In the last decade, the explosion of consumer camera gimbals has revolutionized the amateur filmmaking scene.
Now, more than ever before, indie videographers have access to high-tech camera stabilizers — giving them the power to capture impressive professional-level footage at a fraction of what it once cost.
In this guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about camera gimbals — from how they work, how to use them, and what to look for when purchasing one.
Keep Reading to learn everything you need to know about camera gimbals!
What Is A Gimbal?
A camera gimbal is a mechanical device that is used to keep a camera stabilized while in motion.
It does this by using three motors that are mounted on an axis, allowing the camera to rotate around its center of gravity.
This gives the user the ability to pan, tilt, and roll the camera without having to worry about shaky footage.
Gimbal technology has been around for centuries. However, it wasn’t until recently that they became widely available for videographers to take advantage of in their filmmaking.
There are even smartphone gimbals that allow you to take smooth footage without having to spend a lot of money on additional equipment.
While other methods of camera stabilization exist — such as analog stabilizers and tripods — the technology behind electronic gimbals allows you to capture the smoothest results.
Want to learn more about how gimbals compare to other tech? Check out these detailed articles:
How Gimbals Work
As mentioned above, camera gimbals use three motors that are mounted on an axis.
These motors work together to stabilize the camera while in motion by constantly making tiny adjustments.
This allows you to pan, tilt, and roll the camera without having to worry about shaky footage.
The three axes that the motors are mounted on are known as pitch, yaw, and roll.
Pitch is the up-and-down movement, yaw is the left-to-right movement, and roll is the side-to-side movement.
By using these three axes, a camera gimbal can keep a camera perfectly stabilized no matter what kind of movement it is experiencing.
For more details on the scientific principles behind gimbal technology, check out this excellent video from Techquickie.
Do You Need A Gimbal?
If you’ve ever tried to take video footage while walking or running, then you know how difficult it can be to keep the camera still.
Even if you’re just holding the camera in your hand, small movements can cause shaky footage.
This is because our hands are not naturally stable enough to take smooth video footage.
A camera gimbal solves this problem by stabilizing the camera for you so that you can focus on other things, like framing your shot or following your subject.
This results in smoother, more professional-looking footage that is sure to impress your friends and family.
Still unsure whether a gimbal is right for you? Check out these helpful articles:
How To Use A Gimbal
With a little training, gimbals are generally easy to use.
However, they aren’t exactly grab-and-go right off the bat — and a little knowledge can go a long way in the world of stabilizers.
Keep reading to learn the basics.
Setting Up Your Camera and Lens
Before you start using your gimbal, it is first important to consider your camera gear and settings. If you are using a smartphone to film, you can ignore this information.
The camera gear and settings you’d use when filming on, say, a tripod, may differ from those you’d use on a gimbal.
In general, it is best to stick to shorter wide-angle prime lenses.
This ensures that your camera stays light and won;y overload your gimbal.
Furthermore, wide-angle lenses typically mask any jitter or shake that may occur while operating the gimbal.
Using zoom lenses is possible when using a gimbal, however, this is not recommended.
Depending on your equipment, in-camera settings may also require adjusting.
For more information on setting your camera up for gimbal use, check out these helpful articles:
- Choosing The Best Gimbal Lens: Ultimate Guide
- Using A Zoom Lens On A Gimbal: Everything You Need To Know
Balancing A Gimbal
Balancing a gimbal is crucial.
While these devices have motors that help to keep your camera stabilized, an unbalanced gimbal will place too much strain on your motors.
This can lead to damaged gear.
Balancing a gimbal is relatively simple once you know the basics.
- The first step is to attach the camera to the gimbal using the mount that comes with your gimbal.
- Next, you need to adjust the weight distribution so that the camera is balanced on all three axes. How you do this will depend on your device’s brand and model.
- Finally, you need to calibrate the gimbal. Again, this will depend on your particular gimbal. Some models —like the Weebill S — offer a feature called “auto-tune” which will automatically calibrate.
By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your gimbal is properly balanced and ready to use.
Having trouble? Read Is Your Gimbal Perfectly Balanced? How To Know.
Holding A Gimbal
Once your device is perfectly balanced, it is time to start filming.
It is important to understand that using a gimbal to film will not guarantee smooth footage.
The two most important factors in achieving buttery-smooth video are your physical movements and your gimbal’s settings.
Let me explain.
When you move around with your gimbal, your gimbal keeps your camera smooth. However, any small jittery movements and vibrations from your body can be transferred into your gimbal — causing your final footage to appear shakey, despite the use of a gimbal.
