FUJIFILM X-T3 on DJI Ronin-S – My Setup Reviewed

October 24th, 2018 icon / message-square 39
FUJIFILM X-T3 on DJI Ronin-S - My Setup Reviewed

In this guest review, Vienna-based filmmaker Florian Gintenreiter takes a close look at this combination: the FUJIFILM X-T3 on a DJI Ronin-S. Intrigued? Read on for his hands-on impressions.

FUJIFILM X-T3 – DJI Ronin S combo

My preordered DJI Ronin-S came in late July and I only had my Fujifilm X-T2 to put on the gimbal and play a bit, but the XT-2’s weak internal codec (8-Bit 4:2:2 @ 100MBit/s) was prohibitive for professional work, so I waited for my ordered Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K to arrive but it hasn’t been delivered to this date (yes I know I am not alone waiting for it!).

Then — much to my surprise — FUJIFILM’s awesome X-T3 camera came out, which sports an internal codec that’s vastly superior to the X-T2, great focus-tracking and got a sleuth of other video-related improvements. I decided to upgrade from my trusty X-T2 and ordered FUJIFILM’s new flagship camera. Check out Johnnie’s hands-on review and footage from the X-T3 here in case you missed it. 

FUJIFILM X-T3 equipped with the XF 16-55 f2.8 zoom lens

FUJIFILM X-T3 on DJI Ronin-S

Apart from our own review, the internet is full with reviews and tests of X-T3’s video and stills capabilities, so in this article I chose to focus on its usability on the DJI Ronin-S gimbal (which was also reviewed on cinema5D in an extensive hands-on and tutorial review here already).

As soon as the X-T3 arrived I slapped it onto the DJI Ronin-S and started experimenting. The camera together with the FUJIFILM XF 16-55 f2.8 zoom lens was quickly balanced and handled easily by the gimbal’s strong motors. That’s the setup I took out on a first commercial job.

The FUJIFILM X-T3’s vastly improved autofocus-system with enhanced face and eye detection, made it fairly easy to use on the gimbal. Of course the focus slipped here and there, but overall autofocus helped a great deal.

Controlling Light

I personally don’t like to use vari-NDs because they’re basically polarising filters that can make skin look waxen, the sky unevenly exposed and introduce other strange artifacts. Instead, I used a set of Gobe 77mm screw-on ND filters consisting of ND2, ND4 and ND8 on the FUJIFILM XF 16-55 f2.8 lens. They’re great because filters can be combined, and in addition, the lens sun hood can still be used and the lens-cap can be put on top of the filter. This filter set up helped me to keep the shutter speed at around 1/50 and get a decent low working f-stop.

The first shoot with the FUJIFILM X-T3/Ronin-S combo went well, but two things became evident fairly soon:

  • The gimbal is a rather heavy beast and needs to be handled with both hands using its foldable tripod as an extension of its grip.
  • Even though the XT-3’s screen can be viewed when it is on the gimbal (which is further helped by its ability to tilt up and down), its is small and its visibility is rather poor outdoors

SmallHD Focus monitor

A monitor is needed

The DJI Ronin-S lacks mounting points, so I cobbled something together with rig-parts I had lying around to mount my Atomos Shogun Inferno to the Ronin. Then, I installed the F-Log to Rec.709 LUT which is provided by FUJIFILM on their website onto the Shogun. That made it possible to more precisely expose F-Log, while monitoring the image with correct colors and contrast.

I took this setup out on the second commercial job and it worked even better, although the Shogun’s additional weight made the rig hard to operate for a longer duration.

Recording Externally on Shogun Inferno – Dropping Frames

EDIT: Atomos just responded to my support ticket in a most helpful way and are working with me to narrow down the problem. Everything points to the fact that despite me using HDMI 2.0 cables they might be too slow or poorly shielded to handle the 10Bit data stream from the FUJIFILM X-T3. 

I will keep you posted on any progress.

As the Shogun is also a recorder I tried to record the XT-3’s 4:2:2 10Bit HDMI output to the device for even higher quality files than its internal 10Bit 4:2:0 recording, but I ran into some problems there.

