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DJI Ronin-M Ultimate Review – Another Good DSLR Gimbal –

Making a buttery smooth and steady video is no longer a problem, thanks to progressive devices like DJI Ronin-M. One of the best DSLR gimbals out of those available in the market has been first released in 2015 and has won the hearts of thousands of filmmakers.

Undoubtedly, the DJI Ronin M is still one of the best DSLR gimbals. Let’s look at it more closely to understand what is so special about this stabilizer for DSLR cameras. Read the review on RightChoice to choose wisely.

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DJI Ronin-M: Introduction

In 2021, the gimbals became something very common. Getting a perfectly simple video with your DSLR, GoPro or even an iPhone is no longer an issue. Back in 2015, when the DJI Ronin-M first appeared in the market, it literally changed the lives of many filmmakers, including myself.

We used to see stabilization tools as something very expensive and not reachable. Many videographers, who had been just starting their business, could not afford stabilization devices that cost around $10000. The DJI Ronin M cost amounted to $1199 when it was first released. Given the modern reality, this device is not exactly a budget-friendly gimbal. There are good DSLR stabilizers that can be purchased for less than $1000. However, back then, the device almost broke the ground.

The gimbal was not heavy and featured a nice design. Its stabilization quality was quite good too. DSLR cameras are pretty heavy, so it was nice to have a stabilizer that did not weigh much. Many filmmakers were extremely happy to see the Ronin-M. It gave them the freedom that they have been dreaming of for quite a long time.

Now, six years later, the device still remains one of the best gimbals for DSLR. However, the technology is continuously progressing and more exciting devices are released. Therefore, the DJI Ronin-M is definitely not the best gimbal anymore. However, it is still worth looking at. It is still affordable. Moreover, you can purchase a used gimbal for an even cheaper price. It still has a good design, nice stabilization quality, and it is still light.

History And Need For Electronic Gimbal

Of course, producing stable footage is the number one task for any filmmaker. That is why when I have just started this business, I have tried various stabilization tools. In the course of my career, I have tried a stabilizer known as a DIY Steadicam. It was not perfect, no. But it provided at least some sort of stabilization.

Also, it is a well-known fact that by working hard and employing specific skills any videographer can achieve stable footage with their hands only. This is what I had to do at various times too. This kind of stabilization required using heavy cameras, but it was better than making a shaky video.

Later, glidecams appeared. Now they are referred to as old good glidecams, but back then, they were popular. I was almost happy with my Glidecam HD-2000. It provided fairly stable footage. It did require certain skills from the operator. The glidecam is a mechanical gimbal, and it is more complicated to operate it. Yet, it was better than nothing.

Start Of Electronic Gimbals Era

The videographers still tend to employ glidecams here and there. I do think that it is fun; however, it is good that we have an alternative now. My Glidecam HD-2000 was a good friend for me. However, this was a massive tool that had to be held with one hand only. Controlling it required certain skills and efforts too. It is not a surprise that I felt extremely tired after an hour of shooting.

However, filming may take longer than just sixty minutes. And most of the time, you will have to spend at least two or three hours to get decent footage. Unfortunately, it was hardly possible to use those old-school stabilization devices. Moreover, their stabilization quality could be better.

This is the time when I realized that something had to change. The technology kept progressing. So I decided to do a small research and soon I found out that the new devices, also known as electronic gimbals have appeared. Those were small stabilizers that could provide buttery smooth video footage, simply using their brains.

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DJI Ronin-M Release

As time was flying by, I and my colleagues all over the world started employing those magic devices. They provided great stabilization, looked nicer, and were lighter than their predecessors. When the DJI Ronin finally appeared in the market, everyone was anticipating using it.

The thing was that the gimbal manufacturer had already been famous for its drone. Like many filmmakers, I had some experience working with DJI Phantom drones. This experience was purely positive, and I was extremely impressed by the quality of the footage that those drones could provide. Of course, it was quite logical to suggest that the gimbal would do great, too.

Therefore, when my financial situation allowed me to, I purchased this gimbal. The DJI Ronin-M, luckily, was one of the most affordable DSLR stabilizers. I hoped that its relatively low price would not affect its performance. And the gimbal did not disappoint me.

