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.