The study was designed to determine the effect of joystick handle size and (display-control) gain at two levels of required task precision on performance and physical load on crane operators. Eight experienced crane operators performed a simulated crane operation task on a computer by use of a joystick with either a short or a large handle. The task was performed at three gain levels and at two levels of required precision. Task performance, wrist and forearm postures, upper extremity muscle activity, perceived exertion and perceived comfort were measured. Task performance improved when using the joystick with the short handle and when working at a higher gain, while physical load decreased or remained the same. An increased level of required task precision was associated with a lower performance, but physical load was not affected. External validity of the simulated crane task seemed sufficient enough to extrapolate the results to practice. A joystick with a short handle is recommended, as this leads to an increased performance whilst the operator's physical load decreases or remains the same. Further optimization of performance and physical load can be achieved by optimizing gain settings of the joystick in relation to the task and type of joystick used.