Smartphone gimbal is one of the coolest mobile accessory available to consumers today, but its rather steep pricing is a turn-off for many. A couple of years ago, you can expect to spend hundreds of dollars on one, but that is no longer the case.
In this article, we will be taking a look at Feiyu’s Vimble 2. I have wanted to get a gimbal for years, but they were way out of my budget. After seeing the Vimble 2 at Challenger going at only S$139, I gave in to my temptation and bought one.
Summary – A Steal for S$139
- Relatively affordable
- Great build quality and professional design
- Included foam case is great looking and durable
- Has extendable neck and tripod thread mount
- App is feature-packed, has “manual mode” adjustments
- Multiple modes allow for flexible control
- Capable of very stable videos when paired with great camera
- Long battery life, lasts through a day with moderate usage
- Unable to hold large devices like Mi Max 3
- App has dated design, requires email for no reason
Unboxing – A Pleasant Surprise
Considering how affordable the Vimble 2 is, I wasn’t expecting much from Feiyu’s presentation of the Vimble 2. It comes in a white box that looks professional, but not very inspiring.
Opening the box though, you will find a beautiful hard foam case that looks like it can provide quite a bit of protection to the things inside. Nice! Pulling the zip, we are greeted with two small black boxes and the gimbal, all strapped in position.
In one of the black boxes you will find a strap for the gimbal and in the other is a mini tripod leg for the gimbal. There are two straps holding the gimbal. To take it out, remove the velcro on the top strap and pull out the gimbal. Neat.
There is a meshed compartment on the other side of the case, containing the paperwork, as well as a couple of cables. Yes, there are a couple of them, including a Micro USB cable for charging the gimbal. I will talk more about them below.
Design – Not Perfect, But Does Not Disappoint
Despite its S$139 price tag, the Vimble 2 does not feel cheap. In fact, you will be surprised at how sturdy this thing is. Its body is primarily made out of matte plastic, with what looks like faux leather at the back to provide a good grip.
On the front of the grip are two buttons and a joystick that controls the movement of the gimbal. The top button is used for powering on, as well as switching modes, while the bottom one with red dot is a shuttle button that works only in Feiyu’s app.
Just beside the buttons and joystick, you will find a covered Micro USB port on the left and a slider on the right. Again, the slider only works with Feiyu’s app. Behind, at where your index finger would be, is a trigger button.
On the bottom of the grip is a thread mount for your tripod. This seems pretty redundant if your tripod is standing still. But if you are taking videos where your tripod setup is moving, like on a trolley or train, this is when a gimbal would really help.
Lastly, we have the upper portion of the gimbal where all the balancing takes place. With three moving “joints”, this gimbal can provide 3-axis stabilization for your phone. The phone holder can manually be rotated to portrait or landscape mode.
So what smartphones can be used with this gimbal? The Vimble 2 can hold devices as small as the iPhone SE, but the widest device I could fit in is an OPPO R7 Plus with a case. Anything larger, including Mi Max, will not be able to squeeze in.
You can extend the “neck” of the Vimble 2 by pulling the rotating portions from the grip. It can only be extended by 18cm, which is honestly not very long. But with a smartphone hanging at one end, it is enough to get your hand tired really quickly.
App – Old Design, But Feature-Packed
You can use the Vimble 2 with your phone’s built-in camera app; most features will work without it. But to unlock all of its potential, you will want to download the Vicool app, available on both Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
Opening the app, you will be asked to “sign in” with your email. Why do they need it? I don’t know… Then, you will be asked to select your gimbal to connect via Bluetooth. Once all of that is done, you can start using the Vicool app.
The app looks really dated, but it has a lot of things that will make you want to keep using it. Depending on your phone, you get a few manual mode settings, focus and ISO for example, which can be controlled by the slider on the grip.
Tapping on the 3 bar icon will bring you to the “More” page, where you can update the gimbal’s firmware, as well as get access to settings for the gimbal and your smartphone’s camera.
There is an option to enable face and object tracking in the app. Face tracking is decent though it can be more accurate. But I couldn’t get object tracking to work at all.
Controls – Straightforward, But Needs Practice
Before powering up the gimbal, put your smartphone in first. Once that is done, press and hold on the power button to turn it on. Upon starting up, Vimble 2 is in panning mode, where twisting the grip will pan your device horizontally.