With this in mind, it is crucial that you keep your body as still as possible and your movements as smooth as possible.
A technique known as the “Ninja Walk” is a popular method for avoiding bad video.
Understanding Your Gimbal’s Modes
Once you’ve practiced moving smoothly while holding your gimbal, it’s time to figure out your gimbal’s modes.
Gimbal modes control how your gimbal behaves.
For example, some modes restrict one or more of the pan, tilt, and roll axis movements in order to make shots more smooth.
In contrast, some modes let you move in any direction, giving your gimbal a full range of motion.
The four main gimbal modes are:
- Full Follow Mode
- Pan Follow Mode
- Lock Mode
- POV Mode
For an in-depth look at gimbal modes, read Gimbal Modes Explained: How To Pick The Right One
Using Gimbal Apps
Most modern gimbals come with phone applications that can be used to control different aspects of your device.
Most of these apps enable you to remotely control your gimbal’s movements and settings.
Gimbal apps are not only handy for videographers, they can also be used by photographers to program moving timelapse sequences.
Not sure about gimbal apps? Check out Can You Use A Gimbal Without An App? Answered
Mounting A Gimbal
Did you know that gimbals can be mounted on cars, bikes, and even people?
By attaching your stabilizer to a vehicle or person, you can capture impressive moving footage that wouldn’t have previously been possible.
Instead of the shake and vibration usually associated with amateur action footage, you will be able to achieve professional-level video.
Furthermore, many gimbals can be operated remotely, using an app. This means you can still rotate your camera for dynamic shots — even if it is mounted to the outside of a car.
For more information on gimbal mounting, check out these in-depth articles:
- Mounting A Gimbal On Your Car: Ultimate Guide
- How To Mount A Gimbal On A Bike: Why, What, & How
- Wearable Gimbals: A Complete Guide
Packing A Gimbal Safely
If you plan to travel with your camera gear, then it is important to pack your gimbal safely.
GImbals can be very delicate, so making sure it is protected is crucial.
The best way to pack and carry your gimbal for transport and travel is in an appropriately sized bag or backpack with sufficient padding.
Some of the best options include a bag specially designed to hold a gimbal or a camera backpack with enough space to store a gimbal.
Read Gimbals: How To Best Pack For Transport and Travel to learn more!
Getting Creative With Your Gimbal
Once you have mastered gimbal basics, it’s time to start thinking outside the box.
By getting creative with your gear, you will be able to take your filmmaking to a new level.
For example, gimbals can be can be mounted on a tripod, and many models come with built-in controls that allow you to pan and tilt the camera while filming.
In addition to traditional video applications, gimbals can also be used for time-lapse photography, aerial photography, and even live streaming.
With a little creativity, you can find all sorts of ways to use a gimbal to capture amazing shots.
Check out these helpful articles to get your creative juices flowing:
Basic Gimbal Troubleshooting
Gimbals are very comlicated devices that rely on complex physics, algorithms, and small motors — so, a lot can go wrong.
Here are some basic tips for troubleshooting your gimbal.
- First, check that the batteries are charged and properly installed. If the batteries are low, the gimbal may not function properly.
- Next, check that the gimbal is turned on and that the mode is set to the desired setting. If the gimbal is still not working properly, try resetting it by turning it off and then on again. If the problem persists, try calibrating the gimbal using the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Finally, if all else fails, contact customer support for assistance.
By following these steps, you should be able to fix most common problems with your gimbal.
However, because there are many different gimbal brand and models, make sure you refer to your particular gimbal’s meanual.
One of the most common problems you will face is gimbal shake. Read Why Is My Gimbal Shaking? Causes & Solutions to learn how to fix it!
Types of Gimbals
There are a few different styles of gimbal out there.
Here are the main variations of gimbal you should be aware of.
2 Axis Vs. 3 Axis Gimbals
There are two main types of camera gimbals: 2-axis and 3-axis.
2-axis gimbals only stabilize along the pitch and yaw axes, which means that they can compensate for up-and-down and left-to-right movements but not side-to-side movements.
3-axis gimbals stabilize along all three axes (pitch, yaw, and roll), which gives them complete freedom of movement and allows them to compensate for any type of movement imaginable.
3 axis gimbals will always produce smoother footage since they can compensate for more types of movement than 2 axis gimbals.
If you’re unsure of which type of Gimbal you need — 2 Axis or 3 Axis — we recommend going with a 3 Axis Gimbal since they offer more stability and freedom of movement than 2 Axis Gimble.
Camera Vs. Phone Gimbals
Some gimbals are designed to be used with DSLR-style cameras. Others are intended for use with smartphones. Some work with either.