The Shogun kept dropping frames. I tested two different HDMI cables and ruled out the SSD I recorded to as culprits. The recordings were missing frames every couple of seconds. Fortunately I recorded everything to the XT-3’s internal cards and those recordings were fine!

Through cinema5D I made FUJIFILM aware of the issue and they promised to look into it.  Also, I have informed Atomos about the problem and they have asked for details to be able to work on the problem, which I have provided. Let’s see if and when this gets fixed. It’s also possible that my XT-3 has some sort of hardware problem on the HDMI-out as I have not found anyone with a similar problem on the web. (Or maybe no one is recording externally)….

As a side note, the XT-3 formats its cards with the FAT16 file system so file size is limited to 4GB, which is about 1:22 minutes at 4K 25p 400MBit/s. For longer recordings it will split the clip into 4GB chunks that need to be stitched together in post. That’s a nuisance, but it’s frame-accurate.

Because of the dropped frames, recording from the XT-3 externally is not an option for me at the moment, so I decided to stick with recording internally for the time being. The footage out-of-camera is very solid and the quality difference to Atomos recorded ProRes422HQ is negligible for my purposes. I would’t be confident doing green screen work though.

SmallRig’s side handle

Pimping the Ronin-S

As with the X-T3, a lot has been published about the Ronin-S gimbal itself, so I won’t go into any details here. (See Nino’s full Ronin-S review and tutorial here). In a nutshell, it is an awesome piece of equipment, which plays well with the FUJIFILM X-T3 even though it is currently not yet supported to be controlled by the gimbal.

When it comes to Pimping the Ronin-S, Chinese accessories company SmallRig has designed a side-handle for the Ronin that made my makeshift Shogun contraption obsolete and the Ronin much more comfortable to operate. On top of the grip is a cold-shoe and a few 1/4 and 3/8 inch mounting points for adding accessories.

Because of the Shogun’s weight and problems to record the XT-3’s output I got the small, lightweight SmallHD Focus monitor and attached it to the handgrip’s cold-shoe mounting point.

The SmallHD Focus — with its ability to put a LUT on the image, numerous image analysis tools like false colour, peaking, waveform, its quick touch-interface and its low weight — is the perfect monitor for being used on the Ronin. I just had to mount it upside-down, so its own bracket would be clear of the Ronin’s handle.

Future Improvements

Camera:

I hope that FUJIFILM will consider changing the X-T3 internal recording files system to FAT32. This will allow for clips to be larger than 4GB, which will make the X-T3 an even more useful camera in general.

I will also be looking into the possibility of powering the camera from the gimbal — it should be possible because the Ronin has power-taps built-in.

Gimbal:

I hope that DJI will add support for the X-T3 for at least start/stop control and one-shot AF. I don’t know if that’s possible but maybe they could even add support for the manual-focus-wheel like it has for the Panasonic GH5. There is already a thread in DJIs forums about that. I made sure to second the request for a FUJIFILM support there and if you’re interested in the combo, maybe you will too.

DJI has announced a few accessories for the Ronin-S that have the potential to make the device even more useful: A separate battery charger, a cheese-plate, a command unit, a top-bracket, a GPS unit and most interestingly a focus-motor that can be controlled via the Ronin’s focus-knob. Nothing of this has come out yet. But the focus motor has me interested!

Last but not least, I decided to get the SmallRig cage for the X-T3, which makes it possible to add an HDMI cable clamp to protect the rather flimsy micro HDMI port of the XT-3. The additional weight is not a problem for the Ronin-S.

A Word on Editing

For maximum quality I have recorded everything in 4K using the H.265 10Bit 4:2.0 400MBit/s all Intra codec. Even though I’m using a 18 core iMacPro with the Radeon Vega Pro GPU and a fast RAID, my system struggles with the codec, so I transcode to »Optimized Media« inside FinalCutProX or DaVinci Resolve respectively to get smooth editing speeds.

