Zhiyun Z1-rider2 3 Axis Gimbal with GoPro mount – mountainbiking review
There’s been a lot written about gimbals which don’t need to be repeated and can be found in google searches. The Zhiyun Z1 Rider 3-axis gimbal is essentially is a motorized stabilization device which accommodates a GoPro (or similar shaped form factor). For motorization note that the Zhiyun has its own batteries as does the GoPro camera unit .
The Zhiyun Z1 rider reviewed has a GoPro and tripod mount but there are many other mounting options available (see Zhiyun’s website and product suite). For tips on how to use the GoPro mounts see these Pinkbike articles re the chest mount and other mounting options.
Whistler Bike Park July 1, 2016 – Zhiyun Z1 Rider gimbal GoPro mount (hit HD and 720p if necessary) – with duct tape hood and mic modifications
Upper Dales – GoPro gimbal test raw unprocessed footage – straight from the camera. Without the mic and duct-tape hood modifications (hit HD and 720p if it doesn’t show up)
Features and ease of use
I won’t bother to repeat unboxing or description of features. Useful articles reviewing the Feiyu and the Zhiyun Rider are here and here for reference. I bought the Zhiyun Z1 because it was recommended by a picky friend who’s had extensive experience with POV cams and video in general (Pete Fagerlin).
The Zhiyun has different modes but I used the mode with which it was pre-programmed where the motorized gimbals correct to track forward and on the vertical plane. I didn’t use the mode to correct roll (ie tilt the horizon) as I didn’t see a reason that I’d want to shoot a tilted horizon).
Set up was easy. I stuck the Hero2 on the mounting bracket and switched the Zhiyun on then moved the cam so it was generally pointing forward. Then I used the tilt (ie up/down) control on the control unit to angle the cam to where I wanted it to shoot. You’re then off to the races.
Zhiyun Z1 Rider 3-axis Gimbal (website here – click the English button)
Another compelling reason to pick the Zhiyun Z1 rider was that the control and battery unit (cylindrical unit in the bottom part of the picture) is separate from the gimbal unit (the space-age doohickey in the top part of the picture) itself. I haven’t used the Feiyu so have no basis for comparison but it stands to reason that having a bit less weight on the gimbal unit might be better for stability as that’s the unit that would sit on the helmet or chest mount. There is the draw back that the control unit and its cable is a bit finicky and exposed but I simply stuck in shorts pocket which seemed to protect it. Comments on comparisons between Feiyu, Zhiyun and other gimbals are welcome.
GoPro chest mount setup. Orient the camera so those big cylindrical units are out of the field of view of the GoPro. That band is big enough to fit a HD Hero2 and small enough to fit a HD3 and 4. I haven’t tried it with a Session but sure it would fit
Some mods suggested by Pete Fagerlin which are useful and appropriate ghetto (suiting my duct-tape and parsimonious sensibilities are depicted below. None of the mounts interfere with putting the Hero2 on the Zhiyun mounting bracket. I can’t see a way to mount the Hero2 with case on the Zhiyun bracket if anyone is wondering.
Some Amazon reviews have suggested that the cord connecting the control to gimbal unit will have power/connectivity issues. I put electrical tape around the cord housing where it connects to the control unit to ever so slightly beef up the cord and am also carrying the unit + GoPro around in a bag for a bit of protection.
Pete Fagerlin ™ mods are self-explanatory. Gorilla tape hood. Gorilla tape flap over the external mic to counteract wind-noise. A bit of medical MeFix tape over the mic itself.
Deer John top section GoPro Gimbal test June 2016 from Lee Lau on Vimeo.
Summary and where to buy
Undisputably this Zhiyun gimbal stabilizes footage from Pov cameras. It doesn’t make poor POV footage good but it does take care of much of the shakiness issues. You can still overpower the gimbal on larger hits or when you really give things a good jostle and when that happens you might see the cam flip over backwards or skew way out of perspective but that’s just a function of the limited power of the gimbals and of mountain biking.
Four hours of battery life are reported which is a good deal longer than a GoPro’s battery life so that shouldn’t be a factor. You can charge the Zhiyun via MicroUSB or an external fast charger (supplied)
I haven’t had this long enough to report on long term durability or on battery life of the Zhiyun but will update. The Zhiyun Z1 Rider is available through many online retailers including ebay and Amazon. The unit I purchased was $315Cad.