A question we get seem to get asked a lot is, “Do I need a camera stabilizer if my camera lens already has image stabilization built into its body?” and the answer is almost always a resounding YES!
On rare occasions (like during the making of the 1999 film “The Blair Witch Project”) it is acceptable, maybe even expected to have shaky camera footage. However, in most cases, shaky camera footage leads to motion sickness and an overall poor viewer experience.
And if we’re talking about still shots? Well, then it is never acceptable to have camera blur, trail marks, or any of the other telltale signs of amateur camera work (if you’re trying to make videography, photography, or cinematography, then sub-par results are something you want to steer clear of).
While knowing you need to have handheld image stabilizer to get quality results is a great start, knowing that alone doesn’t do you much good unless you know what you should be looking for in a gimbal. And contrary to what many think, all handheld gimbals are not created equal.
To help you find the perfect camera gimbal for your needs, we have compiled a list of several handheld stabilizers that each have their areas of expertise.
List of Best DSLR Camera Stabilizers and Gimbals in 2018
#6 Best low cost camera stabilizer: Roxant Pro Video Camera Stabilizer Limited Edition
Typically you’ll see stabilizers cost more than a couple hundred dollars. This one will give you similar results as those expensive stabilizers at a significantly discounted price. The Roxant Pro gives you “professional like” camera stabilization during moving shots, with less motion and camera shake compared to manually holding your camera.
It works by attaching your camera to the device and balancing the camera on it so that the camera stabilizes itself when you are moving.
What makes this camera stabilizer such a useful low budget tool? Compatible with GoPro, phone cameras, and larger DSLR cameras alike, the Roxant Pro can adjust to almost any camera you throw at it.
Let’s look at some of the plusses you can expect to get from this device:
- Great low budget camera stabilizing solution
- Fits nearly any size camera you have
- Offers near professional quality
- Lifetime Roxant support
- Not a battery powered gimbal (moving shots will bounce and sway)
- The handle sometimes moves while holding it
- Balancing the camera on it is tedious and takes longer than it should
- Can’t pan the camera up or down without it jerking
If videography is a hobby for you and you want to take shots to the next level but don’t need perfect camera stabilization, this can be a terrific device for you. Recommended for those who are just beginning their journey into filmmaking.
#5 Best Cell Phone Gimbal: Zhiyun Smooth Q
The Smooth Q is a 3-axis gimbal explicitly built for your mobile phone, making it easy to carry around so you can have in on you anywhere you go. It even comes with its very own protective carrying case.
The spring-loaded clamps make secure your phone to it with ease. Upon firing this device up (after you have attached your smartphone of course), you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to balance.
Several different shooting modes are allowing you to go from selfie mode, panorama mode, and of course your regular shooting modes.
The button on the handle does this and allows you to switch from one mode to the next seamlessly. One click puts it into lock mode, two clicks puts it in follow mode, and a third click will put it in vlog mode.
This gimbal has an app that will allow you to control the movement of your phone using the joystick. It also has tracking ability and motion time-lapse modes in the app.
- Easily balance your phone to the gimbal
- Extremely lightweight
- Fits most newer model Samsung and Apple phones
- An app allows you control the phone using your gimbal
- Rotating the device allows you to switch from portrait mode to a widescreen view
- Built-in battery lets you charge your phone
- The app doesn’t allow you to drop framerates low enough for true cinematic slow motion shots
- Tracking technology could use some improvement
- Made specifically for Samsung and Apple devices
Today our cellphones cameras can approximate the quality you get from high-end DSLR cameras, without actually having to purchase a camera for several hundred to a thousand dollars. Of course, phone cameras won’t give you top notch quality, but if you are using your phone for recording purposes, the Zhiyun Smooth Q will be an excellent purchase.
#4 Best 3 Axis Handheld: Moza Air Gimbal
With the high price that gimbals typically will cost to purchase, the most intriguing aspect of the Moza Air is the consumer-friendly asking price. The next thing you’ll notice when unboxing the camera is that it comes with everything you need for your gimbal included (i.e., tripod, handles for dual hand use, all cables needed, and a remote for controlling the direction of your camera).
The Moza Air has excellent stabilizing motors that allow you to lock the camera in place by clicking the thumb joystick. There are also options that let you lock your camera in place for up and down movements while following your side to side movements and vice versa.
Let’s take a look at some of the positives of this camera:
- Comes with every cable that you will need
- Comes with a protective pelican type case
- Time-lapse photo capabilities (even at high speeds)
- Free app included to let you control the camera from your smartphone
- Two attachable handles for dual hand use
- Included remote that attaches to the handle for controlling the camera while using both hands
- Very consumer friendly price
- Sturdy enough to hold cameras up to 5 pounds
Cons of the Moza:
- Balancing the camera is an extremely tedious process
- Smooth material on the handle gets slippery after a while
There is little not to love about the Moza Air, it is listed at a very reasonable price and is a high-quality product. The application, remote, and other accessories work perfectly with the camera making this one of the best gimbals you will find for the price.