For casual, iPhone videographers, a phone gimbal will suffice.
These models are typically more affordable and can be small enough to fit into a pocket.
However, they may not offer the same level of stability as a camera gimbal, making them less ideal for action shots or video.
Camera gimbals tend to be more expensive, but they offer greater stability and weight support, making them ideal for professional photographers or videographers.
Considering a gimbal for your iPhone? Read Do You Need A Gimbal For iPhone? When To Use One
Popular Gimbal Brands
In the world of camera gimbals, there are a number of popular brands to choose from.
However, three brands, in particular, come to mind: DJI, Zhiyun, and Feiyutech.
But which one is the best? Let’s take a look at each brand and see how they compare.
Zhiyun is a big player in the world of camera stabilization.
The company offers a wide range of gimbals for both DSLR and mirrorless cameras, as well as action cameras like the GoPro.
Some of Zhiyun’s most popular gimbals include the Crane Plus and Crane 2S.
One thing that sets Zhiyun gimbals apart from those from other brands is their price point.
Zhiyun gimbals are generally more affordable than other brands, making them a good option for budget-minded photographers and videographers.
Another selling point of Zhiyun gimbals is their compatibility with a wide range of camera types and sizes.
Whether you’re using a small point-and-shoot camera or a large DSLR, chances are there’s a Zhiyun gimbal that will work with it.
Interested in Zhiyun Gimbals? Check out The Best Zhiyun Gimbals Compared 2022
DJI is a well-known name in the world of drones and photography.
The company makes some of the most popular drone models on the market, including the Mavic Pro and Phantom 4 Pro.
DJI also offers a line of gimbals designed for use with DSLR and mirrorless cameras.
Some of the most popular DJI gimbals include the Ronin-S and Ronin-SC.
One of the biggest selling points of DJI gimbals is their ease of use.
Thanks to features like auto-tuning and built-in batteries, it’s easy to get your DJI gimbal up and running, even if you’re a first-time user.
And if you ever do run into any issues, DJI’s customer service is widely considered to be some of the best in the business.
Feiyutech rounds out our list of top gimbal brands.
The company offers a wide range of products, including both entry-level and professional-grade options.
Some of Feiyutech’s most popular gimbals include the FeiyuTech Vimble 2S and FeiyuTech G6 Plus.
What sets Feiyutech apart from other brands is its focus on portability.
Many Feiyutech products are designed with portability in mind, meaning they’re easy to carry around with you when you’re on the go.
Additionally, Feiyutech offers some unique features that you won’t find on other brands’ products, such as 360-degree panning modes and object tracking capabilities.
Choosing A Gimbal
When choosing a gimbal, there are several key factors to be aware of — regardless of brand.
Here are some important things to be aware of.
Gimbals have a maximum weight or “payload” that they can handle before problems start to arise.
So, just how much weight can a gimbal actually hold?
The average weight limit of a smartphone gimbal is 278 grams and the average weight limit of a camera gimbal is 4 kilograms.
That said, gimbal payloads and camera weights vary wildly, so make sure to conduct the appropriate research before attaching a camera or smartphone to your gimbal.
Want to learn more about payload? Read Gimbal Payloads: Ultimate Weight Limit Comparison.
While most gimbals are not waterproof, there are a few good reasons why you might want to use a waterproof gimbal.
The first reason is that it will allow you to capture smooth, stable footage in any condition.
If you are shooting in the rain or near water, a waterproof gimbal will keep your camera dry and protected.
Another reason to use a waterproof gimbal is that it can help you capture unique shots that would otherwise be impossible.
For example, you can use a waterproof gimbal to get shots of waves crashing against rocks or of people swimming in the ocean.
Want to learn more about waterproof gimbals? Read Waterproof Gimbals: A Complete Guide.
When you are just starting out with photography or videography, the last thing you want is to spend a fortune on equipment that is complicated to use.
This is why it is important to find a gimbal that is reasonably priced and easy to use.
Additionally, you will want to find a gimbal that has a minimal learning curve.
The last thing you want is to a long time trying to figure out how to use your new gimbal.
One of the most important things to consider when finding a gimbal for beginners is the price.
Luckily, there are some great options on the market that are very affordable and won’t break the bank. Check out The Best Gimbals For Beginners: Cheap & Easy.
Camera gimbals provide smooth and stabilized footage, which is why they are used by professional filmmakers and videographers.
If you’re looking to improve the quality of your videos, then you should consider investing in a camera gimbal.
In this guide, we have provided some of the best camera gimbals on the market.
We hope that this will help make your decision easier when purchasing a camera gimbal.