If any of you shoot with smaller camera rigs like I do, then the idea of the Ronin-M was immediately enticing. The original Ronin, though incredibly well-priced, was surprisingly heavy at 9.3 pounds with no camera attached to it. The new Ronin nearly slashes that in half at 5.1 pounds with no camera attached, and that kind of weight drop is significant, despite it not really appearing so on paper. In preliminary testing, I have nearly nothing but good things to say about the newer, lighter and smaller Ronin M.
Build-wise, the design is really quite spectacular. Nearly every bit of wiring is completely housed inside the carbon and aluminum body, making the device more pleasant to look at as well as keeping those wires from possibly snagging. Much of the device is carbon fiber and the handles are easy to grip and hold.
Balancing and getting the device ready for shooting took basically no time at all. Besides unboxing it and fitting all the pieces together, balancing my Panasonic GH4 with a Metabones Speedbooster to a Sigma 18-35mm took, all told, about 15 minutes. This is setup from the Ronin-M in pieces all the way to it being ready to use. That’s not bad at all.
Another cool note, I was able to fit that camera setup and a Rode VideoMic on top of that camera, rigged up, with no problem at all. The amount of space the Ronin-M gives the camera cradle is amazing.
The app works pretty well, though there are a few things to bear in mind:
- The app isn’t on iPad.
- If you turn off the Ronin-M at any point while you’re connected to the app, the “Reconnect” option you get from the app after you turn the Ronin-M back on has never worked. In order to get the app to reconnect, I’ve had to restart everything. Annoying and somewhat trivial, but worth noting.
- The very important “Calibrate” option in the app is hidden behind the “more” menu and halfway down that page. What do I mean by important? Well, in order to get the Ronin-M to work perfectly, after you’ve balanced the camera without the motor running, calibrating tells the gimbal that everything is hunky dory and that it should maintain where it is. Without this, you run the risk of the gimbal sort of taking on a mind of its own and not working quite right. So all that said, not having the Calibrate option more front and center is a bit of a weird design decision.
Once the device is up and running, so far it’s an absolute dream to use. It feels like nothing, and will likely make long hours of shooting considerably easier. Well, that’s the hope anyway.
One final thing of note, you can run the Ronin-M upside down, one of the benefits of it over its competitors. That means you can alter your angle and get the M even higher off the ground, but unlike the original Ronin, the whole camera carriage doesn’t flip around. When being used properly, the camera will be upside down. This is a bit of a bummer, as it adds another post processing step of flipping the footage.
Through both the pros and the cons, one thing is clear: I can’t wait to use this thing in a real-world situation. I have a large project coming up that will put this thing to the test on two straight days of intense shooting. We’ll see how the Ronin-M can handle the job.