Using the joystick, you can control where your device points at. It rotates really smoothly and is very intuitive when using your phone’s rear camera. Switch to the front camera though, all controls are opposite, even with the Vicool app.
Press once on the power/mode button to switch to locked mode, which would lock the gimbal in a direction. Press the button once more to switch back to panning mode. Alternatively, hold the trigger button on the rear to temporarily lock it in position.
A double click on the power/mode button will change it to follow mode, where the device will turn with the grip. In this mode, moving the joystick left or right will cause your device to rotate clockwise or anticlockwise instead.
Four quick clicks on the power/mode button will set it to motion control mode. This is the most complex mode available, but it is also the coolest one. Before you use it, connect the Vimble 2 to your smartphone via the Vicool app.
In the app, you will want to tap on the icon with 3 horizontal lines, select “Gimbal Settings”, “Autorotation” and change panning/tilting speed to something faster. By default it is set to 1 h/r, too slow for anyone not recording timelapse.
Next, enter motion control mode. To confirm that you are in the mode, move the joystick. Your phone should not move. Manually turn your device to the starting direction and click on the power/menu button once. You should hear a solid beep.
Then, without moving the grip, manually move your device along your desired “path” until the ending point. Start video recording. Finally, click the menu button once and the gimbal will move from the designated start to end directions.
In any mode, double click the trigger button on the rear to resets the gimbal to its power on state, setting it back to panning mode, with your smartphone straightened and rear camera pointing away from you. From my experience, very useful.
That is about all you need to know about the Feiyu Vimble 2. Learning to use each mode is actually pretty easy, but mastering all of them requires a ton of practice.
Performance – Good, But You Still Need a Smartphone with Great Cameras
If you are hoping that a smartphone gimbal will let your phone’s crappy camera take stunning videos, forget about it. To capture videos that look smooth and stable with the Vimble 2, your phone needs to have at least decent video stabilization.
Taken on Redmi 5 with Vimble 2
As you can see from the video above, recorded with my Redmi 5, videos can still turn out a little shaky if your smartphone has poor video stabilization or no stabilization at all.
On a smartphone with proper video stabilization though, like the iPhone SE, you can take silky smooth shots with the Vimble 2. Just take a look at the video below. Super sweet! A little bit more technique and your videos will look perfect.
Taken on iPhone SE with Vimble 2
Well, this only applies when you are walking on flat ground. Moving along uneven surface or climbing stairs, your actions might be too big for the gimbal to counter quickly, so your videos might still turn out shaky. Hmm…
Taken on iPhone SE with Vimble 2
With motion control mode, you can take more complex videos, but it requires precision when setting the path. Below is a video taken with this mode. If you are a more seasoned user, you can use this mode to do much more complex paths.
Taken on iPhone SE with Vimble 2
Vimble 2 can also be useful for taking photos, specifically long exposure shots. People with shaky hands will know how small movements can ruin long exposure shots. For this, smartphone gimbals are a good alternative to the bulky tripods.
Taken on POCOPHONE F1 with Vimble 2
Battery Life – A Day’s Worth of Moderate Usage
Powering the Vimble 2 is a 1300mAh built-in battery. That doesn’t sound like much, but it is big enough to keep the Vimble powered for 4h 45mins of continuous usage, with app connected and gimbal always in motion. Not bad.
The first 3 bars of the app’s battery indicator went down in 3 hours, but the last bar lasted for over 2 hours. With regular usage, turning on the gimbal occasionally to record a few minutes of videos, Vimble 2 should last through a full day with ease.
Wall adapter is not included, but using a Mi Max 3 charger, rated at 18W (9V 2A), I was able to charge the Vimble 2 from zero to full in almost 2 hours. Not too long. Using my USB tester, it was drawing a max of 1.17A at 5.1V.
You can use the Vimble 2 to charge your smartphone while using it, via the cables in the carrying case. Considering how small the battery in the Vimble 2 is though, you will probably want to charge your phone via a power bank instead.
Conclusion – An Affordable Smartphone Gimbal that Gets All the Basics Right
Despite its S$139 price tag, the Feiyu Vimble 2 is a very capable smartphone gimbal that is able to do all the basic stuff you would expect from a gimbal, plus a little more. With a variety of modes, there is a lot you can achieve with the Vimble 2.
That said, your smartphone camera still has to have at least decent image stabilization if you wish to capture smooth videos with the Feiyu Vimble 2. It can make good videos better, but it will not turn a bad video into stunning works of art.