The Best Gimbals
Since the rapid expansion of the Internet throughout the globe (the name ‘World Wide Web’ perfectly depicts this phenomenon), a vast number of technological possibilities and job opportunities have emerged. Today, in the year 2020, it is impossible to imagine a day spent without using some of these devices, even when they are not work-related.
People have found new ways of earning money, especially with the development of social networks. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and the like – they are all bottomless pits full of cash waiting to be exploited. For those who know how this could be a dream come true.
But, to create such profitable content, one needs proper tools – high-quality cameras with adequate gadgets and accessories. With these, the possibilities of your creativity are endless, and making a name for yourself is just a matter of time.
The gimbals are certainly the tools that you must have! Whether you are creating a ‘Vine’, an Instagram shot, a short YouTube video, or a lengthy content, these camera stabilizers not only make your shots less shaky but also more professional, with numerous pro techniques to be had at one’s disposal while using these tools.
Naturally, these gimbals are for everyone – both amateur and professional photographers alike, film-makers, camera enthusiasts, and not for content-creating rookies only. Create high-quality content with much less effort, and be satisfied with your work.
This article will hopefully help you out in choosing the best gimbal for your needs. The DSLR (digital single-lens reflex cameras), mirrorless cameras, and mobile phone gimbals will be included for broader options. These options will also be categorized according to their performance, cost, and use, so read on and find your best gimbal
Here’s what to expect in this article:
- Reviews of the best gimbals
- A brief buyer’s guide
- Your burning questions answered in a FAQ
Without further ado, here are our top picks…
👑 Our Pick for Best Overall
⭐ Our Other Top Picks for Gimbals
- Best of the Best: DJI Ronin-S
- Runner Up: Zhiyun WEEBILL S
- Best Gimbal for Smartphones: Zhiyun Smooth 4
Best Gimbals Reviews
DJI Ronin-S (👑 Best of the Best)
DJI has been a top competitor on the market for many years now, and their two-handed gimbals have been a state of the art. Be that as it may, for the past two years they saw the importance and current popularity of handheld stabilizers for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Therefore, DJI has decided to dominate the world market by introducing its first gimbal of this type – the DJI Ronin S.
A lot of effort has been made to make the system as simple as possible for use. Ronin-S is a scaled-down version of the already proven Ronin stabilizers. But don’t be fooled by its size – it can still carry cameras up to 3.6kg. It is compatible with practically all Canon EOS DSLR models (either full-frame or crop), with Nikon FX and DX bodies, then Sony A9, A7, and A6xxx series, with Panasonic GH5 / GH5S and GH4, but also with Hasselblad X1D.
Of course, the DJI Ronin-S provides the highest level of stabilization in all 3 axes and is compatible with both the stabilization systems inside the lens and those built into the cameras themselves. As for the rotations on the axes, the situation is as follows:
- Pan: 360 °
- Roll: 360 °
- Tilt: 280 ° (-95 to 185 °)
- The speed of movement on all axes is 360 ° / s
- Its engines are very strong and durable, so stabilization will work at the highest level even when the cameraman moves with the gimbal to a speed of 75km / h
Most importantly, DJI Ronin S boasts several smart and very useful modes and functions:
- SmoothTrack technology enables a smooth transition from Upright to Underslung mode, without any unwanted vibrations, along all 3 axes.
- There is a Sport Mode for tracking fast targets.
- There is a Focus Wheel on the side of the handle, with which you can easily adjust the focus of the camera to the given situation (it can be mounted on both the left and the right side).
Moreover, Ronin-S can remember 3 different profiles, with different settings, and with the M key (mode key) you can easily switch from one to another. On top of that, with the help of the DJI Ronin mobile application, Panorama, Timelapse, Motionlapse, and Track modes are available, through which you can give space to your creativity to come to the first plan.
When it comes to physical details, DJI Ronin-S is easily disassembled, which makes packaging and transfer simple and thankful. As for the battery life, an important item is that it has a built-in lithium-polymer battery, which provides as much as 12 hours of continuous operation. What is also important to point out, regarding the ergonomics of this stabilizer, is the fact that its roll motor is slightly lowered, so that it does not block the camera screen during shooting – the camera is above the roll axis.
