What are the best Smartphone gimbals?
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 4
The Zhiyun Smooth 4 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 plastic which feels rugged but is not too heavy. It has an integrated panel that means you don’t have to keep touching your Smartphone’s screen to change the settings. You can also use special hot-keys to control the gimbal as well as your Smartphone. The Zhiyun Smooth 4 comes with a handle wheel that allows you to zoom in or out which is great if you need to take a close-up shot. The FN switch on the handle will also give you precise focus of your image. If you want to track an object the Smooth 4 will lock on to any object on screen. This means that when you move it will follow that object with full stabilisation. The gimbal also features a locking mechanism to keep the arm from swaying.
When fully charged the The Zhiyun Smooth 4 will run continuously for 12 hours. You can charge your Smartphone by connecting it to the Smooth 4 using a USB cable. You can also charge the Smooth 4 itself with a USB-C cable connected to a mains power supply or a portable power source. The Smooth 4 is fully compatible with any accessories you choose to add to your Smartphone. So if you do decide to add a light or a lens the Smooth 4 will keep its balance.
You can achieve many advanced shooting techniques with the Smooth 4 and it includes such features as Time Lapse, Motion Lapse and Moving Time Lapse. There is also a Freestyle Time Lapse which lets you adjust the shooting range, angle and focus. With these settings you can capture some unique shots. You can also capture the movements of objects which can include crowds and even moving silhouettes. You can mount the gimbal to a dolly or tripod with the ¼ inch screw mount found at the bottom of the handle.
The Smooth 4 has a built in dedicated switch for Pan Follow and Lock Mode. In Pan Follow Mode the gimbal will restrict itself to vertical movements and will only move left and right. In Lock Mode you can move the gimbal wherever you like but your Smartphone will stay in a locked position. There is a trigger on the Smooth 4’s handle that will activate two other modes. Once you hold down the bottom of the trigger it will allow you to do smooth up, down, left and right movements. If you hold down the top of the trigger it will allow you to do the same movements but a lot faster. You can also control all the Smooth 4’s settings with the available app.
DJI Osmo Mobile 2
The DJI Osmo Mobile 2 is the sequel to the drone company’s Osmo Mobile. DJI has an excellent reputation for producing quality gimbals for the camera market and when it released the first Osmo Mobile for Smartphone it proved to be very popular. It gave users professional stability for there Smartphone at a lower price then the expensive DSLR equivalents. It took the gimbal to the masses and made it mainstream which before had only been a niche tool for professionals. DJI has improved the Osmo Mobile 2 hugely compared with the original. It now comes with simpler controls, improved stabilisation and a much lower price.
The Osmo Mobile 2 is a huge upgrade from the old model. It is made out of high-strength nylon which is lighter than the magnesium and plastic in the original. The handle is also more comfortable when you hold it. Its redesign makes it more comfortable in the hand and easier to operate especially when you are doing long shoots. It also now has a ¼ inch thread on the bottom of the handle so you can put the Osmo Mobile 2 on a camera jib or other accessory if needed. DJI also sells a tripod and extension rod if you want to add to the Osmo Mobile 2.
If you are a fan of Instagram and Snapchat you can now film in portrait with the Osmo Mobile 2. You can change orientation by turning a knob on the back of the gimbal and this will keep your Smartphone locked in the portrait setting. To adjust your Smartphone you have to remove it and it is a pity there is not an automatic way of doing this as it can be a little time-consuming. The way the Osmo Mobile 2 holds on to your Smartphone has also seen an improvement. The new spring-loaded clamp means you can swap between various sizes of Smartphone with little bother. It is also keeps a secure grip on your Smartphone with little risk of it falling out. It will work just fine with the iPhone X, iPhone 8, Google Pixel 2 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8.
DJI have slimed down the controls of the Osmo Mobile 2 and it now simpler to operate. Some of the buttons also have more than one setting. Powering up the Osmo Mobile 2 and switching the mode is now on the same button. There is a dedicated record button and a thumb pad to control pans and tilts. There is also a zoom switch on the side if you want to get closer to your subject. You may get slight small shakes with the Osmo Mobile 2 but this does depend on the conditions that you are filming in. Practising your walk and pace to minimise bumps will help to get good stable results. The optical image stabilisation on some Smartphones can also affect stabilisation. Sometimes the Osmo Mobile 2 and the Smartphone can fight each other for stability. If this happens you should turn off OIS on your Smartphone. Sadly this is not possible if you are using an iPhone.
To get the full benefits of the Osmo Mobile 2 you will need to install DJI’s Go camera app available for iOS and Android. When installed and paired with your Smartphone you will get full control of the zoom function, settings and different modes. Other apps like Filmic Pro will also give you control of the Osmo Mobile 2 if you are not keen on the DJI camera app. Once you turn on the Osmo Mobile 2 you will see it automatically orient and balance your Smartphone. Once it does this you can start filming immediately. You will get about 15 hours of use out of the Osmo Mobile 2. This is a huge increase on the old version, which would last about 5 hours. However you can no longer swap the battery as you could on the old version but with 15 hours of use it is unlikely you will run out of power on a day’s filming. When the battery does get low there is a handy battery indicator to let you know that it is low on power. You can also charge your Smartphone from the Osmo Mobile 2 through a standard USB port at the rear. To charge the Osmo Mobile itself you just plug in the micro USB port and hook it up to the mains power supply.
To get the best out of the Osmo Mobile 2 you will need to get familiar with all the controls. To walk and shoot is straightforward enough but setting the direction of the Smartphone can be a bit tricky. You do this by using the thumb pad which will allow you to tilt your Smartphone up and down and pan left and right. You can also adjust the speed of these movements with the DJI Go camera app.
The thumb pad can take practice to use and sometimes your Smartphone will move away from what you are filming or remain fixed in one direction while you are trying to move around. To correct this tap the mode button and it will lock your Smartphone horizontally. Double tapping the mode button will centre your Smartphone. Triple tapping the mode button will switch to your Smartphone’s front facing camera. Handy if you want to film yourself going for a walk around. The Osmo Mobile 2 also has artificial intelligence. The AI will lock on and track subjects with a feature call Active Track. You can set this to low, middle and high settings. You can also try out the new hyperlapse feature, as well as previous settings like motion lapse, panoramic and light trail modes. You can also tilt the handle in various directions up to a 45degree angle.
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.
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