Remember years ago that the only way to record video on a camera was to grab the bulky camcorder and start shooting? If you are like me, camcorders are a distant memory now.
Smartphone technology has improved to the point where the best smartphones on the market today can shoot 4k video footage, which means that everybody can be a filmmaker now.
But there is a slight problem with these great smartphone cameras, and its something that I have had issues with for years, and that’s the dreaded shaky camera footage.
Have you ever picked up your smartphone to start filming after drinking 10 cups of coffee only to have the footage ruined by a jittery hand? Or, walking down the streets of London trying to capture the moment only to find the footage you shot gave you motion sickness?
While many of the smartphones on the market today provide some type of stabilization to avoid the dreaded shaky film footage, the problem is it’s just not the best solution.
That where gimbal stabilizers come to save the day for your smartphone filming. Stabilizers are made to eliminate shaky footage, so you can create videos that you would be proud to show to everyone.
What are Gimbal Stabilizers? They are an accessory that uses brushless motors that hold your smartphone or camera steady throughout your shooting.
This post will cover five of the best gimbal stabilizers on the market today for smartphones that will have you shooting with a steady hand every time you film.
7 Best Smartphone Stabilizers For Filmmaking 2020
What To Know Before Buying
While the main goal of gimbal stabilizers is to keep your smartphone steady, there are quite a few features that they have built-in to make filming on your smartphone even better.
Below are some key points to consider before purchasing your gimbal stabilizer.
The purpose of buying gimbal stabilizers for your smartphone is to reduce burry and shaky video footage while you film.
Equipped with motors and sensors, a gimbal allows your smartphone to rotate smoothly along an axis.
There are two separate types of gimbals – two-axis stabilizers and three-axis stabilizers:
- A two-axis gimbal corrects a camera that is pitching forward and back or rolling from side to side.
- While the 3-axis gimbals stabilizes the tilt, pan, and roll of a camera. So if you move side to side, up and down, back and forth, the gimbal stabilizes the video even if you are shaky.
Just keep in mind that the 3-axis is the way to go for stabilization your smartphone footage, it does cost a little more than the 2-axis model.
Gimbal Stabilizers are powered either by batteries which can be replaced when the gimbal power is drained or by recharging the unit via a USB cord through your computer.
The only problem with the USB option is that if you are filming throughout the day, you will have to recharge the unit before filming again.
It’s kinda like driving a Tesla, where when the power is gone, you can’t drive the car until it’s recharged.
This is priority one! Make sure your gimbal stabilizer is compatible with your smartphone! If your gimbal doesn’t work with your smartphone, you might be screwed!
Certain software features of the gimbal may not work with your smartphone, or the that weight of your smartphone may be too heavy for your stabilizer. So be careful.
What Is The Best Smartphone Stabilizers Today?
With the advancement in today’s technology, smartphone gimbal stabilizers are improving constantly.
Below are just a few of my favorite Smartphone gimbals available today on Amazon.
The reason why these products are on this list is I have polled from a group of cinematographers in my filmmaking circle, and these are his/her recommendations.
FreeVision VILTA Mobile 3-Axis Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer
The FreeVision VILTA Mobile is a compact and highly ergonomic 3-axis smartphone gimbal stabilizer with a comfortable, rubberized handle.
The gimbal works in conjunction with an iOS/Android app and supports iPhones and Android phones up to 3.25″ wide. The VILTA Mobile allows you to capture smooth, cinematic footage with your phone.
It provides stable, controlled motion and also provides the functions to focus on a subject, zoom in and zoom out, take photos, capture time-lapse sessions, shoot panoramas, and much more. The VILTA Mobile is great for steadily pushing in on a subject from various angles to get exotic close-ups.
The VILTA Mobile operates for 17 hours on the included battery, so runtime is not an issue. It offers four follow modes, which you can switch between with one of the buttons at your fingertips.
Select the follow mode of your choice and then use the joystick to perform the motions you want. You can pan a full 360° as well as tilt and roll substantial distances.
A long-press of the function button lets you focus on your subject. Long-press it while toggling the joystick left or right to adjust the roll axis angle or exposure. Long-press it and toggle up or down to zoom in or zoom out.
To ensure accuracy in all these operations, the VILTA Mobile uses an autodetect feature to properly balance your phone before you begin.
What my filmmaker friends say: “After hemming and hawing about it for a year, I finally invested in a gimbal for my iPhone XS. This particular model has a deeply integrated app. Excellent tracking; easy Hitchcock/dolly zoom is fun to play with; smooth panning is very helpful. Almost zero learning curve.”
Benro X Series 3XS 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal with Saramonic SmartMic
The Benro X Series 3XS with Saramonic SmartMic is a compact 3-axis motorized smartphone gimbal with a mic port and with an external mic included.
The 3XS works with a companion iOS/Android app and supports most phones (with a 2 to 3.5″ width). It also supports action cameras like GoPro Hero 8 Black via an optional adapter.
Although already compact, the 3XS is foldable into an even smaller form to more easily fit in your bag when you take it along on your travels, your filmmaking adventures, or just to have with you on regular days.
