Hands-On Review: WEEBILL-2 Takes 2 Steps Forward

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The original WEEBILL LAB featured some of my favorite innovations in the world of gimbals. When the industry focused on providing the most compact gimbal, or the smoothest stabilization, Zhiyun-Tech offered an option focused on being the most intuitive to set up and comfortable to operate. The WEEBILL-2 has doubled down on the innovations that made the WEEBILL LAB and WEEBILL-S so popular and added an LCD screen for good measure. (The WEEBILL-2 Pro Kit is the kit used in this review.)

Zhiyun-Tech WEEBILL-2 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer with Rotating Touchscreen
Zhiyun-Tech WEEBILL-2 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer with Rotating Touchscreen

The Screen

The most prominent upgrade is the addition of a 2.88" monitor. The monitor is too small to use as a field monitor, but it is large and functional enough to navigate the gimbal's menu comfortably. The keyword here is "comfortably." All gimbals can configure settings using buttons on the gimbal, but it is usually not fun. Between tiny screens, scroll wheels that double as buttons, and deep multi-layered menus, most gimbals are tedious to set up at best. The 3" touchscreen is perfect for anyone who hates pairing their smartphone with their gimbal. The screen articulates and folds in on the gimbal for easy storage, but some may be disappointed that it cannot turn 180° for selfies. Even if it did, I can't stress enough that the screen is too small to be useful for monitoring footage. Most mirrorless cameras have screens equal in size to or larger than the one provided with the WEEBILL-2. Another odd quirk regarding using the built-in display is that it requires the TransMount Image Transmission Transmitter to get an image from your camera. The gimbal does not have an HDMI port, which seems like a strange omission for a gimbal with a built-in monitor.

The Handle

My favorite upgrade is the dedicated hand grip. Unlike the tripod/handle combo that came with the previous generations, The WEEBILL-2 has a dedicated handle that features a cold-shoe mount and four 1/4"-20 threaded holes for mounting accessories such as monitors, microphones, transmitters, etc. Some accessories add this functionality to gimbals, such as the DJI RS 2 or Moza Air 2, but they also add a ton of bulk and make the gimbal much heavier. The WEEBILL-2 can add numerous accessories while keeping the rig relatively lightweight and straightforward. The handle's quick release mechanism is also very robust. It features a safety catch and a lock that will prevent the handle from accidentally sliding off the gimbal.

Ergonomics

Another of my favorite aspects of the WEEBILL-2 is how easy it is to work with and hold. Despite being heavier than the RS 2, it is easier to operate. Zhiyun-Tech made many strong choices that benefit the way I work with the gimbal, but there are a few drawbacks. For instance, there are no mounting points on the left-hand side of the gimbal. If you are the kind of person who likes to mount your monitor on your gimbal's left-hand side, unfortunately, there is no intuitive way to achieve this. The biggest issue is that the control wheel is farther away from the handle. Thus, it requires you to take one hand off the gimbal to use it. It would have been nice if there were a finger wheel similar to the RS 2 to keep both hands on the gimbal and control focus.

Balancing

Balancing cameras on the WEEBILL-2 is very similar to most gimbals on the market today. The ability to lock off each axis makes it very useful, especially for beginners. Unfortunately, I felt that it did not have enough room on the roll axis for adjustments. Many gimbals accomplish this in two stages, first to side the camera platform left and right and a second to move the entire arm left and right. The WEEBILL-2 is missing that second stage, which would make it much more compatible with larger cameras or DSLRs. The Panasonic S1, for example, barely makes it with my adapted Leica R lenses. If I were using a heavier lens like a 24-105mm f/4 or 24-70mm f/2.8, I would need a counterweight to balance the camera properly. The gimbal works best with small to mid-size mirrorless cameras; thus, even though it claims to handle up to 7 lb, only advanced users should get anywhere near that limit.

Performance

The WEEBILL-2 is very similar to other Zhiyun-Tech gimbal options. The gimbal is very smooth and easily handles the Sony A1 with 24-70mm and the Panasonic S1 with adapted Leica R lenses. However, I always recommend that people take some time to fine-tune the gimbal parameters to get the best performance. Out of the box, I felt that the gimbal was a little loose, taking a little too long to move, and overshooting its mark if I made a student stop, but this is why it is great to have that touchscreen built into the gimbal. The one minor drawback is that some parameters that I'm accustomed to seeing on a scale of 1-100 are on a scale of 1-10. I can't say that I've honestly felt the difference between a setting at 52 vs. 53, but I miss having options between 5 and 6.

Transmission

The transmission is reasonably quick. While I may not rely on it for focus pulling, it is an excellent solution for a small production that wants to turn a tablet or smartphone into a wireless monitor for a director or producer. It also features camera/gimbal control, which is an excellent option for someone who wants to use their WEEBILL-2 to turn their camera into a remote camera. With this, you'll not only have the ability to maneuver the gimbal remotely, but you can also control the camera. (See supported camera control list here).

Conclusion

The WEEBILL-2 excels at working with small to mid-size mirrorless cameras like the Sony a7 series or Canon R series. For filmmakers, it works well with smaller cinema lenses such as the Rokinon Cine DS or Meike lenses. It also works well with vintage lenses like Leica R or ZEISS Contax. However, it is not ideal for larger cameras like the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K/6K/6K Pro or Panasonic S1 series cameras. It can handle the weight, but depending on your lens/rig, it may not have enough room to balance the camera rig properly unless you use counterweights. The WEEBILL-2 may not be perfect, but it is a significant step up over its previous WEEBILL gimbals. The new handle with quick release is rock solid and comfortable to use. The screen makes configuring the gimbal a breeze. The build quality is significantly better than its previous versions. If you already own a WEEBILL stabilizer, then the WEEBILL-2 is worth the upgrade. If you are new to gimbals or looking to upgrade from a smartphone/action camera gimbal, the WEEBILL-2 is an excellent choice because it is easy to set up and intuitive to use.

What do you think? Is the WEEBILL-2 the gimbal for you? Share your impressions in the Comments section.

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