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Ronin MX Review
July 2, 2016
So we were given a Ronin MX to try out and we thought it would be great to give a little review of what we think of it!
What you get for £1389?
In the box you get the gimbal itself, two batteries, handlebars, a nifty folding stand, a controller, mounting plate...plus the little bits to make changes.
The contents itself a great start. Similar systems require you to buy extra equipment like lens supports, controllers and extra batteries, but DJI bundle them altogether which is great. There are a few things we would of liked in the box, such as rail rods to mount longer lenses for example, but that's no big deal given that you already get a lot!
One thing we really like is that the handle bar has it's own quick release bracket and theres another one you can use for the aircraft. Unlike a lot of gimbal manufacturer's who charge you extra for additional mounts. Good job DJI!
What did we like?
Let's begin by getting one thing straight, traditionally we don't like DJI gimbals. That's no disrespect, as we greatly respect the what they do. However, we tend to find their equipment is a 'one trick pony'. Previous DJI versions of aerial gimbals have been fixed to one camera and one lens, and that sucks. Also they were fixed to a machine and near on impossible to use handheld. The Ronin-mx however is a massive game changer!
For the first time the Ronin-MX gimbal can fly in the air, with any medium to lightweight camera from RED Epics to Nex 7's. When you've finished flying you can up and walk around handheld in seconds. We think that is just great!
Does it work?
Absolutely! We had to take a few matters into our own hands, but you'll see that later.
We flew a simple flight in 15mph to 24mph gusting winds beneath and DJI s1000. Here are a couple of clips from it. The footage wasn't great, again we were using a loaned camera, new to us and just left the exposure in auto, but you'll get the point. Steady reliable footage first time!
What didn't you like?
A few little niggles did bother us, but i'm confident that this is a a minor thing that can easily be overcome.
Let's start by saying what we setup with:
We don't like being stuck to an aircraft. As we said earlier this was a put off from some of DJI's other gimbals. So we try to get our gimbal as a separate operating unit with it's own power supply, HD video downlink and control etc etc. Basically it allows us to pop off the equipment from the aircraft and immediately go into handheld shots. It speeds things up as a workflow and also allows us to swap out to other airframes quickly.
In this setup we controlled the the gimbal through bus using DJI Lightbridge 1. DJI's recommended setup is advised to be a Ronin-MX through to A3 flight controller and a sort of wireless short range HD device that takes the video signal just to the aircraft and then down through DJI Lightbridge 2. Couple of issues with that for myself:
1) Again your gimbal is tied to the machine.
2) Just added expense, especially if your already flying a large Drone.
With DJI Lightbridge 1 you can mount it onto the back of the Ronin MX, control it from distance and also just plug your cameras HD feed straight into it and get a good usable HD downlink. Your also not tied to the machine. You can clip off your Ronin MX and go walkabout for a good 1km and still have control and HD downlink. Personally that sounds better than wiring up through a machine. But that maybe just our preference.
Another drawback that was a little frustrating as it seemed just like a money spinner, was that the rail system that came with the gimbal to mount to the DJI Matrice 600 was 2mm narrower than the rail system on a DJI s900/1000. In other words your Ronin-MX bracket won't fix out the box onto an DJI s1000...or so it seemed. We managed to loosen off all the bolts on the airframe and just squeeze the bracket on. There's enough give in the brackets and anti vibration to get the Ronin MX bracket on. It does mean your battery tray doesn't slide on so easy. You may need to slacken the battery bracket guides and tweak them on an angle. But still, a result for now.
A final gripe, but again not a biggy. We plug a Spectrum DX6 controller into DJI Lightbridge 1 to control the Ronin MX. We couldn't seem to change the 'Function' of the gimbal. Normally you take the standard Ronin MX controller and switch the 'function' so that as you move your aircraft the gimbal just stays in orientation to what your filming. There's not enough range to do that at any kind of range with the inbuilt receiver and controller. You can't change the 'function' in the DJI assistant app either which is irritating. On the face of it, it almost looks like you cannot put the Ronin-mx into the correct setting you need to fly. Now i'm guessing here, but it looks like the Ronin-MX controller is a reject of the old Phantom 2 days, painted black and the controller still has a jack in the back of it to allow training plug in's to DJI Lightbridge 1. So in strikes a moment of desperate genius, but it looks like you can control the 'Function' of the Ronin-MX by plugging your jack into the standard Ronin-MX controller. Another result!
So there's the only small niggles we've found so far.
Is the Ronin-MX any good?
We've only done a few tests, and it has to be returned in a few days, but so far we thoroughly recommend it! It's a great platform and we think DJI have finally cracked the Gimbal. Multifunctional is what we want. Zen muse series of gimbals by DJI are a good effort but it's winding us up being tied to one camera and lens. Previous versions of the ronin just didn't have the motor strength or balance for flying. We feel this is definitely the way forward! Good job DJI!
I'm sure the app will get some updates so that you can control the functions of the gimbal in-app as opposed to the controller.
It's a good investment, especially as second hand Zenmuse' are still fetching decent money.