First Acquaintance With DJI Ronin M

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DJI Ronin-M Build Quality

When I finally bought the gimbal and unpacked the box, I was surprised by the simple construction of the device. No, it did not look cheap or plastic. I just did not expect that the DJI Ronin-M would be so small and simple. Unlike all previous stabilization devices that I used to work with, it was actually pleasant to use this gimbal.

The device consisted of a few parts. The upper plate was the place where you could mount a DSLR camera. Then, the gimbal features a handle on its upside part and two grips placed vertically. The grips can be turned around at any range, which provides superior convenience.

In fact, the way this stabilizer was designed was later used by many other gimbal manufacturers. Even though it is simple, it is very convenient and easy to use. Also, it ensures that you are not going to spend much time collecting the gimbal once bought.

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Putting DJI Ronin-M Together

Obviously, collecting your gimbal is the first thing you want to do when purchasing a stabilizer. The simple construction of the DJI Ronin-M allows it to do it as quickly as possible. Even though I always recommend reading the manual first, I have to admit that you might even need to put your stabilizer up together.

I could not wait to try my gimbal when I bought it. Therefore, I collected the DJI Ronin-M intuitively, and I believe I did well. The whole construction process took me less than five minutes. Of course, I had to spend a bit more time balancing the camera, but I will talk about it later.

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Mounting Camera To DJI Ronin-M

Attaching a recording device to this gimbal is free of headache as well. You can simply slide the device in and fasten the plate. However, be careful. The gimbal slides in easily, but it slides out easily as well. I noticed this during one shoot when my Canon C100 was about to fall on the floor. Luckily, I noticed it on time and everything turned out to be good in the end.

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Battery Performance

The battery the DJI Ronin-M employs is quite good and durable. It is marketed as a “smart battery”; however, the marketing specialists do not explain why they call it like this. The most important thing that you need to know about the battery in this gimbal is that it can last up to 6 hours at a single charge. I know that these days there are devices that can film up to 10-13 hours. However, 6 hours should also be enough for most of the shoots.

Even though DJI did not explain why they considered their battery to be “smart”, I will make a few assumptions. The first reason why the battery is quite intelligent is that it can serve as a flexible counterweight. When balancing your gimbal, you can count on this battery. It saves your energy, as you do not have to carry the counterweight plates with you anymore.

The second reason to consider the device’s battery rather smart is its performance. DJI does guarantee 6 hours of continuous shooting at one charge. However, when tested empirically, I found that this gimbal could work for a much longer time. In fact, I have been filming for at least 8 hours in a row, and my battery was still a quarter full.

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DJI Ronin-M: Balancing Your Camera

Balancing might be complicated and frustrating. In fact, this is my least favorite part of the whole process of filmmaking. Well, I am glad to tell you that balancing the DJI Ronin-M is not such a big headache. Normally, you have to balance your stabilizer perfectly to achieve good results with your footage. This gimbal is a bit more flexible.

Nevertheless, pay special attention to the toll axis. It tends to behave weirdly when not balanced well and might cause some problems with your footage. If this happens though, do not worry. Restart the unit and the gimbal will be fine in less than a minute.

You do not need any special tools to balance the stabilizer. However, sometimes, it can still be time-consuming. Be ready to spend around 12 minutes with your device if you are balancing it for the first time. Later, you will be able to do it in 3-4 minutes, which is much better already.

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Controlling DJI Ronin-M Distantly

If you purchase the original package, you will receive a special remote controller that goes with the DJI Ronin-M. This tool can be used from a distance to control and adjust the pan, roll, and tilt of your gimbal. Additionally, you could consider purchasing special control tools that are available in specialized stores.

Also, to control your gimbal remotely, you can use the DJI  companion app. If you have used any manufacturer’s products in the past (DJI Osmo, for example), you probably have some experience with this software. The app has a remote control feature. Yet, like almost any software it has its shortcomings.

First, the DJI application has a hard time connecting to the stabilizer wirelessly. Sometimes you have to wait for a few minutes until they connect, and it is pretty annoying. Once it is connected, it may occasionally lose connection, and you have to go through this cycle again. Therefore, I found the app very disappointing.

