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An Introduction to Motorised Gimbals

There are lots of cameras that produce superb quality video these days, and many are small and light enough to be used handheld. The only problem is that camera shake can easily ruin the footage. When shooting stills using a fast shutter speed can combat the shake, but with video, the footage can end up unwatchable because of wobbles. And if you try to move with the camera, it gets even worse.

Thankfully there’s now an easy way to banish the problem: using an electronic or motorised gimbal. These battery-powered devices have sensors to detect any accidental movement, and built-in motors move the camera to compensate.

Once the camera is mounted in its holder, a gimbal can dramatically improve the quality of the video you produce. It can even allow you to walk or run with the camera so you get more interesting and dynamic footage. 

Most motorised gimbals work across 3-axis (pitch, roll and pan) to dampen movement, but some models from Feiyutech and DJI also allow you to use the gimbal motors to move the camera deliberately. This is useful if you want to shoot from a low angle looking upwards, for example. You can also set them to keep the camera looking in one direction as you move it around the subject. It’s even possible to set the camera to pan and tilt smoothly using the gimbal.

Selecting a motorised gimbal 

Motorised gimbals are available with and without a camera – the Feiyutech Summon 3-Axis Stabilised Handheld Camera, for example, has a compact 4K camera that’s built-in, making it a simple all-in-one solution.

Similarly, the DJI Osmo has a small camera integrated into the top of a handle, making it easy to hold and direct. A sm ll joystick falls conveniently under your thumb to control the camera’s movements.

The Osmo can be controlled by the free DJI app for your smartphone and a side bracket allows you to mount your smartphone on the side of the gimbal so you can see the footage you’re recording. 

If you’re a dedicated smartphone videographer, take a look at the DJI Osmo Mobile which can hold a smartphone steady. The companion app makes controlling the gimbal really easy, and you can even lock the framing on a face (using the front or rear camera) - that’s especially useful for interviews or video selfies. 

If you already have a camera, Feiyutech has gimbals like the FY-MG and FY-MG Lite that can hold a range of mirrorless cameras, including models like the Sony A7R II. Alternatively, there’s the Feiyutech WGS which is designed for an action camera like the GoPro Hero Session. There’s even a WGS model that can be worn so you can keep your hands free - that’s extremely handy if you’re skiing, climbing or riding a bike.

  • By Matthew Ward
  • 16 Dec 2016
  • Motorised Gimbals

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