Hands-on review: Zhiyun Weebill 2 camera gimbal
Image credit: Zhiyun
Keep your shots stable with Zhiyun's latest professional triple-axis camera gimbal.
A year is a long time in Gimbal World. Last summer, we reviewed Zhiyun's Weebill S, finding much to admire about it. A little over 12 months later and Zhiyun launched its successor to the S, the Weebill 2 - reviewed here.
If you're contemplating making a gimbal purchase for use with your mirrorless or DSLR camera, you will find yourself spoilt for choice. Not only by Zhiyun's own wide range, which updates at an almost bewildering pace, but similarly spec'ed offerings from established rivals such as DJI, FeiyuTech and Manfrotto. What does the Weebill 2 offer that could turn your head?
First and foremost, it's the Weebill 2's new integrated, flip-out touchscreen that catches the eye. This 2.8" vari-angle colour touchscreen can double as both a monitoring device and for parameter adjustment using touch, obviating the need for multiple physical controls on the handle of the gimbal or to constantly be referring to the Zhiyun app on your smartphone. The screen tucks away neatly into the body when you don't need it, helping to make the gimbal more streamlined in both look and feel.
A built-in screen is a natural and obvious upgrade from the Weebill S, where it was possible to use smartphones and tablets to monitor your shots, but it involved a unweildy combination of add-on clamps and cables. The 2 is much neater all round.
Most of the gimbal's routine functions are available from the screen, which displays information about the Weebill 2's battery life, the active selected gimbal mode, and whether a camera is currently connected. You can also make parameter tweaks to the gimbal.
The screen's display quality is good enough that you will have a solid idea of the framing, composition and lighting for your shot, if not perhaps true-tone colour or exposure feedback. It is still possible to use the Zhiyun app and a connected smartphone to view your image on a larger screen, so it's horses for courses. If you want to shoot from the hip, trusting the visual feedback from the display in a broad-brush kind of way, the flip-out screen is just fine. If you want macro-control over your image, you may prefer to work with a separate viewing device.
As well as the operating features on 'tap', the Weebill 2 can also be paired with Zhiyun’s optional TransMount Video Transmission Transmitter AI (which, it should be noted, does introduce more cables), enabling the user to to view the footage live and to monitor the SmartFollow object tracking. This additional purchase is also the only way you can review images from your camera using the gimbal's screen. The touchscreen is primarily intended as a one-way device, a live settings assistant to control the gimbal while you shoot. Using the touchscreen to review images is a secondary function. You might have hoped that it acted more like a digital camcorder, displaying both capture and playback, but no. The screen also doesn't rotate 180 degrees, so there's no 'selfie' mode, although this may be due to the neat foldaway design and to make it more robust overall.
If you buy the TransMount Transmitter, or spring for the Pro package option where it's automatically included, you'll have full viewing functionality. The Transmitter also allows you to send a wireless video signal from your camera so you can view the output on a separate device. Other early adopters have already noted what Zhiyun itself makes clear: previous Weebill image transmitters won't work with the Weebill 2. If you bought a similar accessory for a previous Zhiyun gimbal (e.g. the Weebill S) that accessory is no good to you with the 2. This is a bit like finding out that a hard drive you bought only last year doesn't work with your new computer. The rapidity of its obsolescence would be an understandable source of frustration.
What else is new with 2? The overall design and handling of the gimbal have been improved. Not just in terms of the new silicon grip on the handles, which makes them feel not only more tactile but also more secure in your palm, there's also the choice of normal or sling-style shooting, ideal for low-level angles. The mini tripod that ships with the gimbal can be attached to the grip handle to either use for remote shooting tasks or, with its legs folded, to act as an extension for the handle in two different orientations.
The main handle of the Weebill 2 has - in conjunction with the touchscreen - been streamlined, with an optimised arrangement of core controls. Apart from the trigger button on the 'front' of the handle (i.e. facing the user), all other physical controls - joystick, power button, record button, mode switch, control wheel - are on the left, within easy reach of your right thumb. This helps avoid too many accidental nudges, whilst still keeping them readily accessible.
That front-facing trigger button enables the user to single-press for SmartFollow mode; double-press to reposition; triple-press for selfie mode, or simply hold and press to stay in point-of-view (POV) mode.
