The Zhiyun Weebill 3 is one of the best compact gimbals that can support heavier payloads. While it lacks some refined features of the competing DJI RS3, the Weebil 3 is smaller, lighter, cheaper, and still has a higher payload (in theory). With its new wrist rest and sling grip, this is one of the most convenient and easiest to hold gimbals. It also comes with a built-in light and microphone designed for run-and-gun filmmaking.
- Brand: Zhiyun
- Maximum Payload: 7.3 lb (not official)
- Bluetooth: 5
- Battery: 7,800mAh
- Weight: 2.5 lbs
- Charging Time: 2 hours (approx)
- Runtime: 21 hours (approx)
- Tilt Mechanical Range: 310°
- Roll Mechanical Range: 340°
- Pan Mechanical Range: 360°
- Size: 342*207*73mm
- Very compact and lightweight design—can fit in a backpack
- One of the most affordable gimbals that can handle heavier payloads
- Attachable wrist rest helps distribute weight better
- Sling Grip allows for more creative angles and secure hold
- Smaller and lighter than the Weebil 2
- Built-in light is really convenient
- Cheaper than the competition
- Joystick controls are awkwardly placed
- Built-in microphone not very impressive
- Proprietary quick-release plate does not fit on standard mounts
- No flip-out screen
- Vertical shooting is limited
- Not designed for left-handed users
- Built-in battery so you can’t carry spares
Building off the Weebill legacy, the newest Zhiyun Weebill 3 continues to be one of the best compact and affordable gimbals that punches well above its weight class. New for this year, Zhiyun has decided to focus on improving the Weebill’s ergonomics to make it easier to pack, set up, and move smoothly, even hold with one hand.
In addition to their optional wrist pad and grip arm attachments, the Weebill 3 now has a built-in 1000 lumens light as well as a noise-canceling microphone, both of which are helpful for run-and-gun filmmaking. Compared to its closest competitor, the DJI RS3, the Weebill 3 is cheaper and more compact but manages to have a higher max payload and a few other unique features.
There are a number of quirks and limitations, however, in my time using it, I’ve mostly been able to adapt. Despite some of its flaws, users will appreciate the more compact design.
As a professional videographer who shoots commercials, weddings, and other client projects, I’ve been able to put this gimbal to the test and see how it stacks up to my larger DJI RS2 Pro. While not necessarily in the same category, surprisingly, the Weebill 3 comes closer than I expected to matching the performance of a gimbal that’s much larger and twice the price.
The question is, does the Weebill 3 offer enough to make me want to completely switch from the DJI RS2?
Standard and Combo Kits
Zhiyun is ditching its iconic Weebill design which included a mini sling mode handle that was permanently attached to its main grip. Instead, they’ve opted for a more traditional design as found on most other gimbals.
This has allowed them to make this year’s model smaller and lighter, and one of the most compact and affordable gimbals you can buy for its payload. For $450, the standard kit includes the tripod feet, quick-release plate system, fill light filters, lens support, a storage case, and a selection of charging and camera cables.
To make up for the lack of a sling handle, Zhiyun now offers an optional extendable grip arm and wrist pad for improved handling and comfort. These two accessories, along with a duffle-shaped carrying bag, are included as part of their combo bundle which retails for $530, $80 more than the standard kit.
I think the wrist pad and grip arm are one of the key selling features of this gimbal and I would recommend picking them up if possible.
The bag, however, is oversized and somewhat impractical, which completely defeats the purpose of having a small and compact gimbal. Zhiyun does seem to run promotions where the wrist pad is included for free as part of the standard kit instead of its usual $30 price. At the time of this review, the grip arm isn’t sold separately, but might be in the future.
Why Choose the Zhiyun Weebill 3
I’ve been using and reviewing gimbals for over six years. In truth, it’s been a love-hate relationship. When they’re fully set up, properly balanced, and working correctly, they can be incredible tools for capturing smooth footage with minimal effort. They’re far better than hand-holding a camera and are much more versatile and precise than any fluid head could be. Newer gimbals have come a long way, but they still tend to fall short in a few key areas which at times makes them more of a hassle than they’re worth.
Gimbals are usually big and awkward to pack, take precious time to set up and balance, and they’re heavy and hard to hold for a prolonged period of time. For the most part, the Weebill 3 doesn’t seem to have these issues, but it has some interesting quirks of its own.
