DJI Ronin-S Field Review

DJI Ronin-S Field Review

Good day. Welcome to the Great White North. Whether you’re an experienced cinematographer or a stills photographer exploring the video functionality of your camera. The challenge of creating smooth dynamic camera movements – is not insignificant. Sure you can put your rig on a tripod, you can pan and tilt – and that might make a shot slightly more engaging, but what if you could move the camera as freely as your arms and legs allow – – and capture incredibly smooth footage? Enter the DJI Ronin-S Yes, 3-axis gimbals are nothing new, but the Ronin-S sets itself apart from the competition in a few key ways. In order to produce smooth camera movements prior to the advent of affordable three axis gimbals, you would need to drop some serious dough on a beastly vest worn Steadicam or spend those magical 10,000 hours mastering the more budget-friendly GlideCam – and I’m not suggesting that either one of those are extinct. In comparison though, a 3-axis gimbal like this Ronin-S allows an operator with minimal experience to produce fantastically smooth footage and I really think it’s this ease of use that makes the Ronin-S such a valuable piece of kit. Contributing greatly to the Ronin-S’ outstanding usability are three user programmable profiles that you cycle through by pressing the M button. By default these profiles are varying degrees of responsiveness and speed. Now, if they’re not quite quick enough for
you – press and hold the M button. The profile LED changers from green to yellow indicating you’re now in sports mode, And it’s sports mode – you want to use to create those really trendy whip-pan transitions. Note that you must have your finger on that M button. The moment you take it off – sports mode disengages. The trigger on the front. If you press it twice the gimbal centers and levels. Three times – it reverses the orientation. A lot of people call this selfie mode – I’m not going to be one of them. If you press and hold the trigger. It locks the orientation. All the motors all the axis are locked – and this is how you get the Ronin-S into underslung mode. Kind of like that. Now, I’ve set up my third preset to mimic that function, so that I don’t have to keep my finger on that button at all times. It’s also worth mentioning that the power button – if you press it twice – quickly. It disables the motors. So, if you need to change something with the camera, you can do so without damaging the gimbal – and if you press the power button twice more, the motors start back up. Kind of useful to have. I often work in remote locations for multiple days and unfortunately tents don’t yet have electrical outlets. As such, the longer a battery lasts the better – and the Ronin s is no slouch in the battery department. The grip is the battery – and with 2400 milliamp hours it’s advertised as having about a 12 hour battery life; which is on par for what I’ve experienced so far. To charge this battery out of the box you need to attach it to the gimbal and charge it through the gimbals USB C port. Alternatively you can buy a dedicated battery charger for about 39 US dollars and regardless of your charging option it takes two and a half hours to charge this battery completely. Believe it or not the battery is a large part of why the Ronin-S is so easy to use. Though it’s not so much the impressive capacity as it is the form factor. Being a one-handed gimbal makes the Ronin-S ideal for a solo camera operator. Two-handed gimbals like the Ronin-M and the Ronin-2 require a lot more preparation and greatly benefit from the presence of a second and even a third person. In comparison the Ronin-S with one hand I can reach a lot higher than I could with the Ronin-M or Ronin-2 and I can get a lot closer to the ground a lot quicker than I could with a two-handed gimbal – and again all with one hand. As an added bonus on the bottom of
the battery you will find a 1/4 and a 3/8 threaded mount and these allow you to do some really interesting things with the Ronin-S that you probably couldn’t do with a larger two-handed gimbal. It may not look pretty, but I can easily carry all the pieces of this frankin-jib up the side of a mountain on my back – and the footage it produces is fantastic. Somehow I don’t have a monopod. If you happen to have one – I would suggest using a monopod in place of this second tripod. It will make things much easier. In the middle are a pair of Manfrotto super clamps – attached to a shape base plate. For a counterbalance is a cloth bag filled with rocks. If you’ve not had the opportunity to use a jib before – making your own is a great means of experimenting with their potential – and the Ronin–S is perfectly suited for the task. Now if you’re fortunate and you have a second pair of hands – on hand. Have that second operator open up the Ronin app on their mobile device – and control the Ronin-S remotely. You can create some stunning shots this way. A large part of why the Ronin-S is so easy to use – is that it supports essentially any camera. Its platform is very large. It’s not too confined. Having the roll axis motor lower – allows an unobscured