Stabilisation helps enormously in the quality of Smartphone video. You maybe able to film high-quality video on your Smatphone but if the viewer ends up feeling sick watching it you may have a problem. Shaky video can be very distracting to the viewer. You can reduce the shake if your Smartphone has image stabilisation, but it is best to prevent this shake rather than correct it.
One of the best solutions to this is to use a hand-held gimbal. This will help to remove most of that dreaded shake. A Smartphone gimbal will make your videos look smooth, fluid and give them a professional look by removing the shaky movement. It is the best solution if you plan to be on the move while filming. It is also great for action and sports shots, moving over rough terrain or following a reporter. Gimbals can do this with the help of 3-axis brushless motors and special software to counterbalance the shake. There are many gimbals available to buy and some are better than others. To help you choose the right one here are some of the most popular available.
Zhiyun Smooth 3
The Zhiyun Smooth 3 is a 3-axis gimbal that should have no problem smoothing out your shaky video shots. The build quality is solid and made of a tough metal which feels rugged but is not too heavy. On the bottom you will find some buttons including a wheel control and a button to change settings on your Smartphone from the handle. You can start and stop recordings from the button on the handle and there is a joystick to change modes to give you more control. There is also a power button to turn the gimbal on or off.
You can remove the battery if you need to charge it or replace it with another one. You can also charge the battery by plugging in the Zhiyun Smooth 3 into a power port with the supplied USB cable. An extra cable is also available so you can charge your Smartphone while it is on the gimbal.
At the bottom of the Zhiyun Smooth 3 is a screw mount so you can put it on a tripod if you decide to do any time-lapse shots or you want to mount the gimbal on a camera rig. Once you clamp your Smartphone on to the Zhiyun Smooth 3 you get a correct balance by adjusting the thumbscrews. You then power on the gimbal which will level your Smartphone to the correct position.
The Zhiyun Smooth 3 has three shooting modes which you select by pressing the M button. Pan Following mode will lock the tilt and roll movements and hold your Smartphone vertical. If you rotate the body it will cause the Smartphone to pan left and right to match the movement. The joystick will adjust the tilt for up and down movements. This is the default setting when you turn on the Zhiyun and is best for everyday use. Locking mode locks the up, down, left and right movements so your Smartphone is level in the vertical and horizontal position and pointing in the same direction. This is good for following a particular subject. The third setting is the Following mode. This is the opposite to locking mode in which the Smartphone will turn up, down, left and right to match how you hold the gimbal. It is a bit like filming with a selfie stick.
There’s also a screw mount on the bottom if you want to put it on a tripod for time-lapse or anything else. There’s one knob to adjust the balance and there’s another one to adjust from horizontal to vertical shooting mode. It also has a generous weight limit and it should be able to support most Smartphones available.
You can also control Zhiyun Smooth 3 with the ZY Play app available free from the app store. It connects by Bluetooth to your Smartphone and will allow you to start and stop recordings and help to adjust and configure the axis motors. It also has a feature called object tracking that will keep a selected object in frame at all times.
DJI Osmo Mobile
DJI has a reputation for its impressive drones but it also sells an excellent gimbal for Smartphones. The Osmo Mobile works with iPhones and Android phones between 589 and 85 mm wide. So it can fit many different types of Smartphones. Like other gimbals it is not perfect and you may need to give it some help by keeping your movements stable and steady. This will reduce the need for the Osmo to calculate complex shots and smooth out your video. So remember when you are walking to keep a low centre of gravity to help it stabilise.
To get full control you will need to download the DJI Go App. You will use this to record the videos you are making and give you full control of the Osmo. You can also use the Osmo with Filmic Pro which has a dedicated setting for it if you don’t like the DJI Go App.
When you use the DJI Go app you can lock the gimbal so it faces in a single direction by holding down the Osmo’s trigger button. Its default setting will face the direction in which you point the handle. Double press the trigger and it centres and levels your Smartphone. There is also a feature called active track which will lock on to someone and try to follow them.
The buttons on the trigger will start and stop recordings and are in easy reach of your thumb when you are holding the Osmo. To add your Smartphone you just use the cradle clamp. To adjust the clamp you use the large dial at the back which will allow you to clamp and un-clamp your Smartphone. The rubber pads will also help to keep it firmly in place. You can shoot with the Osmo in any orientation and it will easily film in portrait as well as landscape. You can even use it upside-down if you want to get low shots.
The battery should last you about four hours and to charge it up you just use the supplied USB cable to connect the Osmo to a power supply. You can also add a portable power bank if you want to charge it on the move.
