Once the preserve of Hollywood film studios, gimbals are the tech that goes into achieving perfectly stable film footage while filming handheld. Thanks to massive advances in gimbal technology, you no longer need a film studio-style budget to be able to afford one, and they’re now so advanced that you can handhold a DSLR or mirrorless camera and get super high-quality footage, free of those amateur tell-tale jerky motions that give away the fact that you’re not using a tripod. Ever wanted to film your subject while running up a hill? Situations like these are when a gimbal really gets to show off.
With three-axis, 360-degree movement and able to handle heavier loads, FeiyuTech’s top-end gimbals, the AK2000 and AK4000, mean business. Large torque motors give you plenty of power and combine with some clever technology and an intelligent shake algorithm to help it deal with even quite challenging situations.
The AK2000 follows on the back of the company’s earlier a2000. If you already own one of those, you’ll know much of what the AK2000 is capable of, but the new features in this update are so impressive that you’ll seriously want to consider upgrading.
Like the DJI Ronin-S, the stabilisation mechanism for the AK2000 uses a sloped rear arm that enables you to see your camera’s rear LCD screen pretty much all the time. When you’re setting it up, strong metal feet with a wide, low-profile spread support the gimbal; then, when you want to use it, you can either detach the feet or fold them in to give you a longer arm. FeiyuTech hasn’t forgotten the little details, either. The thumb screws that enable you to adjust the gimbal for stability are levers in the AK range. It means you can tighten everything together and be confident that nothing will shake free with use.
Setting up takes some adjustment, but once you’ve found the centre of gravity, your camera will stay in whichever position you leave it. Turn it on and the gimbal takes over effortlessly.
Four stabilisation modes give you horizontal follow, tilt follow and auto follow (all three directions – tilting, rolling and pitching). Then there’s the lock mode which, like a torch-light, keeps your camera locked in a forward position. With auto-rotation, time lapse and interval settings, you can keep the gimbal on its stand and leave it to do all the work.
One of its most useful innovations is the addition of a full user interface with an LCD touchscreen set into the handle. It’s from here that you perform all the simple stuff like homing your camera back to its base position, or changing the way it points using the joystick or wheel. But it does so much more than that. Thanks to that touchscreen, you can control many of your camera’s settings. That means you can change white balance, exposure settings and focus points, and even zoom in and out. Provided your camera supports these features, you have full control direct from the handle of the gimbal itself. It means you could set up your camera to shoot a film showing daytime passing into night and have it adjust the exposure settings as it goes. Just in case you need it, a USB port on the base plate enables you to charge your camera from here, too.
While the gimbal handle makes it easy to view and change settings, you also have all the same controls available from FeiyuTech’s smartphone app. Connecting to the gimbal via wi-fi or Bluetooth, your smartphone can control both gimbal and camera.
The gimbal’s four batteries will generate enough power for about 12 hours of use. The earlier a2000, with two batteries, had a smaller handle, but the wider handles of the AK2000 and AK4000 makes them easier to grip. For increased stability, you can add a separate carbon fibre extension rod that attaches to the bottom of the handle; and for two-handed use, there’s a dual handle grip available as an extra.
The AK4000 takes a payload of 4kg, versus 2kg for the AK2000, and comes with that carbon fibre extension rod but these are the only differences. Battery life is claimed to be about the same for both models.
As with any gimbal, you’ll find that shooting wide is generally more forgiving but you’ll be impressed with the performance even using a normal focal length. Find out how it does in our video below. Comparisons with DJI’s Ronin S are inevitable but while both are strong performers, the price point of the AK2000 makes it hard to resist.
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