Readers may know I’ve looked at several other AI Gimbals including the inexpensive PowerVision S1, Hohem’s own iSteady v2 and the rather exciting-looking Zhiyun Smooth 5S. But if you’re in a hurry – YES, the M6 is the best I’ve had to date… read on…
So up to now, I’ve come across issues with all of these otherwise excellent gimbals. As an example, the magnetically-mounted PowerVision S1 does not work well with some phone cases and it’s APP has interfered with my Samsung S22 Ultra’s phone’s audio output.
The Hohem iSteady V2 APP offered no video editing (I’ve since gotten around that) while the Powervision S1 product offered editing then removed the feature while still claiming it’s existence on their website and that change happened in November 2022 – I’ve heard nothing since – not good – though the PowerVision DOES work (but not 100%) without the APP.
The iSteady V2 is a good product but mine suffered minor cosmetic damage in the heat of Morocco last year.
It seems meanwhile that the M6 not only has a much better finish than its predecessor but also focusses on working without it’s APP than others – more on that later – once I start fully checking out the M6 kit.
The Zhiyun Smooth 5S is similar in size to the M6 and both of course are much larger and more expensive than the Powervision S1 or Hohem V2 and the Zhiyun comes with two editing packages (well, 1.5 as you have to pay to use all the features of the second APP) but the Zhiyun does a much better job of grabbing my phone securely (even with a USB adaptor on the phone for external audio) and of course features built-in lighting.
A gripe I have with the 5S is the LCD display which is actually unusable in sunlight partly as it isn’t very bright but also as the display is REALLY TINY. See M6 photo further down the page – the latter display is better BY FAR.
An important point to mention is that neither the 5S nor the M6 are remotely pocket-size gimbals but both come in their own rather large carry-cases.
Enter the Hohem iSteady M6 AI Gimbal
I LIKE the M6… it feels smooth to hold, like the Zhiyun has external lighting and the M6 OLED display is easily readable in somewhat subdued sunlight. The M6 also has no problem with a “large” phone like the Samsung S22 Ultra as it will handle up to a 400gm load, 25% more than the Zhiyun product.
The image below gives a quick size comparison between the new Hohem iSteady M6 and the Hohem iSteady V2.
It turns out I won Hohem’s recent prize draw and in front of me I now have the M6 Kit. The KIT comes complete with the clamp-on “magnetic fill light and AI tracking sensor” (sitting on top of the phone clamp, below).
I need to get this out of the way before I forget – the KIT (as against the basic M6) comes complete with the AI Sensor/RGB Fill Light – I’ll go into the light later – but first – even without using the Hohem APP, this handy device clips onto the phone mount (powered by the gimbal) and simply turning it on then giving the sensor the right hand signal turns on the tracking – so your phone/gimbal combo will keep you in-frame without ANY further effort. Another hand symbol turns off the tracking. Another gesture allows you to change the centreing for framing – important as the defaul setting chopped off the top of my head!! I’ll demo this on video soon – it’s BRILLIANT.
Room for LARGE Phones
Because of the clamping method used and the weight-handling capacity, I can easily add a USB-C external cordless microphone and other peripherals into the mix – see below…
What you can hopefully see in the photo is my dream gimbal in action, sitting on my bench with my Samsung phone attached – you may notice the USB-C connector on the bottom of the phone (right side in the photo)? This is for my wireless Lavalier microphone set.
In addition, into the SIDE of that microphone USB unit is the lead provided with the M6 kit to CHARGE the phone while supporting it.
Thanks to the M6’s maximum load capacity and ability to balance a VERY off-centre phone, the somewhat large Samsung phone remains fully balanced.
The M6 is good for action photography but as it happens I often photograph static objects on my bench (opposite side of the room) while writing the blog and I can see this making a vast difference for me. The tiny BT remote control did not come with the gimbal, so I bought it – sub-€20.
Meanwhile, the photo above was clearly taken on another phone as my Samsung was in the gimbal at the time – here’s what it was looking at – my new HaboTest mains tester…
So up to now my ONE minor gripe about this and other gimbals I’ve tested is that they don’t seem to have APP settings for 4K 60fps or 8K video 24fps, both of which the Samsung supports – but then, you don’t HAVE to use the APP.
