DJI Ronin 2 VERSUS Ronin-MX & Freefly MoVI PRO

 

With many people expecting a new consumer quadcopter launch, DJI made the surprising move of announcing the next generation of their Ronin gimbal series at NAB 2017 under the header of ‘Create Your Legacy’. Aimed directly at filmmakers and cinematic projects, this highly adaptable new model is the summation of the Shenzhen manufacturer’s extensive collaboration with active industry professionals and experience from a long line of previous gimbal efforts (the earlier Ronin models in particular).

It doesn’t seem that long ago that DJI was unveiling the Matrice 600 and Ronin-MX, a gimbal more geared towards aerial usage and this article puts them side by side to see if the speed of progress has been backed up by quality.

Then there’s the Freefly MoVI PRO, arguably the product with which the Ronin 2 has the most in common. With competition heating up not only in the drone market but also with gimbals, imaging solutions and stabilisation, it will be interesting to see if either of these companies can claim a decisive victory – this comparison will provide you with all of the information you need to decide which product you think is superior.

To start us off, here are the specifications for each of these models side-by-side:

DJI Ronin 2
DJI Ronin 2
DJI Ronin-MX
DJI Ronin-MX
Freefly MoVI Pro
Freefly MōVI Pro

Weight

Including handlebar: 5.5 kg

Excluding handlebar: 4.2 kg

Including handlebar: 2.77 kg

Including vibration absorber: 2.15 kg

2.65kg (without batteries)

Dimensions (Gimbal)

Excluding handlebar: 350 x 416 x 530 mm (WxDxH)

Including handlebar: 630 x 416 x 720 mm (WxDxH)

Excluding handlebar: 280 x 370 x 340 mm (WxDxH)

Including handlebar: 560 x 370 x 440 mm (WxDxH)

MoVI PRO: 345 × 345 × 432mm (LxWxH)

Dimensions (Camera Cage)

Maximum depth from the centre of gravity on the camera base plate: 245 mm
Maximum height measured from top of the camera base plate: 165 mm

Maximum width: 180 mm

Maximum depth from the centre of gravity on the camera base plate: 120mm
Maximum height measured from top of camera base plate: 130mm

Maximum width: 160mm

196 x 200 x 175mm (LxWxH)

Maximum Payload

13.6 kg 4.5 kg 6.80kg

Run Time

8 hours (with no additional kit)

2.5 hours (when powering gimbal, camera and accessories at the same time)

Approximately 3 hours The MoVI PRO can power itself, the camera, and more for over an hour (using the combined power of two 22.2V batteries)

Operating Temperature

-20°C – 50°C -15°C – 50°C -20°C – 50°C

GCU Input Power

4280 mAh; 22.8 V 1580 mAh; 14.4V Use 2 batteries @ 1.8Ah; 22.2V

Connections

2.4 GHz/5.8 GHz Remote Control, Bluetooth 4.0, USB Type-C 2.4GHz Remote Controller, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0 2.4GHz Custom FHSS Radio, Bluetooth Low Energy v4.2, USB Type C

Features

Multiple Operation Modes; Built-in, independent IMU module; DJI Advanced 32-Bit ARM Processor; DJI Specialized Gimbal Drive Motors with Encoders; Dual Battery System; Bluetooth Module; D-Bus Receiver Supported; 2.4 GHz/5.8 GHz Receiver; Temperature Sensors; Built-in Touch Panel; Built-in GPS; USB Type-C Connection; Power and Video Signal through Slip Ring Multiple Operation Modes; Built-in, independent IMU module; DJI Specialized Gimbal Drive Motors with Encoders; Bluetooth Module; USB Connection; 2.4GHz Receiver; Temperature Sensor; DJI Advanced 32-Bit DSP Processor; D-Bus Receiver Supported Innovative structural design; Dual Hot Swappable Batteries with status indicators; Integrated Focus / Iris / Zoom controller; Embedded screen for tuning / customization; Increased motor torque; 12-14v 6A D-Tap output for camera power; 12V 2A D-Tap output for accessory power; Ultra fast < 2 Second Boot time; Full stiffness and Filter autotune in ˜10 seconds; Majestic Mode; Timelapse; Dual GPS (top and bottom); Full Red RCP integration (Focus, Iris, ISO, Start stop, etc); Internal long range 2.4GHz frequency hopping radio for connection to MIMIC; Multiple handle options; Rugged System (IP52)

