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Whether you’re a wildlife photographer, an amateur filmmaker, or a YouTuber that’s starting to get some traction, having access to the best gimbal for your smartphone or camera can have a huge impact on the quality of your shots.
Shaky camera work is frustrating to both photographers and filmmakers and to those that have to sit through the footage. If you want to take the next step towards creating memorable content, then picking the right gimbal is the only way to go. You would be surprised how many people just blame their cameras without realizing that there’s more to filmmaking than just the camera and lens.
Best Gimbal Reviews
DJI Osmo Mobile 2 Bundle
The Osmo Mobile 2 is a gimbal stabilizer designed for smartphones. It’s a light and affordable handheld accessory with loads of features that will make your job a lot easier when you’re constantly moving and shooting.
DJI went for a big upgrade as far as quality is concerned and opted to construct the new Osmo Mobile 2 from high-strength nylon. The handle is ergonomic and the entire body is lightweight. The fit is for 3.3”-wide smartphones.
As a motorized stabilizer, you would expect the Osmo Mobile 2 to be loaded with high-tech features. The software is one of the most reliable on the market. It has multiple built-in programs for various shooting conditions and scenarios.
For example, you can choose the “Stories” function if you want to film something for your Instagram Stories. The function automatically allows the phone’s camera to lock into a portrait-orientation mode.
There’s also a feature called “Motionlapse.” This will allow you to create time-lapse videos while moving and eliminate any shaking. The control panel is intuitive and the functionality is reliable.
The power button doubles as the mode-switching button. Doubling-up on button functions makes operating the Osmo Mobile 2 a lot faster.
What's to like about the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 Bundle
Although there’s a lot you can do with this motorized gimbal, what truly puts the cherry on top is the battery life.
Due to the fine-tuned software and the minimal corrections that the device has to do, the battery should last around 15 hours. This is almost double what other gimbals are capable of, which is nothing short of impressive at this price range.
What's not to like about the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 Bundle
Placing a microphone on the gimbal or on the phone is not really an option. This is pretty much the only drawback of the gadget. But, if you’re not looking for enhanced audio and just want smooth cinematic-quality captures, then this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.
Hohem iSteady Pro Gimbal
If you’ve already embraced the GoPro camera as a must-have gadget for your adventures, then it’s about time you’ve looked into a gimbal for it as well. This model is designed to provide good uptime, stabilization, and user-friendly operation in combination with a wide range of GoPro Hero cameras.
The Hohem iSteady Pro works with GoPro Hero 3 through 7, the AEE, the Yi 4K, as well as the SJCAM. That’s not to say that other models that are similar in size and weight won’t fit just as well. The gadget features a one-piece design which makes it easy to operate. This also reduces a lot of the weight associated with motorized gimbals.
The device features four stabilization modes that can take your camera work to another level. You can choose between the following modes: pan following, pan& tilt following, all locked, and all following. By alternating between modes, you’re basically choosing which axes to lock.
You can also play around with the object tracking function, which helps you stay focused on the subject of your shoot even while in motion. Of course, the Hohem iSteady Pro can only enhance your camera skills. It won’t take you from amateur to pro in an instant, even though it can make amazing directional corrections.
The battery life is pretty impressive for the money. The 4000 mAh 3.7V battery should offer a runtime of up to 12 hours. The actual battery life will vary depending on the weight of the camera and the modes you use.
What's to like about the Hohem iSteady Pro Gimbal
This is one of the cheapest entry-level to mid-range gimbals for enthusiasts and professional filmmakers or content creators. The combination of in-depth customization, price, and average runtime makes it a very attractive choice to a wide range of users.
What's not to like about the Hohem iSteady Pro Gimbal
The device has limited camera compatibility. Because having the proper weight is almost everything when it comes to stabilizing unwanted directional movement, going outside the recommended cameras range might reduce the gimbal’s overall performance.
Zhiyun Smooth 4 Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer
This device is compatible with a wide range of smartphones. It takes amateur filmmaking to a different level through a combination of fine-tuned parts, reliable software, and a user-friendly configuration.
