One of the most noticeable differences between professional and amateur video footage involves motion and stability. Shaky footage screams low budget and fits in more with old school homemade videos than it does professional quality content. Fortunately, over the last 5-10 years, tech companies have made great strides in offering affordable handheld gimbal stabilizers to make it possible for more filmmakers to create professional looking footage. These modern gimbals range in capacity and applications, as well as price; today, we’re going to focus on the lighter side of the gimbal spectrum and review a new, low-priced handheld camera gimbal stabilizer.
Enter the Weebill-S, a sleek and relatively affordable handheld gimbal stabilizer from Zhiyun-Tech. At $400, the Weebill-S comes in just under the price of its name brand counterparts (DJI Ronin-S and the slightly cheaper DJI Ronin SC) while promising similar results. In this article/video, we’ll explore the pros and cons of the Weebill-S to help decide whether or not the lower price point reflects a substantial compromise in quality. Let’s begin!
Video: Zhiyun-Tech Weebill-S | Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer Review
What I Love About the Weebill-S
Pro #1: Functionality
As a handheld camera gimbal, the Weebill-S performs as expected and delivers quality, stabilized footage. In our time using the gimbal, we found that the motor supports a decent payload (Zhiyun hasn’t released the specific payload limitation) and the battery operating time delivers on its promised 14-hours. We tested the gimbal using a Canon EOS R with a 24-105mm lens, and the gimbal showed no signs of struggle in handling this combination.
Pro #2: The Handle
This might also fall under functionality, but the handle deserves its own pro. You can quickly switch from a handheld position to an underslung carrying position and then back again, hassle free.
Pro #3: Selfie-Mode
With three clicks of the button on the handle, the Weebill-S will spin the camera around into “Selfie Mode.” When paired with a flip-out LCD screen on your camera, this feature makes it convenient to switch modes and get a stable shot of yourself doing whatever it is you do while making selfie videos.
Pro #4: Locking Arms
The gimbal features locking arms, which works well for the initial balancing when placing your camera on the gimbal, as well as when using it with a tripod or for travel, and so on.
[Related Reading: Sony A9 II Review: Staying One Generation Ahead of the Competition]
What I Don’t Love About the Weebill-S
Con #1: The Setup Process
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know much about setting up cameras on gimbals (I’m fortunate to have a team that normally handles that task), but I found the setup process for the Weebill-S to be overly complicated, and the manual (with its super tiny, practically illegible 4 pt. font) offered no help. The manual claims to be a quick start guide, but it is anything but. There are some videos available online from various people, but it’s still a frustrating to process to work through the first time.
For those with experience setting up gimbals, you may find the process easy to work through, but the rest of you are in for a challenge when it comes to setting up the Weebill-S.
Con #2: User Experience
When it comes to general usability, expect some frustration. The button layouts and design beg you to return to the manual (which as we noted earlier, is not helpful) or go online to learn how to use the gimbal. Even changing the batteries required me to look online to learn how to do it. Luckily, Zhiyun-Tech has a video on their site; however, when you need to create a video to demonstrate how to do something as basic as changing a battery, it’s a sign that the design is flawed.
The battery charger also leaves a lot to be desired. It only offers one USB type for charging, as if to say, “By now, you should have enough USB connectors to figure out some way to charge the batteries.”
Con #3: The App
The first two cons above deal mostly with initial setup experiences (as opposed to performance limitations) that become less of a problem over time, but then there are things like the app, which you have to live with, that would really benefit from some much needed improvement.
When compared to the DJI app, the app for the Weebill-S doesn’t function nearly as well. In fact, I probably wouldn’t use this app at all to control the device or use the automated tracking features, and so on. I found that it was not as responsive as I needed it to be.
[Related Reading: How to Use a Gimbal – Movements & Best Practices]
For a savings of only 10-20%, I feel like I’m giving up too much functionality for the lower price point, especially in terms of the app. I would choose instead to spend a little more money on a product that is better designed from the ground up and will probably prove more reliable and serve my needs a little more over time. That said, if the extra $100 makes a big enough difference in your budget, then the Weebill-S still offers a quality product that will perform as it should to help you create quality stabilized footage. Just don’t expect the same product quality in features like the app.