The Weebill 3 is far from a perfect gimbal, and in fact lacks advanced software features I’ve come to rely on, such as programmable movements. However, at its core, it’s a much more convenient gimbal to choose for most of my video shoots.
I’ve used the Weebill 3 for five weddings so far, and except for the missing programmable movements and a few other minor quirks, the experience was great. One of its biggest selling features, which can’t be conveyed in a specs sheet, is how much you’ll gravitate to using it.
The DJI RS2 is arguably a better gimbal on a technical level, yet I still find myself using the Weebil 3 more because of how small and capable it is. While it isn’t as smooth when handling larger lenses like the 2.6 lb Tamron 35-150 (especially when fully extended out), the performance is on par for more reasonable setups.
In most of my testing with a caged Sony a7siii and Sigma 24-70, I actually found the Zhiyun Weebill 3 to be the more convenient choice over my DJI RS2. Many of the core issues I have with using gimbals seem to be addressed with the Weebill 3.
Performance, Payload, and Battery Life
Zhiyun does not officially state the Weebill 3’s max payload, however, I found its hardware performance to handle my roughly 3.9lb camera setup including the cage and the Sigma 24-70 lens with ease. When walking at 24mm, it does an incredible job at eliminating unwanted motion, though for the best results you’ll still want to employ a “ninja walking” technique.
At 70mm the Weebill 3 is still able to pan, tilt and roll without issue. The motors also kept up very well even in underslung mode. In contrast, I had lots of issues when using the Zhiyun Weebill 2 underslung at 70mm. Unless the gimbal was balanced perfectly with the lens already extended at 70mm, it experienced lots of shaking when I would switch to underslung. This was a big let-down and one of the biggest reasons I avoided using the Weebill 2.
The Zhiyun Weebill 2 had a max payload of 3.3 kg / 7.3 lb, so it might be safe to assume that the Weebill 3 is also somewhere in this range, or even slightly better. If the motors themselves didn’t receive an upgrade, it would seem that their software tuning at least has. Even when poorly balanced, the Weebill 3 would show little signs of motor stress.
Through the gimbal’s menu, you can quickly use the Auto-Tune mode to squeeze out some more performance. This not only allows you to capture the smoothest footage but also helps you when I don’t have time to perfectly re-balance the gimbal, such as when changing lenses. This isn’t an option on previous models and much of the competition.
Whether you’re walking, running, or just standing in place, the Zhiyun Weebill 3 can help you capture great videos even if you’re not the most steady or don’t have the best technique yet. With the Sony a7siii and the Sigma 24-70, I think the Weebill 3 is mostly on par with the DJI RS2 for general use. Where the RS2 and its stronger motors still have an edge is in keeping up with faster and more jerky movements. A point I like to stress about gimbals and their max payloads is that it’s one thing for the gimbal to be able to smoothly move your camera setup, but that doesn’t always tell the full story.
When following fast-moving subjects while I was running, I felt more confident with the RS2 as I could tell that Weebill 3 was not keeping up as quickly. This is especially apparent as well with the inception spinning mode that rotates the camera continuously. The Weebill 3 is significantly slower, and at some angles wasn’t powerful enough to spin the camera at all.
Additionally, while the Weebill 3 is capable of supporting my longer and heavier Tamron 35-150, at 150mm it throws the center of gravity off, causing the gimbal to struggle far more. Results even walking slowly or even panning in place were shakier compared to the RS2. When pushing the Weebill 3 to the extremes, although I was still technically well below its max payload, these are still applications where a bigger gimbal will be the better choice.
That said, provided you aren’t looking to push your gimbal too hard, the Weebill 3 should be plenty strong for most other uses.
The Weebill 3 has a 7,800mAh internal (non-removable) battery in its grip, which now provides up to a claimed 21 hours of use. I’ve never needed to swap out batteries, but I understand some operators like the ability to bring extra fully charged batteries. This isn’t possible with the Weebill 3, but with its fast charging, you can reliably power the gimbal off a power bank or quickly charge it with a wall outlet.