DJI offers a wide range of accessories with the Ronin S stabilizer, which opens up many new possibilities. If needed for professional use, collecting most of these will be quite rewarding, but a bit expensive as well.
With so many possibilities and top-notch quality – the Ronin-S stands as our top choice for DSLR and mirrorless cameras.
Zhiyun WEEBILL S (🥈 Runner Up)
What we like about this gimbal is its versatility. Like its Weebill LAB predecessor, the Weebill S gimbal also has the option of mounting a dedicated tripod upwards. This makes the tripod be used like a handgrip, an additional handle, and the gimbal is placed in the so-called ‘underslung’ position, which will greatly facilitate handling and recording. Of course, the tripod can be mounted as standard, if you want to place the gimbal on a surface.
Additional comparison with the previous generation – with its 3kg payload, the Zhiyun Weebill S is designed for both mirrorless and DSLR cameras. Zhiyun Tech boasts that the Weebill S is equipped with engines whose torque is 300% higher than the first Weebill, resulting in significantly smoother stabilization and response speed (they say 50% better than its predecessor).
A new advanced algorithm – the eighth generation Intune, is built into the gimbal itself and allows:
- Automatic camera weight detection,
- Engine power adjustment to always get optimal stabilization,
- Optimal battery consumption (Intelligent Auto-Tune), making the battery life quite desirable for longer shootings.
Thanks to this type of innovation, maneuvering even with the Canon 5D Mark IV + EF 24-70mm f / 2.8 will be easy.
Another important novelty with the Weebill S is not about the gimbal itself, but about the accessories. An optional TransMount Image Transmission Module is available, a compact device that mounts under the gimbal board connects to the camera via an HDMI cable, and provides wireless video streaming with a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 at 30 fps up to 100m. This setup turns your smartphone into a professional video monitor or multifunctional remote control. Moreover, it is possible to pair up to 3 devices (phones, tablets, video monitors) wirelessly at the same time!
The mentioned streaming and other smart functions are due to the improved Zhiyun-Tech ZY Play application, which is intended for Andriod and iOS. One of the options within the application is SmartFollow 2.0, which works in pair with the mentioned module and brings precise tracking of the target you have selected, with minimal delay. The ViaTouch function, which was also present in the Weebill LAB, has now been upgraded (version 2.0), giving you the ability to control the camera and gimbal, as well as their settings, directly from your phone screen. In this way, you can adjust the zoom and focus (for supported models), as well as ISO, aperture, focus speed, etc. The ZY Play application also offers a very useful Sync Motion function (allows the gimbal to mimic and follow the movements you make with your phone in real-time, so you won’t miss a single shot), as well as standard and always welcome:
- Long Exposure Timelapse
Also, Zhiyun Weebill S offers as many as 6 modes of operation:
- Full-Range POV Mode. The camera retains its position even if you move the gimbal 360 ° along all three axes.
- Vortex Mode. Creates a dramatic effect, tilted, while the camera rotates 360 °.
- Go Mode. Focus speed is at maximum; it is intended for extreme sports and similar situations.
- PF Mode. The camera pans while moving the gimbal left or right (useful for Hyperlapse).
- F Mode. The camera monitors the movements of the gimbal lever.
- L Mode. The target is in focus when you mimic movements made with a dolly or jib stabilizer.
Finally, Weebill S provides electronic focus control for supported models using a dedicated dial. Gimbal also supports mechanical focus and zoom control using separately purchased engines (all TransMount accessories used by its predecessor are supported). Battery life has also been worked on, so the Weebill S can be continuously active for up to 14 hours.
Zhiyun Smooth 4 (📱 Best Gimbal for Smartphones)
As stated earlier, Zhiyun and DJI are competing to offer the best possible gimbal for mobile phones at the lowest possible price. Like the DJI Osmo Mobile 3 (we will take more about this model later on), the Zhiyun Smooth 4 brings some improvements over its predecessor and is significantly more affordable than the previous generation.
The Zhiyun Smooth 4 is, of course, a handheld stabilizer designed to be combined with smartphones, but unlike the previous models, it can’t be combined with GoPro cameras. Mobile phones that correspond to their flexible handle are characterized by the following characteristics: heights are from 62 to 85 mm, and weights from 75 to 210 g. – more or less all smartphones.
