The world of stabilisers for both mobile phones and DSLR’s/mirrorless cameras is ever growing, as professional video becomes ever more popular and accessible.
Interchangeable lens cameras get ever cheaper, and the video they take ever better, thus enabling a market for accessories that help make pro video with mirrorless cameras and DSLRs.
Capturing stable footage is absolutely crucial to making high-quality videos, and a gimbal makes achieving it far easier.
The DJI Ronin SC fits pretty well into this category, being a smaller and less expensive version of it’s big-brother, the Ronin S. It is rated for a payload of 2kg, perfect for a full-frame mirrorless camera (such the Sony A7 series or a Cannon EOS R) plus a prime lens or a smaller zoom.
The Ronin SC gimbal weighs just 1.25kg with the tripod attached (1.01kg without), and so if it is matched with a light-weight camera and lens, it makes for a pretty nimble setup. Those all-day shoots are just that much easier on your arms than when using a larger and heavier stabiliser. The aforementioned mini tripod is included in the box and screws into the bottom of the gimbal making it easy to put down between takes – again reducing the load on one’s body during filming.
As a film production student, I’ve personally shot 4 short films using the Ronin SC over the past 6 months. On acquiring the Ronin SC, I was apprehensive about the battery life – after all, it is a much smaller package than previous gimbals I’ve seen and used.
Somewhat surprisingly, this actually turned out to be a place where the gimbal really shined. Whilst DJI advertise it as having 11 hours battery life, I found it to have more battery life than one could realistically need. Having completed a two-day (8h/day) shoot on one battery, leaving it with more than 50% remaining, I was thoroughly impressed. This means setting you can set the gimbal down and leave it on, ready to go and not worry about battery usage. The gimbal uses the universal USB-C port to charge meaning Macbook chargers and some phone chargers will charge it which is convenient. Further improving flexibility, the battery for the gimbal is housed in the grip, which is detachable. This means that you can buy more batteries from DJI for approximately £75 and switch them virtually instantly.
When it comes to packing up the gimbal and transport, I’ve found it to be totally manageable. It’s not much bigger that the Gorillapod 3k I was already carrying to shoots, and as the gimbal splits into two parts, the battery/grip and the controls/motor portion, this makes it easy to fit in a backpack. The Ronin SC also ships in a polystyrene briefcase with cutouts for each of the parts in it, which would come in handy for storage and bigger shoots where bringing a bigger case isn’t an issue.
The one thing I have found frustrating is balancing the gimbal – which to be fair, seems to be a common issue across most DSLR/Mirrorless camera gimbals. On the Ronin SC, this process takes about 10 minutes and must be repeated after every lens change and if the battery door is on the bottom, every battery change. It does have a marker on the plate that attaches to the camera to tell you how far forward/backward it was on the gimbal. I have found even with that it needs some fine adjustments every time the camera comes off the gimbal.
Whilst testing this gimbal over the last few months, I have shot multiple short films for my studies, plus a number of personal projects. In that time I have been impressed with just how reliable and well built the gimbal is. It gives me the confidence to treat is as a tool of my trade – to put it through its paces on a daily basis, without ever having to worry about whether it will work as expected. It’s exactly what you expect from a pro tool, to be solid enough to handle just about anything you throw at it, leaving you to spend more of your time on the creative aspects of the project.
This gimbal really does lives up to being a pro tool for a consumer price.
The DJI Ronin SC is available from Vlog Tech for £325 for the standard package, or £415 for the Pro Combo model which includes the focus wheel and motor.