The PD fast charging supports from zero to full in an impressive two hours. It also supports pass-through charging to cameras (5V@1A) which helps keep your camera fully charged at all times. But I found I was getting nowhere close to 21 hours with my setup. Starting a 6-hour wedding shoot with 100% battery, I was able to end the day with approximately 50-60% charge left. I was not using pass-through charging to my camera, so this did not affect my results. I tend to push my gimbals pretty hard with my fast movements, so that probably adds stress to the motors and reduces battery life, however, I can’t imagine a practical application where the Weebill 3 is able to get 21 hours totalidade.
Size, Portability, and Setup
Aside from needing to reliably support my specific camera payload at any angle, it’s also very important to me that a gimbal can be packed and assembled quickly and easily. One of my biggest gripes with the Moza Aircross was how large it still was, even with all of its axes folded and locked. It needed an entire bag just for itself. As such, it made me very reluctant to pack and use, especially for non-paid video projects. If I just wanted to film for fun, it was rare for me to bring the Moza Aircross along with me.
Despite being far more capable, the Weebill 3 manages to be significantly smaller and measures just 13.5 inches tall and 8 inches wide when folded. It can fit in most bags without needing to be dissembled. As such, I’m actually able to pack this in the same bag as my other camera gear.
Interestingly, despite being a fair deal larger, the DJI RS3 is technically more compact, but only if you remove its battery grip. With its grip removed, you are able to shave about a third of its totalidade height off making it a little shorter overall than the Weebill 3. The Weebill 3 does not have this ability as its grip is non-removable. The optional wrist rest and extendable grip do add some bulk to the gimbal, especially the footprint.
Disappointingly, the wrist rest can’t fold in completely to become flush with the bottom of the gimbal. As such, I always keep the arm attached but frequently remove the wrist pad when needing to pack the gimbal in tighter spots.
Similar to other gimbals, the Weebill 3 uses a proprietary double-layer quick-release plate system that allows you to quickly install or remove your camera from the gimbal. So long as the camera setup hasn’t changed, you can pack or transport the gimbal without needing to rebalance each time.
This was true for the most part, however, when I later added my a7siii cage, it required the axis to be extended out further. In turn, the gimbal was no longer able to fold its arms fully down unless I retracted the axis. And so, my initial setup with each use still requires me to balance the gimbal, however, I can still rely on the quick-release plate system when I need to take the camera off, but it does not help me as much for transportation.
The balancing process is pretty normal for a gimbal. With its quick-release system, I was able to mount my camera and have everything balanced in about a minute. The RS2 and the new DJI gimbals have an adjustment knob that allows you to fine-tune your balance more precisely without the need to completely loosen the tension and potentially cause the adjustments to slide too much.
While the Weebill’s more traditional adjustments do just fine, this is another area where DJI’s higher price tag adds value. A bigger issue, though, is that the Weebill 3’s proprietary quick-release plate is significantly larger than a traditional plate. While DJI also uses a proprietary system, its plate is the same standard plate width which allows you to still attach your camera to other tripods and fluid heads without needing to swap it out. This was pretty frustrating especially when I had forgotten to bring an additional standard quick-release plate for my other gear.
Weebil 3 vs Weebil 2: What’s Changed?
The Weebil 3 design for the most part looks indistinguishable from other gimbals. As part of its smaller and more simplified update, the Weebill 3 has also removed and changed up a few other features. Most noticeably is the absence of the flip-out screen. Instead, Zhiyun opted for a much smaller monochrome screen that only displays settings, and can’t be used as a video live-feed monitor.
As I never used Zhiyun’s optional focus motor and video transmitter kit, I didn’t feel like I was missing too much. In fact, when I originally reviewed the Weebill 2, I had concerns about the durability of a large screen that sticks out from a gimbal. You’ll also find the usual lock knobs for each of the three-axis which keep the arms secure for transport or storage. The lock switches are a little larger than before and easier to toggle compared to the Weebill 2. With a mix of plastic and metal materials, the Weebill 3 feels very well-built and durable.
The new wrist rest does add some bulk to the gimbal, but it does a great job helping distribute the weight of your setup which. I really appreciated this new accessory, especially for longer shoots or when switching to a one-hand operation, which wasn’t really feasible with a heavy setup. Its adjustable sling grip provides another arm for supporting smoother pans, tilts, and movement, but also helps you capture more creative angles including lower perspectives.
