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If you’re into content creation – especially videos – you know that most flagship smartphones can now rival the performance of expensive cameras. In fact, many premium handsets boast capabilities that can surpass mid to high-end shooters. To cater to a growing market for imaging accessories, Zhiyun introduces the SMOOTH-Q3. This new handheld 3-axis gimbal stabilizer boasts welcome upgrades over its processor.

Why do you need a gimbal?

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For those wondering why something like the SMOOTH-Q3 is essential for shooting videos, it’s pretty simple. Unless you have the steadiest hands even while in motion, you’re going to end up with shaky clips. A tripod can help, but it has limitations when it comes to mobility.

When you want stellar tracking shots, a gimbal is your new best buddy. Some may argue that optical image stabilization (OIS) technology should be enough to counteract camera shake. Well, it does most of the time, but certain scenarios will require more assistance.

Thus, many videography enthusiasts turn to gimbal stabilizers to get that professional-level polish. Each time Zhiyun releases a new model like with the SMOOTH-Q3, you can expect upgrades that make the experience fun and the operation intuitive.

SMOOTH-Q3 Specs Overview

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Specs

  • Weight (g): 340
  • Battery Capacity (mAh): 1,300
  • Battery Life: 7 - 15 Hours
  • Chargin Time: 3 Hours
  • Maximum Payload (g): 280
  • Smartphone Clamp Compatibilty (mm): 55 - 90
  • Compatible Smartphone Thickness (mm): 7 - 10
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2
Ordering and Unboxing Our Gimbal

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If at this point you are already thinking of buying the SMOOTH-Q3, Zhiyun is selling it directly on their website. Another option would be to head on over to Amazon and place your orders there. There are two bundles to choose from, which we will go into detail below.

Zhiyun was kind enough to send over a unit for us to review, but buyers can likely expect the same thing. The package arrived quickly and the box was covered in bubble wrap. After removing the shrink wrap and popping up the lid, there is our SMOOTH-Q3 securely sitting within.

We love that Zhiyun even bothered to add some extra padding to keep some motorized sections from moving around during transport. The box is slim with just enough space to accommodate the gimbal, USB-A to USB-C charging/data cable, documentation, and the removable tripod accessory.

Now, the contents we pointed out are what’s included with the standard variant. On the other hand, if you went with the Combo kit, the manufacturer throws in a sleek carrying case, a one-year Zhiyun Prime membership (more in this later), and a wrist strap.

Operating the SMOOTH-Q3

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Everything you need to get started is already in the box. Also, there is a Quick Start Guide that shows you how to operate the gimbal. The instructions are actually detailed which is great for beginners. If these are not enough, check out this page for comprehensive information about the product.

Although the gimbal will usually turn on straight out of the box, we recommend that you plug it in to fully charge for the best experience. You’ll know when it’s ready for action when all four of the green LEDs are no longer flashing. Once the lights are solid, you’re good to go.

Don’t forget to download the ZY Cami companion app to fully utilize all of the SMOOTH-Q3’s awesome functions. Zhiyun points out that it’s available on the Google Play Store as well as on Apple’s App Store. Just scan the QR code on the box, smartphone clamp, or on the Quick Start Guide.

SMOOTH-Q3 Cool Facets

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Now that you are aware of how a gimbal essentially works, it’s time we moved on to what Zhiyun claims are the key selling points of its latest model. There is a lot on offer such as seamless panorama photography, in-app editing, and gesture controls to name a few.

However, we selected those that are fascinating and would likely inspire owners to play around with their SMOOTH-Q3. Anyway, creative individuals will always discover innovative ways to incorporate many of the gimbal’s fancy features into their works.

SmartFollow 3.0

It might take some time to familiarize yourself with the gimbal’s controls. So, if you need to keep your subject in frame, let cutting-edge technology take over. Via the ZY Cami app, tap and drag on your smartphone’s display to choose what you want the SMOOTH-Q3 to follow.

You can likewise press the trigger button to activate SmartFollow 3.0 conveniently. This is great when you want to record presentations or livestream anything for your audience. It’s perfect with the tripod accessory, especially when there’s nobody to hold the gimbal for you.

Rotating Fill Light

There might be times when the lighting conditions indoors and outdoors might not be enough. For situations like these, extra illumination can save the day. Unlike your smartphone’s LED flash, the light it produces is diffused. You can find the touch control on the clamp of the SMOOTH-Q3. Press and hold to turn it on/off and tap once to switch between three brightness levels.

MagicClone Pano

If you love taking panoramic photos, the SMOOTH-Q3 lets you do so but with a twist. Let the software and hardware create multiple copies of you or your subject, in different wacky poses, and in one continuous shot. You’re friends and loved ones will never guess the digital sorcery behind it all, and it will stay that way without Zhiyun’s help.

Dolly Zoom Effect

For film buffs, you’ve probably encountered scenes wherein the foreground image stays in focus while the background becomes distorted. Achieving this type of shot requires precise control over the zoom and a steady movement of the camera toward or away from the subject. With the SMOOTH-Q3, you can recreate this iconic effect anytime you want.

Our Takeaway

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Pros

  • checkLightweight
  • checkCompact profile for easy storage and transport
  • checkIntuitive features
  • checkVirtually silent operation
  • checkMotors move smoothly
  • checkExcellent stabilizing performance
  • checkBuilt-in fill light system
  • checkErgonomic handle
  • checkTripod attachment included
  • checkGreat battery life

Cons

  • cross-altCertain functionalities require the ZY Cami app
  • cross-altSome software features locked behind subscription paywall
  • cross-altNo wrist strap included with Standard bundle
  • cross-altBattery is not user-replaceable
Conclusion

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After spending some time using the gimbal, there is a lot to love about it. Still, we want to get the bad stuff out of the way first before we move on to the good. Zhiyun’s ZY Cami companion app is actually quite versatile with a generous selection of shooting modes and editing tools. Unfortunately, some of these require a paid subscription to access.

Take note, you can still use your smartphone’s default camera app, but you will miss out on a couple of automated features. Nevertheless, once you get the hang of the controls, it’s only a matter of time before you go full manual each time. Zhiyun did a wonderful job with the sliding mechanism in lieu of the fold-down type on other gimbals. Alongside the removable tripod stand accessory, this gives the SMOOTH-Q3 outstanding portability.

Moreover, the button placements on the grip are all within reach of your thumb and index finger. Although the gimbal is not unwieldy, we still encourage owners to use a wrist strap just as a precaution. As for the image quality of your photos or videos, it depends on the camera specifications of the smartphone. So get creative with the SMOOTH-Q3 and share your work on social media.

Get your SMOOTH-Q3 Now

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