FUJIFILM X-T3 – DJI Ronin S combo

Conclusion

This DJI Ronin/ FUJIFILM X-T3-Rig combination is something that I’m confident now to take out on any shoot. The XT-3’s really good autofocus that includes face and even eye tracking makes it a breeze to use on the Ronin even without a focus puller and a wireless focus system, which makes it ideal for one-man-band shooters.

I intend to have the X-T3 and the Ronin in my trusty bus to keep handy for those jobs where budget does not allow for a larger gimbal or Steadicam, which to my opinion, it can not fully replace, yet…

Are you using either the Ronin-S or the X-T3 already? Are you combining the two too? Let us know in the comments below! 

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Ανδρέας Γαβριήλ
Ανδρέας Γαβριήλ
Member
October 21st, 2020

Dear Florian, that was an amazing article. My question is if we are able to charge the XT3 directly from ronin.

Eric D Thomas
Eric D Thomas
Guest
February 4th, 2020

Have you tested the xt3 on the newer ronin sc?

david
Guest
October 31st, 2019

really nice post! do you know if its possible to install the camera with the batery grip on the dji ronin?

Krish
Krish
Guest
October 9th, 2019

Great Review :) thank you. Do you use autofocus with facetracking? Still looking for the best settings, that autofocus is nailing my face when talking straight to the camera :)

 Michael Perin Wogenburg
Michael Perin Wogenburg
Member
March 1st, 2019

I tried it out today with the XT3, Battery Grip and the kitlens. Such an amazing tool. Would wish a manual focus option though. Which other camera deserves it more than the XT3.

 Drew Bernardo
Drew Bernardo
Member
January 28th, 2019

Thanks for the informative post. How do you like the 16-55 2.8 for this set up? is it pretty heavy? is the quality substantially better than the 18-55 kit lens? i’m currently using the 18-55 kit lens because it has OIS but i’ve been wanting to get 16-55 2.8 for professional work. but the weight and no OIS for video holds me back. but if the set up works well on the ronin s which i just purchased, then it might have solved my problems. Thanks!

Florian Gintenreiter
Florian Gintenreiter
Guest
January 28th, 2019
Reply to  Drew Bernardo

Thanks for your nice feedback! I haven’t used the 18-55, in fact I never touched it. For video use it’s a pain in the behind, when a lens has no constant aperture like the 18-55 (f4-f5.6). For what I read it’s an exceptionally good lens optically, considering it’s a “kit” lens. I am sure however that you can make it work on the Ronin with no problem. By the way: the lack of stabilisation of the 16-55 is not an issue as soon as you have it on the Ronin. I would recommend not using OIS when using the lens on the Ronin. Optically the 16-55 is amazing for video and photo-work. The Ronin has absolutely no problem weight-wise with the 16-55. Focus tracking works very well in combination with the X-T3, like I mentioned in the article.

 Brock Brothers
Brock Brothers
Member
February 18th, 2019

I am in the exact same boat as you Drew! 18-55 for less weight/OIS or 16-55 for fixed aperature and apparantly slightly better quality. out of all my searches on the internet, Florian seems to be the only one showing this lens with a gimbal and this is the feedback ive been looking for for days! So to clarify, you’re absolutely sure a lens with OIS wouldn’t make it any smoother/or matter so long as its on the gimbal, correct? If so, yea, you helped make my decision too, because I cant afford the MK series lenses for video lol so its one of these two.

 Paul Szilard
Paul Szilard
Member
December 24th, 2018

Would love to see a review of the Zhiyun Weebil LAB vs Crane 2 vs Ronin-S and the X-T3 with 16-55mm f2.8 and battery grip (and without battery grip).

 Paul Szilard
Paul Szilard
Member
December 24th, 2018
Reply to  Paul Szilard

Correction: I meant the Crane 3 NOT 2. My mistake.

 Paul Szilard
Paul Szilard
Member
December 24th, 2018

For internal recording: If you are transcoding prior to editing anyway, then why not record Long-GOP instead of Intra frame? It would save on Card storage and give you faster ingesting. The transcoding can be done overnight so is less time critical. (BTW, I have an iMacPRO with 8 cores, 1TB SSD and 64GB ram plus 24TB on TB3 – works fine with H265, so far).