Zhiyun Smooth 4 brings several new modes, which will take phone shooting to a professional level. First of all, we should point out the PhoneGo mode, which turns this gimbal into a race car and gives its engines acceleration so that some fast target would not accidentally miss – perfect for any kind of action! Moreover, all the transitions in the video will be done to the last detail, so there is no need for post-production. This mode fits perfectly with the target tracking function (human faces, but also everything else) with Pan-Following, Locking, Full-Follow modes available, in which a lot of time is invested when creating Smooth 4. Just mark the target on the screen, and Smooth 4 will do the rest.
For close-up aficionados, there is the POV Orbital Shot option, which provides the perfect close-up shot, with a focus on a moving target moving in a circle around the lens. Another important novelty is the Vertigo function, which adds a dose of “Hollywood” to your shots: you use the dedicated wheel on the side of the stabilizer to zoom in on the target as you move away from it, which creates a dramatic moment.
Smooth 4, by the way, has that rather large zoom or focus wheel on the left side (there is an FN button on the bottom of the wheel to switch the function from focus to zoom and vice versa), which is a novelty compared to its predecessor and which is specially designed with an accent to filmmakers. Smooth 4 controls are better ergonomically done than the previous models and thanks to them, you do not need to touch the screen of your phone (this reduces the chance that some parameter is inadvertently disturbed during recording), but you do everything via the mentioned wheel, joystick and numerous keys.
If you are a fan of time-lapse shots, Zhiyun Smooth 4 has a wide repertoire for you:
- Slow Motion
When it comes to physical characteristics, the situation is as follows: unexpectedly, the rotation is reduced compared to its predecessor:
- Tilt: 240 °
- Roll: 240 °
- Pan: 300 °
But the motors are much stronger, so they can be mounted on the gimbal accessories such as LED lights, lenses, etc .; the battery is rechargeable lithium-ion, built into the gimbal, and allows operation for up to 12 hours continuously (charging time is 3.5 hours); it should be emphasized that the stabilizer can charge your phone during recording, so you can be sure that the battery life on the phone will not discharge; Smooth 4 also has a USB Type-C port, through which you can connect an external power pack and thus get even longer operating time.
On top of all that, there is the ZY Play application, which allows you to adjust many parameters of your phone directly from the stabilizer: parameters related to photography and video recording, mechanical gimbal controls, exposure compensation, ISO, white balance, filters, activate the front of the phone’s rear camera, and this app also provides several intelligent features like time-lapse video, long exposure, panorama, etc., also directly from the gimbal. Zhiyun Smooth 4 together with the mentioned application turns your phone into a real video camera. At the bottom of the Smooth 4 gimbal is a standard 1/4″ thread, so it can be attached to a tripod very easily.
So many useful things make this gimbal arguably the best gimbal for smartphones.
Zhiyun Crane 3
One of the pioneers in the field of design and manufacture of stabilizers has set new standards in every possible sense. Guided by innovations that are their priority, the people from this company have designed a unique gimbal of record carrying capacity and phenomenal ergonomics – Zhiyun Crane 3.
Crane 3 is a gimbal whose functionality and usability, despite its long presence on the market, has arguably still not been surpassed by anyone. Zhiyun has shown that you can cram the aforementioned record capacity, and quiet and durable, very fast-response engines into the smallest possible package, without the mass of the gimbal itself, fighting with the best the competition has to offer. The age of this gimbal significantly lowers the price, while the great performance remains.
The shape is unique and largely relies on the track they trod the Weebill Lab model. There are two handles, the lower of which is a mini tripod. The upper handle allows you to carry the device “like a suitcase”, to bring it closer to the ground, and to make great shots while walking with stabilization good enough to iron and earthquake. Of course, it is possible to use both hands, which will greatly facilitate the use when heavy equipment is installed.
