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Benro 3XS Lite review

A portable 3-axis smartphone gimbal stabilizer for vloggers with face-tracking

(Image: © Jamie Carter/Digital Camera World)

Digital Camera World Verdict

If you’re a vlogger that wants to stabilize and easily swap between portrait and landscape, this good value gimbal succeeds, though face-track is hit-and-miss.

Pros

  • +

    + impressive foldable arm design

  • +

    + good value

  • +

    + folds-up for easy storage

  • +

    + one-touch swap between portrait and landscape

Cons

  • -

    unstable built-in tripod

  • -

    face-tracking unreliable

  • -

    phone case needs to be removed

  • -

    button placement causes accidents

Image stabilization on smartphones is really coming on, but the tech is still no match for a good gimbal (opens in new tab). As well as enabling smooth pans, most of them – the new Benro 3XS Lite included – add face-tracking and object-tracking. That should make video easier, more creative, and much more professional-looking. An instant competitor to the new DJI Osmo Mobile 3, can the Benro 3XS Lite three-axis mobile gimbal – one of the smallest such devices around – compete against its pricier rival?

Benro 3XS Lite: design

Benro 3XS Lite

(Image credit: Jamie Carter/Digital Camera World)

Measuring 170x100mm when fully extended, and weighing 469g with its tiny tripod attached, the Benro 3XS Lite is a cute-looking and incredible flexible gimbal. Arriving in a gorgeously soft velvety drawstring bag, it’s able to take almost any smartphone, however large, up to a maximum of 290g, which is a 60g more than the DJI Osmo Mobile 3 can hack. The payload is not a huge advantage unless you’re adding a separate microphone, but size does matter; the 7.2-inch, 233g Huawei Mate X 5G we tried was so big it fouled the arm and rendered the gimbal useless. 

On its main handle are a few buttons; on/off, start/stop record, focus, a trigger for zooming in and out or adjusting focus (it’s your call, and it can be set in the app), and a 3.5mm input for a microphone so you don’t have to connect one to your smartphone. There are also a couple of buttons to move the gimbal up, down, left and right, and one for re-centering it. There’s also a button that sends a phone tumbling through 180º to swap between landscape and portrait mode, the latter now an accepted format (and sometimes even a favored). 

When you’re done with a shoot, the Benro 3XS Lite’s flexible hinge allows it to fold-up over itself to create a very compact size for easy storage in a camera bag, or even a jacket pocket.

The Benro 3XS Lite has enough battery power (2,000mAh) to work for 24 hours on one charge. It’s recharged using a USB-C slot on the handle.

Benro 3XS Lite: app

(Image credit: Jamie Carter/Digital Camera World)

The Benro Gimbal companion app for iOS (opens in new tab) and Android is really simple. For video, iIt offers multi-shot panoramas, time-lapse, motion time-lapse, object track, face track, and slo-mo. For photos, night shot, wide angle, pano and multifocus. You can toggle the format of video from H.264 to HEVC (H.265), alter the resolution from 1080/60fps to 2160/30fps, choose a 3x3 or ‘rule of thirds’ grid, set the scenario to run or walk, and calibrate the gimbal itself, even customizing the buttons on the Benro 3XS Lite. There’s also a manual mode so you can customize ISO, shutter speed, focus and whie balance. In our test the app took a while to save some video files, and froze-up a couple of times. 

Benro 3XS Lite: performance

(Image credit: Jamie Carter/Digital Camera World)

The Benro 3XS Lite gives you a ton of shooting modes, though it’s the basic operation that impresses most. For example, there’s a ‘universal follow’ mode that promises smooth video if you change the angle of view, direction and position, and a ‘locked down’ mode for a horizontal panning movement. Pans and dips through 360º all produce smooth video. Double-tapping to recenter is a bit of a pain, and in practice the toggle button between portrait and landscape is useful for returning the gimbal to a default position. We found that the rear camera/front camera toggle button is way too easy to touch during filming; it’s right under the index finger. 

What we did find a bit disappointing was face-tracking; it works reasonably well in bright light, but dim the lights and thingy go awry. It’s also not too accurate if the subject moves around a lot very quickly, which is a shame. 

Something else we didn’t like either during our test was the Benro 3XS Lite’s tripod. A spider-like foldout design, its three very flat fins are just too small on anything but flat surfaces. Its cheap-ness jars with the main product’s reassuringly solid build quality.

Benro 3XS Lite: conclusion

(Image credit: Jamie Carter/Digital Camera World)

A good mobile gimbal should be easy to use, helping the user get more from a smartphone while adding some pro features that only a gimbal could. The Benro 3XS Lite does all that, with an app that’s easy to use. It’s not always successful with its face-tracking, the tripod is very poor and some of the buttons are oddly placed. However, the Benro 3XS Lite encourages creativity, and it’s worth a look if you’re a vlogger or a filmmaker after a good value gimbal for relatively simple video capture.

Read more:
The best gimbals for your iPhone, GoPro and camera (opens in new tab)

The best camera phone (opens in new tab) in 2019

Best cameras for vlogging (opens in new tab)

Best video tripods (opens in new tab)

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Jamie has been writing about all aspects of technology for over 14 years, producing content for sites like TechRadar, T3, Forbes, Mashable, MSN, South China Morning Post, and BBC Wildlife, BBC Focus and BBC Sky At Night magazines. 


As the editor for www.WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com, he has a wealth of enthusiasm and expertise for all things astrophotography, from capturing the Perseid Meteor Shower, lunar eclipses and ring of fire eclipses, photographing the moon and blood moon and more.


He also brings a great deal of knowledge on action cameras, 360 cameras, AI cameras, camera backpacks, telescopes, gimbals, tripods and all manner of photography equipment.