Gimbal manufacturer Gudsen Technology has recently released the Moza Air 2 gimbal. It looks to be a solid upgrade from the original Air, but it’s also very similar to the DJI Ronin-S, without a huge difference in price.
The question is: do you want to buy the best of today’s one-handed gimbals, or do you want to invest in a gimbal ecosystem like the DJI Ronin-S that will have upgrade paths to a two-handed operation?
Moza Air and One Hand Gimbals
The original Moza Air came out during a surge in single-handed gimbals, along with the Ikan DS1 Beholder, the Pilotfly H2, Zhiyun Crane, among several others. Initially they all looked very much the same, with similar camera payloads, but as reviews started to come out the deciding factors for most buyers was 1) build quality, 2) ease of setup, and 3) company support.
When they work, there’s not much difference between single hand gimbals. But when something is amiss, that’s where you start to wonder if the savings between lower end and higher end gimbals were worth the effort.
In the case of single handed gimbals, some suffered from cheap parts that made balancing and operation a little iffy, where you were never confident your camera was going to stay secured. Most had notoriously difficult companion apps for adjusting the motors to get the right amount of smoothness.
And when it came to dealing with manufacturer support to assist with any of those issues, it became clear that some companies were not in a place to really help its customers.
So when the DJI Ronin-S came out, many gimbal owners breathed a sigh of relief that there was finally an all-around solid one-handed gimbal, made by a huge company that has the capability to design a rock solid piece of equipment, with an app that has a large developer base and quality control, and a global support team (and wide user base) that gives customers the piece of mind that they’re not alone with their support queries.
Moza Air 2 Gimbal
So where does the Moza Air 2 come in, now that most one handed gimbals have ironed out their product line, and now that DJI has entered the field?
We don’t have a unit to try out ourselves, but from the reviews out there, the Moza Air 2 looks to be a very solid performer. It has a mostly metal build, with new high-torque motors that can handle a 9.25 lb payload, a design that keeps the back motor clear of the camera’s display, and the ability to control lens focus with a built-in wheel or a wireless system.
It also has some bonus features, such as an assortment of physical buttons to control the gimbal and camera settings, a built-in display for settings and feedback, and several operation modes that allow different styles of shooting, as well as creating motion timelapses.
The Air 2 also has an auto-tuning feature that self-adjusts the motors based on the camera and lens size and weight, so you don’t have to tinker with PID settings. That’s in addition to upgraded physical balance controls that make setting up a camera fairly simple.
Moza Air 2 vs DJI Ronin-S
All of those features are welcome changes over the previous Moza Air. And if the Air 2 came out a year ago, there would be no question that it would be the gimbal of choice for anyone shopping for a one-handed gimbal.
But the reality is nearly all of the new features in the Moza Air 2 are already available in the DJI Ronin-S. There are subtle differences, like Moza’s user-replaceable 18650 Lithium batteries, versus DJI’s internal batteries. That could be an issue for some, but the Ronin-S can be charged and powered via a handy USB-C port, and a full charge lasts 12 hours of operation. That’s more than plenty for most filmmakers, and power users can simply purchase an additional handle unit if needed.
The ability to control a camera’s aperture and shutter, along with the record function, is something both gimbals are offering. But much of that comes down to partnerships with camera manufacturers, and which company do you think has more sway with camera corporations – DJI or Gudsen?
The Moza Air 2 does have a unique follow focus system that can control even manual lenses, with an attached gear ring. That could be the deciding factor for someone who wants to use vintage or cinema lenses.
But today, most camera technology is pushing autofocus and face detect aggressively, and when you can hold a gimbal with one hand while selecting focus on your camera’s LCD screen, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of use for manual follow focus on a gimbal.
That’s especially true when these gimbals are intended for small cameras, used by solo shooters in fast paced environments. Filmmakers who are attempting medium focal length shots using cinema and manual lenses are almost certainly using larger, professional gimbal rigs with wireless transmitters to other crew, rather than choosing these sub $1000 one-handed gimbals which are targeting one man band shooters.
One Handed Gimbals Are Not The Final Solution
Finally, we want to say a few words about one handed gimbals. Yes, they have come to a point where they are able to support just about all the weight that you can handle.
The only feasible next step is to take all the developments with one-handed gimbal tech and move them back into the two-handed mode, which is the more natural way to hold and operate a 10-15 lb rig.
Right now with most one handed gimbals, the only upgrade path is to add physical rods and handles that simply make the whole contraption a very tall version of what a two-handed gimbal ought to be.
Some companies, like Pilotfly, have created a swappable system where you can remove the single handle with a two-handed rig that includes batteries and motors built in. That’s the primary reason we bought and still use the Pilotfly H2, which was released years ago.
With the DJI Ronin-S, there is an ecosystem being built that includes an expected two handle accessory unit. So you know that the system you’re buying now will have an upgrade path to a more natural two-handed position down the road.
But if you’re buying a state of the art one-handed gimbal like the Moza Air 2, there is not any certainty that you’ll have anything more than an obsolete unit in a year, when two handed gimbals begin to come out.
Right now Gudsen is also working on a Moza Air X model available, which borrows from the same two handed design that’s in the Zhiyun Weebill Lab. That design is a sign of things to come with two-handed gimbals, but it still doesn’t have that no-brainer two-hand operation that we’re waiting for.
In the meantime, the Gudsen Moza Air 2 is a solid one-handed gimbal that looks like it will do the job for many users, and probably better than many other one-handed gimbals out there right now. But whether you want to save a couple hundred dollars now, versus invest in an upgradable ecosystem like the DJI Ronin-S, is a decision only you can make.