Make Your Video Amazing: We Review the Hohem iSteady MT2

Ever thought about shooting video? If so, you should consider a gimbal stabilizer. You won’t go wrong with a Hohem iSteady MT2, with its outstanding AI tracking feature.

When we writers were offered the chance to review the Hohem iSteady MT2 gimbal camera stabilizer, I was quick to raise my hand. I’ve been wanting to diversify into shooting video and wanted to try a gimbal. Although the in-body image stabilization of my camera is superb, using a gimbal should be even better. I’ve used one briefly from a different major brand, so I was interested in seeing how this one would perform.

First Impressions of the Hohem iSteady MT2

The Hohem iSteady MT2 arrived in a neat-looking box. Inside the case was what, at first sight, seemed a bewildering array of parts. However, a quick skim through the well-written instructions manual made it clear how to put this together. The first job is to charge the unit via a USB-C cable. Although there is a cable supplied, typical of many electronic goods today, to reduce plastic waste, there is no charger supplied.

The component parts were clearly well made, and they fit neatly into the smart carrying case. It’s made from aircraft-grade aluminum and what are clearly high-grade composite plastics. The gimbal alone weighs 653 g, and it can take a payload of up to 1,200 g. So, it’s robust enough to take most mirrorless cameras and standard lenses, but check the combined weight of your camera, lens, and battery.

There are a lot more parts in the package than you need because the stabilizer is designed to fit a wide range of different types of cameras, including smartphones, action cameras, as well as compact, bridge, and mirrorless cameras, as well as small DSLRs. For me, it would be used with a pro-end mirrorless camera, the OM System OM-1, my older Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, and my Android phone.

Setting Up the iSteady MT2.

As I suggested earlier, the instructions are clear, which is just as well as to a novice the device would appear complex and possibly confusing. But the step-by-step instructions with drawings had the device assembled and the camera fitted in under 10 minutes. The handle is mounted on tripod legs that fold down to extend the grip.

The important thing to remember with gimbals is that the camera must be balanced before use. This means, before turning it on, you stand it on a stable surface and then adjust the camera back and forth and from side to side, so it sits as closely as possible to be level; I used the camera’s internal levels to assist with this. There’s a small tripod that attaches to the base of the MT2’s handle to facilitate this, and it is a simple matter of unlocking the sliding plates to set up the camera.

The following video shows how to set up the gimbal.

The camera is attached firmly to the unit thanks to a Swiss-Arca plate. The bracket it sits on is held in place by two small screws. A clever design feature is a small screwdriver for repositioning the bracket into which the Arca plate fits is magnetically stored below where the camera sits. A variety of cables is supplied for fitting to different cameras.

Once you have the camera properly balanced and the cable attached to it, it’s ready to go. Place it on a stable surface, and power it up. It takes a three-second hold on the power button to start it, which helps protect against accidental activation.

How the Hohem iSteady MT2 Works

If you’ve not used a gimbal device before, they all work in a similar way, keeping the camera level as you move. They remove sudden and unwanted bumps and shakes of a handheld camera. It does this by having 320° roll, 320° tilt up and down (pitch), and never-ending 360° pan (yaw) controls. The basic design of a gimbal has been around for hundreds of years on ships, keeping compasses, and more recently, stoves, facing upright. These modern devices for cameras are controlled by computerized motors, gyroscopes, and internal sensors. They detect the difference between intentional movements and small, unwanted shakes, and thus stabilize recordings.

The Controls of the Hohem iSteady MT2

This device is bristling with control and ports and it takes a little while to work your way around them. Importantly, on the handle, there is a record button with a rotary zoom lever, a trigger, a pan and tilt joystick, and a multifunction wheel that controls focus primarily. There are two buttons that control panning start and stop points, ideal for timelapse shooting.

With a compatible camera, you should be able to control all the camera’s video functions from the handle.

The Fill Light and AI Vision Sensor

The real magic of this device comes with the AI Sensor. This small module is attached to the unit and enables the device to track your face. It’s operated by simple hand gestures that allow you to start, stop, and calibrate the tracking. The unit also contains a small fill light.

It works amazingly well. For YouTubers recording videos of themselves, when they want to move about, this function will be a boon especially when combined with the face and eye tracking in the camera. I use my cameras to stream a video feed when delivering training online, so this function will be perfect for that too.

The Hohem iSteady MT2 in Use

Once set up, the MT2 is incredibly easy to use, and it does a great job of smoothing out camera movement. The results are far, far better than I can achieve by handholding a camera.

