THE DJI Ronin 4D Review: ALMOST a camera revolution
This is the dji ronin 4d, the most clever, fascinating, unique, strange camera system. I think ive ever come across, but its core, its a stabilizer, a three axis: no four axis stabilizer. Hence the 940 has the z axis here for up and down, and it has an x9 camera on there. The new camera system – and this one is a 6k sensor, full frame so its fascinating. Its got a great image, great stabilization, so theres a lot to cover in this review, but its not a very long review. For me, for a very simple reason – and that is this is heavy, and that causes me problems. Naturally, in a review of this, you want to see lots and lots of stabilized shots, and i cant do that because of a couple of physical issues because im, basically a broken man at this point in my life, when i first got this, i was heading off To scathos in greece – and i put all my luggage on the to check in and as i badly twisted my right wrist, which i had left me with no strength in it at all. So i couldnt use it and i had to wait for that to heal and after it got a bit stronger. I started playing around with it again, but i found that it was really aggravating my back injury. I have three prolapsed discs in my lower back ill. Tell you how that happened, its a funny story, so ive had back issues since my early twenties because of beta cam sps working in news.
But five years ago i was shooting the first episode of season three of cnns, the wunderlist. We were in amsterdam and we were in the red light district interviewing, a prostitute in the prostitutes museum and the way that these back things happen, its its basically a build up of of things and thats. Basically, what happened using the gimbal a lot and, as i went to just level the tripod, it went in the most painful way, its ever gone, and i had to be carried out of the red light district in amsterdam, which must have looked very strange because you Cant get any cars down there so anyway, this means its been very difficult for me to film with this, because it really is heavy and the way you hold it with its design, everything its just. It just goes straight in there im not just going to be focusing on the weight. I just want to get that out of the way, because its actually not that heavy. If you go by the actual weight, i mean its not far off what lollipop weighs but its, how you have to hold it by the grips or the top handle, because with other gimbals you can move your hands up or down the shaft yeah. I should have said that different way to find a comfortable position, especially if you need to change that shooting height but whether running 4d. You are able to hold it in very unnatural positions and thats when it feels very heavy and does start to hurt its.
Not just in my lower back, but in the middle of my back too, of course, in an ideal world, this little thing would be just as good as the ronin 4d, but i think were a number of years away from that Music, but theres. Numerous reasons why the rolling 4d is so good and you want to make it work chief among them is the stabilization is amazing, and the image from the camera is gorgeous. There is going to be an 8k version coming out, but ive only used the 6k one. Most of these shots were filmed at 48 frames per second and some even slower. This was so i could use them for slow motion if i wanted to, but i know how people complain when seeing slow motion. Gimbal footage saying it doesnt show them just how well the gimbal works. Well, thats, why im, showing you a mixture here, big part of why the stabilization is so good, is the built in zed z axis. This removes pretty much all the up and down bounce that you get with a gimbal, steady cam rigs have arms which stop that, but there are third party accessories which do work pretty well with the gimbals but theyre, not as good as this. The reason why is it is parts mechanical and part electronic. The mechanical part issue must be something like springs inside it with tension adjustments. The electronic part is from the sensors on the front and bottom of the ronin 4d hes measured the height, so it uses that information to take away that bounce with the z axis and it really works.
Ive never shot gimbal footage as steady as this youve got to make sure the z axis is properly dialed in otherwise it can make your footage look worse and it isnt for every single situation. Normally, i use wide angle lenses to hide the bounce, but when youre on a longer lens, thats not possible. This shot here is with the surrey, 35 millimeter anamorphic lens in super 35mm. This gives you a 50 mil four frame equivalent, but i think my favorite shots here were, with the 35 millimeter lauer f 0.95 for frame lens. Having that crazy, fast, aperture and shooting wide open it just has a really unique look. All of the shots were also using autofocus, even the manual lenses and thats. Thanks to one of the numerous incredibly clever things. The ronin 4d has Music Music. The ronin 4d is a remarkable camera system, unlike anything else out there by a long way. Now that doesnt mean its better than other cameras, it just does more and when you put together all the key things it can do, it is almost an all in one system that makes it truly groundbreaking Music. So in this next section of the review im going to move slightly away from the stabilization part to break down the core features during this youre going to see a lot of shots using the running 4d on a tripod, i will explain what ive done and the Pros and cons of this in a bit the x9 camera module is removable, so you can buy either or both 6k and 8k, and really easily switch between them.
