ZHIYUN Tech’s SMOOTH-Q3 – Gear Review

ZHIYUN Tech's SMOOTH-Q3 Gear Review

When given an opportunity, deliver excellence and never quit.

-Robert Rodriguez

As you well know from previous reviews that we’ve done. We are fans of the gimbals that Zhiyun Tech makes. This review will be focusing on the SMOOTH-Q3, Zhiyun’s latest in smartphone gimbals, and our first-ever review of one. Join us as we take a deep dive into the workings of this piece of gear.  

The SMOOTH-Q3 is the third generation of Zhiyun Tech’s SMOOTH smartphone gimbal series (that’s why that 3 is in the title…), and it’s a welcome addition to say the least. This next generation of gimbal in the SMOOTH-Q lineup has improved on several physical design features as before, such as weight and payload, and also has vastly increased the features and modes that it has, especially when connected to the ZY Cami app.  While we’re at it, this gimbal boasts a 15-hour battery life with a mere 3 hour charge time using a USB Type-C port. You might be able to guess this already, but we really enjoyed using this camera.

Unfortunately, we only had iPhones available for this test. If you’re using an Android product, there is a chance you will have a different experience with this gimbal. However, I’m sure Zhiyun did extensive tests to ensure compatibility with both operating systems. I have done some research to see if there are any noticeable differences and it appears that the only one that I can find is that you can adjust the ISO and shutter on an iPhone but not an Android. Again, I did not test this out myself, and who knows, by the time you’re reading this review this may have already been changed!

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Our Review

SMOOTH-Q3 Standard Package Contents:

  • Smooth Q3 Mobile Stabilizer
  • Tripod
  • USB Type-C Charging Cable
  • Quick Start Guide

SMOOTH-Q3 Combo Package Contents:

  • Smooth Q3 Mobile Stabilizer
  • Tripod
  • USB Type-C Charging Cable
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Storage Bag
  • ZY Cami Prime Card 
  • Wrist Strap

Modes:

The SMOOTH-Q3 also comes with 6  modes to choose from:

  • Pan Follow
  • Follow
  • Lock
  • POV
  • Vortex
  • Go mode
There are also additional shooting modes in the ZY Cami app:
 
  •  SMART Template
  • AILive
  • Photo
  • Video
  • Pano
  • SlowMotion
  • Dolly Zoom
  • Timelapse
  • Hyperlapse
 

Specifications:

Stabilizer

  • Following Deviation in Static StateMax: ± 0.04°
    Min: ± 0.01°
  • Following Deviation in Motion StateMax: ± 0.3° Standard: ± 0.1°
    Min: ± 0.05°
  • Tilt Mechanical Range 80°~-260°
  • Roll Mechanical Range 170°~-170°
  • Pan Mechanical Range 150°~-150°
  • Valid Payload 150g~280g
  • Mounting Clamp Supporting Range 55mm~90mm
  • Supporting Smartphone Thickness 7mm~10mm

Battery

  • Operation Voltage Max: 8.4V
    Min: 6.5V
    Standard: 7.4V
  • Operation Current Max: 2500mA
    Min: 70mA
  • Charging Voltage Max: 5.5V
    Min: 4.5V
    Standard: 5V
  • Charging Current Max: 1200mA
  • Battery Capacity Standard: 1300mAh
  • Battery Runtime Max: 15h
    Standard: 7h
  • Size & Weight
    Smooth Q3 Product Size 45*154*180mm (Folded)
    90*127*279mm (Unfolded)
  • Smooth Q3 Product Net Weight 340g
  • Smooth Q3 Storage Bag Size 227*175*62mm
  • Smooth Q3 Combo Package Net Weight 640
  • Price: $99 – $109 USD

Zhiyun Tech

Before we begin, if you’ve never heard of Zhiyun Tech, they are a company that prioritizes stabilizer products for the film industry, such as this particular gimbal. They have a wide range of products available whether you’re a professional or just getting started. We tested this product in as many conditions as we were able to. Since where I am right now, there are still many restrictions in place due to COVID-19, unfortunately, we weren’t able to do our usual testing environments. With that said, I believe that I have had enough experience in enough situations with this gimbal that I am confident in my decision.

Initial Thoughts

The SMOOTH-Q3 is a great low-cost consumer gimbal for smartphone users. This three-axis stabilizer is compact, features a rotatable 4,300°k fill light with variable brightness, and connects remotely via the app ZY Cami. All three of these things are improvements or additions to its predecessor, the SMOOTH-Q2.

The light is definitely a unique feature as it helps light the scene anywhere you are without having to bring extra gear with you. You’ll never have to fear those low-light situations again! With that being said, it’s not going to be the solution for every situation that you find yourself in, but it will help. The color temperature may seem odd but I believe they did it that way so you can match low-light interior areas. It makes much more sense than matching it to daylight since if you’re outside in the sun, this light won’t be helping you at all. There are three different brightness settings you can change between. You simply have to tap the button on the side of the light to change it. A quick trick is to use the light as an indicator for which way your phone should be orientated.

Nowadays, smartphones take amazing photos and videos. Considering that you most likely don’t leave your house without your phone (I know I don’t) doesn’t it make sense to have a lightweight gimbal around so that you can create something amazing the moment you get inspired? You never know when that inspiration is going to hit you during your day-to-day life. May as well be prepared for it! 