Firstly, I tried it connected to my smartphone by Bluetooth and it worked well; there’s a bracket supplied that will hold a phone. All the controls functioned as expected. I could zoom in and out and refocus. The dedicated app made it easy to perform all the functions I wanted. I tried it with an Android phone, and it also works with iPhones.

With the mirrorless camera, it works equally well for many devices. However, there was one drawback for me. Sadly, most gimbal manufacturers stopped supporting cable or Bluetooth control of Olympus cameras a few years ago. Consequently, it was not possible to connect the iSteady MT2 to the camera’s USB-C port and get it to work. However, since the change of ownership to OM Digital Solutions, sales of OM System cameras have exploded. So, I spoke to Hohem about this and other manufacturers and they promised to address this in future firmware updates. It’s worth noting that, as far as I am aware, this is a shortcoming of all gimbals and the restriction isn’t limited to OM System Cameras. So, if the extra controls are important to you, check the Hohem compatibility chart.

However, there was a workaround for that. By using one of the supplied cables – Cable 2, USB-C to 2.5mm TRS – and setting the camera’s video setting to start recording by pressing the shutter release button – something I always do for video anyway – I could start and stop the video from the handle. As I said, the focus settings via the MT2’s handle would not work, so I would need to wait for the firmware update for that to happen.

Consequently, I needed to either use the camera’s autofocus, which is something a lot of people prefer not to do with video, or manually focus using the lens. Alternatively, one could shoot at a wide angle, choose a smaller aperture, and focus on the hyperfocal distance. I tried that and it worked.

I’m looking forward to seeing the firmware update that will address that. Nevertheless, the Gimbal function worked perfectly with the camera.

As with any accessory, it is worth checking compatibility with your camera before buying. The OM-1 was close to the physical maximum side that would work in a horizontal orientation, and it was too big to fit in portrait orientation. Again, check the Hohem compatibility chart for your camera.

I tried using the gimbal by carrying the camera at all different levels, really pushing it by walking quickly along the street, and up and down stairs. The results were pretty good. I found it was even better with the OM-1’s in-body image stabilization switched on. However, this is worth trying with your camera model as some image stabilization systems don’t work as well on a gimbal.

The MT2 has six different modes: Pan Follow, Pan & Tilt Follow, All Lock, All Follow, Sport (for fast-moving action), and Inception Mode, which does continuous 360° rotations. It’s possible to adjust the tilt, roll, and pan torque settings.

You can pair the MT2 with some cameras via Bluetooth, which includes GoPros.

The 2,600 mAh battery lasted a long time, After six hours of heavy use, there was still one bar left on the battery gauge. It took around 3 hours to fully recharge it. Using the AI tracking plus the fill light at its highest setting, it’s rated for 6-8 hours of use, and up to 17 hours if the gimbal is fully balanced.

What I Liked and What Could Be Improved

This is a superb stabilizer that far exceeded my expectations.  

What I Liked

  • It works exceptionally well.
  • Wide range of functions.
  • Superb Face Tracking.
  • Adaptors for smartphone and action cameras.
  • Great Facebook support groups.
  • Accessory port for attaching a microphone.
  • Gesture Controls.
  • Quick-release levers with safety buttons for releasing and adjusting the camera.
  • Smart, professional-looking, sturdy build.
  • Ergonomic design.
  • Clear, bright OLED display that’s visible in bright daylight.
  • Cables for attaching a wide variety of cameras.
  • Easy to set start and finish points for timelapse shooting.
  • Bluetooth compatibility with some cameras.
  • Quiet in use.
  • RGB adjustable fill light.
  • Excellent battery life.
  • Easy to follow user manual.

What Could Be Improved:

  • There was some single-use plastic packaging, although far less than from some brands.
  • No wire or Bluetooth control for some cameras that have the ability to be controlled in that way. If this is important to you, there is a camera compatibility chart that can be downloaded. This seems to be an issue with all gimbals. It is not an insurmountable problem for me.
  • Although the fill light is bright enough to add catch light to the subject’s eye and to lift shadows when using an OM System camera as a webcam, for more than that an additional light source may be necessary.
  • Dislodging the AI Camera is a bit too easy to do when assembling or disassembling the unit. I recommend removing it first.

In Conclusion: Is the Hohem MT2 Worth It?

My answer to that is a definite yes. At $329 its functionality outstrips others in the same price bracket and its cost is significantly less than other models with AI face tracking. Although I wasn’t aware of Hohem before testing this, I can see that it is already a well-respected brand with an enthusiastic customer base. It is available to buy here.


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