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Notes from two weeks of using Ronin-S
1244 1 2018-6-29
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jamesedmunds.gmail
lvl.4
Flight distance : 2533 ft
United States
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I have had Ronin S for about two weeks, and have been using it some in-production projects. Here are my observations, offered in hopes of their being useful to any other users:

1. I shoot with Nikon D800, so still await firmware updates that will deliver the promised features. This phenomenon is thoroughly discussed in other threads, so I will simply say that I am intrigued about the shutter control and follow focus possibilities and hope my camera will be supported soon.

2. The Ronin S has performed spectactulary in the most basic situation calling for a gimbal, moving the camera to record a moving subject. Having three pre-sets comes in handy, as you can fine tune how the camera tracks your movements. I have one set for sort of quick movement, one for a much more dampened effect, and the third set to isloate roll, about which more below. Particularly like how easy it is to move amongst the three position modes, and it is quite fun to use slung low.

3. Yes, it is heavy, because it is quite a piece of machinery and so is your camera. In another thread, the user fanseaf43ff8 recommended using a marching parade flag holder, which is a brilliant suggestion. Search Amazon for "Parade Carryng Belt Harness." I wonder if someone back at the loading dock is wondering if there is a sudden upsurge in Fourth of July parades or some such, from Ronin S owners buying these holders, because you should definitely have one. In some situations, you can actually shoot with the gimbal in the holder and get a little extra stability from your rock-hard ab-six-pack belly, but even if you never shoot with the gimbal in the harness pocket, you will love having it on anyway, for taking the weight between shots/takes, or as you are moving from one spot to another, etc. Highly recommended.

4. Speaking of weight, I found that I got little stutters in pan, tilt and roll moves, as well as executing programmed moves, at consistently repeating spots, with my (dearly beloved) Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 SP mounted on the camera. Total weight, 4.8 lbs., and this is a quite front-heavy configuration. No such issue with Nikkor 24-120 mm, at 4.1 lbs. total weight, but more evenly distributed, or with prime 50mm f/1.4 D lens, 2.95 lbs. rig weight, or the similar weight Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 prime manual lens from days of yore and a sweet, sharp little beauty she is.  I have gravitated to using the 20mm for most work, especially with lots of movement (this is about the focal length I was setting the Tamron to, and is about the good range for action gimbal shooting), and the 24-120mm or 50mm for more stabilized work, about which more below. I am curious to know what anyone might be experiencing using the current Nikkor 24-70mm zoom, which I don't have currently but have used in the past, and which makes for a front-heavy rig like the Tamron, and likely would weight out somewhere in the 5 lbs. range if not more.

5. The tripod-footed base unit is a terrific feature, particularly  setting the gimbal in front of you for making adjustments, and of course, you can always shoot with it that way on the ground or some just-right table, etc.

6. I find it easy to balance the gimbal. Tilt, then pan, then roll. When adjusting roll, I turn the roll axis to its highest point and let gravity help me make the adjustment. Roll adjustment can be quite stiff without gravity's help.

7. The app does offer a lot of adjustment control. It confused me slightly that speed and smoothing were not in the Configuration section, but rather in the Create section under Capture. However, these settings do persist for each of the three user settings.

8. The Track feature is the only other Create feature currently supported on my camera (meaning, it requires no communication with the camera), and I have found it quite useful. Not only is it handy when the camera is on a tripod (including its own), you can program movements that are executed with the gimbal hand-held or on a glider or jib, having the program twist the camera in some way while you move it (manually or motorized) with your hand, glider or jib, so that you have to execute only one part of a complex camera movement, with the Ronin S program taking care of the rest. I have gotten a couple of usable takes doing just that; they were not shots that required follow-focus. One tip for using the program in this way: Program an extra small step of movement before the actual movement you want for your shot, to act as a sort of physical cue for you to begin your manual part of the movement. I am of course intrigued to see how much focus can be programmed in some future update. One thing I would love to see in the next version of the app is the ability to store and retrieve Tracks.

9. The recommended way to use the gimbal for a 360-degree roll is to isolate the joystick to controlling only roll, in one of your user profiles, so that you don't get an unwanted skew of tilt or pan. That works fine, and I would further suggest that in some situations you may want to similarly isolate pan or tilt for a set-up shot to use either of those in isolation. Along similar lines, you can isolate smooth tracking to pan or tilt for shots where you are moving the gimbal about. We're getting here to the sort of thing where you work out the shot and practice the movement with different settings to see what helps, etc., and this is one of the intriguing aspects of the Ronin S, the near-infinite range of possibilities it offers.

10. The desktop app makes it quite easy to update firmware, and it is regressable to earlier versions. I look forward to updating the firmware once again very soon, with a version that delivers all the promised features to my Nikon D800.

In conclusion, I am quite satisfied with the Ronin S features that don't require the camera interface to work, even though it can't fully handle the camera with my awkward Tamron 15-30mm. Elsewise it physically is quite pleasant to use and delivers steady, usable images. Naturally, I am disappointed that my Nikon D800 is not supported yet but will hope that DJI engineers are just as smart as they need to be to get this rectified quickly for the next firmware update.

Hope this is of use so someone,

James








2018-6-29
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DJI Susan
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Hi James, thanks for sharing your experience with us. More supported features will be added with the firmware update. Do not forget to share us with your works.
2018-6-30
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