DJI has unveiled Ronin-SC as the newest addition to the Ronin series. Short for Ronin-S Compact, this smaller version of Ronin-S was designed for mirrorless camera setups. Read on to discover how this new handheld gimbal performs in our user’s in-depth review.
As a photography enthusiast, I love to shoot timelapses and experiment with interesting new perspectives. Having previously used Ronin-S, I was eager to try out the new Ronin-SC to check out its new features and see how well it performs. In this Ronin-SC review, I will test the functionality, cinematic potential, and user-friendliness.
Content creators often rely on different setups for different shooting conditions. With this in mind, a handheld gimbal has to be versatile enough to support a multitude of different shooting setups. To assess the versatility of Ronin-SC, I used three very different, but very useful camera setups I frequently use. My testing equipment included a Lumix TZ100 with a 1-inch sensor, a small Sony A6300 mirrorless camera with an APS-C-sensor, and Sony a7 full-frame mirrorless camera.
So, before we start, let’s take a look at what Ronin-SC can do.
|Quick Setup||Integrated positioning block, axis locks, and ratchet design.|
|Extended Usage||Up to 11 hours max. battery life.|
|Compatibility and Payload Limit||Supports mirrorless camera setups and lenses with a maximum weight of 2.0 kg.|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.0. High-speed transmission of ActiveTrack 3.0 and ForceMobile data.|
DJI has made Ronin-SC incredibly compact, letting you capture footage whenever and wherever you like. At only 1.1 kg, its light enough that it doesn’t tire you down during longer shoots. The lightweight design also comes in handy during transportation, which is useful when you are traveling with strict hand luggage restrictions. Just throw it in your bag and you are ready to go.
To make Ronin-SC lighter, smaller, and extremely durable, DJI used metal alloys and compound materials in the design. Ronin-SC was specifically designed for mirrorless cameras, thanks to its optimized axis arms and reduced product dimensions.
The lightweight design is also perfect for shooting long-duration footage. You can shoot a Hyperlapse without putting the gimbal on a tripod, run with Ronin-SC in one hand, or make an infinite 360° roll without the need of a monopod. This makes holding and operating Ronin-SC a walk in the park.
As you probably know, balancing a camera on a gimbal can be quite a tricky and time-consuming process. To improve this experience for all users, DJI has developed a Quick-Release Plate with a positioning block, small mechanical guides, and mechanical axis locks. Balancing the gimbal is now incredibly easy and quick to do.
Each axis can be balanced one after another, which speeds up the whole balancing process and makes it easy for first-time users. The axis locks allow you store Ronin-SC in your luggage or backpack in a folded position and take it out whenever you need.
The ratchet design on the tilt-axis arm is useful guide for keeping the roll-axis balanced, even when the Quick-Release Plate is unlocked and taken off the camera for transportation.
The tilt-axis balancing position can be easily fixed using the positioning block on the Quick-Release Plate. This allows you to detach and attach your camera quickly onto the Camera Mounting Plate.
How to Balance Ronin-SC
To balance Ronin-SC, place the gimbal on a flat surface and balance each axis one at a time. See the video below to see how it’s done.
- Attach the camera to the riser and the Dovetail Plate;
- Lock all axes on Ronin-SC;
- Slide the camera mounted on the Dovetail Plate into the Camera Mounting Plate. Turn the camera on, remove the lens cover, and connect the control cable (optional);
- Unlock the roll axis, rotate the axis horizontally, and fix the axis;
- Unlock the tilt axis. Adjust the dovetail position forward and backward to balance the camera. Fix the camera position by tightening the position block;
- Rotate the camera so that the lens faces upward. Unlock the knob next to the tilt-axis motor and move the tilt-axis arm forward and backward to balance the camera. Retighten the knob;
- Unlock the roll axis. Unlock the knob under the Camera Mounting Plate and balance the camera so it doesn’t tilt to the left or right. Retighten the knob;
- Unlock the pan axis and the knob next to the pan-axis motor and hold the gimbal slightly tilted. Adjust the pan-axis arm forward and backward to balance the camera;
- Place Ronin-SC on a flat surface. Press the power button to turn Ronin-SC on. The camera will slightly adjust by itself. Hold the M button and the trigger button for more than four seconds to start the auto adjustment.
