Zenmuse H3-2D Gimbal Review

After installing the Zenmuse H3-2D gimbal from DJI and flying it for a bit, we were pretty surprised at the overall video stability. Now I see a lot of positives, but then it has it’s fair share of negatives too.

Let’s go over the good news first.

Video Quality: I was really impressed with the stability of the video footage on our first few flights. The jello effect… gone! This is a huge plus! Since the H3-2D is a 2 axis gimbal, it will compensate the rotating and pitching of the craft, therefore keeping your camera level with the horizon. This is what makes the product worth it.

Low Profile: With all the controversy continuing to go on about drones and UAVs, keeping a low profile is important for a lot of people. The Phantom definitely looks like a “toy” and won’t raise much suspicion. So having such a great filming tool with this low profile is a huge benefit.

GoPro Charging: So many of us have flown with our GoPros and didn’t pay attention to the remaining battery power and to our dismay, once we landed, we realized that our GoPro died in the air and in most cases, didn’t record our awesome footage. The Zenmuse gimbal will charge your camera during flight. I can see your smile now.

FPV: The GCU (one of the inside modules) allows for a video transmitter to be connected to the Hero 3 giving you the ability for FPV (first person view). Also having the transmitter on the back of the Phantom will help balance the craft. Yet, another bonus.

Camera Control: At this point, the only camera control you’re going to have is tilt control. Since you control the panning with the rotating of the Phantom itself during flight, you can now adjust the tilt of the camera with a hidden channel on your Phantom radio. You can purchase a 3rd party switch that screws into the back of your radio and will allow you to tilt your camera during flight.

So there’s some serious advantages with the new H3-2D gimbal. How let’s talk about the negatives.

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Installation: Sadly the H3-2D gimbal is not “plug and play” like so many people had wanted. The install process is quite involved. In a nut shell, you need to take apart the Phantom, do some re-wiring with the new modules, solder several connections and cram all of the new parts inside. It fits like a tight glove for sure. Install time took us about 1 hour to complete. If you never soldered before in your life, now is not the time to start. You’ll want to get a pros assistance.

Cost: The H3-2D gimbal comes in a whopping $700 bucks which is several bucks more then the Phantom itself. Then in addition to the gimbal, you need to purchase a PMU (power management unit) which costs another $60-$75 bucks. A bit pricey if you ask me.

Camera Choices: You only get one choice and that’s the GoPro Hero 3. All of the other generations will not work with the gimbal. Most people will see this as a negative, but the Hero 3 is so much better in quality and features then the Hero 2 or 1, so its safe to say, it’s time to upgrade to the Hero 3 if you haven’t already. More money yes, but well worth it.

Flight Time: Our original flight time was between 10-12 minutes without the gimbal installed. Well now with the gimbal installed, our flight times have been anywhere from 6-8 minutes long. This really cuts into flight time. But with larger capacity batteries coming out in the near future, this will only improve flight time. So there is hope just around the corner.

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Conclusion: As you know, nothing is perfect. Each piece of gear always has it’s ups and downs. So what’s my opinion of this gimbal… should you buy one?

If you want to get into professional aerial cinematography, while keeping a low profile, I think this gimbal is well worth the investment.

If you’re flying for fun, the purchase is hard to justify. But if you have money to burn, by all means, buy it.

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3 Comments

  • Ralph
    Reply

    Hi there…I purchased the Zenmuse gimbal after doing a lot of research, and thankfully get it at the new lower $369 price. Your video was a key factor in the purchase!..THANKS!

    I have the Phantom 1.1.1 and installed the upgrade board (link below)
    http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1958557

    I am having a ball with the setup (Phantom 1.1.1, Zenmuse gimbal with upgrade board, and GoPro3+).
    I now want to add FPV, solely for framing shots with the GoPro3+…I have read virtually from one end to the other that basically there are “issues” in doing this.

    Soooo..can you help me?…I am new to this multi-rotor hobby, and really would like to get the FPV thing going….I can’t seem to find anyone that’s done this successfully with the setup I have…..I am reasonably comfortable soldering, but really need good instructions with video/photos….
    After I use the camera with the gimbal and FPV to frame shots, I also plan to fly at times removing the gimbal, and mount an older version GoPro for “real” FPV…just to play around….
    Any help would be appreciated!
    Ralph Matile

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