Although it comes with a learning curve, the Smooth 4 gimbal is very interesting and highly accurate once you get the hang of it. Zhiyun dropped the traditional joystick design and opted for a trigger button instead, which is used to transition between movement modes.
Mechanically, the Smooth 4 features the standard 3-motor 3-axis construction which allows for corrections on all unwanted directional camera movements. One of the main highlights is the ZY play app. It’s compatible with Android and iOS devices.
Although the app has a wide range of features which include dolly zoom effects, smooth capturing, tracking, and many more. There is a slight compatibility issue; so far, only iOS users can enjoy the full range of features.
What's to like about the Zhiyun Smooth 4 Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer
What makes this 3-axis gimbal stand out from the crowd is the compatibility with a third-party app called FiLMic Pro. This enables you to use a lot more features because it unlocks certain functions of the gimbal such as the zoom and focus wheel and switching between modes while shooting.
What's not to like about the Zhiyun Smooth 4 Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer
The gimbal comes with a steep learning curve — not so much in terms of how it functions but in terms of control. The positioning of the trigger is not ideal, especially if you’ve only used a joystick gimbal in the past. The good news is that first-time users should have an easier time learning to properly hold and operate the device.
Freevision VILTA-M Handheld Smartphone Gimbal
The Vilta-M is the successor to the Freevision Vilta, an already accomplished smartphone gimbal. The Vilta-M retains the same proven algorithm that applies accurate corrections for 3D camera stability but adds a couple more software features as well as improved battery life.
When using the Vilta-M with your smartphone, you get up to 17 hours of battery life. What’s great about the low energy consumption is that you can actually use the gimbal to power up your smartphone. This can be very useful if you’re running on empty and you need a jolt to wrap up your video.
The functionality is very good, starting with the user-friendly control interface (three buttons and one joystick). The software is not the most amazing in terms of versatility. However, the powerful Freevision Vilta algorithm does its job well.
There are some interesting functions (lapse, panoramas, long exposure, dolly zoom, heliomode, etc.) and modes that allow you to create powerful, resonating video content. The POV feature adds amazing stability and it should be a hit with a lot of YouTubers and lifestyle streamers in general.
The construction is super durable as the frame is built from aviation-grade aluminum. The compatibility is decent though not as impressive as some other similarly priced gimbals. The Vilta-M only supports smartphones of up to 0.45 lbs. (or 208 grams) and 3.25” wide.
What's to like about the Freevision VILTA-M
The massive number of shooting modes and the on-demand smartphone charging are the two main highlights of this gadget. They give you more control over your content creation and allow you to put into practice more out-of-the-box ideas.
What's not to like about the Freevision VILTA-M
The pricing may be a bit steep for some users. The barebones version of the Vilta-M is already pricey but if you want to get the most out of it, you will also have to splurge on some of its custom accessories which further improve the stability, control, and compatibility with certain smartphones.
Feiyu Vimble 2 Extensible Smartphone Gimble
This budget-friendly gimble has more going for it than meets the eye. Although it was initially designed for smartphones, the new design also features GoPro camera compatibility, making it one of the few devices of its kind.
The gimbal can work with Android smartphones but the software has been mostly designed for iOS gadgets. The GoPro compatibility extends to GoPro 3, 3+, 4, 5, and 6. Of the many shooting modes available on this device, GoPro users can only use four of them.
The gadget is accompanied by the Vicool app. The software is well put together and does a good job at directional stabilization even for features such as auto-tracking, time-lapse, and when various filters are applied.
What’s very cool about this unit is that it comes with a 7” extension bar. This offers a lot more freedom when taking crane shots, dolly zoom shots, and even when you’re capturing a basic subject tracking video.
What's to like about the Feiyu Vimble 2
One of the best features is called “Identification Tracking.” This allows users to select various objects or persons within the frame and have the gimbal adjust the focus on them while tracking.
It’s a different spin on many other AI-assisted tracking functions found on motorized gimbals. With the key difference that it makes it easier to focus on even the smallest of objects.
