DJI Ronin-SC Stabiliser for Mirrorless Cameras
DJI’s Ronin-S Compact (SC) is a single-handed 3-axis gimbal for mirrorless cameras. A smaller sibling to the DSLR-focused Ronin S, it’s lighter and more compact, making it easier to travel with, set up and use.
Note that compatibility is restricted to specific cameras, and the supported features also vary for some of these cameras. See details in the full review, including the type of smartphone you need to be able to use the Ronin App, which gives you access the full feature set.
The Ronin-S Compact (SC) will provide smooth, professional-looking video footage and can be handy for shooting stills in situations where additional stabilisation is required beyond what’s provided by your camera and/or lens. It will also make panning shots easier and more reliable by stabilising vertical motion.
DJI’s Ronin-S Compact (SC) is a single-handed 3-axis gimbal for mirrorless cameras. A smaller sibling to the DSLR-focused Ronin S, it’s lighter and more compact, making it easier to travel with, set up and use. Weighing just 971 grams all up, it can be used with mirrorless cameras from Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Sony and some Fujifilm cameras. The Ronin-SC has been designed for portability. Manufactured from magnesium, steel, aluminium and composite plastic, its motors can support close to two kilograms of camera gear and it’s easy to take apart and pack for travel.
The DJI Ronin-SC Standard and the DJI Ronin-SC Pro Combo; shown for comparison of the different packages (not to scale). Source: DJI.
DJI offers the Ronin-SC in two versions: the Ronin-SC Standard provides the gimbal and phone mount, while the Ronin-SC Pro Combo adds a focus wheel and Remote Start Stop (RSS) splitter to the package. We received the Ronin-SC Pro Combo for this review.
The Ronin-SC comes neatly packed in a grey expanded polystyrene carry case (shown above), which can be used when transporting it. Each component has a pre-cut compartment, which makes it easy to unpack and re-pack the device and allows users to discover instantly when a component is missing.
The internal layout of the case for the Ronin-SC Pro Combo, showing the separate cut-outs for individual components.
Who’s it For?
If you’re tempted to purchase the Ronin-SC, first check whether it’s compatible with your camera because some brands (notably Leica, Olympus and Pentax) aren’t supported at all and for other brands, compatibility is restricted to the following cameras:
- Sony: A7 Series, A9, A6500, A6400, A6300, RX100
- Nikon: Z6, Z7
- Canon: EOS R, EOS RP, M50
- Panasonic: GH5, GH5S, G9, GH4, GH3
- Fujifilm: X-H1, X-T2, X-T3
A full list of compatible cameras and their support for various functions can be downloaded here. This PDF document also shows the steps required to setup the camera and the camera firmware version required as well as restrictions on charging the camera via a cable.
Note that even when the camera and gimbal are compatible, some functions aren’t available with certain cameras. For example, Fujifilm cameras only have access to the capture photo and trigger autofocus functions, while the Panasonic GH3 and GH4 cameras are restricted to the same functions but add start/stop recording video.
The remaining Panasonic cameras as well as Canon’s and Nikon’s mirrorless cameras add in electronic focus pulling but only the Sony cameras support the full functionality of the device. Restrictions are also placed on which lenses are fully or partly compatible with the Ronin-SC. A table showing adaptation status, which mechanical adjustments are supported and reference links is provided in the same PDF as the camera list.
Note also that the Ronin-SC is not weatherproofed, which means it must be protected from exposure to dust and moisture during use. Should the unit be inadvertently exposed to potential contaminants it can be cleaned with a soft, dry, lint-free cloth.
Whatever your reasons for being interested in this device, you should be prepared to use it with the Ronin App, which is the only way to gain access the full feature set. The app can be installed by scanning the QR code in the printed Quick Start Guide supplied with the device or on DJI’s web page.
Once again, you should check here whether your smartphone can support ActiveTrack 3.0 via the Ronin App because not all brands are supported and only the latest models are included in the list that covers both Android and iOS phones. This list is continuously updated as more devices are tested.
The app has been improved for the new gimbal, gaining a revised layout that provides faster access to preset scenarios, a new camera balancing guide and tutorials to help users master the device. You’ll need the app for updating the Ronin-SC’s firmware; an on-screen alert will appear whenever new firmware is available.
The Ronin-SC is robustly built from a combination of magnesium, aluminium, steel and composite plastic with a solid, but comfortable, grip. The Li Po (lithium-ion polymer) battery, which is located in the grip, has a charge life of up to 11 hours and takes a couple of hours to recharge.
Because the battery is in the grip, you must attach the grip to the gimbal before charging. They connect via a slide-in ‘hot-shoe’ fitting with a large locking lever near the base of the gimbal, which must be moved forward before the grip can be fitted.
DJI provides a USB-C cable that can be used for charging the battery – but not a charging adapter that allows charging directly from the mains (which is usually faster). We found a USB-C adapter for our Chromebook did the job but we think that, for the cost of these devices, an adapter should be included. Charging takes several (at least three) hours, during which a series of green LEDs in the grip light up to shows you how it’s progressing. It stops automatically when the battery is fully charged.
If you want to attach the supplied compact tripod (shown above), it can be screwed onto the base of the grip. (This can be done before or after charging the battery.)
The next step is to unlock the three axes, which each have a sliding lock. Hold onto the axis arm before you move the slider then lock each axis again. Then power-up the gimbal by holding down the power button, enable Bluetooth on your smartphone and launch the Ronin app. You will need to set up a DJI account during this process.