The various buttons and knobs of the Weebill 3 will be familiar to anyone who’s used a gimbal before. The thumb buttons are used to change mode and enter the menu.
You’ll find a finger trigger on the rear that can be custom programmed, though it’s to “Go Mode” by default, which when held down causes the gimbal to react to your movements more quickly.
Next to the trigger, there is also a large wheel. I’ve opted to have it control the roll axis. This helps me fix the horizon if I ever notice it’s off. It can also be programmed to adjust the follow focus motor if one is attached.
A smaller dial is located on the back that toggles your light on/off and adjusts its brightness.
Finally, you also have a joystick for manual movement controls.
The joystick is angled on the left side of the gimbal, which makes the Weebill 3 ideal for right-handed users. The offset joystick feels more ergonomic than gimbals with médio controls, but if you’re left-handed, it’s going to feel very awkward to use. As someone who is a little ambidextrous and likes to swap the gimbal from hand to hand, I did not enjoy using the Weebill 3 with my left hand.
The manual controls are good, but can’t match the precision of programmable movements, which are unfortunately limited to within their ZY Play smartphone app. Being able to quickly create start, middle, and endpoints as well as their duration, right from the gimbal itself, was something I quickly missed.
I also found the placement of the power button to be problematic at times too. When performing a tilting shot of a wedding dress, the gimbal would continuously turn off mid-shot. I was extremely confused and at first thought, that the gimbal was improperly balanced or that the motors were failing. Turns out, that the right side of my wrist was accidentally pressing against the power button while I was using the wrist pad to help distribute the weight.
Built-In Light and Microphone
Similar to the Zhiyun Crane M3, the Weebill 3 also has a built-in light.
The Weebill 3’s light can get slightly brighter at 1000 lumens versus the 800 lumens of the Crane M3, but you can also control the temperature from 2600k to 5400k, and includes the same four color filters to choose from.
For subjects within a few feet, I felt that the light was bright enough. Being a smaller light source without much diffusion, this can be a bit too harsh if not careful. It isn’t the most flattering on people either.
In times when you either can’t or don’t want to use larger external lights, this can still be a lifesaver. When I would film weddings, it was especially great to have for first dances and cake cutting. I did my best not to directly shine the light on my subjects, because again, it was too harsh, but it certainly made a huge difference over the horrible venue lighting. Can it replace my dedicated RGB LED with a diffuser? Not at all—but for times when I need acceptable light quickly, it gets the job done.
A new addition to Zhiyun’s gimbals is the built-in microphone. This is a noise-canceling cardioid type, with a 2.5mm audio port to connect to your camera. Similar to the light, it’s not going to blow you away, but when you need something, it’s better than nothing. It’s not comparable to a shotgun microphone with a wind sock, but it is a step-up over your camera’s built-in microphone, especially for outdoor use. While the output was noticeably more muffled than the Sony a7siii’s, it handled the wind and ambient noise better.
Is It Time to Upgrade Your Gimbal?
The Weebill 3’s biggest strength is in its simplicity. This allows the gimbal to be extremely compact and fast to set up and use. Removing the flip-out screen and underslung arm from the Weebill 2 has made the Weebill 3 one of the smallest gimbals that can support semi-professional setups.
Added features like the light and microphone are great when you’re trying to pack light or minimize your setup weight. More impressive, though, are the wrist pad and grip arm which go a long way to making the Weebill 3 easier to hold and move around. Unfortunately, the controls are designed for right-handed users, which may alienate a lot of potential buyers.
Because of its compact size, I am far more likely to pack and use the Weebill 3 than any other gimbal I’ve used before. It struggles with larger lenses, but that’s to be expected for something this small. The new features help make it a very powerful tool for a solo camera operator, but it does have a few drawbacks.
The Weebill 3 is great for when you want something that’s lightweight and easier to hold than the bigger competition, but still gets the job done. The Weebill 3 at its core handles my main camera setup about as well as my DJI RS2. That said, there were a few quirks as well as advanced software features and integrations that I feel DJI still does better.
If budget and size were my main priorities, the Weebill 3 would be my gimbal of choice. As someone who frequently relies upon programmable movements as well as likes using either hand to hold the gimbal, those are the main reasons why the DJI RS2 is still the better choice for me on professional projects. For many users, though, I think the Weebill 3 will be more than enough.
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