Why You Should Trust Us
I am a lifelong photography enthusiast and journalist who has written about new camera technologies such as drones, 360 degree cameras and light field cameras over the past six years. I've spent hundreds of hours flying drones, and I've seen the benefits a gimbal can offer for stabilizing footage.
Who should get that?
Smartphones that record 4K videos are now so widespread that even amateur videographers can do it. Record high-quality videos. A gimbal ̵
Gimbals consist of two parts: On the underside is a handle that you hold just like you do a selfie stick. The handle usually contains a mixture of buttons, joysticks and wheels. The gimbal sits on top of the handle and looks like an arm with a gripper that holds your phone or is attached to a built-in camera. If you wiggle the handle, the phone or camera stays in place.
If you enjoy filming videos with your existing smartphone and don't mind spending around $ 100 to get more professional results, a gimbal can be a good choice. It is a nice tool for filming landscapes on vacation or for an active hobby like snowboarding. The ability to film yourself also makes it useful for social media and live streaming.
Although a gimbal for a smartphone is probably cheaper, gimbals are available for almost all types of cameras, including DSLRs and GoPros. If you use a camera type other than your phone, you should invest in a gimbal for that camera instead.
In this guide, we also tested the DJI Osmo Pocket, a camera with an integrated gimbal, and the GoPro Hero7 black action camera that digitally (and not physically) approximates the performance of a gimbal; We plan to investigate other cameras like this in the future. We like the Insta360 One X, which we recommend in our manual for 360-degree cameras. You can record spherical videos that you can edit into blur-free regular videos with gimbals. This type of setup costs a little more, but can be a good option if you don't have a high-quality camera in your smartphone or if you want something that you can pull out of your pocket and use. It can also be a better option if you don't want to risk damaging your $ 1,000 smartphone while filming.
How we chose
We read the reviews from Amazon and B & H to find the most popular smartphone gimbals currently available. We also looked at YouTube reviews and footage shot with various gimbals to find promising options. Based on what we've learned and considering our own habits, we found that the following features are most important:
- A three-axis gimbal: A three-axis gimbal provides stabilization that is superior to that of a biaxial. Gimbal axis because it stabilizes on the pitch (up and down), roll (lateral rotation) and yaw (left and right) axes. A two-axis gimbal normally does without the yaw axis. We skipped test stabilizers that didn't have a real three-axis gimbal.
- Autonomous modes: Pre-programmed recording modes make it easy to retrieve some types of recordings, including time-lapse and dolly zooms. Many gimbals can autonomously track a moving subject.
- Excellent customer service: It should be easy to contact a customer service representative and get an answer. The faster the better.
- Warranty Coverage: Manufacturers should be willing to repair or replace gimbals that have problems beyond the owner's control. A one year warranty is standard.
- Simple setup: An instruction manual or a link to a video showing the setup and operation of the gimbal is essential because each gimbal works differently. If the gimbal needs to be adjusted for the phone to balance properly, it should only take a step or two. The gimbal, the phone and the app should all be connected with little effort.
- Compatibility with a variety of phones: Companies typically list a number of phone sizes and weights that work with their gimbal frames. We looked for options that work with a wide range of phones, but especially with our top iPhone and Android picks.
- A great app: The best apps are easy to use thanks to the clear design and should be included. Many options for adjusting the camera settings. The app should be available for both iOS and Android devices.
- User-friendly buttons: Regardless of whether you prefer more or fewer buttons on the handle of a gimbal, each button should have a clear purpose and be relatively easy to learn and use. However, if you don't like the buttons on a gimbal, you can usually do the same thing by touching your phone's screen instead.
- Long battery life: If you are not particularly concerned about the weight, a longer battery life is better because this means you need to charge the gimbal less often. Gimbals can also normally charge a phone, so a larger battery means your phone will last longer.
- Comfortable design: A light gimbal with an ergonomic handle is much easier to hold for longer shots.
- Accessories: It is nice, but not essential, to get useful accessories such as a carrying case and a small tripod with your gimbal.
How we tested
In 2018, we tested five smartphone gimbals by shooting videos with an Apple iPhone 8 and a Samsung Galaxy S8. We used the front-facing camera while walking down a street, and used the rear-facing camera in combination with the gimbal object tracking modes to film a moving drone. We examined the film material for its smoothness.
We also specified how long it took to set up each gimbal, how much we liked the iOS and Android apps, our experience with the buttons on each handle recorded and recorded, how easy (or) difficult) it was to balance every gimbal and note every accessory that came with it. Finally, we asked customer service for each company how to balance the gimbal, and we recorded how long it took a representative to respond and how helpful they were.
At the beginning of 2019 we tested the DJI Osmo Pocket, a gimbal with a built-in camera against the GoPro Hero7 Black and its electronic image stabilization. We tested the DJI Osmo Mobile 3 at the end of 2019.
Our choice: Zhiyun Smooth 4
Photo: Signe Brewster designed the number of apps to be used by the best. Apps on the handle (after we got to know their purposes) because they were so easy to integrate into the apps.
The footage we shot with the Smooth 4 while we were rotating a drone looked smooth and smooth The gimbal tracks the drone's movement autonomously. It also comes with other pre-programmed recording modes such as motion-lapse and hyperlapse.
Our Smooth 4 came with a piece of paper that led us to a YouTube tutorial. The piece of paper didn't look professional, but the video is well made and helpful. It clearly describes how to set up the gimbal and how to use the many buttons. Setting up the gimbal for the first time only took about three minutes because it was already balanced.
