Modern gimbals are indispensable tools for mobile filmmakers, vloggers and anyone else looking to make great video content. However, before you get one, you should understand what a gimbal is, how it works and get answers to any questions you may have. On this page, I’ve attempted to answer the most common questions surrounding gimbals. If your question remains unanswered feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly.
Put simply, a gimbal is a camera stabilizer which makes use of multiple pivots/joints to keep your camera steady regardless of how you move.
A modern gimbal can support 2, 3, 4, 5 and even 6 axes of movement stability with the use of motorized pivots controlled via brushless motors. All the pivots are attached to a base or handle for easy grip and are controllable via buttons on the base/handle or remotely.
While there is no single inventor credited for the invention of gimbals, the gimbal suspension, which serves as the base of all modern gimbals, is named the Cardan suspension after Italian mathematician and physicist Gerolamo Cardano (1501–1576) who described it in detail.
Gimbals are not just used for camera stabilization. In fact, gimbal suspensions have been used on ships and spacecrafts to keep equipment, like gyroscopes, compasses and even drink holders level even as the ships move and shift across axes.
Gimbals are available for all kinds of cameras today. From professional equipment used by Hollywood studios to DSLRs and mirrorless cameras and even smartphones like the iPhone and action cameras like the GoPRO. Some gimbals even support multiple camera types, with limitations according to size and weight.
GoPro cameras are used widely now, and the latest models come with amazing video stabilization capabilities thanks to HyperSmooth 2.0. However, gimbals are not just handy for stabilization but also for more flexible camera handling and movement during cinematic shots and scenes.
So if you just use your GoPro for mounted videos, such as recording your bike runs or other adventure activities, you may not need a gimbal. But if you want to use your GoPro for casual videos and filmmaking you should consider trying a few GoPro gimbals before you purchase one.
Gimbals are available for all GoPros except the latest, HERO8 line. You can find a variety of GoPro gimbals for HERO Session to HERO3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. However, older models may require extra mounting frames, so you are advised to check individual item compatibility before purchase.
Both iPhones and Android phones benefit from gimbals. There are a variety of gimbals for iPhones and phones from Samsung, Huawei and others, and you can easily find a budget option to get started.
Apart from having motorized pivots for stabilization, gimbals, especially those made for smartphones, have extra features such as zoom and focus controls, joysticks, object tracking, slow motion videos, companion apps, the ability to change camera settings such as exposure, white balance and so on, and programmable shots such as time lapses, vertigo and inception shots.
However, most of these features work only if your phone supports them natively, since the gimbal only acts as a remote control.
Most gimbals are NOT waterproof. However, GoPro gimbals can have varying degrees of resistance, and can work in light rain or snowing conditions.
Smartphone gimbals, on the other hand, are not water resistant and may work in very light rain at best.
Gimbals use pivots to stabilize your camera across multiple axes. For instance, the horizontal movement is the pan axis, vertical movement is the tilt axis and rotation is the roll axis. Most gimbals support these 3 axes, but in some budget versions you only get two axes, tilt and roll, since panning can be handled manually too.
Advanced gimbals can also support more than 3 axes, but the more axes a gimbal supports, the more motorized pivots it needs, which ultimately add to the weight and bulk of the device. For the average user, a 3-axis gimbal is more than sufficient.
Today we’ve got a variety of Asian brands churning out smartphone gimbals which are under $100. These are cheap gimbals but most of them come with a standard set of features sufficient for a beginner or intermediate user. However, as your usage increases, you will tax the pivot motors, and that is where durability comes into play. While most budget gimbals last a couple years, there have been cases where cheap gimbals lose their balance or motor performance, resulting in sluggish controls.
I will continue to update this page with more questions and answers, but if you have a question not addressed here, you can contact me directly. Meanwhile, take a look at some of the latest guides and reviews below.