The image from the 4 frame 6k camera is gorgeous really gorgeous. The log profile is lovely and grades. So well, it has a dual native iso of 800 and 5000. I actually thought it was 4 000 for most of my filming whoops im not going to go into all the various frame rates and resolution combinations of the camera theres too many, and you can easily find that on djis website. But i will mention a few. It has three different codecs prores hq prores raw and a 10 bit h264, but thats limited to just 4k, and this is the only camera that doesnt fly that can shoot prores raw internally. I can only guess that dji have come to some sort of financial arrangement with red to get past their compressed raw patent. Even atoms have to pay red a royalty fee for being able to use prores raw in their recorders Music. Unfortunately, its prores raw hq only and not the standard prores raw, which is more than enough. Likewise, the non raw prores is hq only these resulted massive file, sizes and overkill for most people. They are for me and thats why i found it crazy that apple put in prores hq in the iphone 13 pro its utterly ludicrous for an iphone its so much better. When were given options, it can shoot up to 6k 60 frames per second, but thats with a 2.’ to 1 crop 48 frames per second without the crop, but you will need to use the ssd drive for that.
The camera comes with a built in cf express type b slot, but i would really recommend getting the ssd add on. So you can unlock all the frame rates resolutions and the ability to record prores raw really impressively. Dji have managed to squeeze in nine individual stops of nd into this little camera. But this isnt a variable nd, so theres no way of smoothly changing the amount of nd each stage is a single stop, taking the time to shoot. This sort of footage on a tripod really gave me the ability to look at the cameras, lovely image properly, the colors, the dynamic range and the high frame rates have all impressed me, although the 4k 100 120 frames per second, i wish they were the whole sensor And not super 35 and not cropped, and they also are noisier plus. It would have been nice if they could have squeezed just two more frames out of the 6k full frame for us 25p users. So we could get 50p rather than 48, but so far very positive, but to be a great camera, it needs to be more than these things a lot more. One thing this camera is not very good. At is audio. There are built in microphones, stereo, pair and theyre behind the gimbal. You get a lot of operating noise, especially if youve got a manual focus lens. You can hear the motor going and its not good at all and the camera operating noise as well.
There is a 3.5 millimeter input, so you can add your own microphone. Make sure you use a powered microphone. Preamps are absolutely terrible in this. You have to crank them all the way up anyway. So really not very good uh. You can also get a lot of inference as well. When you have the wireless transmission gains, you need to have a shielded microphone and then theres. The problem of where do you put the microphone you put on the handle its too far back? There is no way of putting it further forward without some sort of crazy rig, so that is a problem, but there is a pro module coming, which will give you xlr inputs and a time code, but were going to put the microphone still. So there is still that problem so really its its a dual system: audio uh, camera really and thats. What i was doing with the tentacle sync into the 3.5 millimeter with the audio time code and the tentacle track e recorder, lav mic thats. How i was doing my audio audio is a definite weak point of the ronin 4d. So whats like frustrating is the waveform. Has no opacity cant make any smaller than this and it monitors the whats on the screen so thats the log thats, the lut, where theyve wanted to just show me what the log is, because thats whats being imported a bit weird, really: Music. The cameras come with djis dl mount, which was originally made for the x7, which goes on the inspire 2.
, currently theres, three compatible lenses in that range, the 24 35 and 50 millimeter and theyre all about 180 grams, which is really light. The downsides are theyre quite expensive for f 2.8 lenses and none of them have a close minimum focus. The 35 millimeter, for example, is 85 centimeters for comparison. One of my favorite video lenses, the sony fe 35 millimeter f 1.8 – has a minimum focus of just 30 centimeters, but their big advantage is. They are the simplest and most convenient lenses to use as they require no autofocus calibration and no rebalancing of the gimbal. When you switch between them, as ive already mentioned, you arent limited to this mount because it is removable theres. Also a leica m mount which is passive, because those lenses are full manual plus that electronic e mount adapter. That supports focus and iris control. But not is other than the weight, though the ronin 4ds biggest achilles heel are which lenses you can use. The z axis payload is two kilograms, and that includes the just over one kilogram for the camera and gimbal. So that leaves you just under a kilo for your lens, so the gimbal has very little forward and backwards adjustability, so you can balance it out. This means long lenses are out of the question the problems i have with the weight of the system. I can get round with a support system, but the lens limitations thats the single biggest problem with the ronin 4d.