Now prepare to mount the camera, checking first that the total weight of the camera and lens is less than 2 kg and the camera’s battery and memory card(s) have been inserted. Depending on the size of the camera (we used a Panasonic GH4 with a G Vario 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II ASPH MEGA O.I.S lens) you may need to add the small riser plate to the dovetail plate that connects the camera to the gimbal’s mounting platform.
The dovetail plate has an adjustment slot for positioning the camera, based upon its weight, with positions for light and heavy marked and an arrow showing the direction the camera should face. A small lens support bracket can be screwed into the front of the dovetail plate when longer lenses are used.
The Ronin-SC set up ready for use with the smartphone in position. The user can be seen adjusting the focus wheel via the command unit accessory. (Source: DJI.)
Once the camera is mounted you can attach the smartphone holder via an adapter (supplied) that fits into the camera’s hot-shoe. The phone should be in landscape orientation (as shown above) and its camera lens should be positioned as close as possible to the larger camera’s lens to ensure both image frames match. Both devices should be powered-up to check they are in the correct position with the phone view matching the camera lens’s view as closely as possible.
Before embarking on the balancing process, make sure the camera is fully configured and connected to the gimbal. The lens cap should have been removed and the camera should be powered-up when a zoom lens is in use. The Ronin-SC should be in sleep mode or powered off.
We found to be quite a tricky exercise. The first axis to unlock is the tilt axis. after which the camera is positioned by loosening the tilt axis knob and rotating the camera until the lens points forward then balancing the camera until it stays in the correct position. You’ll probably need to shift the camera a little on its mounting plate to find the right position.
Then move on to the vertical tilt, again loosening the knob and adjusting the position of the camera until the camera is held in a static position without tilting up or down. After a few balance checks by tilting the camera backwards and forwards, you can move on to the roll axis and make similar adjustments before finishing with the pan axis.
The balancing process must be repeated each time the gimbal is used so it pays to take your time the first time you run through it. Once balanced, holding down the power button powers-up the gimbal and opens the Ronin app.
DJI has used feedback from users of its earlier gimbals to ensure the Ronin-SC meets potential purchasers’ requirements. New features incorporated in the latest device include axis locks on the pan, tilt and roll axes that make it easier to keep a mounted camera in place during movements. They can also secure the gimbal for transit or during rigging and make it quicker to mount and balance a camera ready for shooting.
A new smartphone mount slots into the camera’s hotshoe, holding the screen horizontally and enabling it to be positioned to provide similar field of view coverage to the camera’s lens. Also new are two functions that operate through the Ronin app interface, which makes them restricted to users with both cameras and smartphones that support all the functions of the gimbal device.
– Active Track 3.0 has been ported across from DJI’s consumer drones and Osmo cameras, enabling users to select a subject on screen via the DJI app and the app will control the gimbal’s movements and follow the subject automatically.
– A new Force Mobile function enables users to synchronise the movement of an unmounted mobile device to the Ronin-SC gimbal from distances up to 25 metres. By mimicking hand movements, it allows one person to operate the gimbal, while another independently adjusts the camera’s position.
The app retains a number of familiar settings, starting with the basic Capture mode for remote control of the device. It also includes the ability for users to input and save three custom profiles (including 360-degree roll), test balancing and adjust the output of motors. Settings like the Sports mode, which boosts responsiveness, Timelapse, MotionLapse, Motion Control and Panorama are also available, along with a Virtual Joystick for controlling pan, tilt and roll.
The Ronin-SC includes a number of manual controls, including a power on/off button, a mode selection button and a joystick that provides manual control over the pan and tilt axes. Push the joystick up and down to adjust the tilt axis or left and right for pan axis adjustments.
A camera control button is also available for triggering autofocus and starting and ending recording. Pressing and holding this button will capture a still photo, although only on compatible cameras.
There are also three ‘operation’ modes: upright, underslung and flashlight. Their orientations are shown in the illustrations below.
The upright mode holds the gimbal vertically, with the camera at the top.
The underslung mode turns this setup upside-down with the camera below the gimbal.
The flashlight mode holds the gimbal horizontally with the camera facing forwards.
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Device type: Gimbal
Tested payload: Up to 1.9 kg
Angular vibration range: +/-0.02 degrees
Maximum controlled rotation speed: Pan, tilt & roll axes – 180 degrees/second
Mechanical endpoint range: Pan axis, 360 degrees continuous rotation; Tilt axis, -202.5 to +112.5 degrees; roll axis, -95 to +220 degrees
Controlled rotation range: Pan axis, 360 degrees continuous rotation; Tilt axis, -90 to 145 degrees; roll axis, +/-30 degrees
Accessory connections: 1/4-inch mounting hole, 3/8-inch mounting hole, camera control port, accessory port, USB-C port, RSA port
Intelligent battery: RB2-2450mAh-7.2V 18650 LiPo battery; 17.64 Wh power, max. 11 hour battery life, 2.5 hour charging time
Connections: Bluetooth 5.0; USB-C
Software requirements: iOS 9 or above; Android 5.0 or above
Electrical requirements: Static current: 0.2 A, 2.400 GHz to 2.4835 GHz, ≤ 8 dBm, -20 to 45 degrees C
Gimbal dimensions: Folded: 220 x 200 x 75 mm; Unfolded: 370 x 165 x 150 mm
Weight: Gimbal: approx. 830 grams; BG18 grip: approx. 258 grams; tripod: approx. 160 grams
RRP: AU$569 (Standard), US$439; AU$709 (US$539) for Pro Combo version, as tested
Distributor: DJI, 1800 888 354; https://www.d1store.com.au/