DJI is best known for its drones, but the company doesn’t limit itself to making flying cameras. Its Ronin series of gimbals has been around for nearly as long, and has come a long way in design since the first generation. The latest RSC 2 ($499) folds down for easier storage and transport, and remains powerful enough to work with full-frame mirrorless cameras. It undercuts the competing Zhiyun Crane 2S ($599) on price, and while some may prefer the Crane’s swappable batteries, the RSC 2’s foldable frame wins the day, and makes it our Editors’ Choice.
Foldable for Travel
Globetrotting travel vloggers put big value on getting the best quality equipment in the smallest package. In recent years, we’ve seen loads of camera gear built with packing light in mind. You’ll sometimes pay a premium, as is the case with the carbon fiber Peak Design Travel Tripod, but there are values to be had by going small, too—the slim, full-frame Sony a7C is just one recent example.
The DJI RSC 2 joins the chorus. It delivers the same level of stabilization as bigger rivals, like the Crane 2S, without as much bulk. It’s smaller overall (15.7 by 7.3 by 6.9 inches, HWD), and makes use of carbon fiber to keep things lightweight. The RSC 2 weighs a bit under 3 pounds, about a pound less than the Crane. Payload capacity is similar—the DJI model holds rigs up to 6.6 pounds, while the Crane 2S handles about 7 pounds.
If you have a heavier rig, consider the DJI RS2 or Zhiyun Crane 3—both handle bigger cinema cameras, up to 10 pounds for the RS2 and 14 pounds for the Crane 3.
The battery is internal and charges via USB-C. DJI estimates about 14 hours of battery life on a full charge, plenty for all-day location work. Expect battery life to drop off over time as recharge cycles rack up. The Crane 2S is there if you prefer swappable batteries.
Unfolding and Balancing
Gimbal vets will have little trouble getting the RSC 2 going, but new users may run into some stumbling blocks. It’s nothing you can’t overcome—my biggest problem was accidentally unfolding it backward, so the camera slid into the plate in the wrong orientation. Keep the tilt motor next to the grip side, and make sure the USB-C control ports face front, and you’ll unfold it correctly.
You don’t need tools to get things installed, but you may want to keep a screwdriver handy regardless. DJI uses thumb screws on its mounting plates. The convenience is welcome, but the plates can slip when they’re just finger-tight. A careful extra tightening with a flathead screwdriver remedies the issue.
I tested the gimbal with a pair of mirrorless cameras, both full-frame models. The Sony a7S III and FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM lens spent the most time on the RSC 2. I also used it a bit with the ultra-small Sigma fp L and the 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN Art lens.
Once unfolded properly, you need to balance your camera. To get started, connect the two-piece mounting plate to the camera body, install the lens cradle support, and work to find the center of gravity.
You need to balance along three axes. Start by sliding the mounting plate forward and back in its cradle. When it’s centered, the camera won’t move at all—if the plate is too far forward, the system will be front-heavy and the camera will tilt downward, and vice versa if it’s too far back.
The next step is to tilt the camera straight up and get it centered along the vertical arm. A big silver thumb screw loosens and tightens the adjustment rail. When you’ve got the camera centered on these two axes, you’ll be able to tilt it in any position and have it stay perfectly in place—if there’s any drift, something is off.
Repeat the process for the third axis, the one that sets the horizon line, and you’ll be set. With some practice it gets easier, but the RSC 2 isn’t tolerant when balance is just slightly off. The Crane 2S does a better job there, as its larger frame doesn’t require you to balance with quite the same level of precision to get things right.
A Stable Platform
The RSC 2 supports a number of stabilization modes. Pan Follow is the default, and the one you’ll likely use for most shots. It lets the pan axis follow your movements, delivering video that stays level and smooth, just like you’d get from a drone. If you want to convey more sense of motion, switch to POV to get a first-person look.
Both of these work at chest level, or in an underslung, low-to-ground mode. The latter is useful for conveying a sense of motion. In either mode, the RSC 2 does an outstanding job smoothing out my uneven footsteps, even when at jogging speed.
There’s also a Vortex mode, a 360-degree roll for spinning, disorienting shots. I paired it with a fish-eye lens to accentuate the effect. You can control the roll yourself using the thumb stick, or set it to go automatically.
There’s some integration with cameras. A USB-C port connects to compatible cameras so you can change settings from the gimbal handle itself. There’s a Record button to start or stop capture, as well as a control wheel to set the lens aperture. A thumb stick is there to pan and tilt the camera.
The M button switches between stabilization modes, and there’s an OLED display and menu to change settings. You can also change settings via a smartphone app, DJI Ronin, a free download for Android and iOS devices. It also opens up some additional creative modes, including time-lapse photography with motion and repeated, automated camera movements for video, which DJI calls manual tracking. It’s a recommended download as it makes configuration a more intuitive, visual experience.
Accessories and Add-Ons for Pros
You can add accessories to the RSC 2 to expand its functionality. The gimbal supports powered follow focus for manual lenses and works with DJI’s RavenEye wireless transmission system to transmit a live video feed from your camera to the Ronin smartphone app.
Adding RavenEye is worth it if you don’t have a good solution for monitoring video with the camera mounted—if you use a body with a fixed rear display, it’s an almost necessary add-on if you don’t already use an external monitor. It also opens ActiveTrack as an option in the app, a subject recognition mode that moves the gimbal automatically to follow an identified subject.
If you’re interested in the additional functionality, you can add RavenEye later as an a la carte option at $159. If you’d like to hit the ground running with the full kit, consider starting with the $739 RSC 2 Pro combo, one that already includes RavenEye, sturdier tripod feet, a follow focus kit, a smartphone mount, and a zippered carrying case.
The Folding Design Wins Us Over
Creators in search of a handheld stabilization platform to record smooth 4K video are well served with a gimbal. The DJI RSC 2 sizes down the company’s popular Ronin series, both physically and by way of a shortened moniker.
It’s an outstandingly stable platform, too. You’ll net handheld walk-and-talk vlogs with less visible bounce than you’ll get from a stabilized sensor or lens alone. Camera control is available for the mirrorless cameras used by YouTubers and vloggers, and the folding design makes it a much better travel companion when compared with larger gimbals like the rival Zhiyun Crane 2S.
It’s not a perfect product. The built-in battery is the biggest hurdle for many. You’ll be out of luck if you run out of power in the field—USB charging is available, but requires more time than swapping out for a fresh set. Balancing a camera is a little trickier than with the Crane 2S, but it’s really only a matter of spending a few extra minutes making sure everything is set right before starting to roll footage.
If you don’t mind a bigger gimbal, and value the option of swapping batteries in the field, the Crane 2S is worth considering. It’s priced $100 higher than the RSC 2, but it does go on sale, and is sometimes available for less. But even if you catch the Crane 2S at a lower price, the foldable RSC 2 is a more compelling gimbal in our eyes, especially for travel, and our Editors’ Choice winner.
The Bottom Line
The DJI RSC 2 is a compact gimbal for mirrorless cameras with a smart, folding design and superbly smooth stabilization.