So here are three different lenses around the same focal length. The 35 millimeter dl lens, which weighs just 180 grams 35 millimeter, f. 1.8. Sony is 290 grams and this stunning 40 millimeter t 1.5 tekina vista cinema prime lens. These are lenses that were used to shoot ted, lasso, well, thats, a whopping 2.24 kilograms which of course, completely obliterates the payload. So these are assaulter lenses that dramas and high end commercial shoots would use, but why am i even bringing this up? Well, this tekina vista 65 millimeter also t 1.5 is on my sony alpha one here on the dji rs2. The rs2 has a payload of roughly 3 kilograms, that is, for the camera and lens this setup here is actually slightly more than that, but it does work absolutely fine. Yes, there is no z axis on the rs2 apart from those third party ones, we can take the weight, as the camera can be adjusted forward and backwards to balance it and thats. Thanks to the nice low position of the rear motor. In fact, you can get a really long heavy lens on there. If you want to this, is the dji ronin rs2, with the sony a7c a 200 to 600 millimeter lens and its balanced? Why? Because it felt impossible, will i ever use it? No, it just shows you what the rs2 and rse2 are capable of that ronin 4d cannot come anywhere close to. So if you are used to certain lenses with your current camera and gimbal setup, then you are very likely to find these lens limitations very limiting Music.
You can use heavier and longer lenses when youre on a tripod and you lock down all the axes, but it is still a bit wobbly. This is the amazing new sony, 70 200 f, 2.8 gm mark ii and its just over one kilogram. So if it wasnt so long, you might just be able to get away with using it on the run 4d but of course its too long. So you cant the e mount for the running 40 does not support optical stabilization, so you can really see the rolling shutter jello when i was touching the camera. So if i wanted to use the camera tripod with longer, heavier lenses absolutely need lens support, and this is a very strange form factor that doesnt lend itself to easily having lens support: Music Applause, Music Applause, Music, Applause, Music. So now that ive added the rod support its so much better and is usable as a tripod camera sort of the lidar doesnt work. This gets in the way and doesnt really work with zoom lenses either. So there is that – and this is all a bit of a fact – changing lenses is a fash but its just to see what the potential it could be like and that potential is sizable. But i got ta move now, because the thames is coming up thats. Why? It looks so pretty thats because the waters right by my feet, Music, i know its been a while, since you saw any gimbal footage and there is more to come, but you already know just how good it is in that area.
You see when i first heard about this camera. I wondered if it was good enough to entirely replace a traditional camera. Whilst it can be used on a tripod as ive shown, it is more cumbersome than say my sony, fx6 or red komodo and shooting handheld is possible, but far from ideal due to its weight. And if you put it on your shoulder, the camera would be sitting very high again, not ideal, look its being marketed as a gimbal camera and its clear thats where its strength lies. But if you need to use it on a tripod, then yes, its absolutely doable. Ive been working on this review for a very long time, instead of doing things in a methodical planned way, i find myself getting lost over complicating things, losing focus everything takes 10 times longer than it should, and i just always feel like i can do something better. I dont quite know why i feel like this im, not sure if its a lack of confidence or insecurity, i certainly do feel i can only put out something which is as good as it possibly can be, but that is completely draining and when i need help, I often turn to skillshare with a sponsor of this video to see if there is something that can help me get back on track. This fascinating and insightful course by jonathan vanness had some really excellent advice. That really got me thinking about what i do and why and then i realized that i am worthy of your time and im worthy of sharing.
What ive come to learn with you and then this you know deeper part of me came up and said: wait girl, youre kind of fun theres, so many courses on skillshare that cover so many varied topics and theres, always new ones being added. So it always feels fresh, the first 1000 of my subscribers to click. The link in the description will get a one month, free trial of skillshare, which could not just help your creativity but things you never thought about trying before all right. So jonathan, i need to get back to the edit. There are people waiting for this review Music. The next two biggest features of running 4d are the lidar autofocus system and the incredible wireless transmission and control both of them were way better than i expected like seriously. Better, unlike the best autofocus, you can get in video from sony and canon theres, no on sensor, phase detection points, so you have to use the lidar sensor which you mount on top of the camera. The sensor emits a rapidly firing laser and that light is reflected back. The time it takes is used to calculate the distance, and it creates a 3d map which is continually updating. In fact, if you bring up the lidar waveform amazingly, you can see this top down view of whats in front of you and it can see up to 10 meters away, which is the maximum distance of the system, which is one of the limitations of lidar.