view of the camera back, which is great if like mine your camera doesn’t have an articulating LCD screen. This next part, some may consider a hindrance and it’s certainly no secret. The Ronin-S is heavy. Tipping the scales at 1.86 kilos or 4.1 pounds, but it’s heavy with quality. It feels very well built. If you pick it up it instills a sense of confidence – and with the obesity comes a rather high load capacity. The Ronin-S has a low capacity of 3.6 kilos or 8.0 pounds. Interestingly that’s the same as the DJI Ronin-M. I typically use this with a Canon 5D mark IV, a 16-35mm f/2.8 II lens and together plus a compact flash card, battery and 82 millimeter filter: that weighs about one and a half kilos. Which isn’t even half of this gimbal’s capacity. One often overlooks benefit of the Ronin-S’s impressive load capacity – Is the chance to use longer focal lengths – and not just small lightweight ones either. This Canon 100mm f/2.8 L IS macro lens is one of my favorite lenses to use with the Ronin-S. It weighs 625 grams, which is actually 10 grams lighter than the 16-35mm lens I often use – and this lens has hybridized image stabilization which when paired with the Ronin-S creates some really smooth footage at a 100mm focal length. I can even balance a 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II That’s not a light lens. And with even the smallest orbital path, at 200mm – it produces an amazing parallax effect. Now, it’s easy to get stuck in the mindset that a gimbal is a specific tool for a specific type of shot, but with the low capacity of the Ronin-S You should try some lenses that would otherwise seem ridiculous. You will be pleasantly surprised. Remember this guy? While the Ronin-S may be able to support the size and weight of essentially any camera, it doesn’t always interface properly – or at all. There are only a few select cameras and
lenses that are fully compatible. For example, at the time of filming there are only fourteen Canon EF lenses that are fully supported. If your Sony user – good news: every Sony camera and lens that i know of is fully compatible with the Ronin-S If you shoot with Canon, Nikon, Panasonic it’s worth doing a bit of research before biting the bullet, just to see if your camera is compatible and what features are supported. It’s also worth mentioning DJI has been rather proactive with the firmware releases and adding additional camera and lens compatibility. On the topic of support, some of you with a keen eye may have noticed I’ve removed my included focus wheel from the Ronin-S. I’ve done this for two reasons. Firstly, it only seems to work with one lens: my 16-35mm, which is the version two and not officially supported by DJI. So, it’s kind of surprising it works at all in the first place. The second reason: The focus wheel pulls focus, in very obvious and unattractive electronic increments. It is not smooth and it does not look good. If you have a shallow depth of field and you’re focusing on something close to the camera – those steps are very noticeable. So, for those two reasons I’ve taken the focus wheel off, because it just kind of gets in the way and not used. The biggest weakness of any 3 axis
gimbal including the Ronin-S is the fourth axis – unwanted vertical movement. This is most pronounced as we’re walking. Naturally our bodies move up and down as we place one foot in front of the other. So, to minimize this annoying a vertical shake ensure you’re walking – properly. That means making sure your knees are bent, roll your feet from your heel to your toes, keep your arms and your elbows tucked close to the size of your body. It may also help to tilt the gimbal slightly forward. Alternatively you could embrace vertical movement. If you’re walking forward – start with the camera in a low underslung position and end up with a higher overhead shot. This vertical ascent – or descent, helps mitigate and hide annoying vertical movements. If neither of the first options work – find some wheels. Find a skateboard – ride a bike. This will very quickly help reduce unwanted vertical movement. There’s no argument that using camera movement in a shot can add emotion and increase the perceived production value. But it’s really important not to over do it. Don’t go crazy. Just because you have access to a gimbal, doesn’t mean every shot needs camera movement. A lingering static shot can just as easily evoke the same desired emotion. Additionally, this is just personal belief – footage is very often captured at a high frame rate and then it’s playback speed is slowed to create a smooth stable appearance. But, don’t use slow motion like a crutch. Make every attempt to capture a shot as smoothly as possible the first time, without needing to slow its playback speed. I really do feel that footage is too often unnecessarily slowed down. Slow motion should be an opportunity for the audience to see something that would have otherwise passed very quickly: a lion attacking a zebra, an explosion, a freeride mountain biker tearing through a berm – not a pair of skinny jeans walking through the park. Again that’s my personal belief. In addition to being an outstanding