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GoPro HERO4 Black And Zhiyun Smooth Q Review From Tennessee


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I recently took a trip to Tennessee to snowboard and hike armed with the GoPro HERO4 Black, DJI Phantom Pro 3 Drone, Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Zhiyun Smooth Q Gimbal, and Samsung Galaxy S7. I pretty much stuck with one setup per day. For instance, I used the GoPro the day I went snowboarding; the Canon 5D to check out Nashville; and the Samsung Galaxy S7 and gimbal for hiking and exploring.

First, I want to talk about using the GoPro HERO4 Black. I visited a place called Ober Gatlinburg, Tennessee specifically to go snowboarding. I did a little research on the place before heading up there. There are nine trails made from man-made snow. Only one trail was open while I was there, so you can imagine the amount of people in line for the one and only running ski lift as well as the mess of people falling all over the trail from snowboarding and skiing. The “snow” was decent to snowboard on; however, it was a little hard to land on when falling. I used the GoPro most of the day attached to The Handler, a small waterproof handle attachment. I love shooting with the GoPro! The camera is very lightweight as well easy to quickly catch almost correctly exposed action shots or rough shots that you wouldn’t want to use a more expensive camera to shoot. I used to think the GoPro HERO4 was great, but after having the chance to use the new GoPro HERO7 Black; it’s extremely hard to go back! The HERO7 has a built-in stabilizing feature which is incredible! I wasn’t too worried about it though as I tore up the slope. I always have Warp Stabilizer in Adobe After Effects!

Another great on-the-go stabilizer is the Zhiyun Smooth Q Gimbal. This is a 3-axis gimbal made for cell phones, but can also run a GoPro on it. While I didn’t use the gimbal until the last day, I was able to capture some stunning footage with it! Even while walking and using selfie mode, the footage looks like butter! That gimbal paired with a semi-steady hand and some nice pans and tilts, could shoot a cinematic feature film if you really tried. The gimbal definitely had some downfalls though.

The gimbal was a bit screwy with its movements at times. Anything more than a slight twist of the wrist or tilt up or down and the gimbal would either spin completely out of control, or the camera would fall as if it wasn’t being supported by the motor anymore. Also, later I found that recording directly through the app required me to convert all the videos in order to play them back. It was bit annoying as both files recorded through my phone or recorded through the app were MP4 files; however, the ones recorded directly through the app would only play back in Quicktime, not even in Adobe Premiere Pro which was bizarre to me. Anyway, it sort of made since that app was specifically designed for iPhones and I was shooting on an Android. The other problem shooting on an Android created, was that not all of the features of the app would work with my phone. The final big problem I had with it is that the gimbal has three different modes. Only one of the modes allows you to use the joystick to control the motion of the gimbal. Well, for some reason I have not been able to access that mode yet, and I have tried it hundreds of times. This could be user error, but it seems like that mode should be the default mode, or at least I should be able to customize it to be the default mode.

As for the rest of the equipment, you can read a review for the DJI Phantom Pro 3 Drone and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III in This Blog About Cameras or This Blog About Drones And Gimbals if you are interested. I ended up not really using the drone, but I did shoot some great footage of a band in Nashville, TN called The Don Kelley Band. As a side note, these guys are great in live! Currently they play at a bar called Robert's Western World on Broadway Street weekly, but as good as they are I don’t see them staying there very long!

You can check all the things I talked about in the accompanying video above. Feel free to critique or comment on your favorite parts below!

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