Zhiyun Evolution GoPro Gimbal For Videographers: Worth It? (Review)
In the gimbal market, there are a few big name brands. Zhiyun is one of the first brands to make gimbals worth using and they continue to improve the products they put out.
Zhiyun-tech is based in China but they have a network of US distributors. They make high-quality gimbals for everything from smartphones to DSLRs. For action cameras like the GoPro, One of Zhiyun’s flagship gimbal model is the Evolution.
Action cameras are great for capturing the action but the footage can sometimes be painful to watch. The Zhiyun Evolution can make sure your action footage is actually watchable because of the smooth stabilization it provides.
The magnet-steel integrated motor construction with three 32-bit MCUs running in parallel at 4000 Hz keeps the camera steady even when moving at a fast pace. The following video is shot with a hero 3 and the Z1 evolution:
- When you first turn the gimbal on, you’ll automatically be in Pan Mode. This mode keeps the horizon straight while allowing you to pan from side to side. The gimbal will follow your horizontal motion while keeping the vertical position smoothly balanced.
- In Lock Mode, the camera is held in one set position. Even as you move the gimbal around, the camera almost floats to stay in the locked position. From this point, you can use the joystick to move up, down, left, or right. This is essentially a manual mode. There are times when this mode will come in handy but it isn’t necessarily the mode that best demonstrates the value of the gimbal.
- The Follow Mode can be particularly useful. The camera smoothly follows wherever you point the gimbal. This kind of motion would be pretty bumpy and jerky when just holding the camera but on the gimbal, it’s smooth and stable. The footage isn’t blurry either, something especially nice when the action is fast-moving.
A 1/4″ screw thread on the bottom allows you to attach the gimbal to a monopod or a tripod, as desired. Attaching it to a monopod would give you the height and extension needed to take some interesting footage from above.
Another nice thing about the Evolution is the 3.5MM video port. This allows you to connect an additional monitor if desired.
Battery life & Ergonomy
For the gimbal to move in the smooth and stable way you want, it needs power. The rechargeable 2000mAh battery should give you up to 12 hours. You can also use 18650Li-ion batteries as a backup if desired.
One really nice feature is that you can use this battery to charge your camera while using the gimbal.
A special cable is included for this very purpose. The mounting tray will also allow you to attach a GoPro backup battery as well so you will be able to shoot for longer without interruption.
In terms of comfort, it’s not too bad. When filming for hours, it might start to get uncomfortable to grip the gimbal.
It weighs under two pounds which is certainly manageable but over a long period of time, that can start to feel a lot heavier than it is. It is also a single-hand style grip without the option to switch to two hands.
Of course, you can always attach it to a monopod or tripod or any other accessory using the threaded bottom to potentially increase the overall comfort.
To learn more about the specifics of the Zhiyun Evolution and its operation, you can check out the manual in zhiyun’s website. The instructions are fairly easy to understand. The most complicated part is the initializing and calibration process. This will often be straightforward but it can sometimes be a bit tricky.
The Zhiyun Evolution works with most action cameras. This includes for sure some of the most popular models like the GoPro Hero 3, the GoPro Hero 3+, the GoPro Hero 4, the GoPro Hero 5, and the GoPro Hero 6.
It also works with the Xiaomi Yi.
It will potentially work with other similarly sized action cameras as well. You could also try mounting a smartphone, though this gimbal isn’t specifically designed for that purpose.
When using the Evolution with a smartphone, it might be a bit more challenging to initialize and calibrate the gimbal. This probably isn’t the best gimbal to use if your only camera is your smartphone.
There are other smartphone-specific gimbals to use instead. If you use both a GoPro or other action camera and a smartphone, the Evolution makes sense.
Customer Reviews & Scores
Zhiyun is an industry leader when it comes to gimbals and the Evolution is their flagship GoPro gimbal for a reason. It is a popular choice for a number of vloggers.
There are tons of positive YouTube reviews of this gimbal. YouTuber Ken Heron demonstrates the difference between footage with and without the gimbal, going from shakey to “cinematic and wonderful”.
He also points out just how easy it is to get smooth and stable footage with the Evolution, by handing it to a toddler to try out.
The things customers praise the most are how easy it is to use, the overall value, and just how well it works in terms of getting really smooth footage. The primary complaints customers have are generally about Zhiyun’s support.
Because the company is not based in North America, there can sometimes be a language challenge when trying to get an answer from the company. Some buyers also do report that the gimbal stops working after a period of time. There is, however, a 1-year warranty.
Is it worth your money?
Without question, a gimbal is always an investment worth making if you shoot a lot of videos. For an action camera gimbal, while it is not the best one out there, the Zhiyun is a solid investment.
Because it comes in at a lower price than many competing gimbals, it is a good value. It performs extremely well and can take choppy footage and make it look like something from Hollywood.
It’s also easy to use, has great battery life, and has a few nice bonus features. An investment of this size can be easier to swallow when there are some peace of mind elements in place.
In the case of the Evolution, there is some peace of mind in the great reviews and the warranty. That said, for some people, the potentially problematic customer support or lack thereof might make this purchase too risky. If you aren’t overly risk-averse and you want a good value on a great gimbal, the Zhiyun Evolution is worth your money.
Have you ever tried a Zhiyun Evolution gimbal? The best way to really understand what this gimbal is capable of is to get some hands-on experience. Ultimately, it’s a very nice gimbal that can help you get some incredible footage with your action camera. Does this gimbal sound like a good match for you? Let me know in the comments. Feel free to also ask any questions you might have about this gimbal or about gimbals in general.