camera stabilizer, the Ronin-S has a number of rather fun creative functions. To access these you will need the DJI Ronin app on your mobile device. It supports iOS and Android. The first creative function is video. It gives you very basic control of the gimbal movements – and if your camera is supported and plugged in start stop recording. Next is panorama, and this makes the creation of super high resolution multi-frame panoramic images very easy. Begin by selecting your sensor size. I’m using full frame. Next is focal length. I’m using 35 millimeters. And the overlay is the overlap – and the more overlap or overlay you have between your images, The easier it will be for your software to merge them all together. Delay is important. You want to make sure the delay is longer than your exposure time. So, if I’m using a one second exposure today. I want my delay to be two seconds . Next you want to position the upper left – of your – giant image. And then your bottom right, of the giant image. And when you’re happy with that you hit the big white button – and the gimbal does the rest. Next is time-lapse and this is a rather basic function. It doesn’t involve any gimbal movement. However, it can be quite helpful if your camera doesn’t have an integrated intervalometer. It also helps with the calculations: if you have X number of frames, your final product will be – Y long. Next is motion lapse. Motion lapse is like time-lapse on steroids It involves gimbal or camera movements. This is also my favourite creative function. To begin you select your interval. Like delay, the interval needs to be longer than your exposure time. I have an exposure of one second here – so, my interval is two seconds. Content duration – this is how long you want the final product to be. I’d like it to be ten seconds, with some wiggle room on either end for transitions. So, I selected twelve seconds. I’m going to be editing on a sequence that is 29.97 FPS, So, thirty frames per second is as close as I can get. Then you begin by selecting the first cameras position. This is creating the path that the camera or the gimbal will move along. So, I select the first one and with push mode enabled – I can move the gimbal freely without
damaging it. Which is quite handy. Deselect the first one – move to the second one. Move it to where you like it Third one. Happy with that. I’m actually gonna delete the fourth one. I don’t need four today. There’s a maximum number of five, kind of points to create your motion path. when I’m happy with that – big white button at the bottom and the gimbal gets to work. In regards to motion lapse, I do wish that the Ronin app would allow for nonlinear paths – so, that the movement looks less robotic. And one quick tip I’ll pass along. If your content duration isn’t exactly long, try not to have too many points. Otherwise the movement looks rather awkward. Finally we have track – and track is a very interesting means of timed camera movements. If you’re a multimedia journalist or a Youtuber – Someone who spends a lot of time in front of their own camera. I think there’s a lot of potential with this track function. If you know your read rate. You time out your script. You can actually move and have the camera move with you in the middle of reading. Again, I think there’s a lot of potential here. Finally, camera control. Your camera needs to be supported by this app and it needs to be plugged in. This Canon – not supported. All right. You’ve seen quite a bit of what the Ronin-S is capable of and now the question arises: is it perfect? And hopefully the answer is obvious. No, it is not. Not many things in life are. There are a few gripes worth mentioning. Firstly, I despise needing a secondary device to control or configure a primary device. When working remotely, it feels like a complete waste of precious battery – life needing two devices to complete one task. And although the Ronin-S does have a few simple controls – it is otherwise very heavily reliant on a mobile device to change settings and use its creative functions. In future designs I’d really like to see an integrated LCD display – so, you don’t have to pony up the extra cash for the command unit or rely on your mobile device. Next. Hardware locks for each axis. Yes, it does come with a really nice polystyrene case, but I’m not going to hike a mountain with my DJI briefcase. I take this apart and very awkwardly stick it in a backpack – and right now I rely on the very archaic velcro strap to immobilize this gimbal. There has to be a better way. Now, aside from those few negatives the Ronin-S is great. I really do think this is the best single-handed gimbal currently available. Its ease of use and terrific operation mean even an operator with minimal experience can benefit from what this gimbal offers. Those who will benefit most, I think are: solo camera operators and those who spend time in front of their own camera multimedia journalists and YouTubers. That’s about all I have for the Ronin-S today. If you have a comment, a question put it down below. If you’ve liked this video – click like. Thanks for watching and I will see you next time.

