Feiyu Tech AK2000 stabilizer gimbal review
When gear really does count
A while back, I worked 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 in doing 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 the project.
Stock footage from a shoot where a slider was used
One of the most important gear pieces that a videographer can get is a stabilizer gimbal. Along with the portable slider, it is one 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.
Stabilizer gimbals I use
For the last 2 years I have been using a Zhiyun Crane. It has been a great gimbal for me in many of my past productions. However, I thought it lacked a couple of things, which got me shopping for a new alternative. The Zhuyun was a bit tricky to balance and the absence of a full interface without using a phone was bothersome. What 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 FeiyuTech line of stabilizers. Now, what struck me the most about the Feiyu line of stabilizers was the impressive price to specification ratio. At $299US for the AK2000, its bang for the buck is unrivaled.
FeiyuTech AK2000 Specifications (AK2000 specs)
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. This lets you get 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 that 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 that can even be used to charge your 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.
Do you get the AK2000 or 4000 or 4500?
What is most 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 on the AK2000 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 FeiyuTech AK2000 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 found 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 assessment 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 thumbscrews 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 thumbscrew 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.
FeiyuTech in use
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 seamless user experience.
Who is the Feiyutech AK2000 for?
Who this gimbal is for is a complicated question. I think that almost every small to medium filmmaker short of having a budget for a large-sized dolly or a qualified Steadicam operator should have this in their arsenal. It, like all products that offer stabilized footage, gives such a huge step up in video quality that it actually really makes no sense to not have one. For all those needing a good quick stabilization for their DSLR, the Feiyu delivers!
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 bigger 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.
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. 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 its class.