Whereas phase detection can go way further, you can use this lidar waveform to pull focus manually really accurately and its actually quite brilliant and its light years, better than focus peaking and punching in to check your focus. Unfortunately, on the camera, ive been testing in some of the high quality frame rates as soon as you hit record it vanishes, and i dont know if thats going to change with the dl and electronic e mount lenses, the auto focus is done electronically, whereas manual lenses Need the focus gears and the focus motor to work apart from the dl lenses, every lens that youre going to put on there will need calibrating first Music theres, two key things about lidar: to set it apart from other autofocus systems. First off you can use it to control manual lenses and, secondly, you dont need light to make it work, whereas most other cameras, you do need light, so it gets really dark and it starts failing, but with lidar its not using anything on the center. Its a separate system – and it is working really well on me on a very extreme lens – the lower 35 0.95, because you know, if you can, you will right that way, im not going to shoot everything on this lens from now on. But i just like the fact that i can use it because ive been trying to use it. You know to film my cats and stuff and anything thats moving its just and its just impossible, but right now its its just fantastic, and i really love that you can keep a subject in focus at 0.
95 on a full frame. Sensor 35 millimeter – that is clever technology when in smart mode, the camera will automatically pick up faces and you can track them with a press of the button on the grip or touch the screen for anything else. You want to track that isnt, a human you need to touch the screen draw around the subject, its not perfect, though the biggest issue i found is. It has no finesse, especially when going from one subject to another, even in the slow mode. It just jumps im sure firmware can improve this over time and, of course this is new technology, so you know you have to expect that you do have touch focus too, but this isnt for focus racks as its just too fast for me to use auto focus On a paid job, i have to be able to trust it for manual focus with the lidar waveform. The running 40 is fantastic and yes, the ability to use manual lenses is very, very good, but for the actual autofocus reliability it still has a long way to go. The autofocus performance in the latest canon and sony cameras is just amazing and theyve had many years to get there. Their ability to track subjects in really challenging situations is amazing, like this jogger using the sony a7s 3 and the 200 to 600 millimeter lens. The main problems with lidar are that distance and also the fact that it really only works with prime lenses.
So i think its all right, i mean i started a bit further than 10 meters away. I dont think its in no. I think it is in focus now so yeah. This is this works. Well yeah. I think lidar has a big part to play in the future of autofocus if it could be combined with on sensor phase detection. It would be amazing, Music, the wireless transmission system with its huge range, fantastic quality and this fantastic monitor and ability to control the camera from this are one of my favorite features of the system. Probably my favorite feature of the system and its a shame. Doesnt come with it, so youre gon na have to budget that into it. I think youll be missing out. If you dont get this and look theres a uh, a train see the remote control is quite handy, but youre not really gon na be filming yourself. Much like this. This is really for just you know, having the camera away from you exactly one year. Earlier to the hour, i was at the same spot with a dji rs2, doing almost identical tests. This was entirely coincidental and rather spooky, especially its about three hours after this, when i was doing some last shots in richmond, my secure car was broken into and this camera this gimbal and lots of other stuff were stolen from me. Whilst i never got any of my gear back, of course, my insurance did cover most of it that wasnt a good day a year ago to control the rs2 remotely like this and to use active track mode meant using the app on my phone with the ronin 4D, its rather a big step up, so the thing is, it needs to know when to stop tracking and when to stop focusing that ones.
Easy! Look at that composition who did that headroom headroom active track like the one you get on djis drones and their other gimbals is really made for when the camera is moving. So you can keep your subject in frame perfectly automatically without you having to have too many skills i did find, even when i was moving it wasnt reacting in a natural way. It felt like it was playing catch up. None of the gimbal settings affect the tracking mode theyre. Only for when operating manually, a bit of warp stabilizers can fix this. For now, dji said they will be improving this most likely youll have a follow. Speed setting like the rs2 and other gimbals have now what it cant do, that your ronin rs2 etc can do with tracking. Is it cant spin round because well basically, the rest of the camera gets in the way in the past 14 years or so ive reviewed a lot of cameras before they were released and theres, always things which arent quite right. Its just a shame that i cant show you all the features working as well, as i hope well im, pretty certain they will be Music. The time i would most likely have a dji gimbal on a tripod is for programmable moves for motion control, but as of right now, there are none. This is something that will come later, thats. What dji said, as i couldnt test at this feature, lets talk about the wireless control system, as it really is special.