100 thoughts on “DJI Ronin-S Field Review”

  • Hello there!! all the way from Nepal here..I have Canon 7d Mark ii and I am thinking of buying DJI Ronin-S. Shall I get it? Any suggestions would be very helpful…and yeah loved your review brother!!

  • Sabri Alkhateeb says:

    Hello Neil,
    I got a lot of useful information about the ronin, thank you so much.
    But I wanted to know also if you don't mind, what is the camera and the lens you used for the outdoor (at the wood) 4K shooting.

    thank you so much, and keep it up

  • Excellent video Neil, best I have seen, have you tried the Mozo air 2 , I need to get one or the other but cannot decide which just on the specs

  • By far the best review I've see so far. Answered some questions I had about using the creative tools with an unsupported camera.

  • Seth Pleasants says:

    wow just stumbled across your video here, quality work! I also noticed right away you have a different style (kinda getting burned out on everyone trying to mimic Peter Mckinnon, me being one of them ;)) I like how you show your settings at the bottom of the screen. I'm also curios that you shoot everything in 30fps verse what most "popular" YouTubers seem to all use 24fps. 30 fps definitely has a different look which is refreshing. Just curios what your thoughts are on 30fps vs 24fps cuz guys like Matti Haapoja say to NEVER shoot 30fps lol. I kinda like the hyper real look of 30fps for youtube type stuff though. I don't know now I'm rambling.

  • When I saw your frankenjib I was like ah, no there's a man who doesn't let equipment stand in his way of getting a shot. Very cool!!!

  • Good for you keeping your dog leashed in the wilderness!
    To many pets get lost in the woods by owners letting them run free.
    P.S. Good video. I'm watching while waiting for my Ronin to arrive.

  • Onlyonestinger videos says:

    Question, what plate adapter do I need to put the ronan mount on my standard Monfrotto 190L tripod? I purchased the manfrotto quick release plate , but i have the standard snap on Gumbal head .

  • Really great information here on the Ronin S with some great general gimbal/filmmaking tips thrown in. Really enjoyed this!

  • Thank you for the great review, honest, realistic and straight to the point in the field! Super helpful as I'm seeing what all the Ronin-S can do before I purchase

  • Erick Perdomo says:

    Lovely British Columbia! Greetings from the concrete jungle of Toronto….I should make my way to BC one day soon!. Awesome video…lovely to be surrounded by nature..I have a Zhiyun Crane V2 that I use with a Canon 70D and a Canon 10-18mm STM lens…nice and simple…as long as there is enough light! The Crane is simple to use and I have a dual handle…I use the 70D as a B camera for a C100 mk2. Footage matches close enough in Cinestyle…but I would like to mount a Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 on the Canon 70D (yes, I wish I had a GH5 for IBIS but can't afford it!) and I think this Ronin S will work fine-I saw you trying on some crazy lenses! the Zhiyun has a limited payload. My question is, did you compare this gimbal to the Moza Air 2? they look like twins! both heavier than my Crane V2…will I get more steady footage using the Ronin S (or the Moza air 2)…I may need a dual handle? or a simple second handle for better control of the Gimbal…I can see that I need to press and hold the trigger to lock all axis…any way to lock all axis without pressing and holding the trigger? let's say I want to mount it on top of a monopod to fake a low flying drone as i walk forward? I wont' be able to reach the trigger…also, did you find the need for the LCD accessory for the Ronin S to allow you for changes on the fly without the phone app? the Moza Air 2 has a built in LCD but I'm not convinced the gimbal itself is better than this Ronin S. Both are heavy. i will lift weights! the price to get better footage. If you take a break from the lovely BC wilderness perhaps you can share you opinion! thanks so much!

