The Zhiyun Smooth-Q3 is Zhiyun’s latest gimbal offering in their mobile lineup, following suit of their simpler shaped Smooth-Q2, which was much more cylindrical than what’s on offer here. The Smooth-Q3 is a lot more interesting to look at, more lightweight, and has a feature set more targeted towards online content creation, including Instagram Reels and TikToks. In this review, we’re going to be running through all the pros and cons of the Zhiyun Smooth-Q3.
The gimbal itself is made from a plastic material, but don’t let that deter you. It still feels pretty sturdy, and actually pretty light considering weighing in at 340 grams. Even with a phone on there, the maximum weight was never a real issue with whipping the gimbal around. The max payload the Q3 can handle is 280 grams which is easily covering the heaviest mobile phones. The Smooth-Q3 when folded measures at 45x154x180mm. Zhiyun call their system a sliding design 3-axis mobile stabilizer, and on the side of the middle arm, is a small screw that loosens and tightens the mechanism. I used my Google Pixel 4 XL with the gimbal, so I had to use it on its highest setting and has actually replaced the typical folding mechanism found on Zhiyun’s older gimbals. How long the sliding mechanism lasts though begs to be seen, though it does aid in pressure being put on the bottom motor while locked in place, or when the gimbal is switched on without unlocking it. The middle motor and head are locked and unlocked with a twist, and there’s a small snapping motion to lock it in place.
On the handle, you’ve got two buttons and a joystick. The long red button is for starting and stopping recording and the second button is for switching different modes. There’s a small green light that is segmented just above the button so you don’t have to mess around with the app, but more on the types of modes in a moment. On the back, or where your trigger finger goes is a power button and a button that is used for object tracking. One tap will track a detected object on the screen, and two taps resets the gimbal head position and three taps switches the head between portrait and landscape shooting. On the side by your thumb is a control for zooming in your camera, again so you don’t have to mess around doing that kind of thing inside of the ZYCami app. It’s fine, but not super accurate but for the functionality, it’s decent that so many controls are on the handle. On the bottom is a tripod mount and in the box, you get a small set of legs in case you want to put the gimbal down on a surface. Gr4ip[ while holding the gimbal itself is incredibly good around the front, but I would have liked some more grip around the back where my fingers are on the handle. Being plastic, it all felt a bit slippey.
So, let’s talk about the different modes that are available on the Smooth-Q3. As I said, you can see which mode you’re in by the light above the mode button. The modes are Follow. Pan Follow, Point Of View, Vortex and Lock mode. And you can cycle either way through the modes themselves. A single press will move the modes forward, while a double press will cycle backwards through the modes. There are also small symbols underneath each light to give you an idea at a glance of which mode you’re in, so there’s no guessing or learning the lighting positions isn’t necessary.
What is an interesting feature is the fact there’s a light on top of the mobile clamp for vlogging purposes. Just hold your finger down on top and it’ll switch the light on. It’s not particularly bright, but it does offer some separation of your subject to background. Tapping the section on top once will cycle through three brightness modes too depending on natural light in the shot. The light can also twist round to face a subject too, and this can be done easily with your fingers. It’s not particularly tight but it’s not loose enough either to become a hindrance.
The Zhiyun Smooth-Q3 relies on a partner app called the ZY Cami. In a nutshell, it’s a camera app that can be connected to the gimbal using Bluetooth., so the controls on the gimbal works with the device, like the recording button and zoom function. Inside of the settings you can find an option for various video resolutions. My Google Pixel 4 XL goes up to 4K shooting at 30 or 24 frames per second. I’m not sure if this is the same for all phones, as I’ve only got one phone. If I dropped it down to 1080p though I can shoot at 60fps, or if I again drop further to 720fps I can shoot at 60fps. You’ve also got some glamour effects to smooth your skin and make you look skinnier. You can also activate recording by firing off some gestures at the camera.
The controls for the gimbal include a scene mode for people who are walking or running, which essentially strengthens the motors to keep the phone as steady as possible, and you’ve got a mode setting, though as I said you can change this on the handle. Going through some of the main modes of the app, and you’ve got your standard photo and videos modes, there’s a pano mode, timelapse, hyperlapse, a dolly zoom and also an interesting feature called AI Live, whicjh allows you to livestream with all of the features of the app to your favourite social media networks, and SMART, which is a templated video editor that stiches you video clips together into a nice neat video for social media with nice transitions and things like that.
You know Zhiyun have a specific audience in mind with this gimbal, looking at you TikTok content creators and for that reason, they’ve done a really great job at creating a piece of equipment that feels unique thanks to its small on top which is really going to aid creators in making really nice content. However, with its lightweight design which okay is great to hold for longer periods of time, it makes the gimbal feel a little more flimsy than older Q models coming from Zhiyun. It’s a trade-off for sure, and for some, it’s going to be welcome. But for people who really like to swing around their gimbals, maybe not so much. But this thing costs £85 right? It’s not the most expensive gimbal in the world, and for all of its great features and usability, I think that’s a pretty fair asking price. For more information, head over to the Zhiyun store.