A camera stabilizer is a crucial piece of equipment for giving your films fluid movement since it combines the agility of a selfie stick with the steadiness of a tripod. These stabilizers, which range from basic cage grips to motorized gimbals, will offer an easy-to-grasp support. A stabilizer is unsurpassed when it comes to eliminating any shakiness and creating wide, cinematic pictures, whether you’re shooting with a DSLR or your phone’s built-in camera (which already has great onboard image-smoothing software).
The top three camera stabilizers from our tests are listed below with short information. Scroll down for comprehensive reviews of these and other potential models.
Why Buy a Grip or Gimbal?
Whether you’re filming with your camera in hand, whether you’re trying to make a short movie, music video, or vlog entry, there will undoubtedly be some movement. While some jitter is normal, excessively jerky, poor-quality video can ruin images and make viewers stop watching, which is bad for content producers (or want to be). Even if you lack surgeon-steady hands, a gimbal or cage allows you to move fluidly and pan across a scene.
Cage grips attach your camera or phone inside of a simple structure that, by evenly transferring weight between both of your hands, naturally reduces tremor. As you’ll need to manually turn your camera to capture movement like pans or tilts, these simple devices require more active control. Gimbals, on the other hand, use motors and sensors to level out your camera and move along an axis with the aid of AI if your desired shot necessitates a lot of complicated movement or you simply want to use a single hand. You may even program a motion pattern or track a person or item as it moves using gimbal software. Due to the fact that they adjust automatically without space for human error, gimbals frequently have a more precise balance. The final footage is more smoother, but the cost of using a gimbal is higher than using a tripod or a cage.
How We Tested
In order to gather the most promising gimbals for our testing, we first looked into professional and user reviews. Depending on the provided mounting plate, we put either an iPhone 13 Pro Max or a Canon M50 DSLR camera onto each stabilizer once they were delivered. Thereafter, we conducted three shooting trials. In the first, we tracked a moving subject from behind as they walked along a straightaway that bent into a bend. This allowed us to assess both the general steadiness and the capability of each stabilizer to handle wide pivots.
We moved inside a stairwell at the Popular Mechanics office after our tracking shot test and set up three neon-pink square markings on various points of the walls to serve as targets. To test how well each stabilizer responded to quick motion transitions, we recreated the same line of movement as we captured when climbing a flight of stairs while zooming, panning, and rotating each stabilizer.
For the final test, we filmed a static subject moving in a half-circle while evaluating tracking using the compatible stabilizers’ bundled software. We moved carefully toward the front of our subject from the left side before moving to their right. This demonstrated the accuracy of AI tracking, which is crucial for artists who prefer to focus on their subjects or capture self-facing vlogs while moving through the frame.
We’ve also added a few models that, based on our understanding of stabilizers and experience with them, seem promising but that we haven’t yet had a chance to test. These are listed below under Other Excellent Choices.
The grip extension on DJI’s Ronin-high-performance SC’s gimbal gives you a variety of options for moving your camera. That additional seven inches of length doubles as a tripod and is ideal for low-angle (using an underslung grip) and high pictures (by grabbing the bottom of the pole). After connecting the base grip with the gimbal, we assembled the Ronin-SC by screwing the extender into the bottom of the grip. Easy. We noticed and liked the 2.4-pound weight of the premium aluminum build right away. However, this has the disadvantage of limiting the SC to camera payloads of 4.4 pounds. Still, that’s sufficient for daily shooting. The entire equipment, including our Canon DSLR, weighed only 3.3 pounds and was comfortable to carry because to the textured grips. If you’ve got filming experience, getting the camera stabilized on the gimbal will be second nature, but adjusting the riser plate and properly balancing the camera lens will take some getting used to for newbies. This gimbal may not be the ideal choice for beginners, despite the fact that the markings for weight and lens placement are obvious. It is designed for anyone who want to advance their video creation.
The device incorporates a responsive precision joystick to manage pan and tilt in addition to many buttons for operation. When we moved the camera up, down, left, and right throughout the rotation’s range of motion, we found no resistance. Switching between editable profiles is done with the M button. The record button, which you press to take pictures and videos, is indicated by a red circle. When you double-tap the back trigger, your camera will focus on the center and almost no jerk will be visible on the Canon M50 DSLR camera. While these are the fundamental controls, the DJI smartphone app offers far more in-depth levels of customization, including the Active Track 3.0 subject tracking feature and precise calibration. In the half-circle test, mounting our iPhone above the camera allowed us to draw a tracking box around our subject that followed as we moved. The Ronin-SC was nonetheless outperformed by the OM 5 below in this regard, given that the gimbal was progressively better at focusing on the subject around the edges, even though the tracking looked fantastic with our subject in the middle of the frame.
In spite of our initial concerns that the low weight wouldn’t be substantial enough to guarantee stability during jerky, fast movements, this gimbal produced the most stable video in our stair test. Although we walked bouncing climbing up the stairs, the footage that was recorded appeared to be as smooth as if the camera were floating. Also, the camera maintained the best stability and turning motion of the entire pool when it followed our subject around the bend during the walking shot section of the test. While comparable gimbals cost significantly more, the DJI Ronin is still affordable and lightweight at just under $300, making it the ideal choice for amateur to professional filmmakers.