LanParte HHG-01 – 3-Axis Motorized Handheld Gimbal
The LanParte HHG-01 is a hand-held gimbal which is great in helping you get lovely smooth shots with your Smartphone. Its distinctive big handle with its rubberised coating will give you plenty to hold on to when you are moving about with it. This grip also holds the battery which gives the HHG-01 its power. To charge it up you simply remove the battery and charge it with the supplied charger. This means you can have a spare battery on charge with another in the HHG-01 so you can still use the gimbal. Battery life is good and you should get four hours out of a fully charged battery.
On top of this grip is a rotating arm with two motors. This helps to keep your Smartphone level and stable. Above this is the head that contains some of the electronics and the clamp that holds your Smartphone in place. The HHG-01 has three motors with one in the grip and two in the arms. The motor in the grip rotates the Smartphone left and right and the other two smooth out any unwanted movement to keep everything level.
You clamp your Smartphone in the head and it’s made of a tough plastic the same as the arm. The HHG-01 comes with two clamps for Smartphones. One is for smaller older Smartphones like the iPhone 5 and the other is for larger models like the iPhone 7,8 or X. The HHG-01 holds your Smartphone in place with spring-loaded clamps and these keep pressure on the Smartphone to keep it safe and secure. These clamps have a rubber coating so you needn’t worry about them damaging your Smartphone. At the bottom of the head there is a little arm with a counterweight. This helps to stabilise your Smartphone and to keep it in balance. It also helps to reduce power consumption.
To stabilise your Smartphone you simply turn on the HHG-01, and if you have set the counterweight correctly, in about two seconds it will have your Smartphone level. You can create smooth pans and tilts in both horizontal and vertical positions. This is helpful if you do need to film in landscape or portrait. The gimbal will stabilise in nearly all directions just be careful with up and down movements as these can make the HHG-01 a little confused. Luckily by compensating in the other directions you can lessen this problem.
Feiyu GM-G4-P – Tech 3-Axis Handheld GimbalFeiyu GM-G4-P gimbal for Smartphones is made of aircraft aluminium so it can take all your knocks and shakes as you go about your filmmaking business. It keeps your Smartphone level with the help of three brushless motors and gyroscopic sensors. Once you put your Smartphone in the spring-loaded clamp it should level it after about three seconds.
The Feiyu GM-G4-P has three settings that you activate by pressing the button on the handle. If you press the button once it will activate Heading Follow mode. This will follow in the direction the G4 is pointing and allows you to hold the handle vertically and horizontally. Press the button twice and you will go into Heading and Pitch Follow mode. In this mode the Smartphone camera will follow the movement of the G4 handle. In the first mode the handle moves while the Smartphone stays in position. If you press the button three times in will go into Locking mode. In this mode if you hold your Smartphone static for more than five seconds the gimbal will keep that position.
The battery is in the rubberised handle and this will give you about four hours use on one charge. It also comes with a battery charger so you can have one battery charging while still using the Feiyu GM-G4-P.
At the bottom of the handle is a screw thread so you can add optional lightweight carbon fibre poles. They work as extension poles if you need to get greater height and movement from the Feiyu GM-G4-P.
FLY-X3-Plus 3-Axis Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer
The FLY-X3-PLUS Gimbal Stabiliser from Ikan turns your Smartphone into a compact and stable filming platform. The design of the gimbal helps to remove shake from your video and give you great tracking shots. It features a 3-axis motor system that will predict the operator’s movements to give you smooth shots.
The spring-loaded clamp will fit any Smartphone up to a width of 3.6 inches. It also comes with extras to support smaller Smartphones and even GoPro’s. Heavier devices will reduce battery time though so be aware of this if you feel like using a larger Smartphone. It should support up to 750 grams in weight.
Once you put your Smartphone in the supplied clamp and turn on the Fly X3 it should stabilise your Smartphone in about three seconds. The motors do this by calculating the weight and balance of the Smartphone. When it has completed this calculation you are ready to start filming. Once you are operational you should feel a slight vibration as the gyroscope keeps the Smartphone’s balance.
You find the battery for the FLY-X3-Plus 3 in its rubber coated handle. On the handle you will also find the power button and four power indicator lights to tell you how much power you have left in the battery. On a full charge the battery should last you 2 to 3 hours of use. There is also a supplied mains charger to power up the batteries.
The FLY-X3-Plus 3 three has two operational modes, the first of which is Follow mode. This will keep your Smartphone smooth, level and in the direction that it is pointing. The small control button lets you pan left and right and tilt up and down to adjust into the facing position. The second mode is Static Position and this keeps the exact facing position no matter how much you move the gimbal. You can switch between these modes by using the control button.