The choice of smartphone gimbals is ever expanding and Zhiyun is another company with plenty of experience in making camera stabilisers.
The Smooth 4 is inexpensive and has a substantial redesign compared to the Smooth 3. There’s a large wheel on the side which you won’t find on other gimbals which is for zoom and focus, and there are plenty of buttons on the front so you don’t have to tap on the phone screen while shooting.
Features & design
On most gimbals – in fact every other one we’ve seen – there’s a joystick on the front. That’s used for adjusting the pan and tilt of the camera manually, but there isn’t one on the Smooth 4.
Instead, you have to hold the trigger on the back and then move the handle in the direction you want the camera to turn. The trigger has two buttons and the lower one is for slower, smoother movement, but holding the upper one allows the gimbal to move much faster which can be useful when you want fast transitions.
There are probably a few too many buttons, but one you will use is the switch just above the power button. It toggles between pan-follow and lock, but remember you still have to hold the trigger if you want to tilt the camera up or down.
The 3-axis Zhiyun Smooth 4 has three basic gimbal shooting modes.
The first is pan and follow, which keeps the horizon level. In other words, the gimbal will follow your movements left and right (in the pan axis) but counteract any movements which point the camera up or down.
The second mode is following mode which means it will follow your movements in the pan and tilt axis. However, it will lock the roll axis, meaning if the camera rolls to the left or right, the gimbal will counteract those movements to keep the camera parallel to the ground.
The last mode is locked mode where all 3 axes are locked. This means the Zhiyun Smooth 4 will hold your camera’s orientation and stay focused on its target. This is useful when recording what’s going on at the stage during a concert or when you mount it on a vehicle.
A neat little feature of the Smooth 4 is the “PhoneGo” mode that can be activated by pressing the trigger button at the back of the grip. This essentially makes the gimbal more responsive to movements by increasing the motor speed. It’s nice when you want to capture the quick changes of direction in your recording.
Using the ZY Play app makes it easy to take many kinds of photo.
- Single shot photos (very simple thanks to a dedicated snap button on the gimbal)
- Panorama shots (180-degree panoramas and 3×3 panoramas)
- Timelapses and Motion Timelapses
- Vertigo Effect
The vertigo effect mode is a photography effect that I haven’t seen any other smartphone gimbals feature. It’s a nice little camera effect, although I didn’t find myself playing with it very often.
The Zhiyun Smooth 4 features built in lithium ion batteries which can record for up to 12 hours.
- Good image stabilization
- Highly responsive and quiet motors
- Wide range of video and photo shooting modes
- Ability to change recording settings on the fly using the gimbal’s controls
- Some functions only work when using the ZY Play app
- Too many controls will be confusing for some
The Smooth 4 offers some features you won’t find elsewhere but although the ideas are commendable, execution could be better. It still does a good job at stabilising your phone’s video though. You can purchase one for yourself at Banggood.com