Zhiyun Smooth Q3 Design
For users who have used Smooth Q2 before, Zhiyun Smooth Q3 has been separated from the design of the previous generation. The user did not continue with the aluminum alloy structure of Q2, but obtained a lighter two-tone matte plastic structure. In terms of body design, it feels like learning a lesson from Smooth XS while trying to improve its performance.
Smooth Q3 focuses on grip ergonomics. Unlike the bulky cylindrical handle, the plastic formed on the back of the handle fits four fingers comfortably, while allowing the thumb to operate the joystick and buttons freely. The contrast between light gray and dark gray also directs eyes to all important buttons, USBC ports and zoom controls.
For those looking for travel-friendly gimbals, the Smooth Q3 design can achieve quick, slip-on packing. Although it is not as portable as the Smooth XS, it fits perfectly. If you don’t want to take it with you, you can easily put it away for transport. Check Latest price at Amazon.
Zhiyun Smooth Q3 Technical Specifications
In terms of quantity, Smooth Q3 has been improved in two main aspects of the gimbal: weight and payload. Thanks to the plastic body, it has successfully reduced Smooth Q2’s 380 grams (without battery inserted) to 340 grams. Compared with the previous 260g, Smooth Q3 also has a maximum payload of 280g.
When transported or folded for storage, the Smooth Q3 measures 45 x 154 x 180 mm. When fully unfolded, the dimensions of the Smooth Q3 are 90 x 127 x 279 mm.
Smartphone Support and Stabilization for the Smooth Q3
As with all Zhiyun products, it is recommended to check their gimbal compatibility list online before purchasing. Although it does not cover all smartphones, it does cover most of the major brands. Otherwise, you have to take into account the payload limit and the smartphone thickness support between 7-10mm.
To test the improved payload of Smooth Q3, I studied its compatibility on three smartphones. For the test group, I wanted a suitable size and weight range, so I used a Samsung Galaxy S7 that weighed 152 grams, a Google Pixel 3 XL that weighed 184 grams, and an Infinix Hot 10S that weighed 211 grams.
Because of the parameters suitable for all mobile phones, there is no trouble smoothing Q3, they are balanced. If you have a heavier phone, keep in mind that installing any external lens will affect your payload limit as well. In terms of Bluetooth, I also found no problems in connecting or staying connected.
Among the mobile phones in the test group, the dimensions of Infinix Hot 10S are 171.5mm x 77.5mm x 9.2mm, making it longer than ordinary smartphones. At certain points, sometimes the friction is too close to the tilt axis or the vertical tilt arm of the universal joint. Even in this case, if you know your location, you can usually predict it and correct your shooting pattern.
When you know you have the right phone, balancing is a relatively easy task. After placing the phone between the rubber clips on the phone, adjust the position of the phone to the left or right in landscape mode until it is stable and level with the ground. Then, in portrait mode, move the phone holder attached to the scroll axis to the left or right until the phone stabilizes and is almost flush with the ground again.
As long as you pay attention to the way the phone is tilted or lowered when making the appropriate adjustments, you can perform all of these operations in landscape mode in the same way. Even if you don’t get the perfect balance, the Q3 motor will make up for it in most cases, albeit at the cost of increased stress and increased battery drain. However, if you notice any abnormal situation where the motor does not cooperate with firing, you can usually resolve it by turning Smooth Q3 off and making small balance adjustments.
However, once everything is normal for you, Zhiyun Smooth Q3 will provide the most stable experience.
However, at certain time intervals, I will notice where the Smooth Q3’s engine has to catch up, and there will be some nerves when shooting. Generally speaking, I run into this situation more when doing action shots or fast paced sweeps. It’s not so much real damage as it makes me aware of my shooting style. Check Latest price at Amazon.
Therefore, you can still use Q3 to get movie-quality shots, but more work is needed to achieve it.
Battery Life and Charging With the Zhiyun Smooth Q3
How does Smooth Q3 work after replacing it with a built-in battery? In terms of working time, the standard battery life is 7 hours and the longest can be 15 hours. Depending on the intensity of use and the pressure of the engine, it can also run out more quickly.
