What is a gimbal?
A gimbal is a device typically consisting of rings or brackets that pivot in one direction in order to keep a device steady. For videographers, in particular, a gimbal stabilizer is a really useful means for shooting handheld and producing steady footage.
In essence, a gimbal is a support on which you mount your camera to the inner-most bracket. The surrounding brackets then rotate around your camera, allowing that inner bracket to keep level and rotate on a single axis.
In other words, your camera almost looks like it’s floating on air when mounted to a gimbal. The stabilizer is programmed to detect your deliberate movements (eg a wide pan) from the small vibrations and non-deliberate camera shake that is inevitable when shooting handheld.
What cameras can you use a gimbal with?
There are gimbals designed for whatever camera you may be filming with. For instance, DJI makes the OSMO Mobile 2 for use with smartphones. And there are many other such models on the market.
There are a wide range of gimbals designed for use with DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. There are even gimbals for action cameras and, of course, cinematic cameras.
In this guide we’ll be looking at the best gimbals for video for use with DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. In future guides we’ll look at the gimbals available for other devices.
What are the best gimbals for video?
- 3.6kg payload
- Focus Wheel on the grip
DJI’s three-axis gimbal was one of the most anticipated camera accessories of 2018, and it comes loaded with features. Smooth fluid footage is just part of the story. A joystick on the handle let you to change the camera position to help frame your shot. Dedicated buttons enable you to toggle between SmoothTrack profiles or to begin and stop recording.
There’s also a Focus Wheel, which you can mount on either side of the Ronin’s handle. Battery life will give you 12 hours on a single charge.
Features such as the new Push Mode lets you adjust the pan, tilt and roll axis by hand. There’s also an Auto-Tune function that monitors the motors changing the strength and speed as needed, all helping to speed up set-up.
The Ronin-S also has a companion mobile app that further enhances the gimbal’s features. These include advanced camera moves such as Panorama, Motion lapsed, Timelapse and Track.
- 360-degree tilting, rolling and panning angles
- 12-hour battery life
Priced just under £300, the FeiyuTech A1000 offers incredible value for money. It’s powered by two batteries that fit inside the handle and it comes supplied with four rechargeable batteries. These can be charged inside the gimbal or by using the supplied charger.
A joystick on the handle allows you to control the rotation and tilt of the camera. Cables are also provided to allow some cameras to be connected to the gimbal so the shutter can be fired by a control on the grip.
FeiyuTech also has a smartphone app that you can use to control the A1000. You can also use the app to make quite complex programmed pan and tilt movements. It offers quite a depth of control.
Zhiyun Crane 2
- Follow Focus control
- 3.2kg payload
Before DJI shook things up with the Ronin-S, Zhiyun’s Crane 2 was the must-have gimbal for many videographers. Offering superb motion sensitivity and precision control, it also offers user-friendliness with its OLED display and quick control dial.
The Crane 2 was also the first gimbal to integrate a follow focus wheel, and as of May 2018 there is an upgrade to the Crane 2 that adds Servo Follow Focus.
Most impressive, though, is the Crane 2’s 18-hour continuous battery life. What’s more, you can also charge your phone via the gimbal in emergencies.
The Crane 2 comes with camera control cables for Sony and Panasonic cameras, an aluminium alloy tripod, carrying bag and a Manfrotto standard quick release plate that allows you to quickly swap between the gimbal and your tripod.
Ikan Beholder DS2-A
- 4lb payload
- 360-degree movement on pan axis
While it may lack some of the flashier features of other options on our list of the best gimbals for video, the Beholder DS2-A’s all-aluminium construction makes it one of the lightest options. And if you’re filming for long periods of time, this makes a real difference.
Boasting a newly designed angled roll motor arm, the DS2-A Beholder promises a better view of your camera’s screen when using the gimbal.
There’s also a new Auto Sweep mode. This allows users to program up to 60 seconds of camera movement into the Beholder.
Other features include an OLED display screen for navigating through the gimbal’s operating modes, and a bundled mini tripod for standing the gimbal upright.
- Lightweight Magnesium frame
- SmoothTrack technology
DJI’s Ronin-M stabilizer is the most expensive on our best gimbals list, but it really delivers on the features and performance. Weighing just 3.2kg (5lbs) thanks to its Magnesium frame, the Ronin-M can support payloads up to 3.6kg (8lbs), yet folds up compactly to fit in your backpack.
DJI’s SmoothTrack technology enables the Ronin-M to detect your minor movements and turn them into smooth transitions of the camera’s angle. What’s more, its Single Axis Follow mode lets you lock two of the Ronin-M’s axes while SmoothTrack guides your camera long one axis.
Battery life is six hours, and the Ronin-M is Bluetooth-enabled, meaning you can your settings on the go with the DJI Assistant app.