The minute I opened the road case with the new DJI Ronin-S tucked inside, I said to my frequent shooting partner Sean McVeigh from McVeigh Productions, "This was going to be a fun review." Getting to put new gear to the test is what Sean and I love to do. We could see that the DJI Ronin-S was going to be great right out of the box. We sorted through the road case got everything put together and, before we knew it, we were almost ready to shoot.
Next, I charged the battery — it took about two hours — and we were good to go. Now we were able to get underway and start thinking about how to get the best shots with our limited time.
Some Basics First
Some of the things I always look for in any review is how well any product is put together and fits into the workflow. The DJI Ronin-S did not disappoint in either category. The Ronin-S had what I can only describe as an “old school” solid feel. It really felt like a natural extension of my arm.
The DJI Ronin-S also has a payload capacity tested to 8lbs. We didn’t try to load it up to 8lbs, but it help solid at with the 6lbs we used for testing. That being said, both Sean and I felt like the Ronin-S was a little heavier than we would have liked overall, but the positives outweighed the negatives. But before we get to the shooting part, here is a list of some specifications worth looking at.
Quick Overview of the Features
- Payload Capacity (as tested) 8 lbs.
- Manfrotto 501PL Type Quick Release Plate
- 12 Hours Battery Life/2 hours 15 Minutes Fast Charge Time
- Ronin-S net weight 4lbs.
- 1/4” and 3/8” threads on bottom
- Compatibility with most DSLRs (more to follow)
- The awesome little tripod that was super convenient for using as an extra handle or just to take a break.
Almost Time to Go Out and Shoot
A real product review to me means using the gear on a “real” shoot. So off we went to what I thought was going to be a local state preserve. Little did I know that Sean had other plans for the DJI Ronin-S and us in a little bit. But since the DJI Ronin-S was new to us some pre-shooting steps were going to be in order. We started with the obvious.
I downloaded the Ronin-S App and turned on the Bluetooth. I put it on a flat surface with the tripod legs — which were a great addition. Next, we got the camera attached via the Manfrotto plate and walked through the balancing process for the Pan, Roll and Tilt Axis. There is also a great tutorial on YouTube that was very helpful.
After completing the balancing process and motor calibration, we then completed the process got the DJI Ronin-S app fired up and it was off to the wind farm.
Actually Using the DJI Ronin-S
Like I said earlier, real-world shoots are what reviews are all about. So much for the state reserve! To really test out the DJI Ronin-S, Sean arranged for a boat for us to go out on Narragansett Bay to shoot some b-roll for a local television commercial near a wind farm.
The DJI Ronin-S really lived up to the hype. At one point we were getting bounced up and down and all around, yet the DJI Ronin-S was smooth as silk. We got some really nice shots without a whole bunch of unwanted motion. This translated to less stabilization work in the postproduction suite. Needless to say, both Sean and I were impressed.
With the DJI Ronin-S, I had been given a really solid new production tool. I could add a lot more creativity and motion into my shots and remain more compact(yes me AND the unit) at the same time. Remember we were in a boat not a yacht and we are not really small people. (sorry Sean)
More Features Worth Mentioning
I loved the trigger mechanism! Holding the trigger locked the gimbal orientation. This was great when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. Then a double tap re-centered the unit. Sean liked the ability to use the joystick to manipulate gimbal orientation and the apps that added a lot of function to the Ronin-S.
The ability to set up some really nice control functions sold me. From the sports mode to Time-Lapse, Motion-Lapse and Panorama. These features alone would, in my opinion, make the DJI-Ronin-S a must have for any producer or videographer who wants to add a lot of creativity without going broke (the list price is $699). I can see the DJI Ronin-S paying for itself after only one or two shoots.