The Good Life With IQ

Review: Moza AirCross three-axis gimbal camera stabilizer

Durable, versatile and with long battery life, this is a good choice for videographers who are on a budget and are looking for a single camera stabilizer for their light cameras.

Disclaimer: This is not a paid or sponsored review. All opinions are my own, based entirely on my own experiences.

I bought the Moza AirCross by accident. I was looking for an electronic camera stabilizer that I could use for both my GoPro and my small DLSR. Being a first-timer, I didn’t really want to spend on two separate stabilizers. There was only a single model that flexible that was available at my local photography shop, and it was from a different brand. I also looked at a few other models online, but none really inspired confidence. So I bought the one from the shop, and—of course—it turned out to be faulty.

The shop couldn’t get me a replacement in time for my Africa trip, so they sourced the Moza AirCross from one of their suppliers, and gave it to me at a discount. I ended up paying about Rs. 22,000 (about USD 320), a bit less than the regular price.

GoPro and stabilizer - Review: Moza AirCross 3-axis gimbal camera stabilizer
The stabilizer is versatile enough to take both small action cameras and light DSLRs

Also read: Video diary: The best of our memories of Africa

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Features

The Moza AirCross is marketed as a stabilizer for mirrorless cameras and small pocket cameras. But since it can handle weights of up to 1.8 kgs, it can take small DLSRs with light lenses, too. It’s got all the standard features that stabilizers seem to come with, like different follow modes, camera control options and a programmable path mode for video or time-lapse shooting.

Besides these, it has a few interesting additional power management features. For one, it has an external power input port for a DC adaptor, which you can also use to charge the batteries. It also has a power output port which you can use to share battery power with the camera. Taken together, these give you unlimited usage time—at least in theory.

Lastly, it has a quick-release mount for the camera, which is something you don’t seem to have on all stabilizers. Though I found that, once you release it together with your camera, re-mounting it means you might have to balance that axis all over again.

Quick-release place and GoPro - Review: Moza AirCross 3-axis gimbal camera stabilizer
The quick-release plate, with GoPro mounted

You can use the app (available for Android and iOS) to fine-tune the various modes and settings of the stabilizer. You can also use the app can as a controller, though the Bluetooth connection can be a bit sketchy at times. The capabilities of the stabilizer can be expanded using an optional a wireless remote controller and a two-hand grip, also optional.

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What the standard kit includes

Along with the stabilizer, the kit includes three rechargeable batteries that fit into the hollow handle. It also includes a bulky charger pack for these batteries, with a USB cable that connects to a phone charger or computer. The stabilizer itself comes with a mini-tripod attachment. This fits into the bottom of the handle so that you can stand the entire stabilizer on a flat surface.

The kit also includes a few knickknacks like a removable lens support, control cables for Sony A series and Panasonic GH series cameras, and a USB cable for firmware updates. The whole thing comes in a solid carry-case, with a fold-out manual in English and Chinese. The kit doesn’t include optional things like the dual-handle attachment, wireless controller, camera power cable and DC input adaptor.

Full kit - Review: Moza AirCross 3-axis gimbal camera stabilizer
The full kit. DSLR not included!

Also read: Millennia back in time: The magnificent temples of Madurai and Tanjore

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My experiences

I got the stabilizer just in time for a trip to Africa. I wanted to take lots of footage of the animals and of driving through the landscape that I could use later on. And I wanted to use both my GoPro and my DSLR to do it. Here are my experiences in using the Moza AirCross camera stabilizer for that.

Getting started

When I first opened up the kit, I was quite happy with the build quality. Everything from the gimbal motors and the swing arms to the power button and joystick felt quite solid. I also quite liked the rubberized handle, but found it a little fiddly to screw into the main module. When charging the batteries, I found the charger a little clumsy, especially with the really short USB cord. The charging indicator for each battery was a nice touch, though. I also was a bit concerned by the weight of the entire thing once it was assembled, but I suppose the heavy motors are needed to handle the weight of a DSLR.

Charger and batteries - Review: Moza AirCross 3-axis gimbal camera stabilizer
The custom charger and batteries

When I started adjusting the balance of each axis, I found that the manual was quite basic. Luckily, I had some experience with balancing the axes on the previous faulty stabilizer. Someone without any previous experience of balancing a stabilizer will find it a little confusing. The website has more detailed information, though, so users can take a look at that if they run into trouble.

The directional controls on the joystick also took some time to get used to. They seemed a little counter-intuitive, and—unlike with some other models—there was no option to reverse the controls using the app. The app allows the adjustment of a lot of other settings, though, and also has a battery indicator and a control interface.

App - Review: Moza AirCross 3-axis gimbal camera stabilizer
The app, showing the current battery life, wireless connection quality and basic menu
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While shooting

Though it took me a while to get used to it, the stabilizer worked very well when I needed it to. I took quite some footage during our African safari, driving over bumpy roads and through pools of mud. Through it all, the camera stayed very steady, with none of the wobble issues that some other models seem to be prone to. The batteries lasted nicely, too. With intermittent shooting, I had to charge them only once every two days.

Being out in the African wilds meant that the stabilizer had to endure some hard use. It got bumped about constantly, and even got knocked against the side of our safari vehicle pretty hard during one bumpy ride. It got rained on a bit too, when we left the pop-up roof open during a drizzle. Except for a scratch or two, the stabilizer shrugged everything off and kept working.

I noticed what I thought was a design issue while shooting with the GoPro, though. Whenever I lowered the camera close to ground level to get some low shots, I would get one of the gimbal motors in the corner of the frame. I only found out later that the stabilizer has a separate inverted shooting mode, something that wasn’t mentioned in the manual.

Besides the safari, I also used the stabilizer with my DSLR for some amateur video work for a relative’s café-boutique. Though my Canon 200D is comparatively light, combined with the stabilizer’s gimbal weights and its three batteries, it was quite a weight to carry in one hand. The three batteries might give the stabilizer lots of usage time, but they make it heavy to use.

Take a look at the video I made: A hidden gem in Kampala: Kardamom & Koffee

Pros and cons of the Moza AirCross

Pros

  • Stabilization is good, even on bumpy roads.
  • Build quality is good, and the entire system seems robust and durable.
  • The gimbal motors adjust automatically, based on the weight of the mounted camera.
  • Battery life is quite good, but will probably depend on how rigorously you use the the stabilizer.
  • The system has external power input and camera power supply options for theoretically unlimited usage.
  • The app can be used to fine-tune various parameters, and can also be used as a controller.
  • The included mini-tripod can also be fitted directly to cameras that have a tripod mount.
Mini-tripod and camera - Review: Moza AirCross 3-axis gimbal camera stabilizer
The mini-tripod fits cameras with tripod mounts too

Cons

  • The manual is basic and not very detailed. You’ll need to visit the website for more detailed information.
  • The batteries and charger are custom-built, so replacements might be hard to come by.
  • When using a DSLR, the whole thing becomes a bit too heavy for continuous use using one hand.
  • The screw under the quick-release plate tends to loosen unless made very tight.
  • The quality of the wireless connection with the app tends to fluctuate, and even disconnects sometimes.
  • The instructions in the app and manual (evidently translated from Chinese) are difficult to understand, in some places.

The bottom line

Though it’ll take some figuring out before you can use the whole range of its capabilities, the Moza AirCross 3-axis gimbal camera stabilizer does exactly what it’s supposed to do: stabilize your video. That, together with its toughness, flexibility and long battery life, means that this is quite a good alternative to higher-end and better-known brands.

Also read: Video diary: The best of our memories of Africa

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