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Zhiyun Smooth Xs Gimbal Review (MSRP $74.99)
The Smooth Xs is a smartphone accessory that combines a selfie stick, tabletop tripod, and a two axis stabilization gimbal. See photo 1. Like most technology designed for use with your smartphone it comes with a free app that you download from Apple or Google’s online stores.
Before using the Smooth Xs you need to download the app and fully charge the gimbal’s internal rechargeable battery. Smooth Xs is packaged with a short USB-C charging cable. It does not come with charging block so you need to use your own 5 volt block. When you turn Smooth Xs on, it is going to look for a Bluetooth connection to its app before it will start to work as a gimbal. It will look for this ZY Cami app every time it is turned on. If you want you can use your own camera app as long as the ZY Cami app is running in the background.
When shooting video on your smartphone you need to capture the scene accurately and keep your smartphone steady. If you fail to hold your phone steady the video you shoot will be jumpy and probably hard to watch. A gimbal is an accessory that can be attached to a camera or smartphone to smooth out the small movements created by physical jostling while shooting. Some cameras come with built in Gimbals.
In an ideal situation you want to stop undesired movement on the three axes of rotation which are pan, roll and tilt. It is of course easy to get perfect results with a tripod and difficult when you are hand holding while shooting video. The Smooth Xs includes a little tripod that attaches to its smartphone holding handle. See photo 1 again. A three axis gimbal uses three small motors to compensate for pan, roll and tilt. Smooth Xs only has two motors so it only compensates for pan and roll.
Reasons to Drool
The ability to quickly use your smartphone on a small tripod when shooting your podcast is definitely a plus. So is the fact that it has a built in selfie stick with two of the three axes of rotation covered. Together they almost fully compensate for your unsteady holding of the smartphone while shooting photos or video.
Not So Cool
The Smooth Xs is only a two axis gimbal so it doesn’t have the capability of compensating for all unintended motion. The multiple pressing of the same button to move through different functions often becomes frustrating because which mode your multiple presses brought you to is indicated by the same tiny light. I also found it necessary to take the two smartphones that I used for testing out of their cases in order to place them into the Smooth Xs holder. To balance the phone for landscape shooting you need to slide your phone from side to side to get it in balance. If it is not in balance the Smooth Xs battery quickly discharges because of the extra weight load on its small motor that is trying to keep you phone from rotating toward a portrait position. The texture of the cases made it hard for me to slide these phones slighty while they were in their cases. A video is worth a thousand words and you will find my video review online at: https://youtu.be/OEFPQ4XAvPI