The best gimbals will keep your video footage smooth, stable and dynamic.
Whether you're using an iPhone, an action camera or a pro-spec DSLR, once you start producing video you're going to want to introduce camera movement to make your shots more dynamic. However, this isn't simply a matter of moving the camera around, and if you don't know what you're doing you can easily end up with jerky, unusable footage.
The solution? Get a gimbal. A gimbal is mechanical stabilizer that uses three axes of rotation to keep a camera steady via three internal motors, which compensate for unintended camera motion, and use algorithms to detect when the camera is being moved intentionally, making for smooth moving shots.
What can they be useful for? Well, as far as video’s concerned… everything! Whether you’re vloggin in your bedroom, recording your child’s first football matches or producing brand content for social media, there’s really no type of video that can’t be dramatically improved by the introduction of a gimbal stabilizer.
There are plenty of different gimbals on the market, and the best gimbal stabilizer will be different for different different users depending on what the size of the camera they’re using, and what kind of subjects they’re planning to shoot.
Let’s get started…
The best gimbal stabilizers in 2020
Best gimbals for smartphones
The Osmo Mobile's spring-loaded clamp effortlessly accommodates even the largest phones, and its gimbal arm can rotate through 90 degrees for seamless switching between landscape and portrait orientation.
Construction is plasticy, but the Osmo still feels like a quality product, and the nicely sculpted ergonomic handle is comfortable for prolonged use. Comfort is further helped by the low 405g - 80g less than the Osmo Mobile 2 - which is all the more impressive given this new Osmo now has a hinged gimbal arm so it folds smaller for transportation.
There are few physical buttons, but the Osmo is crammed with features. Not only will it automatically detect when you intend to pan and tilt the camera and smooth this motion while still very effectively ironing out unintentional twitches, you can also choose between modes like Walk and Sport to adjust the intensity of the stabilisation. There’s even an option called Active Track, whereby the gimbal will automatically track a moving subject for you, with customizable tracking sensitivity.
Much of this functionality is accessed via the free companion DJI Mimo app that connects your phone to the Osmo via Bluetooth. This also enables you to zoom your phone’s camera using the physical zoom slider on the gimbal handle.
An updated version, the DJI OM4, has just been announced - which comes with a tripod base as standard, and offers a new magnetic mount system.
The Zhiyun Smooth X is a great piece of kit in a compact and lightweight package. It features a plastic build, but the affordable price tag helps make this smartphone gimbal a very tempting proposition for anyone looking to upgrade their smartphone videography or vlogging. Plus, the ability to swivel the gimbal head into portrait orientation helps make this gimbal an indispensable piece of kit for any vlogger.
One of our only niggles with the Zhiyun Smooth X is that the ZY Cami app that you need to use in order to set up the gimbal isn't compatible with every phone. However, most phones are capable of running the app, so check the compatibility list here if you're unsure.
A huge percentage of video that’s uploaded to the internet every year is shot on an iPhone. And this isn’t just cat videos and Instagram Stories – more and more professional content creators are turning to the iPhone as a reliable means of capturing great footage. Gimbal-wise, the best buy for the iPhone user right now is the Zhiyun-Tech Smooth 4 stabilizer, a gimbal that refines what’s come before to provide a great stabilization solution at an attractive price. Its generous on-body controls include a large wheel that can be used for focusing or zooming, which makes using the gimbal a pleasingly tactile experience. When paired with the app, the Smooth 4 also allows for creation of many useful effects such as moving time-lapse, and there’s a special ‘Vertigo’ function that produces a perspective-shifting dolly zoom effect. Bear in mind that the Smooth series has something of a reputation among Android users for unreliability, so this is definitely one for the iPhone crowd.
The Vimble 2 has been around for a while and can now be found at rock-bottom prices. And it’s not just the low cost that’s attractive, as the Vimble 2 has an unusual party piece. Pull the handle away from the lower arm and a four-section telescoping pole is revealed, allowing the gimbal to double as a selfie-stick. It’s useful if you’re vlogging and need to capture a larger group in selfie mode, though with only 18cm of extension, we’d wager the folding compactness of the competing DJI Osmo Mobile 3 will be a more useful feature on a daily basis.
We’ve got no complaints when it comes to stablisation, as the Vimble 2 is effective straight from powering up. The phone’s holder can be manually moved using a joystick on the handle, and for additional features like face and subject tracking, there’s the Feiyu ON app. This enables digital camera zoom via the physical slider on the Vimble 2 handle, as well as reliable object tracking.