  • Hey Neil, Amazing video and your samples were breathtaking. I wanted to ask, do you also only have a limit of two points when using the track mode in your ronin-s ? I do. ( I'm one of those people who spend a lot of time in front of their own camera.)

  • Smoppy Adventures says:

    Thank you Neil for this review. By far the best review that I found on Youtube 🙂 You've earned a new subscriber haha!

  • David Anderson says:

    Great video great review – thanks. Unfortunately, I'm one of the *astrix crowd and am waiting for DJI to add Fuji support. Then they get my money..

  • Michael Cuthbert says:

    Best review I have seen, with lot's of extra tips thrown in. Great to see how many of the shots were actually achieved. Very relaxed presentation style and beautiful location choice. Lovely dog too. What's not to like!

  • Shelna Atkinson says:

    I can't express to you how grateful I am for this review, well produced, laid out and easy to understand. I really appreciate your use of the heavier bodied canon which I shoot with and the heavier lenses. Keep them coming!

  • Wow! You are a talented communicator. Your attention to detail is exemplary. Keep up the wonderful work.

  • Jordi Sanchis-Sanchez says:

    Man, I've seen many reviews of the Ronin… wish I had seen this one earlier!! Amazing explanation, footage, modes and phone integration, and beautiful dog! Thank you so much for the video! QUESTION: I have the 5d Mk IV as well… Should I just get the Ronin-S essentials kit since I don't see much benefit on using the focus wheel? I guess I could buy the command screen since I am saving about $240… The question is: do I need all the cables that the Ronin-S (regular, non-essentials kit) and the metal tripod?? Or, can I just get by with the plastic tripod and the one cable that the essentials kit comes with (considering I have the 5d Mk IV)? Any insight would be helpful! Thanks again

  • GaJeBo Entertainment says:

    Hei bro~ how is about sony a6300? Is integrated with ronin s ? I just bought this gimbal~ so i don't know too much..

  • I wish you would produce more videos, you are a superb presenter and videographer. Your sound is second to none by the way, it's rare that I notice just how awesome my headset is whilst watching Youtube videos. A real pleasure to watch and super jealous of the environment you get to shoot in!! I would throttle for the opportunity to shoot in Canada 🙂

  • EPIC FOOTAGE by Chicvoyage says:

    nice very thourough. Nice to see a fellow canadian effectively teach a lot of about this gimbal

  • Quality, informative, succinct review, wrapped up in a keep it simple, less is definitely more, attitude, clearly this filmmaker has leaned by years of field experience. Keep up the great work, I like your style.

  • Dreamtree Films says:

    Very much agree that many videographers over-do slo-mo! They often use the same techniques repeatedly in every shot. Can be too much.

  • Steve Rodgers says:

    Wow. This is literally the best video involving the Ronin S on the internet that i know of. You are an amazing teacher!

  • Does the Lock trigger work for Side to side motion? When I'm panning it keeps swaying around and the lock doesn't seem to affect it in anyway. Where as when I underhang or pitch it, it works. Any tips?

