The Zhiyun Smooth-Q3 Adds the Professional Touch to Mobile Video

The Zhiyun Smooth-Q3 Adds the Professional Touch to Mobile Video

To become the next social media superstar requires more than the right look and ideas. Production values now play a crucial part, and companies such as China’s Zhiyun understands this. Their Smooth-Q3 gimbal is far more than just a stabiliser. The gimbal in conjunction with a decent smartphone is all you need to start creating professional-looking video content.

The worldwide pandemic outbreak has caused many changes ranging from more time spent indoors, working from home, and some rapid learning curves. During the past eighteen months, people have found numerous innovative ways to keep in touch and entertain their friends and family. One of the most common ways used to do this is through video content.

Mobile phone video content production is incredibly popular; in fact, some people who’d started by putting their thoughts and views on platforms such as YouTube and Facebook only a few years ago are today household names. Daily, millions of people across all ages are starting to produce video content via their mobile phones and who knows, maybe a few of them will become the next generation of superstars?

A woman and her baby chatting via video on a mobile phone

However, just having the right look and content isn’t enough. Another important factor is making something that is watchable. Many of the most-watched videos by video bloggers and personalities are professionally done. They use high-end equipment, and that includes the latest flagship mobile phones. These high-end phones have excellent built-in image stabilisation, but alas, they are frequently beyond most people’s budgets.

Therefore we decided to look into alternative ways to make professional video content that would not break the bank, and this is where the Zhiyun Smooth Q3 gimbal package comes into play.

The Smooth-Q3 on its tripod

What is the Smooth-Q3?
Zhiyun’s Smooth-Q3 is a technology-packed three-axis gimbal designed for mobile phones. In simple terms, it is a piece of handheld technology that contains intelligent sensors that reduce and, in some cases, completely eliminate the shaking that is often seen on videos.

Our test model came in a light grey colour and, in the box, looked like a prop from the original Star Trek TV series. The phone sits within a foam covered, spring-loaded clamp and, once in place, felt completely secure. On the gimbal’s handle are various buttons, zoom options, and the joystick; these buttons, when used in conjunction with the free app, open up a wide range of creative possibilities.

The gimbal laid on a table next to an iPhone

Using the Smooth-Q3 was relatively straightforward. Without installing the app, we were quickly able to start using the gimbal’s primary function, namely stabilisation. We turned the gimbal on via the power button on the handle, and an array of bright green LED lights came on. Probably by sheer luck (as we hadn’t yet read the manual), we pressed a button or two, and on its own accord, began orientating the phone, stabilising any movement.

Finetuning the phone’s optimum position was simple, thanks to the joystick on the opposite side of the power button on the handle (facing the user). A couple of very slight touches of the joystick, and it was ready to go.

Within a few minutes of taking it out of the box, we were walking and jogging up and down the road, giving it a thorough test, which we’ll discuss more at the end of this review. The stabilisation capability aside, where the Smooth-Q3 elevates itself is with all the other well thought out ‘extra’ features it offers.

Zhiyun has put a tremendous amount of thought into the Smooth-S3, which in our opinion, makes it an invaluable piece of equipment for those wanting to broadcast and record video content.

We’ve listed some of the most useful features below:

The gimbal on its tripod outdoors in the Autumn

The Integrated rotatable light
At the top of the clamp is an LED light. The light has three brightness levels and is extremely useful when shooting in low-light conditions. This, in conjunction with the handy tripod in the set, should be invaluable for those who produce content where their face is a crucial aspect.

The Zoom Facility
If you are shooting content with a phone that has an ultra-wide lens function, there is a toggle switch on the side of the Smooth-S3 which will allow you to zoom in and out.

The ZY Cami App
The free app for Android and Apple mobile phone unlocks the full power and functionality of the Smooth-S3. It contains a truckload of features, including the ability to utilise gesture control and live-streaming capability across all major platforms. These two features we would expect from most decent smartphone apps; however, some of the other features it contained were a welcome surprise.

Using the follow function on a young woman via the app

The ZY Cami app has a follow mode function to ensure that the subject always stays in shot. In addition to this, it has a feature called Instant Dolly Zoom, where you can walk forward whilst zooming, much like the type of effects you see in a big-budget movie.

The MagicClone Pano option lets take multiple images of a subject in the same location. The app then overlays the images to form a single image with multiple versions of you in the shot (see below).

Probably the most useful feature in the ZY Cami app is the ability to edit the footage you’ve taken. To make things even simpler, it comes with some handy built-in templates, special effects and a decent range of filters.

An example of the MagicClone Pano with the same woman appearing three times in different poses in one photo

There’s a great deal more you can do than we’ve listed above. Details of the full range of features on the gimbal and in the app can be seen in the tutorial videos on the Zhiyun website; the link can be found at the end of this feature.

Using the Smooth-Q3
The Smooth-Q3 is a nice looking piece of kit. We did various tests walking and jogging up and down streets and lanes using the gimbal and doing the same just by hand. There is a noticeable difference with forward-facing video footage, but that alone wouldn’t make me want to purchase the gimbal. It was only when I performed the tests talking into the camera while walking that I could really see a significant difference.

I have tried to walk/talk into my screen in the past, and the results were frankly an abomination. However, when I did this via the gimbal, I was able to get a result that I would be pretty comfortable posting on a dedicated video channel for the world to see.

The excellent stabilisation aside, where the Smooth-Q3 really won us over was with all the other features it comes with, which really does make producing a professional-looking video a cinch.

A young woman using the Smooth Q3 gimbal

When Zhiyun offered me the opportunity to test the Smooth-Q3, I was expecting a simple handheld smartphone gimbal that just helped to stabilise video. It is far more than that. It is a tech-packed tool that seems to offer much of what someone starting out in producing video content will need, and who knows? It could be the springboard for the next social media superstar!

Zhiyun Smooth-Q3 – Where and how?

The Q3 Standard Package includes:
1 x Smooth Q3 Mobile Stabilizer
1 x Tripod
1 x USB Type-C Charging Cable
1 x Quick Start Guide

The standard Smooth-Q3 we tested is priced at £85.00 from the website.

In addition to the standard package, Zhiyun also has a Combo package which is priced at £105.00. The contents of this package are as follows:

1 x Smooth Q3 Mobile Stabilizer
1 x Tripod
1 x USB Type-C Charging Cable
1 x Quick Start Guide
1 x Storage Bag
1 x ZY Cami Prime Card
1 x Wrist Strap

The Zhiyun Smooth-Q3 was designed to enable anyone to start producing professional-looking video content. However, having the best equipment isn’t always enough. Recently, Adam Feuerman, one of the leading cinematographers in the United States, compiled a guide for us on how to shoot video like a pro.

If you follow Adam’s tips in conjunction with using a feature-rich high-end gimbal such as those offered by Zhiyun, you should be on the fast track to video stardom.

The Zhiyun Smooth-Q3 Adds the Professional Touch to Mobile Video 2


Natasha Godbold

Creative Director / Writer

Natasha is a co-founder of Luxurious Magazine® and has undertaken the role of Creative Director. She is a keen photographer and regularly accompanies Paul on hotel and restaurant reviews. Born in Moscow, Natasha like her husband Paul has experienced living in multiple countries around the world. She is bi-lingual and has degrees in English Language and English Literature. Natasha covers all aspect of the luxury industry in her work. Her hobbies include health and fitness, culture and learning about nature and animal welfare.

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