7 things to consider when buying a gimbal

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A gimbal is an indispensable tool for videographers and mobile filmmakers. It allows you to record smooth clips without the need for bulky and expensive equipment.

So now that you are looking for a gimbal, how do you know which one is right for you? Take a look at the specs below to see what matters most to you.

1. Budget

If you are a first time gimbal buyer money may be your main consideration. This is especially true if you are new to a videographer or exploring it as a hobby. After all, you wouldn’t want to spend too much if you aren’t experienced enough yet.

Some smartphone gimbals start at under $ 40, while high-end models can cost over $ 120. If you look at gimbals with built-in cameras, the price can go up to $ 350 or more. And if you want a gimbal that can support your mirrorless or DSLR camera, be prepared to shell out up to $ 500.

When choosing based on your budget, always look at the reviews to see if what you are looking at is a good option. You also need to consider your needs – do you plan to use it for dynamic shots or just a B-roll? If you need it for the first one, you might be better off investing in the more expensive three-axis gimbal.

2. Compatibility

a smartphone, a camera and two lenses on a bed

Some gimbals get bad reviews because of their compatibility. This is especially true with some gimbals that only work with specific camera models. So before you add this gimbal to your cart, make sure it is compatible with the equipment you have.

In terms of compatibility, here are some of the things you should keep in mind.

Smartphone or camera template

While many gimbals are compatible with most devices on the market, it’s best to check with the manufacturer. It may happen that the manufacturer has not yet created an app for the latest version of iOS, rendering it unusable. Or the gimbal itself isn’t powerful enough to stabilize large, thick phones like the Samsung Z Fold 3 or the LG Wing 5G.

Camera type

If you are planning to expand your gear in the future, you should consider what type of camera the gimbal is designed for. Most smartphone gimbals are designed to work with smartphones only. While you can attach an action camera to some gimbals, some may not have this option at all.

You can also look at camera gimbals, which can support large DSLR cameras, action cameras, and smartphones. However, these devices are much more expensive than even the most expensive smartphone gimbals.

Payload capacity

If you are planning to add accessories to your smartphone, like a case or an extra lens, you should look for a more robust gimbal. Some more affordable or older models may have a weight limitation, which makes it a little less stable if your device is too heavy.

This is especially true with camera specific gimbals. The model you choose may be designed for a mirrorless camera, so if you put a DSLR with a heavy professional-grade lens in it, it may not perform well.

3. Two axes or three axes?

two-axis or three-axis gimbals

Gimbals typically come with two stabilization options: two-axis or three-axis. Two-axis gimbals stabilize your camera’s tilt and rolling movements, while three-axis gimbals also stabilize the rotating or panning motion.

If you plan to shoot mostly in the studio or capture inanimate objects, a two-axis gimbal may be enough for you. But if you plan to take dynamic video like when running or driving a car, then a three-axis gimbal is a must.

4. Battery type and battery life

This is another consideration, especially if you plan to travel a lot or take photos all day. If you are constantly traveling, you may want to consider carrying spare batteries with you. It would also help if your gimbal had an adapter to take standard AA or AAA size batteries. Indeed, these batteries are readily available in convenience stores around the world.

It would also be great to have a gimbal that can last a day or two of shooting with just two or three batteries. This way you don’t have to carry extra weight just to make sure you don’t run out of juice in the middle of a shoot.

5. Connectivity

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi logos

You may also want to consider connectivity options when choosing a smartphone gimbal. Since your phone or camera is sitting on the gimbal platform for stabilization, it will be disturbed if you tamper with its controls.

For this reason, your gimbal should have multiple connection options. While most smartphones accept both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections, there are camera models that only have one or the other. Additionally, some devices, such as Apple smartphones, may have difficulty connecting via Bluetooth.

6. Accessory supports

If you plan to shoot in various locations where you need lighting on the camera, a microphone, or even an external LCD screen, your gimbal should have mounts for them. In this way, it is more convenient for you to take photos, and you don’t need an assistant to carry other accessories.

Some gimbals also have tripod mounts or built-in feet. So if you have to put it down while you’re filming, it’s safe to do so.

7. Other features

example of tracking mode on the video parameters of the gimbal

In some cases, you may need to consider other features of a gimbal. Some gimbals allow you to automatically follow your subject and keep it in the camera frame. This is especially useful if your subject moves a lot. You can keep your clip flowing while making sure that what you’re recording doesn’t leave the frame.

And if you need to record in bad weather or even underwater, you should look for gimbals with water resistance ratings. There are even gimbals that have the same environmental rating as the GoPro Hero cameras.

Related: How Does Image Stabilization Work?

This way you are sure that whatever environment you expose your GoPro to, your gimbal will stand up to the same. You’re guaranteed a stable, professional clip whether you’re running in the pouring rain, hitting rapids, or even swimming underwater.

Find the best gimbal for your needs

There is no one best gimbal for everyone. It will always depend on your budget, application and equipment. So, before you make a purchase, you should take stock of what you have. This way, you can choose the best gimbal that will suit your shooting style.


A filmmaker on set --- Unsplash
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