- Panning movements allow you to track an object from left to right or right to left, such as a subject entering the frame from one side and exiting the frame on the other.
- Tilting movements help you feature movement up and down in the frame, such as a subject ascending or descending a set of stairs.
- Rolling movements give the viewer a closer and further view of the subject. As you move back and forth (i.e., starting with a close-up of a subject and moving back), a gimbal will help stabilize the footage so it's smooth, even if your movements aren't.
- Price - Ultimately, we all have a price we're willing to pay for gear. Fortunately, gimbals are much less expensive than even just a couple of years ago.
- Versatility - You want a gimbal that can accommodate different camera setups, so versatility is a must. Many consumer gimbals are designed to accommodate a variety of mirrorless and DSLR cameras, that way if you upgrade your camera in the future, you might not have to buy a whole new gimbal.
- Weight - Most consumer-grade gimbals are lightweight because they're made to work with smartphones, mirrorless cameras, and even DSLRs. But when start adding external microphones, video monitors, and other accessories, you'll need a bigger gimbal, which means more weight to carry around.
- Power - Some bargain-basement gimbals don't use batteries, but most quality gimbals need power for their motors. The majority of powered gimbals use lithium-ion batteries, though some use standard alkaline batteries.
Photo by jacoblund via iStock
Having a good gimbal stabilizer is a must for videographers and vloggers.
Yet, if you're a beginner videographer, you might not be all that familiar with gimbals, what they do, and how they work, let alone be familiar with the best gimbals on the market.
What's so great about gimbal stabilizers is that they help you get professional-looking videos.
That is, they stabilize the camera so instead of getting footage that makes people seasick, you get ultra-smooth video. In other words, a gimbal stabilizer is key if you want to step up your game and produce the best-quality video.
Let's explore gimbals in more detail.
What is a Gimbal Stabilizer?
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Typically, gimbals used for shooting video are motorized and provide you with three-axis stabilization for your camera.
Basically, a gimbal counteracts the movement of the camera to ensure that the video footage remains smooth and cinematic looking.
Without a gimbal, your video can be quite shaky, and, as noted above, can be difficult to watch and even make people queasy.
Some filmmakers have used this shaky kind of video with great success (i.e., The Blair Witch Project), but for the rest of us, shaky video just looks like an accident. Using a gimbal is a much better choice!
Photo by ozgurdonmaz via iStock
It's important to note that there is another kind of gimbal in photography.
Where a video gimbal is motorized and offers stabilization on multiple axes, a tripod head gimbal is most often used with long telephoto lenses, like those you'd find a wildlife photographer using.
These gimbals are not motorized, and instead provide support for a large, heavy lens and facilitate smooth tracking, like following a bird in flight.
For our purposes here, we'll be talking specifically about video gimbals.
How a Gimbal Stabilizer Works
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As noted above, a gimbal simply stabilizes the camera, that way as you shoot video, you get beautifully smooth results. In many cases, this is done within milliseconds of the gimbal detecting movement.
So, if you move the camera suddenly to the left, the gimbal will counteract that movement almost instantaneously, that way your video footage doesn't become herky-jerky.
Furthermore, three-axis gimbal stabilizers provide stabilization that counteracts pan, tilt, and roll movements. This means that if the camera moves side to side (pan), up and down (tilt), or back and forth (roll), the gimbal will counteract that motion. This is important because pan, tilt, and roll movements with the camera are essential to creating impactful videos:
How to Balance a Gimbal Stabilizer
Learning how to balance a gimbal is an important aspect of mastering videography.
In the video above by Hai Tran, learn precisely how to do just that.
In this example, he uses a Feiyu AK4000 gimbal, which has four points of balance. Not all gimbals are that complex, but it's still good information to have to balance your particular gimbal.
Who Should Use a Gimbal Stabilizer?
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Honestly, anyone taking videos can benefit from using a gimbal stabilizer.
Since gimbals have become so much more affordable (see the list below), virtually anyone can add a gimbal to their kit, including people that shoot video exclusively with their smartphone.
Though you often see people involved in sports like skiing or snowboarding using a gimbal, they're also popular with vloggers, amateur videographers, and professionals, too.
What to Look for in a Gimbal Stabilizer
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There are a number of features you should look for when purchasing a gimbal. This includes:
Best Gimbal Stabilizer 2019
If you're looking for the best gimbal stabilizers, look no further than the models listed below.
Feiyu AK2000 Gimbal Stabilizer
I use this gimbal, and I can personally attest to its functionality and quality of design.
This is a 3-axis handheld gimbal stabilizer specifically designed for use with mirrorless and DSLR cameras (I usually use it with my Sony a6400).
This rig can connect to your camera via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, which gives you control over camera settings like image resolution, the shooting mode, and even the focus point.
It has 12-hour runtime on the lithium-ion batteries, so you can shoot all day long (and then some) without worrying about power.
