Gimbals Overview

Today, we are going to discuss on one of my favourite accessories, Gimbals.

A general look at Gimbals
Gimbals exists in many different variations and sizes

What is a Gimbal Stabilizer?

It helps to stabilize your videos or pictures or anything that you take using your camera.

If you ever seen a movie or any professional video productions, which, of course everyone have seen unless you are living in a cave, you would have probably asked yourself,  how can the footages be so stable and smooth? Well, simply said, gimbals.

Gimbals in the past was used by professional movie crew only because it was really expensive, costing around a few thousands. And a typical consumer at that time could not really afford it. However, as time pass, cameras and devices became smaller and cheaper and so did gimbals. Hence, people like you and I could not afford it but can afford it (now). See what I did there? English Guru =P


So, how does a gimbal stabilizer work?

what is a gimbal?
As you know gimbals stabilise videos. Gimbals do so by electronically adjusting the 3 axis, namely pitch, yaw and row to ensure that the camera rotate around an axis throughout filming, hence allowing the camera to be very stable and record smooth footages.

From the gif image above, you can see that the object is independent from the rotation of its support and is only revolving around a single axis.

 

3axis gimbal

How does it adjust and stabilize then? Well, a 3 axis gimbal has 3 sensors to measure the 3 different axis, each sensor independent of another. It also has 3 motors each independently controlling the camera’s axis.The sensor outputs the measurements to the processor which then processes and outputs to the motor. In other words, when the sensor records or measures change or error, the processor will instruct the motor to counteract the motion, almost immediately, leaving the camera to be levelled to the ground, resulting in a graceful and elegant footage.


The Great-grandfather of Gimbals (History of Gimbals)

Old gimbals, history of gimbals
Counterweight Gimbals

Gimbals weren’t electronic in the beginning. It was invented way before electronics, chipsets or circuit board and it used counterweights to stabilise the camera. It looks something like the picture above and the counterweight is basically to keep the camera locked and levelled to the ground to remain stable. The handle in the middle is where the user hold and control from there and any motion from the handle will not affect the camera and counterweight.

However, why did they move away from counterweighted stabilizers? Simple, it was too heavy, way toooo heavy. The counterweight had an extra weight at the bottom to stabilise and keep the camera levelled to the ground and besides the counterweight, the mount also had a considerable amount of weight, thus without needing to say, people decide to move away from counterweighted gimbals and started to utilise electronics ones which used rotors instead. Another thing to note about mechanical stabilizers was that it was It was really like carrying weights while filming. But I guess if you wanted to work out while working, that’s great 😛 .


Types of Gimbals

There are many types of gimbals nowadays that you can easily purchase from any stores. I will categorise into 3 distinct groups,

Number of Axis

An ideal gimbal usually come with 3 axis, pitch, roll and yaw which is mentioned 3 axis yaw, roll and pitchabove. These 3 axis will be all that a camera needs since objects are able to revolve around in  3 axis and thus you will be able to control any of the camera’s position. However, due to some people having different budget, manufacturers have also made 2 axis (pitch and roll) and 1 axes (very seldom) ones.

Therefore, the difference between the price of a 2 axis and 3 axis one is really huge, with the 2 axis one costing about $100 and 3 axis one costing twice as much of about $200. However, there is one below that I recommend because I feel it is the best 3 axis gimbal because is good and cheap and less than $150 as of the time of posting.

You can check this video out to see the difference between the 2 axis and 3 axis gimbals.

Size

big vs small gimbals, different gimbals sizesThere are also many sizes for you to consider when buying a gimbal. Due to cameras having different sizes, gimbals has to too. Hence, there are 2 different sizes that are very distinct, small and large.

For gimbals of ‘small’ size, it is meant for typical consumers. So things like handheld cameras, action cameras, handphone are all suitable for gimbals of this size. Thus, I feel most of the people would choose a small gimbal.

Moving on to the ‘large’ size. These gimbals are usually only used by professional or Youtubers because they usually use a large video camera that is able to take really clear footages. Gimbals of this size is also usually mechanical. Hence, I feel that a normal person would not need a gimbal of this size.

Electronic and Counterweight

Electronic Gimbals vs Mechanical GimbalsAs mentioned above, in the history of gimbals, there are electronic and counterweighted gimbals. Although many prefer electronic gimbals, there are still many people who prefer mechanical or counterweight gimbals over electronic ones.

Pros and Cons of Electronic Gimbals and Mechanical GimbalsThe main perk of using an electronic one would be that it is able to be used on moving objects such as in cars, drones, boats, etc. Electronic gimbals are able to handle quick turns, change of directions and vibrations very well. On the other hand, a mechanical one would not work as well as there is inertia present and it would pose a problem as the camera will be slanted when there is a sudden change of direction.