Ronin-SC was specifically designed for mirrorless cameras, offering a tested payload capacity up to 2.0 kg. This gives you the freedom to use different shooting setups. Please check out DJI’s Ronin-SC Camera Compatibility List to see the full list of cameras you can use.
For this product review, I used a very small Lumix TZ100, a compact APS-C Sony a6300, and a Sony a7. I was able to balance all my setups on Ronin-SC without any problems. While I was able to mount the Lumix TZ100 to Ronin-SC, the camera is not compatible with the Multi-Camera Control Cable, which means I couldn’t control camera functions.
Since Ronin-SC was developed for compact mirrorless cameras, the design is smaller, which is why larger and heavier setups are not recommended. For the latter, the better choice would be Ronin-S, which has been specifically designed for DSLR cameras.
Mounting Ronin-SC on a Monopod
In addition to offering wide-range compatibility with different mirrorless cameras and lenses, Ronin-SC also features a 1/4″-20 UNC thread. This allows the gimbal to be easily mounted on a standard tripod or on a monopod to create unique shots.
Together with the Phone Holder accessory, I was able to use my phone and the Ronin app to monitor what the camera was recording and quickly access settings. The Phone Holder can also be mounted on top of the camera and combined with Ronin-SC and the Ronin app to enable ActiveTrack 3.0.
On the side of Ronin-SC, users can connect other accessories such as a Focus Wheel, which allows you to mechanically control the Focus Motor. With the Sony a6300, I was able to control the focus with this method. Checkout other useful Ronin-SC accessories here.
After talking about weight, size, and compatibility, we come to stabilization—one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a gimbal. Stabilized video adds a cinematic effect to your footage, and it is useful for night shots or capturing fast-moving objects.
When shooting nighttime footage, shutter times need to be slower in order to let enough light into the camera lens. This means the camera will take longer to take the shot, which requires you to hold the camera very steady. Unwanted shake causes blurry images with low quality and resolution. In this type of shooting scenario, Ronin-SC stabilized the shot perfectly.
Thanks to excellent 3-axis stabilization, Ronin-SC allows users to move around with their setup and obtain smooth footage like never before. The lightweight design is perfect for one-handed operation, and even if you struggle to hold the gimbal steady, Ronin-SC delivers effortlessly smooth footage.
Filming action scenes or fast-paced sports footage can be easily done with Sport mode. I was able to track fast-moving subjects by enabling this mode and keeping the M button pressed. With infinite roll 360, you can film very interesting perspectives using an underslung handling position.
I was also able to obtain stabilized hyperlapse footage at night with Ronin-SC. Instead of stopping every meter or so to take a shot, I set the camera intervals and simply walked along my route.
Nighttime Motionlapse and Timelapse
One of the reasons I use a gimbal is to create stabilized motionlapses and timelapses. I simply positioned the gimbal at the desired location, started the Ronin app, set the waypoints, and then watched the gimbal do all the work. Ronin-SC can directly control the shutter mode of a wide range of cameras in these modes.
Continuing on from its predecessor, Ronin-SC includes new functions that make it incredibly easy to use.
Already a celebrated feature in many DJI products, ActiveTrack has made a debut with Ronin-SC. This feature cleverly tracks your subjects’ movements, keeping them perfectly in frame and helping you to focus on obtaining a better shot. To use this feature, you need to mount a smartphone on your camera’s hot shoe. After balancing the gimbal, open the Ronin App, and start ActiveTrack 3.0.
