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Experience with the Zhiyun Evolution Gimbal using the Yi 4K+
  • The Zhiyun Evolution gimbal is one those gimbals dedicated to action cams with the GoPro form factor. The advantage of a camera-type specific gimbal is that it comes pre-balanced so if you have the appropriate camera there is no frustrating time spent balancing. You just attach the camera (in the same class), turn the gimbal on, and you are ready to shoot. So, the workload is no more time-consuming or more difficult than attaching a camera to a selfie stick or monopod.

    The gimbal comes with two batteries and a two-battery charger. The batteries are supposed to last 12+ hours. I did not test that (a waste of my time), but basically this means that even if the actual time is 8 hours and not 12, you can just turn the thing on and leave it on all during your shoot. Again, you can just treat the gimbal like it was a stick. No worrying about power. Leave it on, forget it uses power.

    The form factor is like any other 3-axis gimbal, with perhaps a longish handle (to fit those batteries). It has a joystick for pans, tilts, etc. and for selecting one of three modes, just like all modern motorized gimbals. The motors are basically silent (I can't hear them). But...

    The way you mount the camera is to push one end of the camera right up against one of the gimbal motors (the tilt). This gives the best balance, and also makes it easy to figure out how to place the camera. However, one of the two internal mics of the Yi 4K+ is on that side! With the mic pushed up against the motor, guess what? - you get motor noise or at least motor vibration noise. You cannot therefore use the internal mics for audio while using the gimbal. Hence, you need to use an external mic. And the Yi 4K+ can take an external mic (mono).

    My small and lightweight portable "kit' consists of the Yi 4K+, a Sony ECM-CS3 mic and the gimbal. Why this mic? it is tiny and light and, most importantly, has an alligator clip that lets me attach the mic directly to the brace between two of the motors - on the gimbal. Not the handle, so no handle noise, and as I said, the motors are basically silent, so no motor noise. My kit therefore gives me quiet (and good) audio, better stabilization than any camera or camcorder (BOSS, IBIS, whatever) with no digital degradation, and 4K video at 60 fps. The camera is $339, the gimbal is $178, and the mic is $17. Perfectly stabilized handheld video, allowing camera movement, audio with no noise and 60 fps 4K for below $550.

    Why is 60 fps important? Well for normal video, you get smoother motion. But, more importantly, you can slow down the video which really smooths out movement with the camera, and you can still have 4K (at 30p).

    Ok, maybe I am just a shil, trying to sell you on this combo. So, really, how good is the 4K video? is the audio really without noise? can the gimbal really give you steady handheld shots? how smooth is the movement?

    See for yourself:

    The Youtube version streams at 2160 60p, and if you have the bandwidth, you should choose that setting to view no matter what the resolution of your viewing device (monitor). If you cannot do this smoothly, try 1440 60p. You will see that Youtube compression does NOT ruin the quality (and that a true 4K video looks better at all viewing resolutions). This video has static shots and walking while shooting, and for audio - a saxophone, guitar, fountains, and construction noise.

    I don't know if the Vimeo version streams at 4K 60p (it certainly streams at 4K), but you can download the original 173 Mbps UHD 60p original (as I made it).

    How does walking with the camera look slowed down? This video was rendered at 4K 30P, but contains slowed down portion so you can see the effect:

    In these shoots I did not once expereince any gimbal glitches (sudden spontaneous gimbal movements). Oh, and there is a bluetooth remote for the Yi 4K+, so you can start and stop the video without touching the camera. It works fine.