Most cameras are now equipped with everything you need to take a crisp, blur-free picture—even phones have surpassed our expectations, giving us wide lenses and incredible quality. With video, however, you can run into some issues. While most cameras have some degree of stabilization built in, there’s no easier way to get smooth and seamless motion than a gimbal. Here are some of the best to get that professional quality footie.
Check out quick reviews below of the top five camera stabilizers, then scroll farther for buying info and full reviews of these and other models.
Why Buy a Gimbal?
Whether you’re looking to make a short film, music video, or vlog entry, there’s bound to be some movement if you’re shooting with your camera in hand. Some is natural, but overly jerky footage screams “amateur.” A gimbal or stabilizing unit gives you the ability to move smoothly and pan around even if you don’t have surgeon’s steadiness.
While you can go with a basic unit that functions manually using hand controls, there are options that have the manual capabilities but work electronically as well and can even be controlled through an app, allowing you to set a motion or track a person or object as it moves. These will be more expensive, but can also help make your finished product look more professional, and will often have a more accurate balance since it adjusts automatically without room for human error.
How We Selected and Rated Them
We researched expert sources, as well as 6,200 consumer reviews, to select the top six gimbals. Our Consumer Score represents the percentage of customers who rated the product at least four out of five stars on retail and review sites like Amazon, Best Buy, and the manufacturers’ websites.
Zhiyun Smooth 4
Consumer Score: 80% gave it 4 stars or more
Now no one will know that you shot from your phone.
This gimbal clamps securely around your phone and functions as a handheld or sits on a flat surface via the integrated tripod. The Smooth 4 pairs with your phone through the app, which allows for extra effects like time lapse and “vertigo,” creating a dolly effect. While this can technically be used with Android phones, reviewers found that there were some glitchy issues when trying to sync with the app, so this may be a better investment for iPhone users.
—GREAT BATTERY LIFE—
Moza Air 2
Consumer Score: 85% gave it 4 stars or more
For your longest shoots and heaviest cameras
For long shoot days, count on the Moza to get you through. With four batteries, it can last up to 16 hours—though it does take a hefty five hours to fully charge. It features a three-axis stabilization system (this gives you the the ability to move back and forward, up and down, and side to side) and can handle a heavy DSLR and long lenses weighing up to 9.2 pounds. This newer version of the Moza Air includes features that assess a camera’s weight and compensate accordingly as well as physical controls like a joystick and wheel that let you control it by hand, which led the testers at Digital Camera World to laud its pleasingly tactile experience during handling. Yes, it’s expensive, but ultimately you’re getting what you’re paying for: top-tier features that come together to produce professional-quality material.
Consumer Score: 86% gave it 4 stars or more
A feathery gimbal with some heavyweight features
Weighing in at just 2.4 pounds and costing $280, this stabilizer will help save your arms and your budget. Since it’s meant to be a light setup, it can’t handle a hefty camera, maxing out at 4.4 pounds. But that’s more than most DSLRs. If you do plan on using larger lenses however, you may want to look at other options, since the Ronin-SC may have some issue balancing the weight. One of its coolest features is the Active Track 3.0, which uses your phone’s camera and the DJI app to track subjects. This requires that you mount your phone on top of your camera, which can be tricky, but it comes with a hot shoe clamp, so the only issue will be making sure that it’s properly balanced as it will make the your camera a bit top heavy.
Zhiyun Crane 3S
Consumer Score: 83% gave it 4 stars or more
The hefty expense gets you some impressive features.
Serious filmmakers and aspiring Oscar winners listen up—the Crane 3S has everything you need to make the most of your filming. It can hold over 14 pounds, which allows you to use a heavy-duty camera and a large lens without any issues. You’ll also get the benefit of extras like detachable handle options, an updated axis-locking system, an external power input, and the ViaTouch 2.0 motion control system. Naturally, this also bumps the price up. And while this gimbal is arguably too heavy to run around with, it can give you some incredible handheld or ground shots.
Neewer Professional Panoramic Gimbal
Consumer Score: 84% gave it 4 stars or more
An old-school model that produces first-rate results
If you’re more of a hobby videographer, it’s hard to justify spending upwards of $500 on a gimbal. But don’t let the “professional” in the name fool you, this affordable option gives you a simplified—yet still effective—option. The Professional Panoramic can handle up to 30 pounds of weight, which makes it great for large cameras and telescopic lenses. While it’s all manual, it has a calibrated scale so that you can find and repeat the same camera position across multiple takes. The 360 degree range of motion (both horizontally and vertically) makes it ideal for fast-paced motion like in sports or nature. Reviewers loved the solid construction, though they did find it a bit heavy.
—CAMERA AND GIMBAL COMBO—
DJI Osmo Pocket Gimbal
Consumer Score: 88% gave it 4 stars or more
Everything you need wrapped in a portable and affordable package
The Osmo is a great option for someone just starting out and experimenting with better quality footage. It’s affordable, compact, and actually produces some impressive content. Not much larger than a Snickers bar, it’s extremely portable and works great for vloggers and content creators who need to produce a lot quickly. While this shouldn’t be the choice for someone that’s trying to shoot a movie (it only has 140 minutes of battery life), it offers great stabilization, activity and face tracking, and sharp, vibrant video quality. Plus, it’s a much cheaper option than buying a camera and gimbal separately, so your wallet will thank you.
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