Working Performance

Operation Modes

Underslung Mode; Upright Mode; Briefcase Mode; Handheld, Car Mount, Aerial, Tripod, & Steadicam Mode Underslung Mode; Upright Mode; Briefcase Mode; Aerial Mode; Jib or Wirecam Mode Ring; Skate; Classic; Aerial; Tero

Maximum Controlled Rotation Speed

Pan axis: 400°/s
Tilt axis: 360°/s

Roll axis: 360°/s

Pan axis: 200°/s
Tilt axis: 100°/s

Roll axis: 30°/s

Pan axis: 360°/s
Tilt axis: 360°/s

Roll axis: 360°/s

Range of Motion

Mechanical Endpoint Range
Pan axis control: 360° continuous rotation
Tilt axis control: ±135°
Roll axis control: ±220°
Controlled Rotation Range
Pan axis control: 360° continuous rotation
Tilt axis control: +45° to -135°

Roll axis control: ±45°

Mechanical Endpoint Range
Pan axis control: 360°
Tilt axis control: +270° to -150°
Roll axis control: ± 110°
Controlled Rotation Range
Pan axis control: 360°
Tilt axis control: +45° to -135°

Roll axis control: ±25°

Pan Range of Motion: Unlimited
Roll Range of Motion: ±60°
Tilt Range of Motion (Normal Mode): +90° above horizontal to -165° below horizontal

Tilt Range of Motion (Inverted Mode): +165° above horizontal to -90° below horizontal

Mobile App

Name

DJI Assistant DJI Assistant Freefly MoVI PRO

Compatibility

iOS 9 or above; Android 4.4 or above iOS 7.1 or above; Android 4.3 or above iOS 9.0 or above; Android 4.4 or above

Now you’re familiar with the specifics of how these models work, it’s time to compare the Ronin 2 with DJI’s Ronin-MX and Freefly’s MoVI PRO to see which is the dominant professional gimbal.
 


RONIN 2 VERSUS RONIN-MX & MoVI PRO KEY FEATURES

Having seen the specifications, you’ll have some idea of what to expect from these three outstanding gimbals. However, if you’re considering purchasing your next piece of pro-grade kit it’s crucial to take a closer look at all the facets of these products to make an informed decision.

Read on for more details on DJI and Freefly’s gimbals to help guide you towards the right unit for you.


APPEARANCE

The first thing many people will notice about the Ronin 2 is its striking similarity to the Freefly MoVI PRO (especially when they’re both housed in their handheld ring configuration).

It’s a step away from the more conventional Ronin design you’ll be familiar with from the original, M and MX, the latter of which was pitched as a handheld solution and also an essential addition to the Matrice 600 hexacopter.

The Flexibility of the Ronin 2 is Great News for Filmmakers

The Ronin 2 has no such product limitations and has been sold on its ability to interact with everything from crane jibs to a range of vehicle mounts, ensuring a highly modular experience which allows users to create a rig that works best for them.

All three of these products have been designed with functionality at the forefront, minimalist black tubing and robust camera cages have been expertly crafted to interact together in unique ways, forming three top of the line high-performance gimbals.

 


PERFORMANCE

 

The Ronin 2 three-axis camera stabiliser is a redesigned member of the Ronin range built to give filmmakers total creative freedom. With more power and torque to carry larger cameras, it’s more versatile and has more intelligent features to allow for unprecedented camera movement. An enlarged camera cage and 50mm extendable arms support everything from DSLRs to full cinematic cameras and lenses. Powerful gimbal motors ensure sufficient torque to handle payloads up to 30lbs. Aided by onboard GPS the powerful, encoded motors let the Ronin 2 travel at speeds of up to 75mph while delivering the same 0.02° of sub-pixel level precision that Ronin users have come to expect.