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Stabilization Performance

Obviously, the ability of a gimbal to make the footage stable is the main reason why anyone would be ever purchasing a stabilizer. In my reviews on RightChoice, I always do my best to provide fair and reliable information. Therefore, I tested the gimbal in different ways to evaluate its stabilization performance. 

The DJI Ronin-M is a three-axis gimbal. Therefore, it is able to provide stabilization and remove shakes in the following axes: pan, roll, and tilt. In general, the stabilization performance of this device is very impressive. It does very well in different conditions. 

When compared to other, more modern gimbals, the DJI Ronin-M still proves to be a good stabilization tool. Of course, its footage might not be as good as the one provided by the Moza devices or later DJI gimbals. However, the footage is still stable without any obvious shakes. 

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Compatibility

The DJI Ronin-M can support all DSLR cameras with a total weight of 3.6 kg. It makes it compatible with most DSLR cameras that are available in the market now. The payload is high enough to allow the gimbal to work with the heavier cameras without affecting the motor performance. 

However, there is one big disadvantage. When the camera is mounted to the gimbal, it becomes hard for you to control the DSLR screen. Its view is obstructed, so you can barely control the shots that you make. It is not very convenient, since you obviously have to monitor the image in the video to make quality shots. 

Unlike some of the modern gimbals, this one does not feature an angled gimbal art or wireless image transmission. However, there is a solution to this problem. Using the Blackmagic Video Assist will not only help you control the shooting but also provide a few more good qualities. 

Its Focusing Opportunities

In case you are not looking for anything special, you can always rely on your camera’s focusing features. In most cases, the DSLR cameras provide a specific focus and do great. However, there is an advanced opportunity to boost your filming projects. You might want to try purchasing DJI Focus for a more superior footage quality. 

The DJI Focus is a wireless follow focus that can be used in conjunction with the latest Zenmuse Z5 systems or as a standalone system for wireless focusing control with a 15 or 19 mm caliper mount, including the popular Ronin and Ronin M electronic gimbals. The device has to be purchased separately in specialized stores. It does not come together with any of the DJI gimbals. 

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Using DJI Ronin-M

Just like with most of the gimbals, you will need some time to get used to the DJI Ronin-M and its features. However, once you do this, you will enjoy filming with this gimbal. I did a lot to test it. I ran, I jumped, took a city tour, and tested it during a car ride. The resulting footage seemed nice and smooth with almost no shakes.

Filming with this gimbal feels natural. Its design is quite ergonomic, mounting your camera is simple, and so is balancing. The device is very smart – its motors and the computer built inside of the gimbal do their best to ensure that you receive the buttery smooth video. In fact, this is a pretty good gimbal that is worth looking at.

Final Verdict

Advantages 🤩

  • Stabilization performance
  • Two grips
  • Ergonomic design
  • Budget-friendly price
  • High compatibility
  • Smart battery

Disadvantages 😐

  • Slightly cumbersome
  • Camera mounting system, not 100% safe
  • Camera LCD covered by gimbal
  • A bit outdated

Six years have passed since the DJI Ronin-M was first released. Six years is quite a long term for any device. They tend to get older, new characteristics emerge, and slowly the old devices die. Luckily and surprisingly, this was not the case with the DJI Ronin-M. The gimbal that has been issued in 2015, is still on the list of the best DSLR stabilizers.

It provides a great stabilization performance, supports many DSLR cameras, and features an ergonomic design. Additionally, its battery lasts and the price makes this device affordable for a wide segment of users. This is a good gimbal for people, using big cameras and looking for simple construction quality.

Just like any gimbal, this device has its disadvantages too. In comparison with newer gimbals, it is no longer seen as a small and light device. It might seem a bit cumbersome and attract a lot of attention while you are shooting. Since the device is rather old, it does not feature some of the modern qualities that you might find in the newer DJI devices. Its gimbal art obscures the camera screen; however, it can be easily solved with the help of Blackmagic Video Assist.

Therefore, the DJI Ronin-M is definitely a great gimbal both for professional and amateur filmmakers. If you are interested in purchasing a stabilizer, check out my overview of the best DSLR gimbals.

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