Most gimbals that have been released in the last few years have had a similar design and aesthetic. For the most part, they've had a long handle where the batteries go in and the gimbal head on top. Recently, Zhiyun-Tech released their latest gimbal and I believe this will have quite the impact on the gimbal industry as a whole.
The biggest design change we've seen in gimbals was when companies started to lower the back motor, so, it didn't block the camera's screen. This was and still is a very useful change and one that many including myself still appreciate. Zhiyun-Tech has take things a step much further now with their gimbal the WEEBILL LAB mirrorless stabilizer. Although the WEEBILL isn't perfect, I have to say that this is without a doubt the best gimbal I have ever used.
Ergonomics and Design
The design and form factor of this gimbal is arguably the most unique element. Most aspects of this gimbal have been really well thought out. The obvious feature of this gimbal is the fact that it's relatively tiny. This is especially noticeable when you compare it to many other gimbals that in the same market segment. The compact size and design mean that I'm able to comfortably pack the WEEBILL with a full frame camera, two lenses, and some minor accessories in a messenger bag. This is extremely useful if you're a run an gun videographer and need to travel light. Even if you're not traveling light, it just means you're not necessarily lugging around your gimbal in a huge carry case.
From a usability standpoint, this might be the easiest gimbal to set up and use. This is predominantly because the WEEBILL LAB has a number of lock mechanisms which hold individual sections of the gimbal in place. This is especially useful when you're balancing the gimbal because it allows you to lock all movements except for the one you're focusing on. For example, if you're trying to balance the tilt you can lock everything in place so only the tilt section will actually move. The locks functions are also super useful for when transporting the gimbal in anything other than the original case. All movements can be locked, therefore there's little risk of the gimbal moving and this prevents any potential damage to the gimbal or anything else you may be transporting.
One of the best features of this gimbal and definitely my favorite is the fact that you can attach a mini tripod to two individual sections of the gimbal. This is without a doubt the most useful feature I have ever used in any gimbal. The benefit of this is the fact that you can comfortably and easily switch from having the gimbal upright to underslung. Zhiyun only provides one mini tripod which is reasonable, however, I recommend having a mini tripod attached to both sections at all times when in use. The reason for this is because having to switch where the tripod is mid-way through filming is a little bit of a pain. For this reason, having two tripods attached at all times means you can change from upright to underslung without needing to stop filming. The other benefit of using the mini tripod is that it drastically improves the ergonomics of the gimbal.
The WEEBILL LAB has some of the worst ergonomics of any gimbal I've ever used so far. The compact design plays a big part in this and although it is a feature it's also a drawback. The handle is difficult to hold because of its shape and also the fact that the buttons get in the way. Trying to use this gimbal without the mini tripod is extremely difficult. The buttons and will get in the way and affect the footage. The joystick is another thing that I really don't enjoy using and I try and avoid it in most situations. The joystick isn't precise or smooth and I highly recommend against using it. The flat design means that trying to move the gimbal in any precise manner is very difficult or not at all possible. Although your thumb can rest on it relatively comfortably it slips a lot when trying to use it. The other issue is the control wheel; it reminds me of ones you'd expect on some really cheap entry level cameras. The control wheel is also not that precise and difficult to use too. Fortunately, when you attach the mini tripod to the gimbal many of these issues are minimized significantly. For this reason, I would recommend having the mini tripod attached to this gimbal at all times. Although this does increase the overall size and weight of the gimbal when in use, it is removable meaning that transporting the gimbal is still much easier than any other gimbal I've used. Overall the ergonomics are relatively bad but the included tripod fixes many of the issues making usability fairly pleasant.
This is obviously the most important aspect of any gimbal and the WEEBILL LAB does not disappoint. Footage produced from this gimbal is some of the best I have seen. Some gimbals that I have used in the past seem to produce footage with odd jerky looking footage or contain micro jitters. The WEEBILL is one of the very few gimbals that does not suffer from this. The only issue I have found is that it's mostly unusable if you haven't balanced it properly or correctly. The footage will suffer greatly with odd movements and jitters when the camera isn't balanced. This isn't a major issue because of how easy it is to set up, however, I would have preferred the ability to film with this gimbal without the need to balance it every time I use it. There are occasions when I may not have the time to sit and perfectly balance the gimbal before filming and it's those situations where speed is an extremely valuable feature. Even still, I don't consider this to be a major flaw as most gimbals on the market require proper balancing before use. Only a select few are relatively fine if you don't balance them correctly.
Thoughts on The Specifications
The WEEBILL LAB is described as a mirrorless gimbal as in it's designed predominantly for smaller lighter cameras like the Sony a7R III. Although the specifications state that this gimbal can hold up to 3kg I would mostly take this with a pinch of salt. This is not to say that I doubt the weight capacity, it's more to say that in practical terms this extra capacity doesn't offer any obvious benefits. Most mirrorless camera systems will probably not exceed 2kg and if they do, it's very likely, that system will not actually balance on this gimbal. Having really long front heavy lenses on your camera will probably not work on this gimbal and didn't work in my testing. I found that trying to balance the Canon 5D Mark IV with the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Art lens wasn't possible. The results were the same when I tried to balance that lens on the Sony a7R III with the Sigma MC-11 adapter.
I believe the 3kg capacity is not there so that you can pile on heavier systems on to this gimbal but more about ensuring stability when using the gimbal in "normal" weight ranges; up to 2kg. I think this works because the WEEBILL LAB is by far the most stable gimbal I have used when balanced correctly; the footage was also the smoothest most pleasing.
The other aspect was battery life. The gimbal has been rated up to 10 hours which I do doubt. The reason I say this is because I'm consistently finding that the battery life on this gimbal is noticeably worse than several other gimbals I use. Although I haven't done any controlled tests on the WEEBILL, I estimate the battery life to be around 6 hours as opposed to 10 hours. I do believe that Zhiyun should have included 4 batteries with a 4 bay charger instead of the 2 that are included. This gimbal isn't exactly cheap and the extra batteries would have useful.
What I Liked
- Compact design
- Lock mechanisms, these are incredibly useful.
- Two tripod section.
- High weight capacity of 3kg
- Can produce some of the absolute best and smoothest footage.
- The ability to switch back and forth from filming underslung.
What I Didn't Like
- Ergonomics are pretty bad.
- Battery life isn't the best.
- Only comes with two batteries
- I'm not personally a fan of the gimbal case although this is a very minor point
- Smartphone clamp is not included.
The number of gimbals that are available on the market can make it a little confusing when trying to decide which gimbal you should buy. Fortunately, companies like Zhiyun and several others are now categorizing gimbals for specific camera types. The WEEBILL LAB is predominantly designed for smaller, lighter camera systems. I prefer to shoot with a smaller lighter setup and the WEEBILL truly aides with that aim. The compact design is extremely useful. I absolutely love the fact that I'm now able to comfortably packs most of what I need including this gimbal into a messenger bag. This provides a level of freedom that was wasn't afforded to me before. The most wonderful thing about the WEEBILL is that there are no compromises when it comes to the quality of footage it can produce. Although I've made recommendations in the past, This latest gimbal from Zhiyun has changed my mind. The WEBILL LAB isn't perfect, but, it's still the best mirrorless gimbal that you can buy.