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Whether you are an amateur film-maker or a professional making a full-time living using your camera equipment, the chances are high you will want to use a camera stabilizer at some point. This is because stabilizers allow you to get the best picture you possibly can by helping your equipment stay stable during the time it takes for the camera to capture a scene. Even though your hands may feel stable, all hand-held cameras suffer from a little bit of a shake, no matter how unnoticeable. Most professionals use some sort of a stabilizer as it allows them to get a higher level of detail on their pictures and avoid effects of blur or grain caused by motion.
There is not just one type of camera stabilizers and different apparatuses called 'stabilizers' may actually look widely different. The camera stabilizer used by world-renowned Hollywood film makers will of course be a little different from the entry-level camera stabilizer an amateur film-maker can buy to use with his smartphone. Whatever level you are at and whatever your needs are, the article below outlines the different types of camera stabilizers you can get, and which ones we would recommend.
The Different Types of Camera Stabilizers
There are a few types of camera stabilizers which you can get which will vary in size, shape, and weight. Here we outline three types of camera stabilizer shapes but it is important to note that the inner technology used by different types of stabilizers also differs. For example, some are mechanical and use weights to provide stability, while others are electronic and use batteries to counterbalance motion incurred with holding the camera. The technology itself is not directly related to the price, as even stabilizers which only use gravity can turn out to be very pricy. Nevertheless, these are all things which you must consider before buying a camera stabilizer. The technology that it uses will affect not only the reliability of the stabilizer but also its weight and charge time (if it has any).
The first type is handheld stabilizers which are usually smaller and able to fit into your hand. It may be good for you if you want to be carrying less bulky equipment and be able to move more comfortably. It is also important to note that that type of stabilizer tends to be cheaper than the others we mention below.
The second type of stabilizer is a 3-Axis Gimbal stabilizer. This is a much more technically advanced piece of technical equipment which uses gravity to make automatic adjustment to the way that your camera is held. This means that the slightest shake will be compensated for, giving your equipment perfect stability. These stabilizers can be a bit tricky to get used to as they take some time to instal and tend to be bulkier. It's also important to consider that they use batteries and therefore are another piece of equipment which you will need to charge before going out with your camera.
The third type of common camera stabilizers is the vest stabilizer. This is one of the most high-end type of camera stabilizer which you can get and is more popular with film crews than the average-joe. That being said, vest cameras are extremely reliable and work perfectly with heavier cameras.
How Do Camera Stabilizers Work?
Camera stabilizers essentially work by stabilizing the motion of your camera. This means that the motion that occurs when you move the camera is counterbalanced by the stabilizer to give you a smoother finish. There are many small and bigger ways in which a hand-held camera moves. Motion occurs when the camera is moved up and down or from side to side. This is why a camera stabilizer has several axes that it operates on. Whenever motion occurs, the stabilizer will determine which axis needs to be corrected and make the necessary arrangements so that the image remains stable. Even though it may feel like you have a steady hand, we can guarantee that your camera is moving at least a little when you hold it by hand.
What Camera Stabilizer Should I Buy?
The camera stabilizer which you should buy depends a lot on your needs. For example, having a lighter camera will prevent you from using certain pieces of equipment and of course, not everything will be in your budget. Below, we have presented several camera stabilizers for different categories of people. Read on to find out which one is the most appropriate to your camera use.
Type 1 - Handheld stabilizers
The Yelangu S60T CF Handheld Stabilizer is one of the cheapest you can find but a very reliable choice. It's a great option for those with smaller cameras as it works with equipment under 6.6 lbs. This is one of the ones which does not use batteries, making it easy to carry around without worrying about charging it regularly. This one is great if you have a low budget but are quite skilled (it comes in at around $130). Indeed, the operator needs to be able to use it well in order for it to give the best results. This means it may not be the best choice for more clumsy people.
The CAME-TV P06 Carbon Fiber Stabilizer is another hand-held stabilizer which prides itself in rivaling the pricier Glidecam HD-Pro. It is one of the best options which you can get for a relatively low price and again, one that works well with lighter cameras. It can handle up to 6.2 lbs. This one requires no batteries, is easy to use and remarkably sturdy for its price-range.
The Neewer 24 handheld stabilizer is a cheap and reliable lightweight camera stabilizer. The stabilizer itself weights 4.8 pounds and it can handle cameras up to 6.6 lbs. Because of is carbon fibre frame, it is one of the lightest handheld stabilizers out there. It uses "Quick Release System" technology which makes it easier to mount and un-mount than many of its competitors, making it a lot more portable option. We would recommend it for people who need their stabilizer to be flexible, be light and easy to transport and quick to start using. With the Neewer you don't get the quality insurance of some of the more well-known brands mentioned here, but you do get good value for money with some innovative technology.
Type 2 - 3-axis gimbal stabilizers
The Zhiyun Crane 2 is a 3-axis gimbal stabilizer Review
The Zhiyun Crane 2 is a 3-axis gimbal stabilizer with a fantastic technical record. This one works on battery which is important to note, but fortunately has a remarkably long battery life. It is meant for lighter cameras and can handle those up to 7lbs. Technologically, the Zhiyun Crane 2 is quite advanced, offering options such as bluetooth connection and the ability to adjust settings from your phone. It also comes with a one year guarantee which should reassure about its technical abilities.
DJI Ronin M3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer Review
The DJI Ronin M3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer is another solid choice of a gimbal stabilizer. It supports up to 8 lbs so it works best with lighter cinema cameras. It can also be completed with a number of additional equipment, for example additional monitors, LED lights or microphones.
This one is definitely on the heavier side, but what this means is that it also gives great stable results. In fact, while it is still an amateur stabilizer, some of its functions are close to being professional.
It also works on battery, which is of good quality and durable.
Type 3 - Vest Stabilizers
Came-TV Pro Camera Vest System Review
The Came-TV Pro Camera Vest System is one of the best vest stabilizers on the market today. It has been compared to the Tiffen Steadicam to which it offers a cheaper alternative with an excellent track of technical specifications. Compared to the camera stabilizers listed above, it is suitable for much heavier equipment, but does well with lighter cameras too. It is recommended for using with cameras from 5 lbs all the way up to 33 lbs. As opposed to many of the cameras previously mentioned, it does not use a battery, which is one less thing to worry about. However, what this also means is that you will need to learn how to mechanically operate a stabilizer in case this is not something you are familiar with. While this has a bit of a learning curve, it is a useful skill and will help you dispense with battery-operated stabilizers. We would recommend this one for film makers with a smaller budget but a heavier camera. It is reliable, durable and although it is not the best in its category, it certainly is the best in its category at this given price point.
The type of stabilizer which you choose to go for should first and foremost take your needs into consideration. You need to ask yourself how much your camera weighs, how heavy a piece of equipment you are willing and able to carry with you, what your budget is, how comfortable you are with having to charge the stabilizer regularly and how well you know how to operate a stabilizer. These may seem like a lot of questions to ask yourself, but if you consider a camera stabilizer to be an essential piece of equipment, it is well worth taking the time to answer them. We hope that this guide has provided you with valuable insights into the workings of camera stabilizers, and the type that you might want to get.