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Crane 3 LAB By Zhiyun – Best Gimbal For Heavy DSLR

The Zhiyun Crane 3 LAB is a flagship DSLR gimbal, produced by a well-known stabilizer manufacturer. The successor of the famous Zhiyun 2 Crаne and Weebill LAB, this gimbal incorporates the best qualities of its predecessors. 

It features good stabilization quality, contractless video image transfer, and excellent compatibility. In this review on RightChoice, I am going to test the Crane 3 LAB to see it is as good as it seems. 

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Zhiyun Crane Design 

This stabilizer for DSLR cameras is completely different from previous stabilizers by Zhiyun. Of course, it does incorporate a few features from the Weebill; however, it is mostly different. What makes this gimbal unique is the dual handle design. The Crane 3  has two independent handgrips.

I am sure that most filmmakers will appreciate this novelty in the gimbal design. It opens up a few opportunities. First, the second handle makes it easier to hold the gimbal. Second, holding the gimbal with two hands adds extra mechanical stabilization opportunities. Last, but not least, using the second handle allows making more creative low-angle shots. I found this opportunity especially useful. 

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Build Quality

The quality of the gimbal construction is pretty similar to the one of the Weebill. Again, the manufacturer used a lot of plastic to produce this device. Despite this, the gimbal is still quite heavy. Also, it feels very robust. 

All smaller details of the Crane DSLR gimbal deserve special attention. They do not look cheap or simple. They are made professionally, and they are very sensitive. There is no need to push the buttons hard to make the gimbal react. No, working with this gimbal is pleasant and easy. 

When considering purchasing this gimbal, keep in mind that it is very heavy. This quality makes the gimbal more robust than its competitors. It also makes the DSLR Crane 3 a perfect device for heavier setups. However, with a heavy camera mounted to the stabilizer, you are not going to be able to hold this device for a long time. 

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Zhiyun Crane 3 LAB Compatibility

This is probably the best compatible device available out there. Among all other DSLR gimbals, the Zhiyun Crane 3 LAB has the highest compatibility level. This is due to the fact that the stabilizer can support devices that weigh up to 4.5 kg. 

The high payload makes this stabilizer perfect not only for DSLR cameras but also for cameras with heavier lenses installed on them. In fact, I cannot think of any camera that would not be compatible with the Crane 3 gimbal. It can work together with most of the recording devices. Canon, Nikon, Sony are just among many of them. 

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Mounting Camera To Crane 3 LAB

Are you tired of mounting your camera to a gimbal? This would no longer be an issue for you if you choose to purchase the Zhiyun Crane. This device features a special plate that allows you to quickly mount and dismount your recording device.

 The Manfrotto plate for releasing the camera quickly is actually becoming more and more popular. It is already installed on some of the modern gimbals and tripods. Therefore, you might have had an experience working with it in the past. 

In this case, you should know that mounting your camera will only take a few seconds. I am sure that most filmmakers will really appreciate this feature. In case if you are working on a commercial shoot, the situations when you have to quickly replace your gimbal with a tripod are common. Thanks to the plate allowing the speedy release of the camera, it is no longer an issue. The whole change process will only take seconds. 

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Contactless Image Transfer

If you have used the gimbal’s predecessor, the Zhiyun Weebill LAB, this function is not a novelty for you. However, contactless transfer of the image is not available on many DSLR stabilizers yet. Therefore, the Crane 3 LAB can be proud of its rather special feature. 

The contactless image transfer allows you to show the gimbal footage on your smartphone screen or any other device. You can do it with the help of WiFi. I personally hate connecting my gimbal to another screen for its complexity. This stabilizer has solved this problem. 

The contactless image transfer can be particularly useful when you are shooting in very sunny conditions. The brightness of the sun will not allow you to adequately analyze the quality of the footage on the small gimbal screen. However, if you send the image to your smartphone, you will have much more chances to properly monitor your video. 

While the feature is truly great, there is one small issue with it. If you want your video to show on a larger screen, you will need to have both the camera wire for control and the special HDMI cable mounted to the stabilizer and the recording device. It is not a big problem; however, it might be annoying sometimes. 

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Operating Crane 3 LAB

If you already have experience with using the older models of Zhiyun gimbals, the Zhiyun Crane 3’s control panel will look familiar to you. However, there is one small difference that changes it all. 

As you already know, the gimbal has two handles – the main one and the rear one. In Crane 3, the Zhiyun decided to place the whole control panel on the second handle that has been added. It might not be good for those, who were not going to use both hands when shooting. By placing the control panel on the rear handle, Zhiyun has basically forced everyone to hold the gimbal’s both grips. 

However, there is an alternative to it. You can always control the stabilizer remotely. This is done with the help of the Zhiyun companion app, which features all the necessary control functions as well. 

Otherwise, on the control panel, you will find a small screen, record, and power buttons, shooting modes changing tool, focus wheel, and the button for changing some of the stabilizer’s settings. Operating this gimbal is pretty simple and intuitive, it can be done directly, and does not specifically require using the app. 

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Crane 3 LAB Stabilization Performance

The device’s qualities are great: it has a high payload, contactless image transfer, special design, and an intuitive control panel. However, despite its all superior features, the Crane 3 LAB does not cease to be a regular 3 axis gimbal. It is, first of all, the tool for video stabilization. Therefore, it is important to understand whether this stabilizer provides stabilization quality that is equally good to the one achieved by the DJI Ronin-S or Moza Air 2

I tested this device in multiple ways to make sure that my evaluation of the stabilization performance is fair and objective. The Crane 3 LAB proved to be a decent device in terms of its stabilization quality as well. Most of the footage that I have made turned out to be smooth and stable. Even when I climbed the stairs or jumped, the video still looked good. 

At the end of the day, the Crane 3 LAB is a 3-axis gimbal. This means that the device can eliminate the shakes in all three dimensions – roll, pan, and tilt. The extra handle gives this device an additional stabilization advantage. Just like with any gimbal or Steadicam, the quality of the final footage will be also highly dependent on the operator’s skills. 

Conclusion And Final Verdict

Advantages 🤩

  • High payload
  • Good build quality
  • Image transfer without a need for wires

Cons 😐

  • Too heavy
  • Cumbersome
  • Too expensive
  • Control panel on the rear grid 

In general, the Crane 3 LAB proved to be a decent stabilization device in the empirical testings. However, it is not better than its main competitors – the Moza Air 2 or the DJI Ronin-S. The stabilizer is very heavy and cumbersome. While its stabilization performance is decent, it is still worse than the one of its competition. In addition to it, the device is more expensive. Therefore, it is difficult to recommend it over the Moza Air 2 or DJI Ronin-S, unless you are working with heavier setups often.

My list of the best DSLR gimbals is available at this link.

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