What is Gimbal? The Best Camera Accessory Guide For Beginners

Filmmakers across the world are a fan of the best handiest invention that ever happened in the equipment industry for them, the gimbal. These gadgets are an amazing thing for them because it assists them in executing some outstanding shots for their films.

Gimbals have made it easier for many DoPs, cinematographers, and videographers out there to shoot a smooth and refined movie. Keep reading this article, and you will get to know much more about this awesome camera accessory which will come in handy for you in the future:

What is Gimbal?

We will kick off with some basics; for many people out there, think, what is a gimbal? Back in the day, in the film studios, there were steadicams and dolly tracks to execute tracking shots in a smoother way. For this, skilled operators were always required to get these shots done.

Recently, a new accessory came out on the market, and it was called a gimbal. This accessory lets the user take some smooth tracking shots very well. The icing on the cake for this accessory is its price. It is affordable, and any filmmaker who’s on a budget and doesn’t want to break his bank, then invest your money in this accessory. The dolly and steadicams cost a leg and an arm for many people out there.

Gimbals are compact and easy to use. They have the ability to hold any camera on them, and then they will be assisted by computer algorithms to keep the shots steady and smooth. There will be no shakiness in the shots, and the execution will come out beautiful. It is really a revolution for the filmmakers and videographers out there.

Gimbals come with a camera mount and motion detectors on them. They sense unwanted movements, and once they have sensed the movement, the gimbals use an algorithm to control its rotations and turns and act on it as it happens. Therefore, the footage comes out stable because the camera avoids the shakiness in it.

Moreover, these gimbals have high-sensing sensors inside them to tell the difference between an intentional pan from the user and an unwanted movement of the camera.

Gimbals from renowned brands are quiet. They aren’t noisy because of the brushless motors inside them, which adjust the camera. It is an ideal thing why you should get a gimbal for your short films or montages.

Let’s take an example, you are out there, filming a short film, and you want some stabilized shots for your film. When you are shooting, your camera tilts forward when you make the camera move. Gimbal’s very own motion sensor sends the movement data to the computer. It will send an algorithm for the arm.

This algorithm will be all about the counter movement that how much it needs to keep it smooth and avoid shaking. The shot that will come out will be stable.

What’s interesting about this is that all of this processing of the data happening inside the computer will be done in a split second. It is no doubt an incredible technology that gets things done in seconds. For the clockwise tilt, the algorithm of the gimbals will tell it to roll the axis to move counter-clockwise to keep the mounted camera stable.

Users can deliberately pan the camera, and still, the gimbals will read their intentional camera movements using a different algorithm.

Since you are pretty much aware of how gimbal works, now we will tell you how to set up your own gimbal and use it.

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How Do I Set Up A Gimbal?

People with DSLR cameras, mirrorless cameras, smartphones, and GoPros can get a gimbal and attach their devices to it.

Firstly, you have to pick the right camera for your device. Before purchasing the gimbal, make sure you have to know if the gimbal supports your DSLR camera or mirrorless camera.

Companies who roll out gimbals have a list of their supported devices. Always do your research first before buying a gimbal.

Once you know which gimbal is perfect for your camera, you can set it up. In addition to this, if you are good with setting up tripods, then this will look familiar to you.

You will learn how to set up a gimbal step-by-step below:

Camera-ready:

First off, ensure that your camera is all set for the shoot. Check the battery, memory card, and other settings are correct before mounting the camera. Now that the camera is ready, loosen the adjustable arms so you can mount your camera conveniently.

Setting up the camera:

Setting your camera on the baseplate and screwing it tight. Do not let it be loose, or else the camera will fall off the gimbal. Users have to ensure that the base plate is in a straight direction. Take your time to line up this important component.

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Calibration:

Once the camera is set up on the gimbal, you will have to calibrate the weight distribution.

Users have to make adjustments to pitch arms. For the 3-axis gimbals, the camera should not tilt in the forward or backward direction. Also, it shouldn’t roll clockwise or counter-clockwise.

It has to be magnificently still on the tripod. Turn on your camera and start your gimbal. Once you have turned on both of them, the camera will start to adjust itself for a perfect balance.

Activating functions:

Now that you are all set with the setup of the camera and calibrations, now you have to follow the gimbal’s instructions to activate its functions.

It means that the camera will be following your hand movements. It is an ideal feature for tracking shots and panning shots.

For instance, if you want the camera to be tilting forward and backward as per your movements, for this, you have to press the joystick button twice.

Gimbals from different brands have their own combinations of buttons and key bindings that users have to press for whichever action they want for the camera. For your convenience, make sure that you experiment on your own at first, so you can know how to handle this gimbal.

2-Axis Gimbals vs. 3-Axis Gimbals:

It is crucial for you to note the difference between the two-axis and three-axis gimbals. Putting it in simple words, three-axis cameras have a stabilized tilt, pan, and roll axis. Meanwhile, the two-axis gimbals have to stabilize the pan and roll axis. So it is safe to say that three-axis gimbals are better because they will give you more stability.

Furthermore, it totally depends on the user and on their needs. It will be an important deciding factor on which one is superior.