#3 Best 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Runner Up: Zhiyun Crane V2
Another high-quality gimbal and the only reason we are giving it the runner-up title is that it doesn’t accommodate cameras above 3.9 pounds. But this can be a workhorse for the cameras that it will accommodate.
Powered by three motor control units running at 4000 Hz this gimbal gives you superior stabilization, keeping your camera perfectly balanced regardless of which direction you are moving.
Like most quality gimbals it has a joystick easily accessible on its handle that allows you to pan up, down, left, or right, while also having the conventional modes like; follow, pan follows, locking, and selfie.
The set up with this pretty simple, balancing it is significantly easier to balance than most of its competitors. And even if you don’t have it perfectly balanced, the motor is so good that it makes up for it.
Some plusses of the Crane V2 are:
- Very easy to balance
- Easy to handle
- Comes with optional dual handles
- Very slim design fits easily into a backpack
- Long lasting battery life
- Can purchase a remote for controlling the camera
- App lets you calibrate the gimbal
- The joystick is restricted based on what mode you have the gimbal in (can’t tilt the camera when it is in follow mode)
- The motor cannot be flipped from side to side
- Power button and mode button are identical and located in the same spot
While this can’t hold heavier cameras (or heavy lenses on your camera), this gimbal is excellent in so many different situations. The new smaller, yet stronger, batteries give you 12 hours of use, and they also allow you to charge your camera with them.
The V2 could be improved by restricting the joystick so you can use all axis in every mode this could easily make a list as best gimbal on the market.
#2 Feiyu Tech a2000
The Feiyu Tech a2000 comes included with four batteries, quick release plate for mounting the camera to the gimbal, a small tripod, and a charging case for the batteries. Balancing this gimbal is pretty straightforward, and the motors are strong enough to compensate for minor imbalances (try to have it as perfect as possible to maximize battery life).
Working with the different modes on the gimbal is just as easy as you would expect it to be a simple click of the thumb allows you to instantly switch from lock, follow pan and tilt, and selfie mode. The iPhone app allows you to adjust the speed at which the camera will move around. Locking trigger lets you lock the gimbal and release the lock with one simple pull and release of the trigger.
Pros of the Feiyu Tech a2000:
- Option to get a two handed or one handed set up
- Strong motors make for extremely smooth video footage
- Comes with four rechargeable batteries (two that power the gimbal, and two more for when you need to replace batteries)
- Very easy to balance
- Comes with a bipod for resting the camera
- Quick release trigger for locking the camera while in other modes
- App gives you more customization options and lets you download firmware updates for the gimbal
- 4-pound payload
Cons of the Feiyu Tech a2000:
- Doesn’t come with a hard case that gimbals customarily come with
- Dual and single-handed setups are sold separately (can be purchased together but costs more than many of its competitors)
The Feiyu Tech a2000 offers you everything that most other gimbals will give you, but at a steeper price tag. It does, of course, give you some more stability and offers a lot more control than products like the Zhiyun Crane v2, plus being able to hold heavier cameras makes this significantly more versatile than some of the other gimbals.
#1 Ikan Beholder EC1 Gimbal Setup
The Ikan Beholder EC1 is an excellent gimbal at an excellent price. It is very compact with a short handle and wide grip for easy handling. Its designed for DSLR and mirrorless cameras up to five pounds in weight. Although it is a small compact device, it gets pretty heavy during longer video shoots
There are three rechargeable batteries offer up to 20 hours of use with your camera, and you can use these same batteries to charge your DSLR or mirrorless camera by connecting the included charging cable.
- Long lasting battery life
- Compact design
- App that lets you control the pan, tilt, and roll of the camera
- The device gets heavy quickly
- The joystick doesn’t let you make subtle movements with the gimbal (you can only go all the way left or all the way right)
- Doesn’t mitigate up and down motions very well
This device has a lot of promise but takes quite a bit of time to get used to. If the joystick allowed for more control, this would be a significantly better machine.
Wrap – Up
If you do a lot of camera work, you probably already recognize the importance of a high-quality gimbal if you are looking to step up your camera work then a motorized gimbal is going to be something that you will have to invest in at least somewhere down the line.
There is a common misconception that getting a camera gimbal will automatically take your shaky, unwatchable footage, and turn it into a professional quality shot with no excess camera movement. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth; you will still have to learn the proper way to move and walk while using the gimbal but once you figure out the method that works best for you, you will notice a massive quality increase in your camera work.