Build quality and ergonomics aren’t quite up there with the Osmo Mobile 3, however, and at 428g the Vimble 2 is a touch heavier. The 5-hour battery life is also significantly shorter than you get from the DJI.
As its name suggests, the VLOG Pocket is all about portability. A hinged lower arm enables the gimbal to fold into a 109 x 56 x 146mm package - noticeably smaller than the folding DJI Osmo Mobile 3. What’s more, at just 272g, this is one of the lightest smartphone gimbals on the market.
However, some compromises have been made to achieve this, as material quality is very plasticky, and the handle section feels especially cheap. You also have to do without a physical joystick control for manual movement, but it’s easy to switch between portrait and landscape orientation. There’s also Bluetooth connectivity, which combined with the Feiyu ON app enables trick features like object tracking, time-lapse photography, slow motion and dolly zoom effects.
Stabilisation is smooth and effective, though the experience isn’t quite as intuitive as with the uncannily smart DJI Osmo Mobile 3. The pared-down gimbal arm dimensions also mean you’ll need to mount a larger phone carefully to avoid it knocking against the arm during some movements.
Despite the ultra-low weight, the built-in rechargeable 1300mAh battery is capable of a long 8-hour runtime. And if this black version is a little too pedestrian for you, the VLOG Pocket is also available in pink.
Best all-in-one stabilized camera
When even phone vlogging with a suitable gimbal is too bulky, then check out the Osmo Pocket. This incredible feat of miniaturisation is about the size of a chocolate bar, yet it’s a gimbal and camera in one, and contains its own rechargeable battery.
Camera specs are also impressive, with the 1/2.3-inch sensor able to record 4K/60fps video at 100Mbps, and snap 12MP stills. In fact the only number that isn’t high is the fairly low 140-minute battery life, but a smaller battery helps keep weight down to just 116g, and this is a device intended for short clip vlogging, not Hollywood movie-making.
Default video quality is sharp, vibrant and well exposed in outdoor and well-lit indoor environments. Only in very low light does quality suffer noticeably. Stabilisation quality is superb, with different stabilization modes selectable via the tiny on-board touchscreen monitor. These include DJI’s nifty ActiveTrack automatic subject following, which changes to FaceTrack when you flip the camera head into selfie mode.
Video is recorded on a MicroSD card and you can shoot right away with no app installation or pairing required, though DJI’s Mimo app can be used for quick video edits.
Best gimbals for action cameras
A legacy left over from the ill-fated GoPro Karma drone, the Karma grip is still an excellent handheld stabilizer in its own right, and its detachable grip means it can also double up as a wearable Steadicam tool. Offering a broad range of camera controls thanks to integrated buttons on the grip, this well-designed stabilizer is very easy to introduce into your shoots, allowing you to offload footage without disconnecting the camera. While it’s an expensive option, if you’re firmly committed to the ecosystem, this gimbal is arguably the best GoPro buy you can make. Note that this is NOT compatible with the GoPro Hero8 Black.
Great battery life. Functionality control via the app. Physical controls. An OLED status LCD screen for quick checking of settings. A splashproof design. The FeiyuTech G6 ticks a hell of a lot of boxes for the action camera user, and is a really solid choice of stabilizer whether you’re using a GoPro Hero, Sony RX0 or some other type of action camera such as a Yi 4K. It’s designed to operated at an angle where the gimbal never obscures the camera’s screen, meaning you can always get a precise read of what you’re shooting. Just be wary if you're using the on-board mic; the gimbal motor sits rather close and sometimes gets picked up.
With strong, rugged weatherproofing, the Removu S1 makes a great pairing with a GoPro camera, and is compatible with the majority of contemporary models. Like the Karma Grip its handle is detachable, meaning you can easily also use it as a wearable stabilizer, and there’s also remote control functionality built into the grip to allow you to operate the camera with it even when the two are separated. While the Li-Ion battery doesn’t last especially long compared to competitors, the fact that it’s removable means it’s easy to simply pack a spare if you know you’re in for a long shoot.
Best gimbals for mirrorless cameras
DJI's Ronin-SC has been specifically designed for mirrorless camera setups up to 2kg in total weight. That’s considerably less than DJI’s bigger Ronin-S can support, but the Ronin-SC is 400g lighter at 1.1kg. Despite this, construction quality still feels first class.