The iPhone 8 and the Galaxy S8 fit easily into the gripper of the Smooth 4 gimbal. The gripper is also compatible with modern cell phones such as the iPhone XR, iPhone XS Max, Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL. While iOS users shouldn't have a problem with Zhiyun's ZY Play app, we recommend Android phone owners download the Filmic Pro app instead, as the Zhiyun app doesn't currently support 4K filming on Android devices. We preferred the Filmic and Zhiyun apps to the DJI app because it made it easier for us to find different functions and adjust settings quickly.
While the Osmo Mobile 3 has a minimal number of buttons on the handle, the Smooth 4 is full of buttons. This array can be overwhelming at first, but over time we've used the buttons more often. It was nice not to have to touch the phone screen when the phone was facing at an awkward angle, and it's quicker to press a physical button when your thumb is already on the handle. The buttons are well placed and can be seamlessly integrated into the app. We recommend watching the video tutorial a few times to learn the basics of using each button. If you're still overwhelmed, you can instead interact with the digital buttons on the phone screen at any time.
According to Zhiyun, the Smooth 4's battery lasts up to 12 hours. That's a few hours less than the battery life of the Osmo Mobile 3, but it's still one of the most durable gimbal batteries we've come across in our research. The Smooth 4 also comes with a carrying case and tripod. The styrofoam tote bag felt cheap compared to the fabric cases that some other gimbals came with, but it went well with the Zhiyun gimbal. The tripod is only a few centimeters in size. This works if you want to put it on a table. However, it is mostly useless if you don't have an elevated space to set it up. You may want to invest in a full size tripod.
The Smooth 4 comes with a one-year warranty. Simply buy directly from Zhiyun, as the warranty only covers devices that are sold directly.
Error, but no deal breakers
Customer service Zhiyun lagged behind DJI. We reported via email and the Zhiyun support page on Facebook. In both cases, it took a representative about 10 hours to respond because the company is based in China and only responds during local business hours. Instead of helping us to fix our problem directly, the representatives linked us to a relevant tutorial. The answer was helpful – just not so personal.
Although we found the Smooth 4's handle to be comfortable enough to hold, it felt less ergonomic than the rounded handle of the Osmo Mobile 3 due to its flatter shape. This model is also heavier than the Osmo Mobile 3 (547 grams versus 405 grams), but we didn't really notice the difference. If you plan to record many hours of video a week, consider the handle before making a purchase.
As with any gimbal, it takes some time to learn the entire vocabulary for operating the Smooth 4. We recommend watching the tutorial and experimenting with modes that you don't fully understand to improve your skills.
Also great: DJI Osmo Mobile 3
The Osmo Mobile 3 has only a few buttons  a Mobile . A thorough user guide. You can also find a variety of third-party DJI and tutorial videos online. Overall, this gimbal comes with the most thorough documentation of all the gimbals we tested. The first time setting up the Osmo Mobile 3, including the connection of the phone and gimbal via bluetooth took less than a minute. The gimbal was already balanced and we couldn't balance it (not even on purpose).
According to DJI, the Osmo Mobile 3 with tel compatible with a width of 58.6 to 84.8 mm and a thickness of up to 8.4 mm. It fits easily on our iPhone 8 and Galaxy S8 and can accommodate larger modern phones like the iPhone XR, iPhone XS Max, Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL. Like the Smooth 4, it has a weakness when it comes to Android phones: users of the Android DJI Mimo app can record a maximum of 30 fps, while iOS users can record up to 60 fps. It was easy to find different functions and set up recordings. Nevertheless, we preferred the ZY Play and Filmic Pro apps because they allowed us to adjust the settings faster. Filmic Pro is also compatible with the Osmo Mobile 3. So if you want a small upgrade for less than $ 20, this app may be worth buying.
The Osmo Mobile 3 has a trigger, two buttons, a joystick, and a slider that contains only a few buttons compared to other gimbals we tested. Fewer keys mean a shorter learning curve. This is helpful if you are holding a gimbal for the first time and prefer the easy-to-decipher digital buttons in the DJI Mimo app. With one button, you can turn on the gimbal and press once, two or three times to select different camera modes. Press the other button to take a photo or start recording. The joystick moves the gimbal to point the camera left, right, up or down. Use the slider to zoom in and out without touching the phone. You can do all other tasks by manually moving the gimbal or navigating in the DJI Mimo app. Although it is easier to learn how to use the few Osmo Mobile 3 keys, we have found that with increasing comfort with the gimbals, we have preferred to have the large number of keys on the Zhiyun Smooth 4. The angle can be annoying that's why we chose the physical buttons of a gimbal where possible.
According to DJI, the Osmo Mobile 3 battery lasts up to 15 hours. This is the second longest battery life of all gimbals we tested. It exceeds that of the Zhiyun Smooth 4 by three hours.
The basic version of the Osmo Mobile 3 comes with a fabric bag. A more expensive package includes a tripod and a nice tote bag. We think the package is being offered at a good price (at this time) for what it offers, but for the money it may make more sense to buy a more versatile smartphone tripod or a larger travel tripod. The Osmo Mobile 3 can be folded to the size of a sandwich and, in our opinion, is robust enough to be thrown into a backpack or camera bag without a special case.
Upgrade selection: DJI Osmo Pocket