  • This was THOROUGH. Answered every question I had going in and others I didn't even know to ask. Thank you! You've earned a subscriber. 👍

  • AllAroundFlight says:

    would you still choose the ronin s or go towards something else meanwhile? how do u pull focus then if you take the wheel of? sry still a total noob ^^

    Btw would mind telling me how to make that diy crane to fit the ronin on it? 🙂

  • Most thorough review I have seen of the Ronin S so far. Thanks for demonstrating multiple lenses on it. I have the Panasonic Lumix G9 and I use a couple of different lenses. Seeing that you mounted and balanced some pretty long and heavy lenses on it, I believe the Leica 100-400 telephoto zoom lens should work. I would just need to balance it while the zoom is half way between. I would like to experiment with some alfred Hitchcock effect filming as well as be able to zoom in and out while filming nature from a distance while maintaining smooth footage. It's too difficult to achieve that manually zooming by hand. Panasonic only makes one power zoom lens that only reach 140mm, I need more than that, which is why I'm considering purchasing the Ronin S as long as it's features would be fully or mostly compatible with the Panasonic Lumix G9.

  • Thank you for this tutorial. Other You-Tubers make it sound, almost, impossible to use for beginners. I just bought one today and plan to use it tomorrow. I passed on a “Glidecam” for this. Thank you again!!! 🤘🏼🤘🏼🤘🏼

  • Dude, this video is crisp, your points are concise; you nail grading and popup graphics & the overall quality is fantastic. It's appreciated!

  • Very nice video and love your footage.
    Could you explain how you mounted the 2nd tripod on the top of the Shape baseplate with two super clamps?
    Thanks in advance!

  • Aldis Kaņepe says:

    Very good review! Only question is – how did you configure the mode/user 3 to be like the lock motor function? LIke, subscription, bell ringing 🙂 
    P.s. I've found how to do it! 🙂

  • Terrific job. You've got a great camera presence and offer a lot of helpful content. I've got the Ronin S and completely agree about the locking option. There is another gimbal manufacturer that offers that feature (I think it may be the Zhiyun Crane?) and it would be a giant help to be able to lock everything down for transport. One of my challenges is using a zoom lens like the 16-35 and then wondering if I need to rebalance it if I change focal length. (The Ronin S's motors seem to handle the change, however with a 70-200, you'd really have to rebalance if you went from one end of the range to the other. The biggest problem for me though is figuring out how to balance the gimbal with an external mic like the Rode VideoMic Pro on top. You have to face the lens upward as part of the balancing and this is impossible to do with a mic on top. Any suggestions? Or do you not worry about getting good sync sound. As a one-man run and gunner, I'd really like to find a solution to this vexing problem.

  • Yuhki [ The YM Studio ] says:

    That was a very simple yet informative Review!!! Well done!!!!! Subscribed!!!
    Would love a subscribe back too if you will :-)!!!

  • With our new Ronin S, we learned more from you than all of the other videos combined. Really excellent quality! If you can tell me, I'm using a Fujifilm XT20 mirrorless and seem to get a noticeable amount of horizontal shake, I'm new to this and am stumped, any idea why? The camera is totally balanced and all is functioning well but when I do my test videos, there's just a noticeable amount. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

  • I'm using a 5d4 too. but the motion laps just dont work, its seems after a short time my memory cards get buffer full. And they are high speed cards too. I shoot lots of bursts shorts with aviation.

    any tips for solving this issue?

  • Bill Geoghegan says:

    Good review. You don't seem over-caffeinated like many reviewers. You're even well dressed. I appreciate that.

  • excellent review, tempting to trade in my ds-1 and find me a second hand ronin S

    agree on the slomow, but no skinny jeans, come on… 😉

  • Stef van Vuuren says:

    Great video ! Cheers. bought mine a week ago and learning everything there is about the gimbal. You've mentioned all the lenses I have in my kit! Very excited!

  • Great review! Loved it. As a Canon 5D Mark II owner, do you know if it is supported? and WHICH cable to get if it is?

  • cool dude @ reply to his comments, your fans will love you more. some reviewer acts like they 2 good to reply to i dont watch there videos

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