When you first start vlogging, you need three things — a camera, a mic, and a smile.
But, if you want to bump your picture quality up a notch, you’re going to need a few extras.
One of the biggest problems new vloggers run into is the dreaded shaky camera.
If you’re trying to walk across the room or move your camera for a closeup, things can get really shaky. And, those shakes can make your camera work look unprofessional.
Luckily, there’s a solution — gimbals.
Here’s why gimbals should be on your next vlogging wishlist if your camera lacks image stabilization.
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5 Best Gimbals For Vloggers
What is Gimbal?
Yes! Gimbal is a funny word. But, it’s also a super useful vlogging tool.
Gimbals are camera stands that use motors and sensors to stabilize your camera and reduce the shake from movement.
I won’t go into the crazy physics of gimbals or anything. But, in a nutshell, it reduces the shakiness of your camera by causing it to move in the opposite direction that it’s swaying. In other words, it counterbalances movement to keep your camera steady.
And, that’s an extremely valuable tool for vloggers looking to bump up their quality.
Gimbal vs. Steadicam
Mechanical stabilizers (or Steadicams) and Gimbals are similar in one way — they help stabilize cameras.
But, mechanical stabilizers are a bit more old-school. They don’t work quite as well as gimbals, which have tons of sensors. Instead, they rely on mechanical movements.
You’ll usually see Steadicams in big production pictures since the cameras they use are massive and aren’t feasible with gimbals.
You can also buy Steadicams for your at-home camera (e.g., DSLR, iPhone, etc.) and they’re definitely cheaper than Gimbals. But, they aren’t nearly as good at stabilization. And, the price difference is shrinking. So, the use cases for Steadicams are getting more difficult to find.
That being said, they may work perfectly for your needs depending upon your setup. I’ll get to Steadicams in a future post.
2-Axis vs. 3-Axis Gimbals
When you first start looking at gimbals, you’ll run into two primary options — 2-axis and 3-axis. Obviously, 3-axis gimbals are better. And they are more expensive. But, depending upon your equipment, 2-axis may work fine.
Cameras rely on three axes of movement — pitch, yaw, and roll.
3-axis cameras handle all 3 of them. And, 2-axis only work on the pitch and the roll, which is the back-and-forth and side-to-side movements.
Honestly, I think 2-axis work fine for vlogging. Since you’re in control of the camera, you can manually reduce most of the yaw shake. But, you’ll get different opinions from different people.
But, there just aren’t any decent handheld 2-axis gimbals on the market.
Everyone is making 3-axis gimbals right now. And, it seems to be a bunch of knockoff companies or shady overseas sellers pushing out 2-axis gimbals.
So, my list only has the 3-axis gimbals. But, you can definitely get away with a 2-axis.
Handheld vs. Standing
For vlogging, handheld is obviously going to work better. But, you’re limited by your camera. The majority of DSLR gimbals aren’t handheld. There are a few (most of which are on my fav list below), but the size of DSLRs restricts you.
Almost all mobile gimbals are handheld — which is much easier to use regularly.
Something I really need you to take into account is the additional weight you will be have to carry with these gimbals.
You’re going to need a STRONG arm to hold a gimbal and a DSLR at the same time with one hand.
If you don’t have really strong arms, you should be looking to one of these options:
- Get a camera with internal image stabilization
- Use a small tabletop tripod instead
- Get a lens with optical image stabilization
Without further ado, here’s my top 5 list for vlogging gimbals.
1) Zhiyun Smooth 4 (Mobile)
The Zhiyun Smooth 4 is a 3-axis gimbal for smartphones. It fits most smartphones (the iPhone X is a little too heavy). But, it’s definitely too small for a DSLR.
We all know that smartphones are capturing some ridiculously good footage lately. And, they can be a cheap entryway for vloggers on a budget.
But, this gimbal can make that good smartphone footage absolutely insane. And, it has some sweet features that help you unlock the value trapped in your smartphone camera.
For starters it works exceptionally well at its primary function, stabilizing. And, for around $100, that’s an impressive feat. But, the Zhiyun is just getting started.
The ZY play app has some nifty features like Vertigo — which is that cool disorienting effect you get from backing away from something and zooming into it simultaneously (like this super famous scene in Jaws.)
You also have your basics like Zoom, subject tracking, timers, etc.
The build is also incredibly robust. And, it feels sturdy and expensive despite the price tag.
Now, there are some negatives packaged into this as well. It doesn’t fit some of the latest devices. Namely, it doesn’t work great with the iPhone X.
And, it doesn’t have a joystick for controlling the gimbal. Instead, it has a turn dial, which can be frustrating when you’re trying to control it while looking at your camera for the vlog.
- Under $100
- Great stabilization
- Perfect companion for smartphone vloggers
- Vertigo effect can give you some memorable vlog scenes
- Doesn’t work with DSLR
- A little too lightweight for the iPhone X
- No joystick
- ZY play app is great — but it’s not as good as some of its competitors
2) Feiyu G6 (GoPro)
I’ve talked about the benefits of vlogging with a GoPro before. And, it can be a super-easy way to capture some on-the-go footage. But, GoPros can get super shaky when they’re being used as standard vlogging cameras.
The Feiyu G6 is the perfect companion for your shaky GoPro. If you haven’t used a GoPro for vlogging, you should think about it.
They actually work really well. Check out my list of the Top GoPros to see some tips.
The Feiyu G6 body is splash-proof and built exceptionally well, which ties into the whole “nonstop adventure” image that GoPro is going for.
The gimbal rotation is extra smooth, and the 3-axis stabilization keeps your GoPro perfectly steady.