The SC’s capacity is plenty for a camera like a Canon EOS R or Fujifilm X-T4, but it’s best to steer clear of bulky and heavy lenses, as these can be tough and sometimes impossible to balance properly. At least each axis can be individually locked, making initial balancing much easier, and, and the SC folds surprisingly compact.
Once you’re ready to shoot, there are plenty of features to explore. Arguably the most impressive is Active Track 3.0. This uses your phone’s camera and a very clever DJI app to automatically track subjects. The system requires your phone to be mounted on top of your main camera, but a hot-shoe clamp is provided. The only issue with this arrangement is it makes your camera quite top-heavy, so you’ll need to re-calibrate some pivot points.
Given the relative lightness of mirrorless cameras, one-handed gimbals are a boon for the filmmaker using light CSCs like those made by Sony or Panasonic. The Feiyu MG Lite is a great example, blending a lightweight build with impressive depth of functionality. Its design allows the camera to move in 360 degrees in all directions, allowing for total freedom of movement while shooting. The MG Lite can be set in three modes: Panning, Panning/Tilting and Lock, allowing you to restrict it to just the kind of movements you want, and the four-directional control stick also allows for manual control of the camera’s angle. It packs down well too, making it a good choice for the travelling filmmaker.
The Ronin-S is the best single-handed gimbal around right now. DJI has packed in a truly impressive feature set, from built-in follow focus functionality to easy time-lapse creation via the mobile app, and this is all housed in a body that looks and feels the part. The Ronin-S is a pleasure to use from the moment you take it out of the case, and its three motors will respond to your movements with amazing suppleness. It’s a weighty thing just by itself, so you may not want to use the maximum extent of its payload capacity lest you end up with a setup that’s difficult to wield for long periods. That’s why it’s the perfect fit for more lightweight mirrorless cameras.
Best gimbals for DSLRs
Promising moving footage that’s smoother than smooth, the Gudsen MOZA Air 2 is capable of handling heavier DSLR and cinema camera setups with long professional lenses, up to a maximum payload of 4.2kg. It offers a 3-axis stabilization system and produces impressive footage when moving, as well as providing eight follow modes. There’s also a nice selection of time-lapse functions, and users planning for a long day’s shoot will be pleased to note that its four batteries give it a total battery life of up to 16 hours (though be aware that this requires a 5-hour charge time).
Also included in this newer version of the original MOZA Air are a quick-release plate, auto-tune modes that assess a camera’s weight and compensate accordingly, and useful physical controls including a joystick and rotating wheel, making handling a pleasingly tactile experience. For the price, it’s impressively featured, and is a great way to expand your filmmaking potential without breaking the bank.
The Zhiyun Crane 3S is a heavy duty powered stabilizing gimbal for larger mirrorless, DSLR or cinema cameras. It's a total redesign from previous Zhiyun gimbals, with the addition of detachable handle options, a large 6.5kg payload, an updated axis-locking system, external power input, and the ViaTouch 2.0 motion control system. It's an update to the previous Zhiyun Crane 3 Lab, but with a payload increase of around 45%.
The Crane 3S gives very smooth and steady footage and can handle a huge range of cameras. The performance and smoothness of the camera movements are impressive. But while it certainly boasts a great payload capacity and long battery life, it's heavy to carry as a run-and-gun gimbal, so this isn’t something you’d take out with you and use all day. But if you need to shoot handheld or ground-level video with cine gear that's a step up from a regular mirrorless camera, this is the tool for the job.
The AK4500 sits at the top of FeiyuTech's gimbal range and can support a whopping 4.6kg of camera and lens - easily enough for a full-frame DSLR and 24-70mm f/2.8. The gimbal's 1.6kg weight is impressively low considering how stout it is, but add a hefty camera/lens and the 5kg+ combined weight can get tiresome. Fortunately FeiyuTech has thought of this, and the AK4500 can be fitted with a secondary handle, itself incorporating additional gimbal controls, making low-angle tracking shots much more comfortable.
An LCD touchscreen on the main handle provides stabilisation info and, combined with the multi-function ‘Magic Ring’ control dial, allows remote control of camera functions like focus and zoom, as well as ISO and exposure - camera-compatibility permitting. FeiyuTech’s Feiyu ON app connects to the gimbal via Bluetooth and offers additional control options. Power comes from four standard 18650 Li-ion cells good for 12 hours stabilization, and FeiyuTech includes a separate charger.
The AK4500 gives effective stabilization for larger DSLR setups, though careful initial balancing is essential to achieve best results. You'll also need to experiment with the various stabilization modes, as we found it initially tricky to smoothly follow moving subjects.
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