I also appreciate the fact that this gimbal has a magnetic knob that allows ultra-precise control of zoom, focus, and camera movements. There's even 1/4"-20 threaded holes on the side and bottom for attaching a tripod, a microphone, or other accessories.
Price: $379.88 at Adorama
Ikan E-IMAGE Horizon One 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer
This is another gimbal I have in my gear collection, and it's one of the sturdiest, best-built gimbals I've ever used.
In fact, this unit will support up to eight pounds of gear, so you can load it up with your camera and all sorts of goodies without issue.
I've used it with my Nikon Z7, my Panasonic GH5, and my Sony a6400, and have been impressed with this gimbal in each situation.
You get full 360-degree movement on all three axes while the brushless motors and technology-rich computing system allows for ultra-precise stabilization.
There are five operational modes, including single-axis and dual-axis follow modes, and "Dream Mode," which generates 360-degree spin on the roll axis for some truly incredible footage.
I have to mention the comfort level of this gimbal as well - it's grip feels good in the hand and the whole unit feels stable no matter if you've just got your camera attached or other accessories loaded onto it as well!
Price: $399.99 at Adorama
DJI Ronin S Gimbal Stabilizer
Another well-reviewed rig that gets consideration for the best gimbal stabilizer is the DJI Ronin S.
This small gimbal has a motorized framework that gives you supreme precision and control over your video footage. That's thanks in large part to its angled roll motor that offers excellent stabilization.
This gimbal also has a unique mounting system that makes it compatible with virutally any DSLR or mirrorless camera on the market.
With direct control, remote control, and third-party accessory control options, there's a wealth of possibilities for getting the video footage you want.
There's even built-in creative features like tracking, timelapse, and panorama shots!
Price: $499.00 at Adorama
To make the DJI Ronin-S even more functional, you should consider adding the Andycine monitor mount shown above.
This mount is small and portable, and its tool-less design means you can install it easily and make fast adjustments when need be.
The 360-degree design means you can easily change the viewing angle when necessary, and with three 1/4-20" threads, you can add an array of accessories like an LED light, an external monitor, and a microphone.
Price: $39.99 at Amazon
Zhiyun Crane V2 Gimbal Stabilizer
Like the other gimbal stabilizers noted above, the Zhiyun Crane V2 is a handheld gimbal that provides stability on three separate axes.
Unlike the other gimbals listed here, though, this one is made specifically for most mirrorless cameras. That said, it has a payload of up to 4 pounds, so you can easily accommodate your mirrorless camera and lens with this gimbal.
It has built in wireless and Bluetooth, can be powered from two types of batteries, and has quick hand adjustment controls for making quick changes on the fly as well.
There's also a 1/4"-20 thread on the bottom of the gimbal, so you have attach it to a tripod, extension rod, and the like for improved shooting capabilities.
Price: $349.00 at Adorama
Best Gimbal Stabilizer under $300: GlideCam XR-PRO
If you want to keep your gimbal budget under $300, there's no better option than the GlideCam XR-PRO.
This thing is perfectly suited for using a mirrorless camera or a small DSLR for video work, thanks to its 10 pound payload capacity.
It has 3-axis stabilization and precision bearings for ultra-smooth motion, an adjustable inertial-control base, and a telescoping center post.
There's even a 90-day warranty!
Price: $259.00 at Adorama
Best Gimbal Stabilizer Under $200: Flycam HD-3000
This rig supports up to eight pounds of gear, making it ideal for either DSLR or mirrorless setups.
Like the other gimbals listed here, the Flycam HD-3000 offers 3-axis stabilization. Its vertical balance can be adjusted by changing the counterweights in the base, or, alternatively, by adjusting the tool-less telescopic central post.
The top plate can be adjusted on the X & Y axes, and the quick release plate accepts all DSLRs and video cameras as well.
Price: $160.95 at Amazon
Best Gimbal Under $100: Neewer Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer
If you're looking for a cheap gimbal that still provides you with the options you need to fine-tune your videomaking, this Neewer 24-inch handheld gimbal stabilizer is it.
The quick-release plate is adjustable, so you can compensate for the camera's weight. You can also extend the body of the gimbal for improved balance.
There's no eletronic motors at this price point, but the mechanical adjustment system works fine. Besides without the need for batteries, you don't have to worry about running out of juice!
Price: $59.99 at Amazon
Bonus: A Must-Have Accessory for Working With a Gimbal Stabilizer
If you want to use a field monitor and a gimbal, you need to add the ANDYCINE monitor mount to your kit.
This rig allows you to use your monitor without it getting in the way of your gimbal, and with a 360-degree mount, you can quickly and easily change your viewing angle.
Since it's made of aluminum, it's lightweight and won't make you feel as though you're carrying a ton of gear.
It has a toolless design, too, so you can install it and quickly make adjustments on the fly.
This thing is small, highly functional, portable, and light - just what you want when shooting with a gimbal!