Another thing to note about mechanical gimbals are that it requires calibration to keep the camera stable and levelled to the ground, and that process can be quite troublesome.

Conversely, the main drawback for electronic ones is that it is powered by batteries and hence even a little bit of water entering the system will damage it. However nowadays, many of the gimbals are made waterproof and thus the main problem would be that it can’t be used for prolong period of time because it constantly require charging.

Another advantage of mechanical stabilizers would be the price, as most of the time mechanical ones use cheaper parts than electronic ones and thus mechanical ones are much more affordable than the electronic ones.


What I Recommend

zhiyun smooth q gimbal I recently wrote a review on the ZhiYun Smooth Q which I feel is very affordable for its price. It is a 3 axis gimbal that can be used for your phone and action camera and most importantly it is lower than $150! Click here to see my review!

Conclusion

All in all, I feel that gimbal is really a very useful and good accessory to have as it would add a professional touch to all of your footages. Besides that, even when you change your camera, you can still use back the same gimbal, not requiring to buy one. Furthermore, I feel that it be used as a monopod to take cool and smooth wefies.

Lastly, I feel it is a really good investment and I feel you should invest in one if you are interested in bringing your video content to greater heights! 🙂


Click here to check out my top recommendations for gimbals 2018!
Check it out

If you have any question or queries, please feel free to leave a comment down below and I’ll be sure to reply! Thanks for dropping by and have a nice day! =))

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14 Comments

  1. I love reading about gimbals. I even dabbled in designing one for myself. The electric ones simple yet very complex at the same time. After trying to design one, I’m thinking it is a much better idea to just buy one from someone who has already worked out the kinks. The electric gimbals is what I prefer for control and smoothness but it is also nice to have a mechanical one for backup.
    Thanks

    1. Wow can’t believe you actually tried making one yourself. I have the same thinking as you, I prefer electric ones than mechanical ones too! Anyways, thanks for reading and have a nice day!

  2. Nice article. I’ve never used a gimble but am thinking I may need one for my future uses. Are they cumbersome or weigh a lot? How long do you find yourself being able to hold up the camera?

    1. Hi Chad! Thanks for dropping by! They are not usually very heavy and actually are actually quite light. Usually it weights about half a litre of water hence I find myself actually able to hold it for a few hours without a problem! Also, if you are looking for one, I feel the ZhiYun Smooth Q is something that you would like!

  3. I’m always hoping to develop my own videos some day and infact I am pretty much a Newbie. It’s my first time reading about gimbal and this is definitely very informational for me. Thanks for the information. But will it be too bulky to bring overseas for filiming of various sorts? Always wanted to do some travel vlogs or overseas vlogs.

    1. Hi thanks for dropping by! Gimbals are perfect for overseas and filming as it is about 1/3 as long as a monopod and it isn’t very bulky too so I feel its perfect for vlogging and with proper usage, your footages will be really nice to watch and enjoy!

  4. Every time I see something like this I always think to myself that whoever came up with it is a genius. Have you actually used this before? I would have loved to have seen some footage recorded with it, if not from your own personal use then maybe from their website. The practical benefits of something like this for any photographer are numerous. Really good post and descriptive writing.

    1. I have actually used one before but it’s actually from a friend. Although it is mostly used for videos to smoothen and stabilise it, I think it can be used for photographers. This is an example video with the crane-M if you want to see some footage with it. Anyways, thanks for reading and have a nice day!

  5. Wow i love the website and what a cool article too! I didn’t know much about gimbals but it seems super interesting and very useful. I was wondering if you had any suggestions of a gimbal for casual use in the hands of a beginner. I have a friend with a GoPro Hero4 and i bet he would love to mess around with one of these.

    1. Hi Dominic! Glad you found it useful! I would really recommend either the smooth q (129 USD) or vimble c (120 USD) as both of them are really good value for their price and are really user-friendly at the same time!

  6. Awesome breakdown on gimbals.

    About a month ago I was looking into perhaps getting one but didnt know exactly what they were called haha. After finding the correct name for them I was able to narrow my research but still couldnt find much information on them.

    This post definitely goes into depth on operation, types, pros and cons as well as others. Good read if your looking into getting your self a gimbal!

    Cheers

    1. Hi Mack, thanks for dropping by and commenting down!

      If you are looking for a gimbal, free free to check out my gimbal reviews for your smartphone or action cam here!

  7. What type battery pack do you recommend using with the Vimble C Gimbal? Also, what type of cord connection do you use to connect both. Is the cord at least 6ft long? Do you know the pricing and dealer website?

    Thanks,
    Herb

    1. Hi Herb, when you say battery pack, do you mean power bank? And for cord connection, is it the cable that is used for charging?

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