The load capacity of the Zhiyun Crane 3 gimbal has been significantly increased compared to its predecessor and now stands at an impressive 4.58kg. For the engines to bear such a load, certain improvements had to go in their direction as well. This time it is about engines that meet the standards of the aviation industry, they are 50% quieter, and the torque is increased by 100% compared to the engines installed in the Crane 2. Zhiyun also claims that the engine response speed is increased by as much as 150% compared to the previous generation of gimbals from this house.
The functionality of the new gimbal has been significantly expanded with a wireless display system, effectively converting your smartphone or tablet into a Full HD monitor, thus eliminating the need to purchase an external monitor separately. To make the use of smart devices even more interesting, Zhiyun also offers control of the gimbal via the touch screen (ViaTouch Control System), whether it is an Android or iOS platform. It is only necessary to install the ZY Play application, and it is possible to control more complex functions, such as, for example, continuous focus on a moving object. The rear “axle” placed at an angle also contributes to the improved functionality, so that it will not block the display of your camera when shooting.
Similarly to Weebill S, numerous accessories are available for the Crane 3 to enhance the already exceptional usability. In addition to individual packages, you can also find these accessories in the style of “collected works”, packed in Creator and Master packages.
At the best budget buy slot comes an already mentioned DJI Ronin-M – a distant predecessor to Ronin-S, our top choice. In performance, there is little (but non-neglectable) difference between these two models, the main one being the weight. Ronin-M is a much older model, over 5 years old, and its use is mainly two-handed. There is a possibility to use it single-handedly, but since it is a bit heavier, a longer use is quite tiring and sometimes impossible. DJI has resolved this issue with Ronin-S and ever since the price of Ronin-M has dropped drastically, and this is the main reason why you should consider buying it.
Apart from its price, DJI Ronin-M is a stabilization system designed to give the cameraman freedom of movement when shooting from the hands, but at the same time smooth shots without any shaking. It is compatible with various types of cameras and camcorders, and thanks to its strong magnesium construction, it can withstand loads up to 3.6kg weight, while its 3 smooth motors bring stability to the camera along 3 axes:
- Roll (rotation ± 110 °)
- Tilt (rotation + 105 ° / -190 °)
- Pan (360 ° rotation).
Moreover, the Ronin-M system boasts ultra-precise ± 0.02 ° precision control, which allows millimeter-precise camera movements as well as stability correction, even with very fine movements. In addition to shooting by hand, this gimbal delivers superior results even when mounted on cars and other vehicles, where vibrations and sudden movements instantly disqualify tripods and other rigid forms of stabilization.
In the case of over-demanding staff, there is the possibility of another operator. Namely, the other operator uses a transmitter (radio control) and manually controls the camera, completely independent of the movement of the DJI Ronin-M gimbal. This transmitter and receiver system operates at a frequency of 2.4GHz, and if you would like to use your transmitter, there is a D-Bus port through which you can install your receiver. Thanks to Assistant Software, which is compatible with Windows, iOS, and Android operating systems, you can easily synchronize and balance the Ronin-M gimbal with the mounted camera.
Because each camera and lens combination has a different weight distribution, the Ronin-M offers an ATS (Auto Tune Stability) option, which automatically aligns each axis until all three are level. DJI Ronin-M still boasts three operating modes:
- Underslung. A standard mode, in which Ronin-M is located directly in front of you at chest level.
- Upright mode. Used for shooting at or above eye level and is perfect for shooting e.g. through the roof of a car or above a mass of people.
- The Briefcase. Used when shooting through a narrow aisle (e.g. when passing through a door or walking a narrow path); the gimbal rotates vertically and you can hold it next to you, at your feet, just as if it were a purse.
- Silent Mode. The sound of the engine is muted as much as possible, and is used when shooting indoors or in a tight space. Stabilization algorithms are set to monitor even the smallest changes so that engine sound is not recorded. DJI Ronin-M is powered by a 4S Ronin-M lithium-polymer smart battery, which provides autonomy of up to 6 hours of operation – not in particularly phenomenal, but considering the release date and its current price, quite a good battery life. Be that as it may, in 6 hours you practically have time to record everything you set out to do.
DJI Osmo Mobile 3
As it is the case with DSLR and mirrorless cameras, the evolution of the Osmo Mobile gimbal continues as well. Numerous improvements have been implemented in newer models, and Osmo Mobile 3 has many advantageous qualities over the rivals.
