This week my partner and I bought a DJI Ronin-M.
I am filming a feature in a few months and the director and I realised we wanted some smooth steadicam-like shots so it only made sense that we buy a gimbal so I can have plenty of time to practice and master it.
I had never used a gimbal before so I thought I would share my first thoughts of using the Ronin-M. I will follow this post up with a tutorial and full review.
Upon first opening the box it’s somewhat daunting looking at all the pieces. However the quick start guide that it comes with is very helpful.
I think that the packaging that the Ronin-M comes in is great, everything has its place and I’m pleased that the case is padded and sturdy enough to transport the gimbal as I won’t be able to get a pelican for it right away.
Initially I had a few hiccups with using the Ronin-M once it was set up. The DJI app wouldn’t work on my iPhone with ios 9 and so I had to frequently borrow my partners. This made it difficult to practice. DJI have now resolved the issue.
I also found it hard getting the camera perfectly balanced at first and getting my head around how to customise the Ronin-M to do the kind of shots I wanted. I can’t imagine how people could get highly skilled with this kind of gear unless they owned one to practice with regularly.
I watched a great tutorial which shows how to set up the Ronin-M and also shows balancing the camera and in depth use of the DJI app which I found very helpful.
My First Week
Since getting the Ronin-M I have practiced each day getting used to the weight, how to move with it and testing out what kind of shots I can get with it. In this time I also shot a short film for Tropfest and tried out the Ronin-M for a few of the shots.
I really loved the freedom it gave me to be creative with my shots. There were absolutely some shots I couldn’t achieve without the rig.
Even though it is a fairly lightweight device, over time it can take it’s toll on your back and ones you start getting sore it can be harder to keep the shot steady. To try and help with this I am thinking of getting a camera support system such as the Atlas.
Over all I have been very happy with the Ronin-M so far. I felt it was very flexible when it came to one or two handed control and even flipping it upside down was great though I’m not sure it’s good for the device. I will need to look into that further.
I have also been very impressed with the battery life, it was fantastic.
Personally my main struggles were due to not having the right accessories to assist when shooting with it.
I was shooting with an A7s with a metabones adaptor and using the Atomos Shogun to get 4k.
The Ronin-M unfortunately doesn’t come with a monitor mount so this meant I had two choices. I could shoot internally at HD which is alright if thats the output you want, however I found it was very difficult to see the LCD monitor on the camera. This made it hard to frame the shot.
To achieve 4k I trialled using the Ronin-Ms single grip and holding the monitor in my other hand. This is obviously not ideal. I found that the cable between camera and monitor was easily dislodged and it also limited my movement, the camera balance and control of the Ronin-M. So it is clear to me that to use the Ronin-M you need a monitor and a monitor grip.
The Ronin-M also comes with a wireless remote control for a second user to assist controlling the shot. I think since I will tend to be out in the field with this by myself it will become imperative that I get the motorised thumb controller.
I still need to play around more with controlling it’s movement through the app and getting the balance right so it doesn’t overwork the motors or throw the camera into a tilt.
So far I really enjoy using the Ronin-M and look forward to creating some amazing shots with it. I think it will be great for films but also live event work which I do.
Keep an eye out for my next post doing a full review and tutorial on the Ronin-M
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“With my head in the stars, a twinkle in my eye and a love for cinema and nostalgia, filmmaking is a fun, creative way to express myself.”