Feiyu Tech AK2000 stabilizer gimbal review
When gear really does count
A while back I was working on nailing a contract with a prospective fashion client to film their behind the scenes video. I did not have that much behind the scenes stuff to show them but I did show them a low-budget production I had done all alone with nothing but a Sony A6000, a Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L, a gimbal, and a slider. After letting them see the result, the first thing they said was, “How many people participated to do that video”? I did not skip a beat and told them that we were four. Although I was actually alone for the whole production, I had, through the use of a couple of pieces of gear made my stuff polished enough to look like a whole team had worked on it.
I think one of the most important pieces of gear that a videographer can get is a stabilizer gimbal. The portable slider and it are two of the most important things to make a smaller production company look like it is in the big leagues. The slider successfully gives the impression that a production project had access to a large cinema dolly. A stabilizer gimbal gives people the impression that the production had a full out Steadicam operator with their equipment and expertise. Although it takes a bit of practice, I can safely say that the small stabilizer gimbal is a relatively simple way to take your footage to new heights.
What I use
For the last 2 years I have been using a Zhiyun Crane. It has been a great gimbal for me but a couple of things that I thought it lacked got me to shopping for an alternative. The Zhuyun was a bit tricky to balance and the lack of a full interface without using a phone was bothersome. The things that I did like about the Zhiyun was its form factor, ease of use once you got it stabilized, and reliability. But one had to memorize the functionality of each and every button to use it properly.
I started shopping for something that might replace it and fell upon Feiyu line of stabilizers. Now what struck me the most about the Feiyu line of stabilizers was that the price to spec ratio that is quite impressive. At 299, its bang for the buck is unrivaled.
Specs (How does the AK200 compare to the AK4000 and AK4500)
The Feiyu is an active 3 axis stabilization gimbal. It sports an LED touch panel that allows one to quickly toggle between modes such as path settings, camera control, and time-lapse photography. It also has a multi function button which is user defined. It can control Camera zoom, follow focus, pan tilt and function mode. It has a beveled design. Meaning the camera is angled out from the support arms allowing one to better see what is on the camera screen to allow for easy framing and live view shooting. Not surprising to this line of gimbals is its ability to connect via Bluetooth and wi-fi to control detailed parameters go even deeper.
Other good features that you expect from a far more expensive gimbal are 1/4th inch thread at the bottom and on the side of the gimbal arm allowing you to add further accessories to your filming setup. The gimbal also includes a multi functional USB port compatible with common follow focus systems and can even be used to charge a camera.
When one compares this gimbal to the higher models made by Feiyu, it becomes quite clear as to what the differences are. Depending on your workflow, budget, and end-user, you will, in most cases, opt for the AK2000. But in certain specific cases, you will go for the more expensive AK4000/4500 and not regret it.
What is mostly clear is that type of camera that you use will be the deciding factor . Weight determines all. Although most of the features are found on the higher end models it is either weight of the gimbal itself or weight of the camera you use that will make your choice. In my case the capacity of 2.8 kgs is just fine. Also the fact that the gimbal itself will not weigh that much is indeed a bonus. Owners of Canon C300, RED, and other weighty cameras might want to consider the AK4000 or 4500
What is in the box
I invite you guys to look at the unboxing video I just made that goes through the all the hardware that you get in the box
The grip on the gimbal is quite large. Although I am not used to it, I find it nice to hold. What also struck me is the fantastic rubber finish on the grip handle. I really do like it and gives me a feeling of security. A feeling one likes to have when a stand is holding 5000$ worth of equipment.
Although I am very familiar with the setup of any gimbal and therefore, cannot speak for the beginner, I have to admit that the setup of this gimbal is easy. I personally balanced a Canon EOS 6D mark2 with a really heavy 16-35 f/2.8 and had no problems at all. I would, however, point anyone to go to scan the QR code on the quick start guide to get a better assesment of how to balance your gimbal. But the online pdf is very graphic in nature and really spells the balancing process out loud and clear. The quick release plate along with all the gimbal pivots are very well machined and have a good feel to them. Once you get to balancing, both the line indicators and the quick tighten screws work well.
One criticism I have for the thumb screws is that their longer reach makes for a peculiar balancing experience. Once one reaches the fine tuning step, it is important to take into account that the thumb screw itself, when twisted in tightening, will unbalance slightly. It is nothing that cannot be anticipated but I cannot help but think about a first timer trying to balance and not understanding why it is always slightly off. Other than that, once I had a decent balance, I pressed the power button and was using the gimbal.
I am very happy with the quality of the footage coming out of this gimbal. I had no problems with any usage in all the modes I decided to use. It works like a charm and generally gives a smooth and seemless user experience
Who is it for
Who this gimbal is for is a complicated question. I think that almost every small to medium film maker short of having a budget for a large sized dolly or a qualified stedicam orepator, should have this in their arsenal. It, like all products that offer stabilized footage, offer such a huge step up in video quality that it actually really makes no sense to not have one. The Feiyu AK2000 delivers for all those needing a good quick stabilization for their DSLR. The AK4000 offers the same stabilization for larger camera workflows. However, when one is using a RED or FS5,7 one must question if the stabilizer arm gimbal is a solution one will want to use for a bugger camera. Personally I would but I know that there are a whole bunch of people that would prefer to use larger solutions like a whole MOVI setup just because of the nature of a production that uses such larger cameras.
The AK series from Feiyutech really delivers
But the AK series definitely delivers when you take the plunge. It offered me way smoother footage, easier setup and use than did my Zhiyun Crane did. Physically it is a joy to work with and is nothing less than stunning for the price. It offers just a great feature to price ratio and, for now, leads the market in it class.