DJI Ronin S Pre-production prototype – Hands On

Following the success of the Ronin MX and Osmo models, DJI complete the lineup with their latest handheld camera gimbal

DJI : Video stabilisation experts

Leveraging experience with drone gimbals, DJI have spend the past 3 years creating cinema-grade camera stabilisers designed for use on the ground. 

The release of the original Ronin, a hand-held 3-axis stabilised handheld gimbal system was a game-changing generational leap in stabilisation technology. With its flexible payload, dynamic operator modes and gentle learning curve it saw rapid adoption across film-sets worldwide.

Its excellent value allowed smaller film productions access to ‘steadicam’ grade portable stabilisation with remote operator control for a fraction of the cost of comparable systems. Later models such as the Ronin-MX and more recently the Ronin 2 were capable of carrying varying payloads and could even be mounted to airframes for aerial use.

However there has been a large gap between the compact ‘camera-inclusive’ Osmo X5 Pro system and the much larger Ronin-MX, that many of DJI’s competitors have been quick to fill; DJI hope to address this with the new Ronin S.

DJI Ronin S Revealed

DJI Ronin S gimbal side

Announced in January 2018 at CES, the Ronin S is a compact handheld active camera stabiliser designed for DSLR and mirrorless cameras. It completes the lineup filling the gap between the DJI MFT systems and large format/cinema cameras.

Whilst the final specifications are yet to be released, DJI sent us this pre-production prototype to gain feedback from our vendors.

Ronin S Hands-on

dji ronin s hands on gh4

Shown with a Panasonic GH4 mounted and the DJI tripod attached, the entire system weighs 2.92kg. Unlike some competitors, the Ronin S feels solid with a quality heft to the unit. DJI have designed the Ronin-S so that it is quick to setup and balance, with tool-less adjustment of the pivot-arm balacing points and a quick release for the camera receiver plate.

Design-wise it follows the Mounting the rear ‘roll’ motor at an angle to the camera is a popular design choice by gimbal manufacturers, it avoids obscuring the rear LCD and any of the back-facing controls common on modern cameras.

dji ronin s hands on camera mounting

Much like the larger video gimbals, the Ronin S features a camera mounting plate with adjustable lens support. This slides into a receiver on the gimbal arm which has a quick release, ideal for moving the centre of gravity forward or backward quickly when swapping out lenses. This receiver can be slid across to balance the camera on the roll axis.

The far end of this rail has the ‘RSS’ connector. DJI will likely offer a selection of cables enabling connection of the Ronin S to various units, allowing for communication between the gimbal buttons/follow focus and the camera itself.

dji ronin s hands on joystick control

Ronin S Controls

Once the battery is powered up, the Ronin S can be turned on by pressing and holding the new power switch on the right hand side of the handle. The gimbal can then be operated by the shutter and mode buttons and its orientation adjusted by the joystick and front mounted trigger.

Our pre-production model was setup with three modes that varied the speed and response of the gimbal. There is talk of DJI providing a Sport mode, pushing the speed of the stabilisation to the limit. Holding the Mode button with the trigger button for 5 seconds will set the Ronin S off on an auto-balancing program to finely tune the balance stabilisation.

Ronin S Accessories

Whilst DJI are yet to formally announce the full Ronin S system, the pre-production unit came with a few accessories we expect to be included.

Ronin S Battery

dji ronin s hands on handle

At 173mm tall and weighing 407g, the Ronin S handle is also the battery. Our HB02-542465 model contained a 1225mAh 14.1 KwH 3S Lithium Ion Polymer Battery with a power button and four LED charge status indicator on the front face. The base was rubberised and features both 1/4 inch and 3/8 inch size female tripod threads. The battery was charged via the USB-C interface port above the front trigger, when installed in the Ronin S.

The handle is removed by releasing the lock latch (show above, under the DJI focus wheel) and sliding backwards from under the controller area and removing it shows the 6-pin interface. It is likely that DJI will offer adapters to mount the system to future aerial, ground or cable platforms.

Focus Wheel

dji ronin s hands on inputs

The metal module secures to the body of the Ronin S with two hex screws and interfaces via 8 gold pins. It features a knurled jog dial that rotates with a reasonable amount of resistance (for fine focus adjustment), a button to the rear of the wheel and a communications port on-top, potentially for the addition of the information LCD screen shown on the release renderings.

It is most likely that DJI will offer a range of USB to RSS camera specific cables for controlling focus adjustment (where systems allow in-camera electronic focus adjustment) to allow the Focus wheel to actuate the lens.

IR Shutter release

Whilst the hardware interfaces on the Ronin S are likely to interface into the camera via a communication cable, DJI provided the prototype with IR blaster cables for Sony and Canon cameras. These dongle/cables were stiff enough to hold their shape once formed, allowing you to connect them to the RSS port (right under the camera) and position the IR emitter on the other end so that it is sat close to the camera’s receiver.


dji ronin s hands on tripod

Our package included a short metal folding stand/tripod with rubber feet. The DJI RS-005 extends to footprint around 30cm whilst raising the Ronin S just under 5cm. It features a short 1/4inch thread screw (so can be used with other equipment) and folds down to a compact cylinder measuring 155 x 32mm and weighing around 230g.

Modus Brands : Distributors of DJI

Modus brands were one of the first UK distributors of DJI equipment and have shipped hundreds of thousands of units. Well versed in consumer drones, we are also Enterprise partners and capable of fulfilling orders of specialised equipment such as the FLIR equipped Zenmuse XT infrared system.

For more information on the Ronin S, Master Wheels or the the Force Pro professional video accessories, please contact us below.