What's not to like about the Feiyu Vimble 2
The fact that the Vimble 2 doesn’t work as well with Android smartphones limits its versatility a bit. However, this is clearly not a deal-breaker for filmmakers or content creators that use iPhones or GoPro Hero cameras to capture amazing footage.
There are two main types of gimbals used in photography and cinema: motorized and non-motorized. The main difference between them is the level of control that you get when operating the gimbal.
A motorized gimbal can be balanced quickly. It can be used as a handheld stabilizer or it can be mounted onto another piece of equipment such as a dolly.
But the biggest advantage is that you don’t have to worry about angles, body movement, hand movement, and so on. The motorized stabilizer keeps the camera steady. All you have to be concerned with is framing shot properly. All corrections are done quickly and automatically.
These gimbals are usually lighter as they don’t have motors, batteries, and other stuff that adds to the weight. They have unlimited uptime in that regard. However, operating a non-motorized gimbal has a huge learning curve.
No two gimbals are alike. Even if you’ve used one for the past two years, switching to a new model may require you to relearn certain movements and even experiment with new angles when shooting.
The upside is that subtle movements grant you more control, especially when tracking moving subjects. You can take leaning shots much easier and emphasize the action. This is something that may prove difficult to do with a motorized gimbal.
You can then also categorize gimbals by the devices that they are intended for. If you go this route, you have the following three subcategories:
- GoPro and small camera gimbals
- Small and Large DSLR gimbals
- Smartphone gimbals
The main difference between these three subcategories will be size, weight, and the actual clamping mechanism.
When it comes to weight, there are two things to consider. First of all, a gimbal shouldn’t be too heavy. If you’re already using a heavy camera and you’re expecting to shoot for long hours, a heavy gimbal won’t make your job easier.
Secondly, and perhaps most important, is the gimbal’s weight capacity. Gimbals aren’t exactly interchangeable tools. Each one has its own payload range. This means that in order for a gimbal to function properly, the camera must be heavier than the minimum threshold and lighter than the maximum threshold.
Using a camera that’s too light or too heavy can mess with the sensors and you could end up not getting the directional corrections you need. Of course, there are some ways to get around the minimum weight threshold.
You can attach a weight to the camera; the most common weight used is actually the quick-release plate that comes off the top of the tripod head. You can also use a microphone to boost the sound and add some more weight so that the camera fits within the required parameters.
It’s also important to understand that the weight of the actual gimbal becomes less of a worry when talking about smartphone gimbals. That’s because even the most average gimbals tend to weigh in the neighborhood of 1 to 1.2 lbs. You don’t need to be in peak physical condition to hold that much weight in one hand while moving.
In order to assess the quality of a gimbal, you have to factor in multiple design features. One of the most important aspects is obviously build quality. Low-end and medium-range gimbals are often made of ABS plastic.
Some will be more durable than others, for sure. Plastic is also lightweight which makes it a desirable choice for some users. However, aluminum, carbon fiber, and even nylon-reinforced plastic gimbals are always better choices because of their increased durability.
The battery life is almost equally important. Because motorized gimbals require power to work the motors and sensors, these gimbals only work when they have sufficient power. This means that if you’re out on an important shoot, you can’t afford to run out of juice.
When buying a new powered gimbal, try to get one with at least 8 hours of uninterrupted uptime. Gimbals that can be powered by multiple methods are also considered better quality.
The reliability of a gimbal can come down to two things: software and hardware. These days, due to the surging popularity of camera gimbals, the hardware is usually on-point among the most common brands.
However, software issues can often arise, especially in gimbals that were rushed off the production line. If the software glitches or isn’t properly calibrated, the motors won’t do their jobs and you won’t get accurate corrections for camera tilts, pans, and rolls.
Almost all gimbals on the market today feature three motors so that they can correct pan, tilt, and rolling camera motions. Some 2-axis gimbals still exist, but this isn’t something worth worrying about.
How Does a Gimbal Work?
In photography, a gimbal is supposed to stabilize one or all three axes of a camera. This means that the gimbal controls the three motions of a camera: roll, tilt, and pan.
