Review: Feiyu modular gimbal-cam shoots great video, could be improved
It was just last month that we told you about the Feiyu Pocket 2S, a handheld actioncam with a removable 3-axis gimbal camera. Well, I've since had a chance to try it out, and it does mostly live up to the hype – although it could be better in a few ways.
At a glance
- Solid build
- Great video quality
- Gimbal works as advertised
- Interface is complex
- Microphone is a weak point
- Needs a better handle-mounting system
First of all, the Pocket 2S is very obviously inspired by the DJI Osmo Pocket. Both products consist of a gimbal-mounted camera on top, and a handle with camera control buttons and an LCD viewfinder screen on the bottom.
What sets the FeiyuTech device apart, however, is the fact that the small camera/gimbal module is just magnetically attached to the larger handle, so it can be pulled off and stuck on things like helmets or car roofs … although it does remain linked to the handle by a 3-ft (0.9-m) electrical cord. A wireless connection might be freer and easier, but it would require the module to be larger, and to require its own battery.
Because it's magnetic, the camera/gimbal can cling to metallic surfaces all on its own. It additionally has a slot in the bottom for running a mounting strap through, plus it can be magnetically joined to an included metal plate with a threaded tripod-mount hole in it. That plate can also be semi-permanently stuck to surfaces via an included double-sided adhesive pad.
As far as capabilities go, the Pocket 2S has a maximum resolution of 4K/60fps (plus 1080p/120fps or 720p/240fps slow motion); it can take both standard and 180-degree panoramic photos; it can shoot timelapse and hyperlapse video; plus its camera can track and move with people's faces or with moving objects. One charge of its 875-mAh lithium battery is said to be good for three hours of use, which is roughly what I got. It's claimed to tip the scales at 179 g (6.3 oz) – my demo unit came in at an ever-so-slightly heftier 189 g (6.6 oz).
Adjusting settings and switching between modes is performed either on the tiny touchscreen, or via an iOS/Android app on a Wi-Fi-linked smartphone.
There's certainly a steep learning curve (or at least, a memorization curve) when it comes to utilizing the touchscreen, as different functions are accessed by swiping up, down, left or right ... and by using the button controls and the mini joystick. It can initially be easy to forget about some of the settings, not be able to find the ones you want, or to unknowingly select one you don't want. The onscreen slider control for the digital zoom is something I definitely don't like – few people will likely ever use it on purpose, although they might accidentally brush it and ruin their footage by zooming right in.
The gimbal can be set to different modes, depending on whether you want the camera to follow the movements of your hand/helmet/car roof, etc. as you pan left and right, tilt up and down, or roll the camera to either side. In all cases, it does a great job at smoothing out the shakes. My preferred setting is Pan mode, in which the camera pans back and forth with the user, but compensates for tilting movements in order to maintain the shot's horizon.
Audio is recorded by a teensy condenser microphone located on the handle. When testing the Pocket 2S while mountain biking, I found this setup to be a bit problematic. If I mounted the handle out in the open, the mic picked up a lot of wind noise, plus it recorded a knocking sound whenever the item it was mounted on got jostled. If I tucked it into a hydration pack pocket or jersey pocket, however, it recorded a lot of rustling as it moved against the fabric.
Building the mic into the camera, along with some sort of wind screen, might have been a better way to go. An external mic can also be plugged into the handle, which is another option.
I did end up sticking with the jersey pocket arrangement, due to the fact that the mounting possibilities for the handle – which is also magnetic, by the way – are somewhat limited. My demo unit came with a plastic bracket which clips onto the handle, and that gets attached to your wrist via a Velcro strap. If the camera is mounted on top of your helmet in that scenario, though, the cord won't reach from it to the handle.
I tried mounting the handle on the back of my helmet, but its weight caused the helmet to tip back unless it was on really tight. So, instead, I mounted the camera/gimbal on a mini Joby Gorillapod that I kludged onto a GoPro chest mount. Even then, though, having the swinging cord running from my chest to my wrist was a nuisance, plus the mic was still recording a lot of wind noise and shaking-around sounds – so, into the pocket the handle went.
As you can see and hear in the following video of my rather sedate ride on Edmonton, Alberta's Raven trail (I don't claim to be a racer), the footage looks great, but there is a lot of rustling. That said, if you doubt that you'd even use the Pocket 2S' mic audio in the first place, then that's not an issue.
It's also worth pointing out that the device is very solidly built and generally satisfying to hold – it certainly doesn't feel like a cheap toy. I do wonder how well the wiring inside its cord will stand up to repeated windings and unwindings, along with various inevitable forms of abuse, but time will only tell as far as that goes.
The Feiyu Pocket 2S can currently be preordered via its soon-to-end Indiegogo campaign – which has already surpassed its funding goal – for US$309. Assuming everything goes according to plan, it will subsequently sell for $399. I'd say it's worth it, as long as you're willing to live with or find creative solutions to its shortcomings.
Product page: Feiyu Pocket 2S (Indiegogo)