The EVO SS GoPro Gimbal is a wearable action camera gimbal from EVO Gimbals. In this EVO SS review, we take a look at the features that the gimbal offers and how it compares to the competition, whether it can take the crown as the best wearable gimbal.
Who are EVO Gimbals?
EVO Gimbals are a US-based business that have made professional and ‘prosumer’ 3-axis stabilizers for use with GoPro cameras, Small DSLRs and smartphones. We reviewed the great EVO GP-Pro handheld GoPro gimbal earlier this year.
Available in the US only
EVO Gimbals only sell their products in the US. Internationally, their products are available under the Zhiyun brand. The EVO SS is available as the Zhiyun-Tech Rider-M. Although EVO Gimbals states that the gimbals are different, they look exactly the same and share parts.
The SS gimbal is very versatile, you can mount to any 1/4″ tripod mount, also paired with GoPro mounts. It includes an extendable pole that is the perfect size for packing and extending for smooth gliding shots. The gimbal is also equipped with Bluetooth for connecting to iPhone or Android phones to remote control the gimbal.
Some other great features include a 3.5 mm AV output for external monitor, which becomes available when you plug the action camera in using the 4 pin charging cable.
The available modes offer a handful of options to lock some motors, while smoothing out other motions. It’s nice if you are trying to get a periscope view while keeping the framed shot level, or other times you might want to tilt up to the top of a tree, you can use a setting to smooth out tilting.
Another nice feature is the ability to lock the gimbal in position by just holding it in the spot you want it to start stabilizing from. It will lock the angle and remain in this place.
Lastly, there is a selfie mode. With 3 clicks on the mode button, the gimbal rotates around to point at you, or film behind you for some nice chase scenes.
EVO SS Gimbal Design
As it classes itself as wearable gimbal, the EVO SS is built as a small 3-axis gimbal that is suitable for mounting on your body or a helmet, the end of a selfie stick or possibly on the handlebars or frame of your bike.
As the gimbal is designed to be mountable, EVO have made the gimbal as small as possible. This is great because when the gimbal on your helmet, it doesn’t feel much heavier than if you were using mounting the GoPro directly. Compared to the GoPro Karma Grip, the difference in size is quite significant.
Is smaller better?
The downside of reducing the size of the gimbal and batteries is that the motors are smaller too. Smaller brushless motors means less power, and less power makes it harder for the gimbal to stabilize the camera.
What does that mean?
The gimbal is rated to support a 75-140g Payload. This should be enough for most action cameras, but the gimbal seems to have a but of trouble balancing a GoPro Hero5. It has a tendency to shake a bit when trying to absorb large bumps.
Saying that, I don’t think that helmet mounting gimbals is the best option. I would rather mount the stabilizer on a pole or on a GoPro chest mount. I think the footage that results is better quality.
If you have watched much of your footage from your POV camera, you know why you might want something you make your video less nauseating.
EVO have made the SS gimbal work with a range of popular action cameras such as the GoPro, Garmin Virb, and other action sports cameras. Although for some models of action camera you will need adaptor bracket (More on this below). If you by directly from EVO you can request the bracket to be included with the delivery.
EVO SS Unboxing
It’s worth noting that some of the earlier EVO Gimbals have been shipped in older style boxes. We received our EVO Gimbal in their newer packaging. Similar foam to hold parts in place, just a little larger and printed images on the box.
Official unboxing video
Additionally, the box is the only transportation option and requires you to remove the camera to store. This quickly get’s old when moving around and trying to protect the gimbal in a backpack or bag. There is a case EVO sells, but we opted to buy our own hardcase with pick foam that we could customize to allow us to keep the camera in the gimbal for transportation.
EVO SS Build Quality
The quality build of the gimbal feels very good in hand, it seems solid, the chassis of the EVO SS is all metal, and tight screws to hold down the case and mounts.
Because it’s a gimbal and has three working arms with motors there is some feeling of it being fragile, especically when transporting it in a bag or pack. The retail package is a soft pouch, but is oversized , leaving a lot of room for things to move around in side. As the gimbal is so small it doesn’t pack flat, so it would be better if there was a hard case included like some other gopro gimbals that are available.
While the build quality is pretty good, there are some design changes that would have helped overall performance.
It’s very easy to get moisture into the battery door when using near water, snow, or other moisture sources. Best to keep it in the dry if you can.
There are 3 motors on the gimbal, these are brushless high quality motors. They have continued to stay smooth and function as expected for the few months I have used the gimbal.
Extra mounting bracket for GoPRo Hero 5 and Garmin Virb Ultra
GoPro Hero 5 Bracket
Although, marketted as supporting the GoPro Hero 5, the extra accessory bracket does not actually work that well with the shape of the GoPro 5. You can see in the image below that the screw presses up against the ridge around the shutter button, and it means it’s hard to get the screw closed firmly. This leads to rattling, which you can sometimes here on the footage.
Garmin Virb Ultra bracket
Unfortunately there is an issue with the bracket when mounting the VIRB too. As you can see the screw sits directly over the wifi button on the Garmin VIRB. So to switch the wifi on and off, you need to remove the camera from the gimbal. Not the most well thought through.
Battery life and charging
The good news is the EVO SS gimbal comes with 2 sets of Lithium-Ion batteries. There is plenty of life to run your GoPro battery out a few times. Also, with the included cord you can supliment your GoPro with the battery power from the gimbal. The cord feels very delicate, but get’s the job done.
Batteries also come with a cheap feeling but small and light weight charger. It takes about 2 to 3 hours to charge the batteries via a micro USB port.