With a new design and detachable grip, the Ronin 2 adds custom stabilisation to the full range of camera mounts that directors rely on. From basic handheld and jib configurations to cable cams, vehicles and drones, DJI’s Ronin 2 provides a wide range of creative flexibility. A new two-axis operation mode for mounting to Steadicams offers innovative movement patterns that were once impossible to perform. The quick release mount makes it easy to transfer seamlessly from one scene to the next, giving filmmakers new freedom to explore every perspective. A redesigned dual band 2.4/5.8 GHz remote allows minimised interference for full control during remote and two-person operation at a range of nearly 1.5km.

DJI’s Ronin 2 Professional Gimbal

New axis locking levers and fine tuning knobs deliver faster and more precise balancing, while the Auto-Tune Stability feature intelligently adjusts motor parameters for optimal use in seconds. A new integrated touch screen with 1,000nits of brightness lets professionals directly configure the gimbal settings for on-the-fly adjustments and for full control of mounted cameras (including the RED range).

The Ronin 2 has a redesigned carbon fibre frame making the platform durable, lightweight and easy to carry. New fold-away feet enable the operator to set the platform down during handheld filming without the need for a separate stand. A splash-proof enclosed motor design with internally routed power, SDI and data cabling enables worry-free shooting in the most demanding environments.

Integrated power and data ports make the DJI Ronin 2 a centralised system for cameras and accessories without the need for multiple power systems. It features four 14.4v (8 amps) ports near the camera cage, two 12.6v (4 amps) ports near the pan motor, and one P-Tap 12.6v (4 amps) outlet on the battery mount.

The Ronin 2 Allows You Construct the Perfect Camera Rig

The Ronin-MX was created with the ability to carry many cameras used on sets day-to-day and the addition of SmoothTrack ensures that all of the gimbal’s movements remain precise and, of course smooth. A combination of powerful motors and ESCs makes the Ronin-MX  50% more powerful than its predecessor, the Ronin-M. Constructed from lightweight magnesium, the Ronin-MX weighs a mere 2.77kg which means it can be easily attached to the M600, even when equipped with advanced cameras such as the RED EPIC.

A camera cage offers increased stability, locking the attached camera in place, both at the top and bottom.  DJI has also implemented silent motors to prevent any mics from detecting motor noise. The Ronin-MX allows a mounted camera to rotate 360 degrees; never locking in place after a full rotation and continuing to spin endlessly. This vast range of motion doesn’t end there, as the tilt axis ranges from 90° straight down and beyond to 135°.

Finally, there’s the MoVI PRO. With twice the continuous pan torque of the original MoVI units and multiple high-quality MEMS sensors with full calibration (e.g. Cross-Axis, Temperature, Scale, Alignment), Freefly’s PRO unit is available as both an aerial and handheld gimbal. Floating point processors and high-speed sensors enable 60dB performance at 1Hz while an inbuilt barometer and 3-axis compass for accurate heading information provide reliable and precise altitude estimates.

Sporting custom designed direct-drive brushless motors which offer incredible torque in a such a lightweight package the PRO is capable of a 360° pan/tilt/roll rate & 1000° base motion. Silent sine drive technology controls the pan, tilt & roll axis and sine drive motor controls update motor torque at 32KhZ. The PRO has a fast, reliable CAN bus communication protocol and 15 bit, high-resolution encoders which allow for greater stabilisation and motion control while its online temperature estimation allows maximum performance while protecting the motors from overheating

The MoVI PRO also offers the following shooting modes:

  • Majestic Mode
  • Auto-tune & shot quality indicator
  • Timelapse
  • Motion control & path planning
  • Auto tracking / follow me mode
  • High Bandwidth Data logging / Visualization / Camera sync

 


BATTERY LIFE

DJI have stated that the Ronin 2’s batteries offer up to 8 hours of operation (without any cameras or peripherals so that’s a bit sneaky) but the example they provide of it in use (powering the gimbal and a RED Dragon camera) gives you something closer to 2.5 hours to work with. The Ronin 2 uses the same Intelligent Batteries (TB50s) as the Inspire 2, you can get depleted units recharged in 90mins using the I2’s charging hub.

As it’s a dual battery set-up, you’re also able to ‘hot swap’ the Ronin 2’s batteries ensuring that, as long as you have ample spares on hand, you’ll be able to keep filming until the job is done.