How to Use ActiveTrack 3.0
ActiveTrack uses your smartphone camera to track a subject, so I recommend that you use a smartphone and camera with the same field of view. With ActiveTrack enabled, simply highlight your subject and Ronin-SC will follow it. By double tapping the Ronin-SC trigger, you can center the subject in the middle of the frame. Framing can also be easily adjusted using the Ronin-SC joystick.
ActiveTrack 3.0 Recommendations
ActiveTrack settings can be accessed in the lower corner of the Ronin app, where you can change the sensitivity of the device. For smoother shots, I found it was better to keep the sensitivity lower. And for sports or actions scenes, increasing the sensitivity worked perfectly well. With the a6300 setup, I was able to start and stop recording directly from the Ronin app.
Force Mobile is another new addition to Ronin-SC that allows you to control your gimbal in a unique way. This function uses your smartphone sensor to measure orientation data that is then sent back to Ronin-SC to control the camera. The Ronin app also lets you define the sensitivity of the Force Mobile function. For example, my camera could make a 90° pan for every 45° pan movement from my smartphone. This functionality makes Force Mobile a great tool to precisely adjust gimbal directions from a distance.
Infinite 360° Roll
If you have used Ronin-S before, then you might be familiar with the similar 360° 3D Roll feature on Ronin-SC. Infinite 360° Roll on Ronin-SC positions the gimbal arms away from the handle, allowing you to perform a continuous 360° roll. This feature is great for creating footage with one hand, shooting transition scenes, or sports footage with interesting perspectives.
The Ronin app has tutorials on how to balance the axes, indicating information on which axis needs to be adjusted to optimize the balance. In addition to ActiveTrack 3.0 and Force Mobile, the app also supports many different shooting modes such as Motion Control, Timelapse, Motionlapse, and Panorama. For full functionality when using these modes, it is best to connect the camera through the control cable.
With Motion Control, you can create exact gimbal paths in order to shoot a specific sequence for recording a video. You can define up to 10 waypoints as well as how long the gimbal will pause at each location. This mode is very useful if you want to record yourself in front of Ronin-SC while focusing on the surroundings. Or you could even try repeating the exact same camera movements during different weather conditions or at different times of the day to create some really interesting footage.
The Panorama feature lets you take pictures of a defined field of view. In order to produce a panorama image with Ronin-SC, you must first define the camera sensor size, the lens focal length, and the overlap. Ronin-SC will then generate a panorama from the recorded images. Since the pictures are recorded by the camera, you must use editing software on your computer to generate the final panorama out of the pictures. In this situation, the Ronin app helps to control the picture and gimbal sequences.
This mode regulates the camera shutter at a defined rate to capture timelapse footage without any unwanted gimbal shake. You can either create a static timelapse or create a hyperlapse by holding the gimbal in your hand. This is particularly effective if you want to add some motion blur to your hyperlapse with longer exposure times, but also wish to keep the images steady.
This mode allows you to set defined waypoints for the gimbal to move along a preset path. The camera will automatically stop at each position and release the shutter for the predefined period. The camera is kept perfectly steady by the gimbal at each position, which produces an extremely stable shot. I found this mode was perfect for creating motionlapses with longer exposures, such as those seen in nighttime footage.
Ronin-SC: Is It Worth the Upgrade?
Since Ronin-SC was developed for compact mirrorless cameras, the design is smaller, which is why larger setups are not supported. For users with DSLR setups, Ronin-S is a great choice.
For users that require a lightweight, portable gimbal for mirrorless cameras, Ronin-SC is an excellent choice that is a pleasure to film with. And for the ultimate creative package, the Ronin-SC Pro Combo comes will great accessories that will inspire your filmmaking potential. This new mirrorless camera gimbal stabilizer is a creative powerhouse for any filmmaker. I was very impressed by the small and lightweight design, and I was able to take the gimbal around with me with no problems. The addition of new functions such as ActiveTrack 3.0 and Force Mobile make content creation user-friendly and—most of all—fun!