Learn More About Gimbals
A gimbal and camera go together like a ship and anchor. Born from the numerous expansions of the Steadicam, gimbals are the cruising videographer’s secret weapon for capturing sleek, smooth, steady video footage and turning it into cinematic moments in films for us to drool over.
Selecting the proper gimbal for your video needs can be a tough choice to make, but we’re here to make it an easy one, regardless of your video-making experience or device.
Let’s quickly go over what gimbals are & some use cases for them, then point you (and your camera) in the right direction to snag one.
What Is a Gimbal and How Does It Work?
A gimbal is a robot arm that stabilizes your camera when you’re shooting footage while riding on a skateboard.
For the more technical among us, a gimbal is a camera stabilizer that uses sensors to stabilize & support your camera, enabling it to rotate securely among its three axes. Gimbals are rigs that help your films achieve that cinematic look we love, like dramatic overhead shots, “low to the ground” follow shots, and other tracking shots, for example.
When shooting on a tripod, the result is a stable image, but when you pick up your camera and start filming while on the move, the results are much more jerky. Gimbals solve that issue, keeping the camera in a well-balanced position, using motors and gyroscopes.
This works whether you really are riding on a skateboard (or the back of a horse)!
The word may sound kinda funny, but gimbals are extremely popular, so there’s a 99.9% chance you’ve seen them in work on and off camera. They come in different shapes and sizes but pretty much look like a fat selfie stick with joystick controls and other gears knobs.
Technically, they make gimbals for large cinema cameras, but we’re going to focus on the functional kind, designed for your smaller cinema, DSLR, mirrorless, GoPro action cameras, and smartphone cameras.
Heavy-duty gimbals are 3-axis and handle the payload of full-sized DSLR cameras. They’re rich with features such as gesture control, with displays that act as dashboards, allowing you to see what mode you’re in, battery life, how fast your speed is set to, lets you program memory shooting modes, and much more!
Gimbals for SLR & mirrorless cameras are similar, just lighter and smaller. A lot of the time, you can use them interchangeably.
Gimbals for smartphones are the smallest, easiest to operate, the least feature-rich, but still help your videos look cinematic like you shot them on something other than your iPhone.
Features to Look For in a Gimbal
Ultimately a gimbal is for one job, and that’s superb image stabilization & balance while you’re in motion. So there are a few things regarding functionality to take notice of before purchasing.
The weight of the gimbal itself is a big deal. Obviously, smartphone gimbals will always weigh less than one that fits your DSLR but think about the use you want out of it. Are you just be riding shotgun in a dune buggy while capturing epic desert footage, or will you be climbing up and down staircases, shooting indoor action scenes? A heavier gimbal could make the latter pretty cumbersome.
For videographers shooting with heavy-ish cinema or DSLR cameras, toggling between different sized lenses, your gimbal’s max payload is an important characteristic. We carry gimbals with payloads upwards of 4.5kg (or 10lbs) to support most cameras.
Besides weight & payload (and axes), consider the gimbal’s features, like focus control system, transmission system, structure, ease of use, operation time, object tracking, and versatility for shooting in different contexts like car mounts, jibs, or sliders.
Moment carries a long list of pro-level gimbal options and accessories in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges, perfect for creating smooth camera movement in any terrain or any scenario.
Need a gimbal for the right moment? See a few of our favorite brands.
For the Big Kahunas
The DJI RS 2 is a beast that weighs in at just under 2.5lbs yet holds 10. It’s packed with advanced features like a 1.4 inch, full-color monitoring display, and DJI’s RavenEye Image Transmission System, supporting ActiveTrack 3.0. The RS 2 has an interchangeable 12-hours of battery life, so if you’re constantly filming, you can buy extra ones and literally be on Go for 24 hours. Best part? This stabilizer can hold practically any camera -- DSLR or mirrorless.
If you’re a pro, do a ton of shooting, or have a good-sized camera, this gimbal is for you. Check out our full DJI RS 2 review & comparison.
For Everyone Else
If you’re an entry-level videographer or don’t necessarily require the fattest of gimbals, the DJI Osmo Mobile 4 is Our choice for the best beginner gimbal of 2021 by rigorous testing on our part. It’s portable, affordable, and so simple to use. The OM 4 uses a single-button UX that is unbeatable, plus there’s no counterweight needed.
This little rig’s got every feature novices need to make epic-looking videos from their phones, including slow motion, time lapse mode, hyper-lapse, motion lapse, sport mode, and story mode.
For an added bonus (and if you’re really just getting started), peep Andy To's Mobile Filmmaking Set. It’s an incredible bundle that comes with the Osmo Mobile 4 + counterweights, an anamorphic lens, a Tele 58mm lens, a fanny sling, a Moment phone case, AND Andy’s best-selling mobile filmmaking course!
The Zhiyun Smooth 4 is another crowd-favorite joystick and our most affordable gimbal that supports Moment lenses.
See our full review of the DJI Osmo Mobile 4 and Zhiyun Smooth 4, plus find out which other gimbal made the cut on our best phone gimbals list.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What are gimbals used for?
Gimbals are used for capturing smooth camera footage while on the move (whether that's while taking a walk, running, climbing, driving, etc.) by stabilizing and supporting your camera along its axes. Gimbals can give videos (even shot on smartphones) a rich, cinematic look.
How much do gimbals cost?
Just like gimbals come in all shapes and sizes, gimbals come at different prices. Gimbals can cost under $100, or as much as a grand, depending on features. At Moment, we have low-priced gimbals for smartphones, perfect for videographers of all levels, as well as rigs for cine-cameras.
Is it worth it buying a gimbal?
Yes. Gimbals are the simplest way to capture the smoothest shots of your life while on the move. Gimbals & rigs can give videos shot on nearly any camera, including your mobile device, a cinematic look, and feel + help convey emotions.
We hope we’ve made finding a gimbal that suits you a little simpler. If you still need a steady push, reach out to one of our expert Gear Guides to help you choose the best gimbal to turn your shaky hand footage into a real cinematic experience.