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Nothing makes a video look more professional than a steady hand holding the phone. No one wants to see shaky images or vertical shots. To get a shot that looks steady and composed you need a gimbal. These clever gadgets can hold a smartphone or a camera and they work a bit like the Steadicams that professional cinemaphotographers used to get rock steady shots even when they are moving.

A proper Steadicam will cost a lot but for those of us with smaller budgets, there are some great gimbals on the market that can produce professional shots and they’re easy to use. The Shiyun Smooth Q4 is the latest smartphone gimbal from one of the market leaders. It features a nifty quick-fold mechanism, plus it has a revamped extendable arm and grip, spring-loaded grips for mounting the smartphone quickly, plus there’s a 5,500K fill light and SmartShooting to enable ultra-creative shots.

This Smooth Q4 is aimed primarily at lifestyle influencers, citizen journalists, filmmakers, live-streamers and vloggers. It features a new 3-axis stabilizer and has been specially designed to offer quick-shooting capabilities for capturing scenes during the day or at night thanks to the magnetic clip-on light.

The newly designed arm on the Smooth Q4 features an improved feel and grip. It’s very fast to unfold and easily packs away in the supplied hard case. Speed is important if you want to catch footage quickly with a smooth action. Users can switch between landscape and portrait mode with a single click. Once unfolded, the extendable boom provides up to 215mm of length that enables shots to be taken a variety of angles, offering the possibility of producing more creative shots.

This is the first gimbal I’ve seen to include a double-sided, powerful, magnetic fill light with a color temperature of 5500K that can be set at four levels of brightness. The double-sided aspect of the light means it can be set to face forward for filming away from the user or turned around to illuminate the user’s face for a piece to camera. The light even comes with four magnetic clip-on filters in blue, red, orange and yellow.

Measuring a compact 181.7 x 107.7 x 56.3mm and weighing 370g, the Smooth Q4 is the most compact and newest member of the popular Smooth Q range, offering the best interactivity and control available so far. It can be used with one hand and the multi-functional control wheel enables the user to adjust the brightness of the light or operate the zoom on the smartphone’s camera.

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Viewing and switching between different shooting modes is now easier thanks to a control panel that has intuitive indicators and is better organized. Everything is now easier to see and at arm’s length, enables convenient control over the gimbal and the smartphone when capturing footage.

The SmartShooting functionality on the Smooth Q4 has been updated and there’s now a dedicated ZY CAMI app with a brand-new feature, SMART Templates BTS (Behind the Scenes). This feature enables the user to film using a selected template, which imitates the BTS camera movement, showing the filmmaker how best to move the camera to shoot the template video. After shooting, the user can compare the shot footage side by side, on a split-screen with the template so they can see if they got the shot right.

In addition, the ZY CAMI app offers filters, music and special effects so the user can create a video that stands out from the crowd. Simply by selecting the desired modes within the ZY CAMI app, the Smooth Q4 will automatically guide the user towards creating shots that are bound to impress.

Other features include SmartFollow 3.0 which ensures the subject always stays in the center of the shot. Gesture Control can kickstart shooting with one simple movement towards the camera and Live Stream Master brings face-tracking to smartphones with that capability.

Verdict: The new Zhiyun Smooth Q4 is a capable gimbal that’s packed with advanced features with easy but sophisticated operational modes including MagicClone Pano and cinematic effects that can add that Hollywood gloss to anyone’s movies. I like the Smooth Q4’s compact size and the way the gimbal snaps out ready for action in seconds. There’s also a tripod provided in the kit for taking remote shots which will appeal to anyone who has to take care of sound, shooting and presenting. And now that so many smartphones offer near cinematic 4K quality, it makes sense to ensure that the camera movements on a video are equally as polished.

Pricing & Availability: The Zhiyun Smooth Q4 Combo is available from Amazon and costs $149 / €169.

More info: Zhiyun Official Store

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