The camera roll is the back and forth movement.
Camera tilting is when the camera is moving up and down.
The pan is the left and right or side to side camera movement.
Motorized gimbals use three brushless motors, one for each axis. Once the camera movements are detected by the gimbal stabilizer, an IMU (inertial measurement unit) is responsible for triggering the appropriate response.
Special algorithms are used to separate intended and unintentional camera movements. According to those indicators, the IMU responds by activating the motor responsible for the axis of the unwanted movement.
How to Make a Gimbal
Making a brushless motor gimbal is no small task. Even if you were to create a simple model, say a 2-axis gimbal, you would likely need a 3D printer or CNC router. Everything is about precision so you can’t just slap a bunch of pieces together and hope for the best.
What you can make at home, however, is a basic 3-axis non-motorized gimbal. If you want to practice using a gimbal, you can get ready the following items: cutter, drill, pliers, a small piece of wood, angle brackets, small scooter handle, screwdriver, screws, bolts.
Reduce the piece of wood to the size of the scooter handle hole. Drill a hole big enough for a bolt. Attach the corner brace steel using the appropriate bolts and nuts. Leave a little wiggle room. Optionally, add a small weight in the bottom corner for extra stabilization.
Bolt the corner brace steel assembly into the handle through the carved piece of wood. Attach the camera to the corner brace. This should work for small DSLR cameras that are also compatible with quick-release plates (aka. equipped with a mounting hole).
You can use tape to cover the nuts and bolts or you can use some bottle caps that match the color of your corner brace. These won’t interfere with the functionality of your DIY gimbal. You may also find a large selection of more complex and more precise gimbals online.
However, creating a gimbal at home that rivals what’s already on the market might be fool’s gold.
How to Use a Gimbal
The most common use of a gimbal is for tracking shots. With the camera mounted on the gimbal, simply follow the subject while keeping it in the center of the frame. This eliminates most of the up and down movement.
Crane shots also look amazing when using a gimbal. To do a crane shot, first put yourself in a squatting position. Then, stand up slowly. The gimbal will correct for excessive shake while you’re rising.
Although most gimbals do the same thing, not all of them are easy to use. Some gimbals come with a steep learning curve. The way you hold the gimbal may differ from one model to another, and, even the speed and angles will differ.
You have to get accustomed to your gimbal’s limitations when practicing various shooting techniques. Crane shots, dolly zoom shots, and even panorama shots will require specific body movements from you, depending on where the controller is and what type of grip is available (singlehanded, two-handed).
What Is a Gimbal?
A gimbal is a support accessory designed to allow an item to rotate on an axis. In photography, there are two types of gimbals. One type works as a tripod head. Its main purpose is to allow photographers to use long lenses without losing any freedom of movement. This type of gimbal is essential in wildlife photography as it promotes easy tracking of moving subjects.
Then there are motorized gimbals. These are used to keep a camera level and steady while in motion. They’re essential accessories in cinematography. Both basic and motorized gimbals (with two or three axes) can be used in cinematography and photography.
What Does a Gimbal Bearing Do?
A gimbal bearing is responsible for maintaining the alignment and ensuring a smooth movement when tilting, panning, or rolling the camera attached to the gimbal. When looking for gimbals, especially tripod gimbal heads, having minimal slack or play in the bearings is very important if you want accurate corrections.
It’s really hard to say that one particular gimbal is the best gimbal overall. That’s because you can often run into compatibility issues. Furthermore, as previously mentioned, gimbals are often made for very specific devices (GoPro cameras, DSLR cameras, smartphones, etc.).
However, since most people these days take advantage of the great capturing capabilities of smartphones, it’s hard not to see the Osmo Mobile 2 as offering everything you could ask for of the best gimbal on the market.
The gadget has amazing calibration, it’s easy to use, and there are loads of modes to play with, including some beginner friendly AI support.
All the gimbals on our list have great functionality. And, depending on your go-to video capturing device, you’re sure to find at least one option that fits your budget, skill level, and needs.