This natural layout (at least for right-handed users) of controls makes one-handed operation of the Weebill 2 easier. The control wheel also supports customisation of functionality, according to your specific camera model - a long list of supported camera models is on the Zhiyun website. Customisation options include the control of electronic focus, zoom, aperture, ISO and shutter speed.
The Weebill S gained a solid reputation for the stability of its captured footage; now the Weebill 2 takes this up a notch. The 2's motors are controlled by the Infineon chip and an improved core algorithm, which with the added upgraded motor torque gives this model even greater stabilising power. Camera weights of up to around 4kg seems to be an accepted upper limit for the motors to handle without issue - that's a decent payload.
The tilt, pan and roll ranges of this gimbal should be more than ample (pan is technically 360 degrees, although that will depend on the size and weight of your camera) and the range of modes is similarly comprehensive: Pan Follow, Locking, Point of View, Follow, Go and Vortex, plus a new Portrait mode designed for quick vertical shooting (e.g. for the likes of TikTok and Instagram Reels) with no rebalancing or camera reorientation necessary.
Correctly balancing your camera on the gimbal is the essential first step and it is a relatively straightforward affair with the Weebill 2. Everything slides into place smoothly and easily, so it's simply a case of trial and error to find the optimum balance point for each axis, locking off each one as you go.
Helpfully, the Weebill 2’s redesigned and easily engaged axis locks keep the arms aligned and held in place, so the gimbal should be ready to go whenever you are. Unlocking is also quick, if you want to change cameras. We noticed the absence of 'chatter' - where the motors are continuously trying to stabilise the gimbal - as we walked around with the Weebill 2, which is welcome. The motors appear reliably stable, in this regard. The arms and motor casings are also made of metal, so there's a reassuring air of robust build quality to the whole body.
In terms of camera payload, Zhiyun has suggested that the Weebill 2 can handle mirrorless and DSLR cameras such as the Sony A7 III and Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses mounted, although perhaps the sweet spot for overall optimum performance with this gimbal is something slightly smaller and lighter. For bigger camera setups, Zhiyun does supply a riser plate in the event that the size of the lens sees it resting on the gimbal’s mounting plate.
Obviously, the bigger the camera and the heavier the lens, the more accurate you'll need to be balancing the axes. There will also be less room to manoeuvre overall in all directions with a bigger camera - especially if the touchscreen is out - so these caveats should be kept in mind. It's no fault of the gimbal, per se, more the specifics of each individual use case.
Properly set up, the Weebill 2 captures excellent, stable footage, taking care of all but the most excessive movement. Whether walking; jogging; going up and down stairs, and moving outdoors over uneven terrain, the resulting footage came out smooth, watchable and perfectly useable. Providing you are also making at least some effort to keep the camera and gimbal steady in your hand, you are almost guaranteed to get good results.
It's worth noting here that the Weebill 2 is significantly heavier than its predecessor, the S, coming in at approximately 1.47kg including the internal battery. This is around 500g or so more than the S. This doesn't feel like too much initially, but over the course of a long day, you will start to feel it.
On the subject of stamina, the battery life of the fast-charging, USB-C powered built-in battery is estimated at nine hours (YMMV, of course, depending on use). Some people might prefer replaceable batteries, so they can swap them in and out on long shoots, and also so they can extend the life of their gimbal by replacing a decaying battery with a brand-new one. The Weebill 2's battery is built-in, much like an iPhone, so replacing it is not so straightforward as it was with the S. At least you can recharge the 2's internal battery from a portable power bank whilst still using the gimbal and the battery will fully recharge in under two hours.
Finally, the exact full scope of delivery depends on which version of the Weebill 2 you buy. We had the Combo version on test, which comes with a particularly nice - and comprehensively pocketed - shoulder bag, with room for the gimbal and all accessories, cables etc.
The Weebill 2 is an excellent gimbal and a definite improvement, overall, from last year's S. Some long-time users might bemoan the loss of certain features almost as much as they celebrate the introduction of new ones, but that's the nature of product upgrades.
However you feel about Zhiyun's pace of development or its relentless upselling on accessories and package versions, there's no denying the core performance and key user features of the Weebill 2. As a high-performance gimbal to stablise your camera footage, making it a stress-free experience in the process - and with the user experience so obviously designed in mind - it scores highly in all the important areas. If the Weebill 2 suits your specific camera and shooting needs, you shouldn't be disappointed with the results achieved.
£429.99, Standard version; £508.99, Combo version
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