Better yet, you get a front-facing joystick that’s super-simple to use with only one hand — which you’ll be doing often on vlogs.
Not only is the battery life above average (+12 hours) but there’s a small LED screen on the front that displays the current battery level.
The G6 is compatible with all of the GoPro models — and some of the GoPro copycats.
An important point here is that you can also use this gimbal for your smartphone. But, you’ll need to purchase a different mount or clip. Here’s a cheap one that will work.
If you want a cheap, easy-to-use gimbal that’s waterproof, filled with features, and reasonably priced, the G6 should definitely be on your Top 5 list.
The main negative about this gimbal is the noise. Many of you use your camera’s mic. If you do that, you’re going to hear the little gimbal motors rotating.
Your best bet is to invest in a mic. Personally, I recommend the Shure SM7B.
But, if you’re doing it on the cheap, you may want to think about a stabilizer without motors.
- Reasonably priced
- Best GoPro gimbal on the market
- Front-facing joystick is easy-to-use
- Fantastic battery life
- Can use a smartphone if you buy a new mount
- Great stabilization and smooth rotation
- Can be a little noisy
- Won’t work with DSLR cameras
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3) ZhiYun Crane-M2
We’re kicking the price (and the quality) up a little bit with the ZhiYun Crane-M2. This thing is a beast.
It costs a little less than the DJI Ronin-S, and its 3-axis stabilization is just as good.
The Crane 2 is jam-packed with features. The handle has an OLED screen that gives you incredible visibility. It’s always nice to see what mode you’re in without having to translate blinking lights and obscure acronyms.
Also, the Crane 2 gives you direct control of basic camera functions like zoom straight from the handle.
The battery on this gimbal is insane. It’s got around 18 hours of battery life. And, you can charge your camera directly from the gimbal battery (which definitely won’t last 18 hours if you’re charging your camera.)
This gimbal is great for DSLRs, phones, mirrorless cameras, and even GoPros with a cheap mount. The handle is a little heavy, so it can be cumbersome to drag around when your vlogging. But, the results are definitely worth it.
If you buy it new, it comes with a nice case, a tripod, and some other goodies. Since vlogging is a very active form of video, you won’t use the tripod as often as your hands (at least most of you won’t), but it’s always nice to have the option.
- Incredible battery life
- Lets you charge your phone while you shoot
- Extremely stable
- Comes with tripod
- OLED makes changing modes easy
- One of the best 3-axis gimbals on the market when it comes to motor stabilization
- Phone charge port location isn’t the best
- Doesn’t work with DSLR cameras
4) Feiyu AK2000
In the same price range as the Ikan Beholder, the Feiyu AK2000 is another insanely good DSLR and mirrorless gimbal. I don’t like this one quite as much as the Ikan, but it’s still a great product.
It has a nifty touchscreen with tons of functions, which is an interesting and certainly useful feature. The stabilization works well (not quite as well as the Ikan) and it uses some advanced algorithms to steady the shake.
The battery lasts 12 hours, which is fantastic. But, it takes 5 hours to charge… which is… less fantastic.
It can support a decent weight, and it has a breadth of available DSLRs and mirrorless cameras that it supports. You can also fit a medium lens on most cameras without any hassle.
The big advantage this gimbal has is the touchscreen, which you can use to zoom and adjust camera settings in addition to gimbal settings.
- Touchscreen is neat and nifty
- Can support plenty of camera models with medium lens kits
- Battery lasts 12 hours
- Great stabilization
- Battery has a 5 hours charge time
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5) DJI Ronin-S
The DJI Ronin-S is a must-include on any gimbal list. That being said, you don’t need to spend $600 on a gimbal for vlogging. You really don’t. But, if you have the cash to drop and you want your videos to be among the very best in stabilization on Youtube, this is the gimbal that gets you there.
This 3-axis machine of stabilization is jam-packed with features.
It’s heavy enough to support a wide selection of cameras and lens combinations. Basically, it can handle anything under 8 lbs — which is A LOT.
Like most gimbals, the Ronin-S has motorized axis control that reduces and virtually eliminates shake. And, that’s cool and all. But, the Ronin-S is much more.
It has remote camera control for a wide variety of cameras. The mount can be transferred from handheld to tripod without moving the camera.
Plus, the SmoothTrack feature lets you customize how much the gimbal interacts with the movement of your camera. So, if you want a little more or a little less shake, the SmoothTrack feature lets you reduce the axis control.
The joystick for camera control is hefty and feels firm. And, you can switch between a few modes, the coolest of which is Sports mode. And, it puts your gimbal on overdrive to reduce pretty much ALL camera movements.
Really, this thing is the industry’s favorite for a reason — it’s really good.
It also has like 9 accessories up for grab.
My biggest gripe with this gimbal is the price. At double the price of the Ikan, It’s hard for me to justify. But, it’s definitely worth it to a lot of people. It’s probably the best selling high-end gimbal on the market.
- Tons of features
- Gimbal works great at reducing stabilization
- Sports mode is a huge plus
- Remote camera control works well
- 8lb payload is fantastic
- It’s the price of a nice camera
Gimbals aren’t absolutely necessary for vlogging. But, if you want to reduce your camera shake and improve your quality, they’re amazing tools. Personally, I recommend the Ikan Beholder as the best all-around gimbal. But, the Smooth 4 and G6 are perfect for those on a budget. If you’re serious about vlogging and you have the extra cash-to-splash, the DJI Ronin-S is Hollywood movie level good.
Will has been a full-time content creator since 2014. He’s an audio, video, and tech hobbyist dedicated to reviewing products and giving you the best tips he knows to grow your audience.