Two-axis gimbals are lighter because they have only two motors inside them; also, they eat up less juice for this same reason. Also, if you think that the three-axis gimbals are expensive or not, yes, they are. The price depends on some key factors:

  • What are the goals of the user for the gimbal
  • What will be their use, and what’s your budget for the projects

Another thing that you should consider is the level of stability you are looking forward to. If you want some Hollywood-level footage, then the three-axis gimbal will be your best bet. However, if you are on a budget and don’t want a higher-level accessory, then the two-axis is good enough for you. Still, you will get your shots to stabilize smoothly. 

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Things To Consider Before Purchasing A Gimbal:

There are some things that you need to consider before purchasing a gimbal. Let’s take a look at those things:

Batteries:

Gimbals are powered in very different ways. Some of them use alkaline batteries, which have to be changed regularly. The other type uses lithium-ion batteries, which can always be charged once you drain them.

Of course, many individuals will go for the second type because it’s a real deal, though. However, it totally depends on you and your decisions. You can get the one which suits your preferences.

Weight:

Weight is one of the most important things that you have to consider before purchasing a gimbal. The reason is that you can’t always pick a heavy and huge gimbal just to shoot footage. You will get tired if you are on an all-day shoot.

Any more weight combined with your camera mounted on a gimbal will tire your arms pretty quickly if you are holding the camera for a long period. However, you have to make sure that your gimbal is lightweight and made up of good quality materials.

Software Compatibility:

Before you head to a website and place an order for your gimbal or simply go out to get your gimbal, make sure that you do some research on what software programs these gimbals use. Ensure that it is compatible with your camera, smartphone, computer, etc. By doing this, you will be able to get more out of the gimbal.

There are some things that are way easier if your gimbal is fully compatible with your smartphone. It will assist you in controlling the camera movement, or you can decide when you want the recording starts through your phone. These features come in handy for many filmmakers!

Accessories:

The last thing you should consider is that if you want a gimbal for professional usage, that will allow you to use accessories on it. It means you can mount accessories on it.

It is an amazing thing if you are that person who likes to mount tripods on their gimbals, put them on the floor for dolly-style shots, mount them on extension poles, etc.

Gimbals That You Can Buy:

We have some gimbals that are listed below. Make sure that you check them out:

Under $50:

Fantaseal DSLR Camera Camcorder Phone Stabilizer:

Vloggers assemble! This DSLR stabilizer is an incredible thing for your videos. You can get this gimbal to shoot your footage in a more smooth and more steady way. Users have to use two hands to handle this stabilizer whenever they are shooting videos from it. It has lightweight, and it’s perfect for shooting low-angle shots.

Users can attach their cameras, smartphones, or both at the same time. It has an ergonomic grip. It is an ideal option for beginners who have just started filmmaking and want to shoot some smooth footage.

Features:

  • Weight: 0.9 pounds
  • Compatible with a wide range of smartphones, DSLR cameras, and camcorders
  • Ergonomic grip with rubberized finishing
  • Accessory attachment

Under $100:

Roxant Pro Video Camera Stabilizer:

Roxant Pro Video Stabilizer is an amazing option for many filmmakers, videographers, and cinematographers out there. It has lightweight, which makes it easier for the users to handle it for a longer period of time. The comfortable grip handle on it makes it convenient for you to handle it. It is very well-balanced. You can equip entry-level DSLRs on it, which come with a prime lens.

Moreover, users will get a lifetime warranty on their purchases. This gimbal is the #1 gimbal on Amazon because it offers something incredible at a very affordable price.

Features:

  • Weight: 0.83 kg (1.83 lbs)
  • Maximum payload: 0.95 kg (2.1 lbs)
  • Mechanical stabilizer
  • Ideal for GoPros, smartphones, Point and Shoot, DSLR, and video cameras.

Under $200:

FlyCam HD-3000 Camera Stabilizer:

FlyCam HD-3000 is a high-end quality gimbal that has an adjustable 3-axis plate. It will allow the user to adjust the pan and tilt without even letting the user touch the camera.

FlyCam is all-mechanical with a three-axis gimbal that can be adjusted by moving a cushioned handle. There are a number of counterweights that are on the bottom to make it convenient for adjusting the vertical balance. You can mount all types of cameras on this gimbal.

Videographers who are working in a studio can easily get this to shoot industry-level footage. It will be an ideal gimbal for many professional filmmakers out there.

Features:

  • Weight: 3.99 kg (8.8 lbs)
  • Maximum payload: 3.5 kg (7.7 lbs)
  • Mechanical stabilizer
  • Suitable for DV, HDV, DSLR Video cameras

Final Thoughts:

To sum this up, you are pretty much aware of the gimbals and everything related to them. Now you know about the basic stuff of a gimbal, and you can easily purchase the one that suits your needs. You can get it for your own use, or if you are an indie filmmaker, then you can get the one that fits your preferences.

Furthermore, you can use these gimbals with your smartphones as well. Most of the people now use gimbals with their smartphones since the phones come up with top-notch cameras and innovative technology inside them.

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