DJI OM 5
A robust and strong smartphone gimbal is the DJI OM 5. The grip’s smooth rubber and foam finish encircling the metal construction rests pleasantly against the palm without straining or making our hand clammy, in contrast to many affordable mobile-centric gimbals we’ve handled over the years. The OM 5 uses a magnetic metal grip in place of a plastic clamp to hold your phone in place. It easily sticks to the gimbal, and thanks to a padded inner, it holds onto your phone without damaging it. Most crucially, it does away with the need to calibrate or balance the phone, allowing you to shoot in a matter of seconds. It’s best to think of the OM 5 as a condensed version of the Ronin, complete with a smaller joystick and buttons for only recording and phone orientation. Beginners will love how easy it is to use, but even experienced filmmakers will be thrilled. Because of the pleasing click and the trigger’s ergonomic placement, we really enjoyed using it to switch between settings. Yet although though the OM 5 only weighs 10 ounces, every phone we tested, including the enormous iPhone 13 Pro Plus and the diminutive iPhone 13 Mini, remained steady and delivered high-quality images without jitter.
The Mimo app from DJI is well-designed and takes you step-by-step through an interactive tutorial on how to use the gimbal, covering everything from basic orientation changes to motion tracking. We had no trouble moving with both our patients and our own face after getting used to the equipment. You can change video modes from the app to direct your movements when making spin shots, time-lapses, or dynamic zooms. The OM 5 fought hard to be the top option due to its ease of use, but it cannot be used with a DSLR, and its battery life of less than seven hours didn’t wow us. The bundled eight-inch extender grip for high- and low-angle captures also functions as a tripod so you can put up your phone anywhere, just like its larger brother above.
The footage we took while climbing stairs was equally as dreamy as the Ronin’s without any bounce, thanks to the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s camera performance, which is on par with that of a DSLR. The gimbal provided some little resistance when we veered around the corner of the walking test, keeping the subject off-center. (We conducted the test several times to be sure it wasn’t an anomaly, and this kept happening.) When it comes to motion tracking, the OM 5 really shines. In the half-circle test and as we were running about, the gimbal kept the camera fixed to our faces while the subject-tracking field we selected in the app centered targets in the frame. Given the capabilities incorporated into some of the new phone lineups this year, it is a little frustrating that you won’t be able to photograph using your phone’s native app.
The Fantaseal cage grip is a straightforward camera stabilizer that eliminates vibration thanks to its ergonomic U-shape if you don’t need a motorized gimbal. By evenly spreading pressure across both of your hands, its design eliminates tremors. It depends only on you to move it because it has no buttons and is unable to track subjects. It’s tough to top the flawless snap-in method for attaching your camera, phone, flash, and microphone, especially for the price, if you have the mobility to move about situations for your preferred images or require a rapid, stable capture.
The Fantaseal came in three pieces, but snapped together in about two minutes by simply connecting the interlocking sections and adding two screws. We fastened the provided phone mount to the top so we could use the app to change the camera settings on our M50 and instantly send recordings to our phone. Although the soft foam doesn’t feel as comfy as the models mentioned above, the finger indents make sure it stays sticky and lighten the load on our hands so that the recordings are more stable. Although it keeps the cage lightweight, the plastic frame is less sturdy and already has some scratches after two weeks of use. The smartphone stays under $50 thanks to these compromises.
For a cage without motor aid, the smooth motion transitions from panning to ascending stairs were pretty excellent, but we did detect some little jitter on every other step. In our walking test, this model similarly lagged behind the aforementioned options, albeit with a little less shake on the straightaways. This in no way suggests that the stabilizer is ineffective. This level of stability is ideal for novices or modest video productions, and the footage is a definite improvement over using your own hands. But, you should consider the gimbals above if you require a continuously steady shot with a rolling free range of motion.
Zhiyun Crane 3S
The Crane 3S has everything you need to make the most of your shots for professional filmmakers using equipment that is too heavy to operate with the Ronin. It can support more than 14 pounds, so you may use a powerful camera and a big lens without any problems. You’ll also gain access to accessories like the ViaTouch 2.0 motion control system, improved axis-locking technology, detachable handle alternatives, and an external power input. Although this gimbal might be too heavy to carry around like the Ronin SC, which is where it shines, it works well for handheld or ground shots.
Hohem iSteady V2
The iSteady V2 by Hohem is a powerful mobile gimbal that is less expensive and heavier than the OM 5. Some more features include an adjustable LED video light on the body for vlogging and reverse charging so it may double as a power bank for your phone. Although the Hohem Pro mobile app is difficult to use, the sensor on top of the phone mount can monitor subjects in other programs, such as your default camera app, so you are not restricted to the program. The iSteady V2 is more portable than the OM 5 and produces footage that is buttery smooth when it functions. It also comes with a selfie stick and tripod extension that are useful for taking dynamic shots. However, the inconsistent battery life might have a severe impact on motor performance, and the vertical range of motion is constrained. Although it’s inexpensive, packed with capabilities, and keeps your footage steady, the OM 5 remains the greatest smartphone gimbal.
These days, smartphones are capable of recording 4K videos. So it’s advisable to purchase a camera gimbal if you switch to a mirrorless camera or DSLR in order to shoot video. Your footage has a smooth, polished appearance as a result.
The DJI RS 2 and the RSC 2 are the top camera gimbals (camera stabilizers) on our list. They are almost the same size. But, the RS 2 offers additional features and a greater payload.
Your budget, as well as the size and weight of your camera, will determine which one you choose. For their sturdy construction, LCD screens, and portable, lightweight designs, I like the DJI RS 2 and RSC 2. If you want a hybrid model that works with any device, you have a lot of additional choices to pick.
Our top pick is ideal for daily use by someone who demands superior performance and dependability.