The weight and dimensions are reduced (although with them the material of which the gimbal was made), but the starting price is lower than with the previous generation. The DJI Osmo Mobile 3 is designed to be the most compact and capable gimbal ever made. We will see what the response of the competition will be – most of all Zhiyun-Tech and Movi.
The Osmo Mobile 3 stabilizer follows the figure of its predecessors (it is different in a way that the handle is tilted at an angle of 15 °), and when not in use, it can fold so that its dimensions are only 157 x 130 x 46 mm. Perfect for travel. However, not only is it convenient to carry, but its handling has also been improved over its predecessor. One-handed operation is now easier than ever: by pressing the Mode button three times, the gimbal “drops” the phone from portrait (vertical) position to landscape (horizontal). This highly sought-after feature, which was not present with previous Osmo Mobile models, has finally found its place on the Osmo 3.
Of course, the controls include a joystick, a button for shooting (or shooting photos), the already mentioned Mode button (it also serves as a button to turn on / off the device), as well as a battery status indicator. On the left side of the gimbal is the zoom control (T / W), and on the right is the USB-C port.
The movement has also improved:
- Yaw (Pan) is 332.8 ° (-162.5 to 170.3 °)
- Roll is 337.3 ° (-85.1 to 252.2 °)
- Pitch (Tilt) is 340.2 ° (-104.5 to 235.7 °).
- The maximum rotation speed remained at 120 ° / s.
As we expected, DJI has introduced some of its latest AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology, present in leading drones. Through the DJI Mimo application (for iOS and Android), with Osmo Mobile 3 it is possible to use:
- The ActiveTrack 3.0 option to track targets,
- Story Mode (automatically combines photos into a “story”)
- Sport Mode (for quick action)
- Hand gesture shooting
Of course, pairing with the phone goes via Bluetooth 5.0. It is important to emphasize that DJI Osmo Mobile 3 supports more massive phones than was the case with its predecessor. The weight of the supported phones ranges from 170 to 230g, and the dimensions from 62 to 88mm (3.5 “).
Other features include the following: the battery life is fantastic with built-in rechargeable lithium-ion, slightly smaller capacity than its predecessor, but also provides 15 hours of operation; there is a USB Type-A port through which other devices can be connected to Osmo Mobile 3 and charged using the energy of its battery; on the underside of the handle is a standard 1/4 “-20 thread for mounting the gimbal on a tripod.
Related: How Does a Gimbal Work?
Frequently Asked Questions About Gimbals
In the following section, we’ll answer some of the frequently asked questions regarding gimbals. Let’s jump right into it!
Which is the best gimbal?
The best gimbal is the one that serves your purpose the best. Think about what you need the gimbal for, which camera to use it with, how much you have to spend, and then choose your gimbal accordingly. In case you want to simply play around, choose some cheap and easy-to-use gimbal, and enjoy while learning. On the other hand, if you are a professional and need a beast, splashing the cash on a high-end gimbal will be well worth it.
What is the best gimbal stabilizer?
It depends on the rest of the equipment – some gimbals may be better than others considering whether you are using a camera, GoPro, or smartphone, its weight, and the conditions in which you are going to use all of this. Think about what you need and find a gimbal that will serve that purpose – that is the best gimbal for you.
Is it worth buying a gimbal?
Every penny. If you love photography and filming – a gimbal is a must, regardless of whether you are a pro or an amateur. You can’t be the best professional without one, and there are some cheap gimbals for amateurs definitely worth buying.
Which is the best smartphone gimbal?
In our opinion, the three best smartphone gimbals are the Zhiyun Smooth 4, DJI Osmo Mobile 3, Freefly Movi.
There are differences in performance quality, price, and smartphone compatibility, so choosing the best gimbal for your smartphone should be based according to your taste. Maybe some other than these three will you find to be the best.
Related: Best DSLR Tripod for Video
A Final Word From Run Gun Shoot
There are many great gimbals to be bought today, and finding the best one is no easy task. Hopefully, you have found this list informative and useful so it could help you out in finding the best gimbal for your needs. And we guarantee choosing one of the gimbals from this list will make your life quite fun. Enjoy!