During a test period, I ran Smooth Q3 for 7 hours, most of which were bursts of low pressure operation and high intensity use. During periods of low pressure, I only use the pre-balanced Infinix Hot 10S to keep it stable. Although I do occasionally adjust the pan, it is basically idle.
During the high impact period, I took advantage of the various functions of the gimbal to shoot outdoors every 30 minutes to an hour. Over the course of seven hours out and back, the Smooth Q3 only dropped one bar (thus about 25% of battery power).
Once the internal battery is depleted, the Smooth Q3 will charge via USBC. During charging, the Smooth Q3 indicators will light in sequence to show charging progress. If you want to pay close attention to the battery life while the gimbal is working, you can also tap the power button to display the current battery level.
Having said so much, I realized that the Smooth Q3’s battery can sometimes be tricky. If I leave the Smooth Q3 without power for two to three days when fully charged, it sometimes won’t turn on and it behaves like it’s dead. I can only reactivate the battery again after inserting the battery to charge and wait a while.
However, if I actively use Smooth Q3 or at least turn it on every day, this type of problem does not occur.
Using the Fill Light on the Smooth Q3
As a new member, a lot of attention is paid to the built-in lights. This 180 ° rotatable LED fill light helps avoid the use of ring lights in certain shooting scenes. So if you need to add some light to your face, you don’t need a separate accessory.
To turn on the light, press and hold the light icon at the top of the pan-tilt for 1.5 seconds. To avoid accidental pressing, you must press the center of the icon to register. Before you get used to it, this may cause you to have to press one or two more times for touch registration.
After turning on the, you can cycle through the three brightness levels by clicking the icon again. The three brightness levels provide quite different levels of light, so I really have no problem adjusting to my needs.
My only complaint about the light is that it cannot be used in all positions, such as when using the front camera in portrait mode.
Smooth Q3 Modes and Button Restrictions
This gimbal has six different shooting modes. The first five-Pan Follow, Lock, Follow, POV, and Vortex-can be activated by clicking or pressing the mode button twice to move backward or forward between your choices. Pressing and holding the trigger button on the front of the Q3 will put it in PhoneGo mode, which will make it pan and tilt to follow the movement of the gimbal at a faster speed.
In the typical mode, it is worth noting that the Vortex mode on Smooth Q3 is different. When shooting in Vortex mode, there is a limit to the scroll axis, which cannot reach a full 360 degree. Although you can still trigger the whirlpool effect, it is a bit disappointing in actual practice.
Regarding other restrictions, if you are not using the ZY Cami application, the record button and zoom control will not work. You will also not be able to enable/disable smart follow with one trigger click. However, you can re-center the phone by pressing the activation button twice.
You can also quickly switch between horizontal and vertical shooting by pressing the shutter button three times.
Using the ZY Cami App
The quality of ZY Cami apps varies. In theory, this is still a good starting point for novices, but with your ambitions, there will be an expected number of errors and failures. On the bright side, the beginner-friendly features, such as beauty mode, smart templates, and clone panoramas, work very well.
The downside is that the improved smart follow may have problems or fail to keep up. As before, you can pan to another topic or forget to move quickly. If you match the pace with the “Smart Track” box and try to follow it, you are unlikely to encounter these issues, but they will still happen occasionally.
Therefore, the smart tracking function is more suitable for selfie lenses, because the selfie lens is more controllable. However, if you lose the theme, you can re-lock the new theme by clicking the activation button once.
There is also an option to use gesture control; the ZY Cami app will not always recognize it. Sometimes it is necessary to repeat the same gesture several times, so patience can be tested during this interval.
Dolly zoom is also affected by location framing, but can be similarly controlled by reducing visual noise.
Should You Buy the Zhiyun Smooth Q3?
With all these factors in mind, should you buy Smooth Q3 ( Check Latest price at Amazon. )?
If you want a lightweight and inexpensive gimbal that you can take with you, Smooth Q3 is a good option. However, the bugs, frustrations and limitations of Smooth Q3 must be weighed against the various improvements made. Many of these are derived from optional ZY Cami application implementations, so you can opt out of these applications if you wish.
Overall, it depends on how much you value your usability improvements and the benefits of adjustable light sources for your lens. Nevertheless, for many people, Smooth Q3 will provide attractive and reasonably priced packaging, if not perfect.