This monitor that you can attach the side grips to just as a viewing device or control like i have right now is wonderful. I can come off of autofocus in theory and i can turn it back on again. I can go into um yeah manual focus. I have control over tracking. I have the ability to change my exposure. This is easily the most elegant and impressive built in wireless viewing and control system that ive used and they cross a transmission range of about six kilometers. Now i can totally believe this, as their drones have such exceptional ranges, but this is for unobstructed line of sight and with no wi fi interference in my basic tests. It worked really well and with minimal lag, but i really needed to see how it coped through walls, in particular the walls from my victorian home, which are not like modern wars. I set up the ronin 40 in my catio, with it, pointing at one of the many workmen who seem to be working on about a dozen houses right now, making recording voiceovers quite challenging. So i had something to compare it to i plugged in my axon cine i2 pro into the hdmi out of the camera. This doesnt quote a range anywhere near as far but its probably the best one that i own and its very good plus. It is also wi fi, based so with a ridiculous rig consisting of the remote monitor and hand grips.
I connected the cine i2 pro receiver to the hdmi in of the sony xperia pro, so i could see how well it was doing. The last time i went out with a rig as silly as this was for my accent, video and a guy in the street, stopped me because he thought i was a burglar casing. The area for places to rob right. So the curse of the victorian walls struck straight away at the front of my house. Just three of them proved too much for both systems. When the axon loses the signal it just cuts out, whereas the ronin will give you a progressively blockier image, i still had camera control, but could you imagine pulling focus when your image is blockier than the large kids lego bricks, yeah thats, somewhat challenging when i went Around to the side, both system signals came and went, there was still no clear line of sight, but i couldnt have been more than 50 meters away. When i tested the axunes range with an almost clear line of sight, i managed to get a signal. 465 meters away now, i didnt do the same test with the ronin, as i had nobody to help on this, and i wasnt going to leave this on my tripod in the middle of the park and im sure it would have been better based on my experience With their drones, but i think its actually very likely the pre production nature of this system was a big part of the issues i was having.
So this test really needs to be redone with a production model and not just this test. I really do hope. I get a chance to put a production model through its paces, see how it performs see how different it is, and also the 8k camera, because im really interested in just how that looks. Music. So is this something that you know is interesting, something that you should buy im not going to tell you. I will never tell you to buy something. I can just tell you what i think about a product im thinking the people who are looking at. This will already have a gimbal already and probably have a very decent gimbal like an irs too, and youve got a really nice camera to go with it. So you need to look at. Are you happy with that? Does this offer you stuff, which you really want? I mean the key thing is going to be the z axis, for example, thats a huge thing. The other thing you need to look at is the lenses that you use. If you use longer heavier lenses that may not go on this, which could be well will be a big factor. So what else does this offer you? The wireless transmission system so thats, where you need to look at how much it costs the 6k combo which comes with the battery, but no wireless is about 6000 pounds. Pounds also. The 8k, when it comes out later in the year, will be about 9 000.
. The wireless transmission part of it will be about 300 pounds or so, and the monitor, which you also use to control. It is going to be about 1100, and i think i need to double check how much the ssd is. The ssd is going to be about 600 pounds, so you have to factor in all these costs and whether its worth it for you to have this dedicated system, because it is going to give you from my limited use of the stabilization. Give us some of the best stabilized footage, youre going to get and its all in one its ready to go its the weight, its the lenses and its the cost. These are all factors that you need to look at. I cant tell you what to do its, not my job. You have to applaud dji for bringing out something so different, so innovative, so clever and thats exactly what this is. It is incredibly clever theres, so much about it, which is just on the cutting edge, and that is fantastic, even if you dont use it as a gimbal, because that for me right now, that is the biggest problem, because it is heavy Music. This is the ready rig gs with the pro arm kit. It is designed for the heavier gimbals up to 17 kilograms. The ronin 4d is now any of that, of course, but this is clearly the way forward for me to use this properly. Its not cheap, but its incredibly well made.
Suddenly the running 4d barely weighed anything its not as low profile a way of shooting as i like, but it really is the only way for me and if you can take any advice from this old man, let it be this one its better to avoid getting A back injury than having to find ways to live with them.