A Closer Look at the Ronin 2

The Ronin-MX‘s battery set-up was also different from the models that came before it. The power source was moved to ensure better balance for use with the Matrice 600 (and subsequently the M600 Pro), with the rear battery plate acting as a mounting platform for the battery adapter, enabling the use of a second a second battery to power cameras or accessories. Its 1580mAh battery lasts for up to 3 hours and takes around 70 minutes to charge.

Finally, we come to the batteries powering the MoVI PRO. With an integrated over-current and battery ‘fuel gauge’ as well as discharge and charge protection, Freefly designed their PRO batteries to live up to the level of quality being set by the gimbal itself.

If you use Freefly’s MoVI PRO with one of its custom-built batteries powering both the gimbal and a larger camera like an Arri or RED, you can expect a runtime of roughly an hour (the gimbal can hold 2 batteries to help swap in and out while working). Once it has been depleted, a PRO battery takes about an hour to fully charge. However, like the Ronin 2, the batteries are hot-swappable so if you ensure you have four to six of them when heading out to a professional engagement.

 


CAMERA DETAILS

 

DJI hasn’t been amazingly forthcoming with compatibility details where the Ronin 2 is concerned, however, we do know that it will be a truly multipurpose gimbal able to carry a huge range of cameras as it is capable of carrying payloads of up to 30lbs.

There are some hints as to what you’ll be able to carry with the Ronin 2 as DJI are claiming that the biggest camera they’ve tested so far is the ARRI Alexa Mini carrying a Canon CINE-SERVO 17-120mm lens. The largest lens DJI has (as of writing) tested on Ronin 2 was with an Alexa Mini and weighed roughly 6.6lbs.

Obviously, the size of compatible lenses will be dependent on what camera you’re using but with the impressive payload specs and the testing carried out so far it would appear that DJI us preparing to unleash the next level of quality in professional gimbals.

The DJI Ronin 2 On Location

The Ronin-MX has been designed to support a wide variety of camera systems that weigh less than 10lbs including:

  • ARRI ALEXA Mini
  • Canon 5D MK III, 6D, 7D, 1Dc, C100 & 5D MK II
  • Panasonic GH3, GH4
  • Black Magic Cinema Camera, Pocket Cinema Camera,
  • RED EPIC,
  • Sony Alpha 7 Series
  • Nikon D800

Couple this with its seamless interoperability with the DJI Matrice 600 hexacopter and you’ve got an exceptionally adaptable bit of kit whether you’re taking it up in the air or getting your shots handheld from ground level.

As for the Freefly MoVI PRO, the manufacturer has stated that it’s compatible with these Cinema Cameras…

  • RED Epic, Scarlet, Weapon, Dragon, Helium & Raven
  • Canon C100 (Mk I-II), C300 (Mk I-II) & C500 (Mk I-II)
  • Blackmagic URSA Mini, Cinema, Pocket Cinema & Micro Cinema
  • ARRI Alexa Mini & M
  • Sony F5, F55, FS7, FS100, FS700 & FS5

…and also the following DSLR & Mirrorless sensors…

  • Canon 1Dc & 5D Mk I-IV
  • Nikon D810, D800, D500 & D5
  • Sony A7s I-II & A7r I-II
  • Panasonic GH3 & GH45

…but it’s worth mentioning that Freefly also claims that this isn’t a comprehensive list and that the PRO ‘is not designed to be compatible with a finite or specific list of cameras’ making it a tremendously versatile gimbal.


DJI RONIN 2 FAQS

See below for answers to a range of frequently asked questions on the Ronin 2:

GENERAL

What are the main differences between the Ronin and Ronin 2?

Like the original DJI Ronin, the Ronin 2 was designed for handheld camera applications but is now more versatile with aerial, car mounting, cable cam and Steadicam capabilities. Higher torque motors give the DJI Ronin 2 a larger payload and new GPS algorithms allow it to perform smoothly in high-stress environments. Along with many other improvements, the Ronin 2 brings a whole new level of stabilisation to Ronin users.

What is the Ronin 2’s maximum payload?

The Ronin 2’s maximum payload is approximately 30lbs (13.6kg). Due to extensive testing, DJI’s Ronin 2 can handle an Arri Alexa Mini with a Canon CINE-SERVO 17-120mm lens comfortably.