One nice feature is the battery indicator on the gimbal. While not linear, or completely predictable there are a series of 4 flashes that show 75%, 50%, 25% remaining and quickly flashes when the batteries are less than 25%.
The batteries cannot be charged in the EVO SS using the usb port on the side of the gimbal. This is used for upgrading the firmware of the gimbal and not charging batteries. It seems a shame to go to the effort of adding a USB port but not allowing the possibility of charging.
In the box there are two charging cables. There is a 3 pin cable included to charge older GoPro models. There is also a 4 pin cable that is used for charging a GoPro and activating the A/V output on the side of the gimbal for external monitoring .
You can expect to get about 4 hours of use out of a single charge. Obviously you will get much less in extreme conditions, or when they are used to supplement the GoPro battery.
When we were hooked up to a dead GoPro, it was around 2 hours of use. However, when mounted to a tripod, and not using bluetooth we got up to 5 hours of use.
GoPro Hero5 Charging Support
The optional charging cables included do not work with GoPro Hero 5, or session because they use Mini USB. If you want to use the charging functionality on a GoPro5, then you need to buy an extra cable that is not included in the retail package.
One problem that seems a common complaint is that removal of the batteries is tricky. The thumb screw for the battery door is small and The batteries are hard to get in and aligned just right until the door is on and secure.
Operation & Performance
To start using the gimbal, you need to attach your GoPro with the thumb screws. If you are using an adapter you may need to use a small Allen key to replace the mounting bracket with a couple screws and install the correct bracket for your camera. The gimbal has a standard 1/4″ female screw on the bottom of the base.
There are two buttons, one to power on, and another to select the mode. The gimbal turns on after holding the power button for a few seconds.
To initialize the gimbal, it should be set on a flat surface and press and hold the mode button, the gimbal will then snap into place and start working.
The overall functionality of the gimbal is buttery smooth, with 80 degree roll, 315 degree tilt, and 650 degree pan, there are many mounting options that the GoPro can be locked in to make ground shots, selfies, aerial shots are all possible. There are a few basic modes
- Follow Mode – one click keeps the camera pan left to right smooth, and locks Roll & Tilt
- Lock Mode – one click, keeps Tilt and Roll are smooth, but Pan is locked
- Heading & Pitch Follow Mode – two clicks, Smooth Pan and Tilt follow but Roll is locked
- Inerted Mode – to use upside down, two clicks, rotate the camera upside down, you can then enter other modes.
- Turn-back (Selfie) Mode – three clicks
GoPro Gimbal Calibration
If you notice you took a hard bump with the gimbal, or it’s just not panning or tilting just right you can re-calibrate the gimbal. To do this set the gimbal on a flat surface and power on the gimbal. The light will flash while powering up as the gimbal calibrates.
If this doesn’t work, you can manually calibrate the gimbal. This can be done with the help the smartphone app, or the remote control. There are specific instructions for a 6 point camera position that needs to be done to manually calibrate the motors on the gimbal. You can find instructions for this in the manual or on the support site
An Android and IOS app are available from the apps stores. It provides a Bluetooth connection to manually control the gimbal. Simply pair the gimbal with the control and will see the controls appear on-screen. The remote allows for full control of the gimbal, you can also put motors on/off. Other options include calibration of the gimbal with a 6 point calibration. Also you can update the gimbal firmware wirelessly with the phone app when connected.
The bluetooth connection between my gimbal and the app seems a little flakey. Some times the connection drops, and the app can’t find the gimbal. This isn’t much of a problem if you are just sewitching the gimbal on and leaving it to record, but if you would like to set up shots, and move the gimbal with the app, this patchy connection will be an issue.
An optional remote control is available which was helpful. The EVO Gimbals Wireless Bluetooth Remote is compatible with the EVO Rage, Rage-S, EVO SS, EVO SHIFT & SP-PRO Handheld Gimbals. So you can use it with other EVO Gimbals products if you own them.
I found it easier to use the app on my smartphone to frame my GoPro shots, and not to control the gimbal. It was great to have another device to do control the gimbal. It’s very light and compact. However, I wish there were a mount for it on the telescoping pole. I would need three hands to hold the remote, frame using my smartphone and carry the Gimbal pole mount. Maybe I could fix something temporary, but it would be cool to have a integrated solution.
The remote control has a light to show if the battery in the EVO SS is getting low. With the joystick you can control the direction the gimbal is pointing in pan and follow modes. The joystick also doubles as a button, and clicking it changes the operation mode of the gimbal.
EVO SS Wearable gimbal: The bottom line
I’m undecided about the EVO SS.
On the good side, it’s a very compact gimbal that is easy to mount and has support for a range of action cameras. It’s not to expensive, which is always a bonus, and has replacable batteries, which gives it a longer life than some other gimbals with built-in rechargable batteries. It makes it a good GoPro gimbal.
On the bad side, there are some build quality issues. the GoPro5 bracket doesn’t work that well, and I assume it won’t fit very well on the GoPro Hero 6 either, as that has the same form factor. The bluetooth connectivity issues are also a problem. If the gimbal had a slightly higher build quality, I would recommend it hands down.
As it is, you would be better to choose the Feiyu-Tech WG2 gimbal which has a similar form factor and is IP67-Level Waterproof.
Current Price on Amazon US (EVO SS): $279.00
Current Price on Amazon UK (Zhiyun Rider-M): £239.00
EVO SS Official Product Page
Still not sure what type of gimbal to buy, read our best gimbal reviews to find the best gimbal for you.