Just three years ago, DJI Innovations released the Ronin, a hand-held gimbal stabilizer that those of us without movie-studio budgets could stick a decent sized camera on and get Steadicam-style smooth footage without the six-figure Steadicam price tag.
The Ronin cost $4,499, which was a totally disruptive price at the time. But DJI and other companies are now making a ton of gimbals, primarily for camera drones, and the prices have come crashing down. A Ronin M now costs $999 and carries cameras up to 3.6 kg (7.9 lb).
You can also get gadgets like the DJI Osmo, with a built in small-sensor 4K camera for $539, or any number of sub-$200 gimbal handles you can stick a GoPro or smartphone onto for the same smooth motion effect.
Joining the fray is the Moza Air from Gudsen out of China, which holds a full-size DSLR and lens combo up to 2.5 kg (5.5 lb) and does more or less what the Ronin M does, for $599. To give a rough idea of the carry capacity, a Canon 5D Mk3 plus 24-105 lens is less than 1.7 kg (3.7 lb).
There unit features a thumb grip with buttons to move the gimbal up, down, left and right, as well as locking or engaging yaw or tilt-yaw follow modes, re-centering the camera or spinning it around into selfie mode. You also get a single press start/stop recording button on the handle, which communicates with a range of Canon, Sony and Panasonic DSLRs and Micro Four Thirds cameras.
The bottom of the handle is a tripod mount, so you can sit the thing still, and then dial in via Bluetooth on your smartphone to generate super-slow movements for timelapse shots that pan or tilt consistently over the course of several minutes
The 3 x 2,000 mAh battery setup is claimed to last over four hours, which will cover a lot of use cases, and there's a clip-on double handle included for heavier rigs that you'll need two hands to carry about.
If there's one glaring fault with the design, it's that the rear screen appears to be totally blocked by the gimbal when it's in use, so we're not sure how you're supposed to frame your shots. It won't be a problem for cameras with fold-out rear screens, but there are plenty without these, so it seems many people will have to shoot blind.
Still, it looks like a handy machine, and the price in and of itself shows just how furiously fast drones and gimbals have been developing in the last few years.
You can check out the Moza Air promo video below.