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You can not ignore them.
Motorised handheld gimbals are everywhere.
Every company is manufacturing their own and everyone from amatuers to professionals are using one.
Well into 2016 the hype shows no sign of slowing.
Haven’t got one yet?
Discover the best stabiliser for your camera based on weight, performance, and shooting style.
- Camera and lens weight – Motorised gimbals have a minimum and maxiumum payload, exceeding this could cause malfunctions.
- Weight of stabiliser – Consider if you can comfortably hold the gimbal for extended periods of time.
- Controls and features – Wireless control, tripod mount thread, operation modes, battery life etc.
- Shooting style – Is access restricted? Will you be running? Will you need a hand free? 2nd Operator required?
Below is a table of popular camera’s weights to help give you an indication when looking at load capacity.
|Camera (body/media/battery)||Weight (lbs)||Weight (g)|
|Sony NEX 7||0.77||353|
|BlackMagic Pocket Cine||0.78||355|
|Canon 5D ii||1.87||850|
|Canon 5D iii||2.09||950|
|Canon 7D ii||2.0||910|
|Blackmagic Cinema Production 4K||3.7||1700|
So what are the best handheld gimbal stabilisers?
Zhiyun-Tech Crane 3-Axis Gimbal
New on the scene, Zhiyun has created a gimbal that is getting great reviews. With a load capacity that sits between the popular (now discontinued) Ikan MS1 and DS1 this gimbal is great for mirrorless cameras like Sony A7 series, Panasonic Lumix series, Nikon J, and Canon M with the option to have a larger lens than if you had the MS1. It boasts wireless control, tool-less balance adjustment, and 1/4 inch screw thread for tripod attachment. To top this off Zhiyun claims to have the first gimbal with built-in Camera Control Interface, the camera’s shutter and focus can be controlled from the gimbal.
Compatability: 350 g-1800 g
Gimbal Weight: 2 lbs.(950 g) (with batteries)
Charge Time: 4-6 hours
Battery Life: 4-12 hours (depending on battery,larger capacity available)
Compatibility: Sony A7S, Panasonic Lumix series, Nikon J, Canon M
Available: Zhiyun-Tech Crane
If your camera is too heavy for the Zhiyun, then perhaps the Moza Air will be more suited to your needs. With an impressive load capacity of 5.5 lbs (2.5kg), it can support DSLR’s, or mirrorless cameras with bigger lenses. It features the same advanced technology and high-quality materials as the MOZA Lite 2 but with improved stabilisation performance. With four follow modes, 360-degree rotation, included dual handles, and wireless thumb controller allowing remote control up to 50 metres this new gimbal is already making a big impact among users.
Load Capacity: 5.5 lbs (2.5 kg)
Gimbal Weight: 2.4 lbs.(1.1 kg) (with batteries)
Charge Time: 2-3 hours
Battery Life: 4 hours
Compatibility: With its larger capacity it can support lots of mirrorless and DSLR, similar to Zhiyun plus heavier such as Canon 5D,6D,7D
Available: Moza Air
‘Designed for the professional filmmaker’, the EC1 offers those with heavier setups a simple solution to stabilised footage. It can take an impressive 2kg load and boasts a 20hr battery life (when switched between use and stand by) Unlike the DS1 it has 360 degree movement from all axis offering an unlimited range of movements. The EC1 features 3 different follow modes. In Yaw-Axis Follow Mode, the EC1 will only follow your Pan movements. In Pitch and Yaw-Axis Follow mode, the EC1 will follow your Pan and Tilt Movements. Finally, the 3-Axis Follow Mode gives you full control allowing you to Pan, Tilt, and Roll. This is a bigger, heavier, upgraded version of the DS1 with more power and capacity.
Load Capacity: 2-4 lbs (0.9-2 kg)
Gimbal Weight: 2.6 lbs (1.2 kg)
Charge Time: 3-4 Hours
Battery Life: 8 – 10 Hours
Compatibility: Canon 5D, Panasonic GH5, Sony a7SII.
Available: Ikan EC1
Varavon Birdycam Lite 3-Axis Gimbal
The Varavon Birdycam Lite is a smaller lighter version of the original Birdycam, weighing 1/3rd less. It has an encoder 3-axis brushless motor that is sealed and vibration resistant which should give a longer motor life. With the handles detached it can easily be mounted to a jib and controlled remotely. From the wireless joystick, you can achieve Horizontal, Follow, Fixed, Roll Follow Mode, and Return Home Position. The Birdycam lite is incredibly versatile, whether you demand top handle, side handles, jib mount, ground mount or tripod mount, it can do it all. The Manfrotto mount makes it easy to attach to your Manfrotto gear or any tripod using 1/4″ or 3/8″ screw holes. Its single arm design means the left camera side is accessible for adding audio, power or HDMI. The option to have two handles allows users to spread weight out across both arms and with the top handle attached you could start low, then rise up and move into two hands.
Load Capacity: 5.5 lbs (2.5kg) Recommended load 3.3 lbs (1.5kg)
Gimbal Weight: 4.6 lbs.(2.1 kg) (body and handles with batteries)
Battery Life: 2-3 hours
Charging time: 4 hours
Compatibility: Sony A6000, Canon 70D, Canon xc10, Samsung NX1, Blackmagic Pocket, Nikon D3300.
Available: Varavon Birdycam Lite
Pitched as the next generation of 3-axis gimbals, this Ikan MD2 features fully automatic calibration allowing for stabilisation in just 5 minutes. With a payload of 3kg and weighing just 1.8kg this gimbal has the power to rival the Ronin M. The final stand out feature of this model is the dual handle joysticks which give you precise control over your camera. This is the most expensive gimbal in the list but does boast new features and advanced technology whilst still coming in cheaper than the new Ronin 2.
Load Capacity: 6.6lbs (3.0 kg)
Gimbal Weight: 1.8 kg
Battery Life: 3 hours
Compatibility: Panasonic GH5, Blackmagic, Canon 5D
Available: Ikan MD2
All 5 of these stabilisers are professional, high-quality, powerful devices. Which is best completely depends on your budget and needs, the versatility of the Birdycam and MD2 along with their larger load capacity makes them attractive to those with larger cameras or if you’re going to be switching from a tripod to a jib to handheld. The portability, ease of set-up, size and weight of the one handed Moza and Zhiyun have made them very sought-after pieces of kit, excellent for fast movement shots. With the popularity and rise of mirrorless and more gimbals being released monthly, it looks like they are here to stay and a wise investment for any filmmaker.