What Is a Camera Gimbal and Do I Need One?

19 July 2019

Do you want to make your videos look more professional?

Enter: Camera Gimbals

While they’ve been around for a while, they’ve really made a splash in the past couple of years. Manufacturers have come out with high-quality gimbals for DSLRs, mirrorless models, smartphones and action cameras (like GoPros) – at more affordable prices.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about why gimbals are the key to smooth, shake-free footage.

What is a camera gimbal?

Equipped with motors and sensors, a gimbal is a device that allows your digital camera to rotate smoothly along an axis. These days, 3-axis gimbals are the most common type. They stabilise your camera while you tilt, pan and roll, and help you to film fluid, smooth footage while you’re on the move. In the past, mechanical camera stabilisers were used to prevent jerky footage, but gimbals have a little more manoeuvrability. 

While gimbals are handy for shooting stills from tricky angles, they’re essential for videographers. With a gimbal, you have the freedom to film handheld, knowing you’ll end up with steady, blur-free footage. Think of it as the best way to hold a camera steady without a tripod.

Videographers who have been in the game for a while may be used to dollies, jigs and other professional video-making equipment. Though gimbals can’t replace these, they’re much more portable – which is great news for on-the-go content creators.

How does a camera gimbal work?

How does a camera gimbal work?How does a camera gimbal work?

Backed by algorithms and gyroscopes, gimbals pick up on any unwanted jolts or bumps in your footage – and then stabilise those moments with the help of motors.

The popular 3-axis gimbals use Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs) to detect movement, and then adjust the gimbal on each axis to balance your camera and keep it still as you move through the scene. The best part? The gimbal’s built-in computer can determine which movements are intentional (and which ones aren’t), so your panning scenes and sweeping views turn out the way you wanted them.

Thanks to this technology, 3-axis gimbals can create a cinematic yet dreamy effect, where the camera appears to be floating through the air. (On that note, this is why many of the newer video drones are fitted out with gimbals.)

Finally, gimbal motors are usually brushless. This means they’re silent – which is key to the quality of your finished work.

On a budget? Though 3-axis gimbals offer the smoothest video, they’re an investment. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, go for a 1-axis or 2-axis gimbal. They have similar capabilities, so they’re great starter gimbals.

Do I need a gimbal?

Now, onto the million-dollar question: Should you get a gimbal?

If you’re a budding or professional videographer who’s serious about video quality, it’s worth adding a gimbal to your kit. Without one, handheld video can be very hit and miss. You’ll be limited in the movements you can make, and may have to settle for less-interesting shots. Chances are, you could also end up with shaky footage. Unless you’re deliberately shooting in a ‘raw’ style (like you might for a documentary), the goal is to film steady video.

Of course, a tripod will help you to film smooth footage – but it can’t offer the same speed and versatility to move your camera like a motorised gimbal can. For this reason, many wildlife and sports videographers choose to use a gimbal to stabilise their camera and track moving subjects.

How does a camera gimbal work?How does a camera gimbal work?

Along with shooting steady footage, there are other benefits to using gimbals:

  • They’re quick to set up, compared to more professional stabilisation gear.
  • They’re lightweight and easy to carry, which is important if your videography often takes you on adventures.
  • They let you comfortably film with your camera for longer periods of time.
  • They help you to effortlessly change the direction of your camera, which can cut down on your shooting time.
  • They allow you to mount other camera accessories, such as microphones.
  • They give you a firmer hold on your camera.
  • They’re brilliant for shooting underwater and aerial footage.

Some gimbals are connected to apps that can open up a new world of creative possibilities, too.

Ted’s Top Picks

These are the gimbals our team is most excited about:

Add a gimbal to your toolkit today

For professional video footage, consider investing in a gimbal. Drop by your local Ted’s Cameras store, and our team will be more than happy to walk you through our extensive range of gimbals.

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