Using the Zhiyun Weebill 2 Gimbal in Africa - Review
The Zhiyun Weebill 2 gimbal is a solid stabiliser for heavier system cameras and DSLRs. To test this Zhiyun gimbal, we took it on one of our photo shoots in Africa. We want to use it to capture images of the monkeys, where they live and the landscape during the dry season.
What camera gear do we put on the Weebill 2?
We plan to mount a Panasonic GH5 MKII on the Zhiyun Weebill 2. The lenses we will use for shooting are the Panasonic 12-60mm, a Tamron 35-150mm with MFT-EF adapter. We will also take a 12mm Samyang MFT for wide angle shots. We are especially looking forward to using the Tamron lens to film the monkeys properly from a distance. Hopefully, we will then be able to shoot small movements at 150mm which is actually 300mm on the full frame equivalent.
Two handles to operate the Weebill 2 Combo
If you haven't worked with a gimbal before and you take Weebill 2 Combo out of the package, it looks a bit alien. But you get used to that soon enough. Before this, we have mostly worked with even bigger gimbals like the DJI RONIN that can carry big cameras like the RED Epic-X and Epic-W.
"This also allows you to control the pan and tilt axes with just one hand and adjust them even while filming."
The Weebill 2 gimbal has two handles that allow you to carry and move the gimbal in different ways. Of course, you can use the standard position, but also, for example, the 'sling mode' for low angles. The different follow modes give you plenty of options to let the camera move with you or stay focused on a fixed subject. You can use your thumb to control the small controller. This also allows you to control the pan and tilt axes with just one hand and adjust them even while filming.
Balancing the Weebill 2
Before you can use the gimbal, you obviously need to balance it. Since we want to change lenses and use different filters several times a day, we need to re-balance the gimbal several times a day. The first few times take some getting used to, but it gets faster and faster and it's very intuitive to do it quickly (and properly). The Weebill 2 gimbal can carry quite a lot of weight. Carrying the Panasonic GH5 MKII with the Tamron 35-150 lens is therefore not a problem.
If the gimbal is momentarily not perfectly balanced, you can quickly adjust it with the handy locking levers. Each axis has a 'lock' button with which you can easily lock the motor. This comes in handy when you walk somewhere with the Weebill 2 without using the gimbal, this way it doesn't move back and forth. You do need to turn off the gimbal before using the locks.
Tip for carrying the gimbal
As it is a semi-professional gimbal for a larger payload, it can be tiring to use it for a longer time. A little tip we can give you is that you can lean the included Handheld Tripod on your belt. That way, your arms get a break. Another option is to use a monopod or even an easy-rig or steadicam if you want to be totally comfortable. However, this is again extra equipment that you might not be able to easily carry on your own or in pairs. It's best to use the Handheld Tripod often and sometimes put it on the ground for a while.
Using the built-in 2.88" touchscreen
We have not used a gimbal that has a built-in touchscreen before, but this turns out to be very useful. Indeed, on our trip, we came across yellow-green meerkats in the tropical forest to film. Meerkats are monkeys with a misleading name. Unfortunately, we did not have a Video Transmitter with us to easily view the camera's image on.
This is where the touchscreen comes in handy, as seeing the image on the touchscreen makes a world of difference. This way, you don't have to use the camera's flip-out screen to see what is in the picture, as it always moves with the gimbal. This is because the gimbal's touchscreen is always in the same place, even if your camera is rotating, for example. However, the screen is on the small side to focus precisely with, so you do have to pay attention to that.
Next time, we would like to use the Zhiyun MasterEye Video Transmitter to view the camera image remotely. Then we can also try out the other features, such as Smart follow and Wireless control.
Setting the functions
The touchscreen is perfect for going through all the menus to discover all the functions and adjust settings, though. We mainly use it to switch the function of the jog wheel between focus or aperture. You can also switch between the modes of stabilisation, such as Follow mode and Lock mode.
The Zhiyun Weebill 2 has the ergonomic build and functionality to quickly take it out of your bag and start filming right away. With a little more time, you will discover that there are endless other functions you can employ, such as timelapse, remote pan and tilt control, smart follow, portrait mode and vortex mode, for example.
Creating fantastic video footage with the Weebill 2 Combo
We put our heavy camera with a long 600mm lens on a tripod. We place the lighter Panasonic camera with a wide-angle zoom lens on the Weebill 2 gimbal. This gives us fantastic footage from different perspectives with cinematic movement that you don't often see (or can't make) when filming wildlife. When using a lens like the 35-150mm, we can imagine that you no longer need a tripod at all. With a gimbal, you can create such stable footage and you also have the option for moving tracking shots.
"With a gimbal, you can create such stable footage and you also have the option for moving tracking shots."
The only question remains: 'Is filming more tiring with a tripod or with a gimbal?' In our experience, both are tough, but with a different intensity. A combination of the two options is what we would opt for. But there are two of us so we can alternate more easily. Not all wildlife subjects are suitable to be filmed with a gimbal. With some wildlife it is even very difficult, but when filming landscapes it is of course certainly possible. On the occasions when it can be done, it is almost an indispensable one, as it looks fantastic.