In this guide we’ll be looking at the best gimbal stabilizers for video for use with DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. However, we should note that we haven’t included gimbals for smartphones in this article.
But before we dive into our favourite gimbals, lets take a quick look at what a gimbal is and how it works.
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 3 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 gimbal stabilizers for video?
DJI RS 2
- Accessory Connections: RSA/NATO ports, 1/4-inch, Cold shoe mount
- Video transmission/follow focus motor port : USB-C
- Battery: BG30-1950mAh-15.4V
- Connections: Bluetooth 5.0; USB-C
- Payload: 4.5kg
- Maximum Controlled Rotation Speed: Pan, Tilt, Roll: 360º
- Weight: Approx. 960 g
There are little if any design similarities between the new DJI RS 2 and the Ronin-S. The metal arms have all been replaced by a Carbon Fibre monocoque design, and every other element from the joystick, mounting points, focus wheel and grip have been improved and enhanced.
This is not an update with a few tweaks to the Ronin-S design; this is a complete reworking. The most significant update aside from the dramatic design change is the payload which has increased from 3.6kg to 4.5kg. It’s also lighter than the Ronin-S coming in at 1kg 0.81kg lighter.
That’s not all it is also smaller, which has been made possible by the advances in technology. The new RS 2 measures in at 410 x 260 x 195mm including the grip but without the extension, grip added.
The design also sees a huge series of additions, including a 1.4-inch full-colour LCD touchscreen; this enables you to flick through options and settings quickly.
Another big change is the addition of professional RSA/NATO ports that enable the new RS 2 to be incorporated into larger, more complex rigs or control systems.
For those of us not working on multi-million dollar productions, it’s good to see that there are still more common ports and connections including 1/4-inch mounting hold and cold shoe mount.
As with the previous Ronin-S, there are several possibilities for wired connections; these include Video transmission/follow focus motor port (USB-C), RSS camera control port (USB-C) and Follow Focus motor port (USB-C). As all of these ports are USB-C, so I was glad to see that DJI has marked which port is which.
As before the operating time in ideal conditions is 12 hours, and a BG30-1950mAh 15.4 LiPo 4S is used to power the RS 2. This has a charging time of 1.5h, which isn’t at all bad.
As ever the RS 2 offers a Bluetooth connection between the gimbal and the Ronin App available for both iOS and Android devices. This Bluetooth connection utilises the latest Bluetooth 5.0 technology.
The maximum controlled rotation remains the same as the Ronin-S at 360º through all axis. There is some change with the mechanical endpoints with the tilt axis changing from: Ronin-S 205° to – 115°, RS 2 -112° to +214° and Roll; Ronin-S 230° to – 90°, RS 2 -95° to +240°.
- Small and light weight
- Decent payload
- Fully featured
- Carbon is the wrong material
- Still a mess of wires
- Maybe too small
ZHIYUN Crane 2S
- Tilt mechanical range: -91º - +155º
- Roll Mechanical Range: 57.5° - +237.5°
- Pan Mechanical Range: 360º
- Tilt axis controllable angle: -80° - +135°
- Roll axis controllable angle: -35° - +35°
- Pan axis controllable angle: -180° - +180°
- Battery Capacity: 2600mAh
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.0
- Product Net Weight: 1880g (excluding tripod and batteries)
- Operation Time: 12h
- Easy to setup
- Great App
- Easy to switch between modes
- Not as refined as some gimbals
- Plates take a while to loosen up.
- Rear roll motor obstructs part of camera screen in the supplied set-up
Gudsen Moza Air 2
- Payload: 4.2kg (9.25lbs)
- Battery Life: 16-hour battery life
- Power: Four Li-ion 18650 replaceable batteries
Aimed at DSLR and mirrorless camera users, the Moza Air 2 from Gudsen is quite possibly the most underrated stabilizer on the market today. Priced well below the DJI Ronin-S but offering very comparable features, the Moza Air 2 offers a slew of nice design touches, such as easy access to your camera’s direct controls, to customisable buttons and wheels for different functions.
Gudsen really has thought through most eventualities in the Moza Air 2 design. As we mentioned, the tilt and roll axes bars are angled as such that you can access your camera’s controls quite easily. You also get an extra baseplate in the case that allows you to give your camera some extra height if it’s too diminutive to be able to balance. The joystick on the controller also makes it very easy to use.
Build quality is very solid, and – most importantly – the gimbal is very easy to balance your camera on. The Moza Air 2 might be the best balance of value for money on our list of the best gimbal stabilizers for your camera.
- 4-Axis and 8 Follow Modes
- Quick to set up
- Pricier than other models
Benro RedDog R1
- Payload: Up to 1.8kg
- Swivel Handle : Designed for different filming angles and is compact for travel
- Battery Life: The R1 will last for 12 hours on a single charge
- Weight: 879g
- Operating Modes: Universal Follow/Locked Down/Horizontal Follow
Single-handed motorised stabiliser gimbals seem to be coming thick and fast and it’s no surprise once you see how they can transform your footage. The Benro RedDog R1 is one of the most impressive yet, being lightweight, relatively inexpensive and packed with features.
There’s a lot to like from the outset. Strip away the cardboard packaging and a semi-hard transport case is revealed. Inside neatly laid out is the gimbal itself, bar a charge and balance all set and ready to use.
The design isn’t as finessed as the likes of the DJI Ronin-S, but then this is a far lighter weight product so doesn’t need the muscle. It’s designed for Mirrorless cameras, unlike the Ronin-S which can hold more than most owners.
- Joystick for 3-axis movement
- Great all-rounder
- Very smooth movements
- Motors designed mainly for mirrorless cameras
- App not as refined as its competitors
- Payload: 2kg
- Mount: 1/4-inch or 3/8-inch mount hole for your camera
- Charging: USB-C
It’s a gimbal stabiliser like the Ronin-S just smaller, lighter and more agile. It’s similar to it’s larger sibling with design tweaks and a lighter payload designed for the mirrorless generation.
What makes the Ronin-SC stand out, however, is not the size or weight: it’s the power of the app that comes with it. This transforms the stabiliser from a filming rig to a stills rig with ease, enabling you to capture shots that would otherwise be impossible.
If you don’t already own the Ronin-S then the Ronin-SC is an excellent mirrorless solution, if you do own the Ronin-S, then this is just a lighter weight version that easier to travel with.
- Camera control port
- Accessories port
- Lightweight and portable
- 1.6kg less payload than the Ronin-S
- Product type: Motorised stabilising gimbal
- Weight: 3.2lb (gimbal only), 4.0lb (including gimbal and grip)
- Dimensions: 202 x 185 x 486mm
- Load weight: 3.6Kg
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.
- Simple set-up
- Enables incredibly smooth video
- Solid construction
- Quite heavy for a single-handle unit
- Not compatible with all cameras so check the DJI website