Just to be clear, I’m not saying that the latest iPhone should become the new cinema camera that Roger Deakins should use, but it doesn’t hurt to have something lightweight (this gimbal is only 0.7lbs (340g)) and accessible with you at any given time. This gimbal is compact and easy to bring with you anywhere you go. It has a great foldable design that makes it even smaller and limits the chance of any damage occurring during transit. There are multiple locks in play so that it won’t accidentally extend or unfold itself during your trek. The portability of this piece of gear is great.

There are plenty of useful tutorials for setting up your newfound favourite smartphone gimbal. These are great for any beginner that needs some assistance in setting up for their first time. On the other hand, if you’re experienced in this field, you should have no problem getting it up and running in no time. Once you’ve got it set up there are even more tutorials to teach you useful tips and tricks. 

I’m sure this goes without saying but this gimbal can be used to take both photos and video.

The Gimbal

The gimbal itself has a variety of buttons to use without having to use your phone. The joystick will move the gimbal whichever way you push it. It corresponds to how far you push it in any direction, so if you only push it a little bit, it moves slower than if you push it to its limits. This one is obvious, but the red button will begin the recording. This is done wirelessly through BlueTooth. There is a Mode button that will change the mode that the gimbal is in. Simply press the button and it will change the mode, you can see which mode you are currently in by seeing which light is on in the mode indicator. It’s great that you can do this through the gimbal itself instead of having to go through the app. This allows you to change modes while doing a shot if you find yourself needing to do so. As stated above there are the following modes: Pan Follow, Follow, Lock, POV, Vortex, and Go mode. Zhiyun has tutorials to explain these modes more in-depth. Be sure to check them out so that you can know which situation to use which mode in! On one of the sides, there is a basic zoom control. You’ve most likely seen this style before. It worked great on my test phone, an iPhone 12. Finally, there’s the trigger and power button at the back. 

This gimbal boasts a rechargeable battery that lasts an impressive maximum of 15 hours and can get a full charge in around three hours. It is charged via an included USB Type C cable. That’s some good stats if you ask me. The SMOOTH-Q3 is compatible with any smartphone that can fit in the holder.

One great additional feature that I’d like to point out quickly is the ability to change between landscape mode and portrait mode by simply triple tapping the trigger on the gimbal. This makes it easy to quickly change between the two when needed. Plus, since I don’t know where else to put this in the review, I love the ease of use for underslung shots. They’re easy to do and the feather-like weight of the whole rig helps a ton when having to bend over to get the right angle.

ZY Cami

Now, if you’re going to use the SMOOTH-Q3, you absolutely have to connect it to the app, ZY Cami. You’d be doing yourself a huge disservice if you don’t. This app truly unlocks the full potential of the SMOOTH-Q3 and without it, you’re only cheating yourself. The app takes about 5 minutes to set up and connect to your gimbal. After that, you’re free to run around and shoot everything you’d like using its amazing features. ZY Cami even has an advanced editor (where you can add special effects, filters, and even music) and ready-to-go SMART templates to help you with your filmmaking needs. These templates will save you plenty of time when shooting similar videos/styles. The layout may seem somewhat confusing at first, but you’ll get the hang of it in no time and be able to use its intuitive design with ease.

It should be noted that there are certain camera settings that you can control through the ZY Cami app. This includes changing your frame rate, ISO, shutter, white balance, resolution (up to 4k!!), etc.

Other new features that improve on the previous version include MagicClone Pano, Object Tracking, gesture control, Dolly Zoom, and SmartFollow 3.0. All of which are available through the app.

Remember, the ZY Cami app comes with full editing software so you can quickly edit your videos as soon as you’ve finished shooting them!

Modes

This gimbal is great for doing time-lapses or hyperlapses. You are able to select both modes in the ZY Cami app and adjust certain settings like duration, interval time, direction, etc. Definitely worth checking out! While we’re talking about modes in ZY Cami, I highly suggest trying out the new Dolly Zoom feature! It’s a whole lot of fun and easy to use. What is normally a difficult shot to pull off is practically all automatic when you have this mode enable. Not sure what a Dolly Zoom is? Check out the video below! If I’m being honest, which I am of course this is a review, the Dolly Zoom mode is my personal favourite new feature of the gimbal. It’s just so much fun and simplistic!

Verdict

Overall, you’re definitely getting an amazing deal on a smartphone gimbal at this price point. It is clearly geared towards social media users and vloggers specifically, but it has more uses beyond that. You won’t be creating the most cinematic film of all time on this gimbal, but that’s not exactly what it was made for. If you’re in the market for a smartphone gimbal, than I would highly suggest the SMOOTH-Q3.

If you’re wondering, this gimbal is available to buy now!! You can get all of this for the consumer-friendly price of $99 for the basic package or $109 for the combo package. The combo package comes with a carry bag, wrist strap, and a card to unlock the full features list of the ZY Cami app for 1 year.

If you want to keep up-to-date with everything Zhiyun Tech, check out their Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, website, and store. As always, be sure to check out more filmmaking articles here on FilmLocal and create a free account if you haven’t yet! Trust me, it’s a good idea. Finally, let us know what you think! Leave a comment below and mention your experiences with the SMOOTH-Q3 or other smartphone gimbals. We’d love to hear what your thoughts!

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