How much does the Ronin 2 weigh?

The Ronin 2 weighs approx 9lbs (4.2kg).

Overall, is stabilisation on the Ronin 2 higher-performing and more accurate than the Ronin/Ronin-M/Ronin-MX?

Yes. The Ronin 2 was created with stronger motors and its SmoothTrack algorithm has been enhanced for smoother performance. A new GPS module enables it to perform much better in high G-force situations.

Are all three previous modes of operation still available on the Ronin 2?

Yes. All three previous modes of operation — upright, underslung, and briefcase — are available with the Ronin 2. What’s new is that users can now transition between upright and underslung modes without changing the orientation of the camera. Users can now lock the yaw motor for 2-axis mode while using the Ronin 2 with a Steadicam. Now you can lock each axis for an easier setup, better balancing, and safer transportation.

How does the new yaw axis quick release differ from previous Ronin models?

The new yaw axis quick release mount in the Ronin 2 means a faster set up in different scenarios, enabling an easier transition from handheld to cars and aerial applications.

Does the Ronin 2 come with a dedicated stand?

No. However, the Ronin 2’s new hand and ring grip design come with retractable feet so that the whole gimbal system can stand upright on a flat surface. The grip is detachable and can be separated when standing is not required for shooting or transportation.

 

BATTERY

What kind of batteries does the Ronin 2 use?

DJI’s Ronin 2 uses the same batteries as the Inspire 2.

Are Ronin series batteries compatible with the Ronin 2?

No. The Ronin 2 is only compatible with Ronin 2 or Inspire 2 batteries and is NOT compatible with any previous Ronin series batteries.

How long is the battery life of the Ronin 2?

When powering the Ronin 2 and a RED Dragon camera simultaneously, the Ronin 2 dual battery system will last up to 2.5 hours.

How long does it take to fully charge the battery?

When using the Inspire 2 charging hub, it will take approximately 90 minutes to fully charge both batteries.

What is a hot-swappable battery?

A hot-swappable battery eliminates power-related downtime to ensure maximum available power. For example, when shooting a scene with batteries at low power, hot swappable batteries allow you to change one of the batteries without turning off the camera system, gimbal, or accessories. Hot-swappable batteries thus allow you to shoot continuously and uninterrupted.

Can I use the Ronin 2 battery with third party products like monitors?

Yes. The battery system is designed with a P-TAP port that allows you to power your accessories with industry standard power cables.

 

CAMERA

What cameras are compatible with the Ronin 2?

The Ronin 2 is compatible with a large number of cameras. The biggest we’ve tested so far is the Arri Alexa Mini with a Canon CINE-SERVO 17-120mm lens.

Do I have full control on the cameras mounted on the Ronin 2?

For selected cameras, users can control its settings such as ISO, frame rate, resolution or start/stop through our new camera control module.

What is the largest lens I can mount on the DJI Ronin 2?

The largest lens tested on the Ronin 2 with an Alexa Mini weighed about 6.6lbs (3kg). But the largest lens size varies based on different cameras.

 

CONTROL

Does the Ronin 2 come with a remote controller?

Yes. The new remote controller is smaller than before with a more functional joystick. It also has dual control frequency bands 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz.

What are the main differences between this and previous remote controllers?

Users can now change the control speeds of the joystick directly on the remote controller by tweaking the knobs, without changing any settings in the gimbal assistant app or directly on the Ronin 2.

What is the control range of the Ronin 2?

Unobstructed control range is over 1 km.

What is the new gimbal assistant app? What can I do with it?

The new gimbal assistant app has all the fundamental gimbal parameters such as SmoothTrack settings, motor stiffness, and gimbal operation modes. Included are new intelligent features that are studio-oriented such as Panorama, Timelapse and direct control of supported cameras.

What is the built-in screen for?

The Ronin 2’s new built-in ultra-bright touch screen provides the convenience of changing gimbal settings without using a mobile device directly on the gimbal. With the built-in screen, users are now able to change most of the settings they see on the new gimbal assistant app.

Can I use third-party remote controllers with the Ronin 2?

Yes, you can.

Keep checking back to Heliguy Insider for more in-depth VERSUS articles, product overviews and, of course, the latest news from the drone industry.

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