A camera gimbal is an essential item in every videographer’s kitbag. Whether you’re an amateur or professional, if you want to deliver consistently smooth, stable video shots you’re going to need to invest in a quality camera gimbal.
It doesn’t matter if you’re making the latest Netflix blockbuster or just want to post something online, a well-produced video will help you engage with your audience. Remember, quality video equals engagement.
To help you narrow down your selection, we’ll look at some of the top brand camera gimbals on the market and how you can use them to achieve cinema-quality videos.
What is a Camera Gimbal?
The term ‘gimbal’ describes any device (mounted on a base) that is used to keep an object steady or in a certain position no matter how or how much the base moves. Outside of the film and video industry, gimbals can be found in things like ship cup holders, rockets and aircraft.
Today’s camera gimbals are electronic – taking advantage of gyroscopes and motors (one along each axis) to keep the camera balanced. When the gyroscope unit senses certain motions or rotations along the axes, it signals the appropriate motors to counterchange the camera’s position. The gimbal is programmed to differentiate between an unwanted bump and an intentional move made by the camera person.
Using Gimbals for Video Production
Using a traditional handheld camera with a full body stabilisation gear is an expensive exercise. However, a camera gimbal matched with your DSLR, mobile phone or action camera can accomplish the same quality shot for a fraction of the cost.
The popularity of gimbals can partly be attributed to the improved picture quality of mobile phones and action cameras. Most of the latest models can record in 4K. Combine that quality recording with a gimbal and you’ll be producing expert quality video in no time.
Gimbals are known for their portability. There are even wearable gimbals that are perfect for mountain biking. If you like to record your downhill adventures but find that your action camera or phone can’t completely smooth out their ride, a wearable or mountable gimbal is the answer. Remember, camera gimbals are also designed to let you mount additional accessories like a light or microphone.
Cinema-Worthy Gimbal Shots
We’ve all watched and experienced breathtaking and innovative cinematography that seems impossible to create on a small budget. Fortunately, the latest camera gimbals let you recreate the coolest shots with ease. In addition to making tilts, pans and close-ups steadier, you can use a gimbal to create visual magic, such as:
- The Reveal – Make an object or person’s first appearance more striking by starting behind an obstruction, such as a rock, building, or tree. Then, move around the obstruction and introduce the audience to the product, character or object.
- The Moving Car Sequence – Rather than going through the hassle of obtaining and paying for a car mount, hold the gimbal or put it on a secured mini-tripod. Stay focused on the car ahead or pan around to show the scenery.
- Parallax – With the focus set on a subject, circulate around it 180 or 360 degrees. It’s an effective way to create awe or a sense of unease without distracting jerky movements.
- The Hand-off – Several action films have made great use of this shot. Follow your subject as they go towards or into a building. As they climb the stairs or a window, hand off the camera to a second operator waiting in a strategic location. The second operator will follow the subject for another length. This creates a wild, unbroken one-shot.
Camera Gimbal Brands
Whether you are looking for a camera gimbal for a DSLR, a mirrorless camera, GoPro or your smartphone, there are several brands and models to keep the action crisp and clean. Popular gimbal brands include:
- DJI – DJI offers an impressive line of camera gimbals, as well as tripod mounts, focus wheels, dual handles and other accessories.
- Zhiyun – The Zhiyun Crane has made it onto many top 10 lists, as has its smartphone models. Zhiyun’s accessories include remotes, mounts and monitors. Zhiyun seems to have a package for every videographer.
- Manfrotto – Manfrotto is a brand often associated with quality and affordability. Manfrotto offers remotes, extensions and kits.
- PGYTECH – In addition to its selection of gimbals, PGYTECH also produces some really cool filters to add dimension to your video work.
If you want to find out more about the range of camera gimbals available, contact Perth’s camera specialists, Leederville Cameras.
You can even drop by the store and size up our professional and amateur gimbals before you buy, 201 Oxford Street Leederville.