll and Pan Following mode. Great when you want to get some dutch angles.
You can also quickly flip the phone into a vertical position via a double-tap of the Mode button. Clearly a great option if you’re shooting for Instagram or TikTok.
Timelapse and Motionlapse
One of my favorite features of this gimbal is the TimeLapse option.
Using the mini-tripod, you can capture some amazing timelapse videos via the interval recorder. The app even allows you to input several positions during a timelapse, which will automatically pan throughout the duration, giving you a motionlapse. This feature alone makes the gimbal worth the money.
Another very interesting feature is the intelligent gesture controls. Once activated, I can trigger both video tracking and recording with a simple hand gesture. This is an especially great feature when shooting lone-wolf style, which I do quite a bit when shooting tutorials and gear reviews.
While Zhiyun’s Smooth X isn’t very smooth, it’s still very much a useful tool for filmmakers, vloggers, and other video creators.
With a price point of $59 ($69 for the mini-tripod and carrying case), you'll have a powerful little tool that you can toss into a backpack. Think of it as a Swiss army knife.
- Foldable pocket-size pan/roll 2-axis motorized gimbal
- Extendable from approximately to 10 to 20" total length via a built-in aluminum telescopic selfie stick extension
- Supports up to 3.5" phones
- Horizontal and vertical orientation
- 4-hour average runtime
- iOS/Android app (slow motion, timelapse, panorama, editing, and more)
- Intelligent gesture controls for taking photos and starting video recording
- 1/4"-20 mounting thread on the bottom