Nobody likes shaky video and for the past couple of years, I’ve been using the DJI OM 4 to smooth out handheld footage shot on my phone. When you see the results its stunning what is possible for a relatively small investment, but that makes you look at your larger DSLR and mirrorless cameras.
Thankfully DJI offers a stabilising gimbal that’s up to the challenge, introducing the DJI Ronin S3 (aka RS3). This week I’ve had a chance to take a look at the RS3 Combo package that comes with a bunch of extra goodies to make the incredibly accommodating solution even better.
When you first open the box it’s immediately apparent DJI isn’t messing around here (some assembly required). The RS3 is a sophisticated and professional design, with a metal chassis, complete with knobs, dials, attachments and red racing strips, this is a serious bit of kit.
As you remove the components, you’re tempted to read the manual, but persist out of an effort to guess your way to its construction. After a few minutes, the components come together, clipping together easily, a clear design decision to tear it all down when you’re shoot is done.
What’s great about the RS3 is that the actuators that power the silky smooth stabilisation are powerful enough to support a payload of 3kG (6.6 lbs). This means it can easily accommodate the body of most modern cameras and a healthy range of lenses.
With the RS3 assembled, it’s fairly obvious how the 3 axis gimbal will work, it is basically a replciation of the OM linup, just far larger, and far more capable.
Something unique to the RS3 is the additional handle grip which is fantastic. Not only do you have the standard hand grip, with thumb access to a joystick, but your second hand can work in combination to secure the RS3 and rotate or lift and lower as required.
With that together, it’s time to mount a camera to it.
The camera I have is a Canon 650D, certainly nothing special, but it’ll suffice for the first test. If you look at the RS3, it’s not immediately obvious where the tripod mount is, but fishing through the extras hidden in the pockets of the case, is the necessary tripod mount that secures the camera to the quick release.
With the camera mounted, it was time to turn it on. Initially, I attempted to mount my camera with the battery grip installed, which I later found out was not a great idea.
Being a DJI product, my brain went immediately to the DJI drone startup process, tap power, then release, then press and hold. In the case of the RS3, its far easier, just press and hold power for 2 seconds and if you read the quick start guide, this is very obvious.
After powering on, the RS3 sprung into action, rotating to accommodate the camera mounted to it and immediately I started testing just how stable it was. That second handle was immediately beneficial and I quickly fell in love with the possibilities this presents.
While trying this bad boy out at home was fine, I wanted to explore, take it out into the world and see what it could do.. so I threw it in the trunk of my car to which I was very glad it fit with not a lot of room to spare.
I found a nearby park and set up to start filming my Tesla Model 3, a fairly decent subject matter on a fairly lovely day. When filming car reviews, I’ve always felt compromised, I could use my GoPro Hero 10 that has decent stablisation built in, my phone with the OM4, but I could never really use my Canon camera handheld as the footage was always rubbish.
I want those silky smooth panning shots, across the hood, don’t the side of the car, from the top to bottom, from the rim moving backwards, all the arty stuff you’re used to seeing from professionals with really expensive equipment.
Now in my hands, was the RS3 that enabled all of this and quite frankly, was far too much gimbal for this camera. I’ve reached out to Canon and I’m hoping to follow this up with a full review that includes details of all the neat features supported by the RS3, but not by my camera.
Taking filming for example, because my camera doesn’t have a Bluetooth shutter, I couldn’t use the built-in record button from the RS3, but with a better camera, I could. Take the extra focus control wheel add-on included in the RS3 combo package, I couldn’t use this with my camera, but it is supported and I’m keen to try it.
The amount of adjustability offered by the RS3 is seriously impressive, clearly able to adjust to different camera bodies and shapes, while keeping that footage silky smooth. There are different filming modes available using switches on the side of the handle as well as a trigger on the front to lock on a position and have the gimbal focus on that spot until you release.
If you move the RS3 side to side, your camera effortlessly pans sideways like butter, but if you want to creat the best shots, you’ll rotate the RS3, while also rotating, panning or rolling the camera using the control joystick at the same time.
This is a seriously impressive piece of hardware and features a 3,000 mAh battery so you can use it for about 12 hours without needing to recharge.
Personally, I love that this comes with a tripod attachment at the base, allowing you to place the whole rig down when you don’t need it, or if you’re going for a stationary pan or zoom, you can certainly leverage this as a stand.
Given vertical video is such a big thing on social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram Stories and YouTube Shorts, it’s not surprising DJI have accommodated vertical video in this package. When you consider DJI’s latest Mini 3 Pro drone also offers support for vertical video, it’s clear the company’s different divisions are working as one team.
The DJI RS3 starts at A$799 and moves up to A$999 for the RS3 Combo. For professionals looking to get serious about video production, these prices are reasonable, considering you’d pay much more than that for most lenses.
For more information, head to https://www.dji.com/au/rs-3