You’ve seen the specs for the M6 elsewhere and will see some here – soon I’ll even take the gimbal out and about – but first – the important bits…. I had to resort to the manual to figure out how to switch between white and colour for thefill-lamp and that took me off on an expedition, checking out the different modes. An important takeaway is – this is the first gimbal where I’ve been 100% confident about trying the various modes with a solid floor under my expensive Samsung phone – the grip on the phone is rock-solid.
This is NOT a pocket gimbal – as is obvious by comparison with the earlier V2 from Hohem – though it would fit into a large coat pocket. It does fold up well and just FEELS substancial and really doesn’t seem to care about getting the phone finely balanced. (The plate on my phone is for car-mounting, nothing to do with the gimbal).
Charging the phone from the gimbal is easy and the M6 would handle a phone even bigger than the Samsung S22 Ultra.
See the 0.96″ OLED display here – VERY useful. Compare that with the tiny Zhiyun 5S LCD display.
Hohem have certainly come a long way with this M6 device and the look and feel is much better than the (perfectly adequate) iSteady v2, talking of which it does NOT use the same APP, the M6 has an APP called Hohem JOY – you don’t HAVE to use it – but the various MOMENT modes along with the cloning panorama mode make it worthwhile.
I can’t wait for my next mini-break to give this a good hammering at which point I’ll add some video in here, meanwhile I hope you find the photos and my comments useful. This is absolutely a game-changer for me – because I won this unit in a Hohem competition, I wasn’t in any way obliged to write about it – I just wanted to share my excitement with you.
Here you should see the clip-on light in action (I’ve set it to green but it can do full RGB and also warm and cool white) – as I mentioned above, it also doubles up as an APP-independent and brilliant AI gesture-sensing tracking unit with it’s little camera but for now I’m happy to use it as an RGB +white fill light until I get out on the road later this week.
The lowest motor on the gimbal control arm, depending on what you are doing, could get in the way of your view of the phone screen – but Hohem have even thought about that – pressing the rear lever (opposite side to the OLED display) 4 times will flip the control arm to the other side of the phone – I’ll point that out when I add a video. Isn’t that handy.
What next? Motion timelapse… I have to try that… Pan the gimbal to the left – long-press A. Pan to the right – long-press B. To go to the left position, short-press A. to timelapse to the right position (time can be defined in the Hohem APP but it’s not needed to actually USE), double-press B. I didn’t even have the phone attached or ON to try this out. This thing is CLEVER.
A little more in-depth comparison
A bit pointless comparing the M6 with the V2 or Powervision as the last two are not in the same league, but sitting the Zhiyun and the M6 side by side I noticed a few things. The Zhiyun has that simple white LED lamp (two of them optionally) whereas the M6 has full colour plus white (and of course the AI tracking sensor which does not rely on their APP). The Zhiyun lamp connects by 2 simple magnets, the M6 has a more complex connector but is still a drop-fit.
I noted that with no phone in the Zhiyun and power applied, it tends to vibrate – the M6 does not. In the photo below, the difference in the displays needs no explanation. Also when you remove power from the M6 it settles down gracefully where the Xhiyun is more dramatic. Oh and let’s not forget there are 4 UNC screw ports for adding accessories.
And as for cloning…
I’m going to have LOTS of fun with this.
Critical thoughts up to now?
The AI sensor/light could easily fall off when removing the phone from the gimbal and the M6 really needs a shoulder strap or some other means of carrying the gimbal while out and about – I’m NOT lugging that pretty but large case around with me in the Spanish summer heat. I also think a means of tethering that AI sensor to the gimbal or a shoulder strap (when carrying) is needed – similarly with the (extra) mini-remote – my neighbour has suggested velcro and I’m working on that. I’ve yet to find such a Hohem-branded shoulder strap for this very new gimbal but I did buy a very inexpensive DJI version complete with UNC connector and have already lugged the gimbal back and forth over my shoulder when out on the road.
A final thought – and this is really down to the phone, not the gimbal. The Samsung phone – for example – has 4 lenses 0.6 zoom (wide angle), 1.0 zoom, 3.0 and 10.0 zoom – it does NOT have continually variable zoom yet the gimbal pretends it does, usually ending up with abrupt light level changes and poor quality in the intermediate stages. Best therefore to set the zoom level before shooting.