Zhiyun is coming out swinging with their new M3 gimbal. It’s a small form factor package that’s being aimed at the vlogging market. It’s a tool to increase the production value, by minimalising people’s shaky footage to give them a smooth feel to their home productions.

The Zhiyun Crame M3 has been designed to be used with a wide range of products, including mobile phones, action cams and even mirrorless cameras on the smaller side of the scale. I used my Sony A7R2 with a small 35mm prime lens and it was fine. I tried it also with my 16-35mm Zeiss, and that’s where it became a little problematic, as that lens is a bit of a beast. It’s very heavy, and the gimbal wasn’t really up to the task. Max payload comes in at around 2.2KG according to Zhiyun’s specs.

zhiyun crane m3 gimbal

The size of the gimbal itself is very enticing, to say the least. It’s the smallest gimbal I’ve managed to get my hands on so far, and it being so small means its weight is kept to a minimum too, which means much fewer aches in your arm. Its folded dimensions are 24.1 x 155 x 72.5mm which is small, and when I first took it out of the carry case it came in, it felt amazing.

There are several modes when it comes to shooting: pan follow, lock, follow, POV, Vortex and Portrait. Most of the time you’ll probably be using the pan follow mode, but it’s nice to know the other features are there too. Portrait is great for those wanting to create content for the likes of TikTok or Instagram Reels, and Vortex is just fun. Not hugely practical, but it’s nice to have a mode that rotates the camera around the axis to give you that spin effect. There’s a trigger on the front of the device which will lock your movements, and if you pull the trigger a couple of times, you’ll rotate your camera device to face you for some vlogging. There’s also a 1.2″ screen which is nice and bright and readable in daylight situations, and it’s touch-sensitive too meaning you can reach all of your settings super easy. There’s an 800-lumens light too for not so ideal lighting situations, especially if you’re using this gimbal to vlog or even present to. And there’s also an additional microphone adapter that plugs into the base of the gimbal which features a 6.5mm microphone input for the shotgun mic that comes with the Pro kit, and a 1/4-inch thread for whatever you want to put there. Maybe a small arm for a monitor or something like that.

Now, we’ve got to talk about the balancing, because there were some nice things about balancing this gimbal, and some things that were just plain frustrating. Each motor on the M3 has two locks. One which holds the position in place, and one that actually locks the entire motor in place. However, these locks are SOOOOO STIFF! Which made me nudge my balancing off when I was trying to lock the sliding arms in place. And unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. It was a pretty big challenge to get the gimbal moved along the sliding arms. They were not very smooth at all, especially the top arm that balances the tilt The roll was slightly smoother, but nowhere near how smooth you’d need it to make those micro-movements for the perfect balance. I managed to balance eventually, but it wasn’t a very easy process like you’d want something like this to be. It’s aimed at vloggers, and they’re not going to want to wait around to balance.

However, this is where the handy quick-release plate comes in. Once you’ve balanced once to the camera and lens you’re wanting to use, you’re not going to have to balance again. The quick-release plate makes it very easy to switch out batteries on the fly. There’s a screw to connect the plate to your camera, and it was fine. There’s enough grip to get the camera connected nice and tight.

The Zhiyun Crane M3 despite its balancing issues is a great product. And yes I know the balancing of a gimbal needs to be easy, it’s really the most important feature for a gimbal to have right? But its weight is a massive highlight here too, and the fact that it can hold everything from a mirrorless camera right down to an action cam. It’s pretty decent. The screen for me is also a plus too, as it makes accessing your settings nice and easy, and you’re not having to learn too many button taps to get to each mode. The Zhiyun Crane M3 comes in a number of colours. I have the white one here which looks really stand out in a sea of usually black gimbals. It starts at ¬£369 for the standard kit which is basically the gimbal and a case and a few cables, while the ¬£649 Pro kit comes with a backpack, a shotgun mic, expansion base and everything else from the other kits. It’s a great gimbal for sure, as long as you can get over the initial balancing issues. You can find more information on the Zhiyun website.