 Paul Szilard
Paul Szilard
Member
December 24th, 2018

long-GOP means that intra frames are only deltas. This means less storage, but not less quality, and MB/sec is unaffected. Storage space may be cheap but you can never have enough. With long-GOP you can record roughly double duration for the same storage used. You just transcode on your NLE computer, which fills in the blanks, so to speak. On my iMac PRO, I use FCPX, so just set it to create Optimised ProRes and let it run during the night. In the morning we are ready to edit. Ditto if you want to use proxy.

 Mercy Warhol
Mercy Warhol
Member
October 30th, 2018

This actually looks pretty awesome for vloggers and family vacations. I’m trying to get away from that thin image but from what I’ve seen, people should be very happy with this camera. I just can’t imagine adjusting to yet another lens mount.

Malcolm
Member
October 25th, 2018

Thanks for sharing! Using a similar setup myself, and only now just got the SmallRig adapters to mount my SmallHD 502. It would be great to find a way to power both the camera and the monitor directly from the Ronin, and considering the long battery life it should be rather feasible.

Edward Andrews
Edward Andrews
Member
October 25th, 2018

Anyone got any links for tutorials on how to set up the touchscreen autofocus tracking on XT3? I’ve been struggling to work it out.

Edward Andrews
Edward Andrews
Member
October 26th, 2018

Thank you! That’s really helpful

Noah
Noah
Guest
October 25th, 2018

What’s the weight of this setup? I really like the Ronin-S, it’s a great single handle gimbal, but I found it’s far too heavy – it weighs almost as much as the Ronin-M! Putting all that weight onto one hand/arm I found makes the setup less stable, and far harder to use especially for long periods of time. I recently bought a Moza AirCross, and my whole setups is designed to be as lightweight as possible. The AirCross weights just 800g on it’s own, add a Sony A7RIII and Sony 16-35mm GM and the entire thing weighs under 2kg – it’s great. Even if I add an external monitor (Say the BMD Video Assist or Ninja V), it still is very lightweight. I don’t get any back pain whatsoever, I can run around getting shots I couldn’t get when using the Ronin-M.

Your setup looks great, but I feel at the moment people (not you, just saying people in general), seem to be adding SO much stuff to their single handle gimbals, which in my opinion is kind of the opposite of what they are designed to be – super light weight flexible gimbals that can get the camera where bigger gimbals can’t go.

Noah
Noah
Guest
October 25th, 2018
Reply to  Noah

*Sorry I said weighs under 2kg, but fully loaded I think it’s about 2kg, maybe slightly over.

Lukedriftwood
Lukedriftwood
Guest
October 24th, 2018

Regarding file system, X-H1/X-T2/X-T3 format SD cards that are 32GB or smaller to FAT32 and larger cards to exFAT. So the 4GB file splitting is not limited by the file system. It’s limited by the camera firmware instead. A fix will be released soon.

Felipe
Felipe
Guest
October 24th, 2018

You need to use the Atomos HDMI 2.0 cable for better external output. I record my X-T3 to my Ninja V with no problem. It’s also a better size and weight for my Ronin-S. I bought a dual grip handle for the S that makes it look like the Ronin-M and makes it easier to operate.

 Paul Szilard
Paul Szilard
Member
December 24th, 2018

I am in the same situation, having a Shogun Flame (not Inferno!). Would you recommend selling it to get the Ninja V? I know that it would mean giving up the SDI inputs, which I hardly ever use.

Cory
Cory
Guest
October 26th, 2018
Reply to  Felipe

What dual handle grip are you using. Thank you!

Emma
Emma
Guest
October 31st, 2018
Reply to  Cory

Hi Cory, it’s Smallrig side handle 2222.

 Matt Edwards-Davies
Member
November 1st, 2018
Reply to  Felipe

There is no such thing as an HDMI 2.0 cable. 2.0 refers to HDMI port specifications. For a cable you need to use a High Speed HDMI cable for 4K/UHD resolutions.

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