The motors are also lockable so there’s no movement at the three axes while the gimbal is in your bag.
The gimbal features a 3.5mm TRRS mic port on the handle and comes with a Saramonic SmartMic. You get to record audio externally for higher-quality sound but it conveniently gets recorded directly to your phone.
The SmartMic is an ultra-compact directional condenser microphone that captures the sound in front of the mic while rejecting sound from other directions.
Featuring an integrated swivel and built-in shockmount, it can be pointed in the direction you want while compensating for unwanted vibration and the resulting unwanted noise, and this allows you to use it successfully while you’re in motion with the gimbal, such as when running behind your subject.
At the press of a button, the smartphone holder can be switched between horizontal and vertical orientations without any rebalancing required.
Gimbals are known to have long battery life but the 3XS pushes the limits with up to a 24-hour runtime on its built-in batteries.
Moreover, it provides a couple of options for charging your phone off the gimbal battery during shooting if the phone gets low on power.
You can plug your phone directly into the gimbal using the included iPhone or Android charging cable or, via a Qi wireless charging pad built into the gimbal, select phones can be charged wirelessly.
What my filmmaker friends say: “It is easy to use and has several different modes to adapt to your style and type of photography. If you’ve done much iPhone videography you know your battery goes down fast. The Benro 3XS also serves as a wireless (or wired) charger. Overall this is an excellent value and performs well.”
Moza AirCross 2 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer Professional Kit
It comes with a companion iOS/Android smartphone app that provides many creative features, including an AI calculation function that auto-tunes the gimbal by selecting optimal parameters based on the camera load.
The AirCross 2 is designed to hold the camera mounted closer to the tilt motor, allowing for more stability with most cameras, and the camera orientation can be switched between portrait and landscape modes when using the dedicated included bracket.
The gimbal also has an angled motor arm in order to allow a clear view of the camera LCD during operation.
The AirCross 2 features a manual lock on each axis that makes balancing your camera easier. You can unlock one axis, balance it, then unlock the next one, and so on.
When done, a balance check feature will confirm on the gimbal’s OLED screen whether all axes are balanced or which one needs adjusting and in which direction. This 3-latch locking system also allows you to lock all the axes during transport so the axes stay firmly in one place.
This gimbal has several advanced shooting modes including multiple follow modes, time-lapse capture, Sports Gear mode, and Inception mode, which rotates the gimbal in place.
The AirCross 2 is designed with Moza’s Spark Power Supply System 2.0, which consists of a battery with its own USB charging port. The battery can be removed and separately plugged directly into a USB charger, not included. This battery provides up to a 12-hour runtime.
What my filmmaker friends say: “After shooting for over 3 years using various 3-Axis gimbals i think that i have found the perfect fit for my Sony A7 III mirrorless camera. The built-in screen and the advanced control options like the Mimic Control and Creative movies through the Moza master app makes my life easier.
Update it immediately to the latest firmware and you will not have any jittery problems. Balanced correctly and with the use of the specialcatwalk movement the gimbal works perfectly. I would recomend this gimbal without any hesitation.”
DJI Osmo Mobile 3 Smartphone Gimbal Combo Kit
The DJI Osmo Mobile 3 Combo Kit smartphone gimbal carries over most of the features from the previous Osmo Mobile model with many improvements.
It’s lighter than its predecessor, it’s now controlled with the DJI Mimo app for iOS or Android, it supports larger smartphones, features a new Sport mode, utilizes hand gesture control and body shape recognition, and it now supports Bluetooth 5.0.
The handle has been redesigned so that the ports are all accessible when charging, it can fold down for storage, and the handheld experience has been made much more comfortable and accessible at a 15° angle.
You can mount any smartphone up to 3.5″ wide in its phone cradle and capture smooth footage in handheld operation. The Osmo Mobile 3 syncs up with the DJI Mimo mobile app to provide you with multiple shooting modes and functions including Portrait, Underslung, Landscape, Time-Lapse, Panorama, and now a Sport mode for fast-action shooting.
You can also now use hand gestures to control the gimbal to track your movement, take a selfie, or record video so you don’t have to press the record button or touch any controls. It can also automatically track body shapes to track human subjects without the need to make a manual selection with ActiveTrack 3.0.
The built-in battery run-time is approximately 15 hours, and it takes approximately 2.5 hours to charge using the included USB Type-C cable. There is a USB Type-A power output on the back of the handle to charge your phone or other accessories while operating the gimbal.
The bottom of the gimbal handle features a 1/4″-20 mounting thread to mount the gimbal on a tripod or other accessory. A storage pouch and wrist strap are also included with the gimbal. A storage pouch and wrist strap are included with the gimbal, and this combo kit also includes a mini tripod and a carry case.
What my filmmaker friends say “
Works great w/my iPhone 11 for smooth shots and stable movement. So easy to carry along since it is compact.“
Zhiyun Smooth 4
The Smooth-4 Smartphone Stabilizer from Zhiyun-Tech, in black, has been designed to provide cine-style functions to content creators using their mobile phones for video capture.
When used with the free, downloadable ZY Play app, the control panel enables Android and iOS users to control both gimbal and smartphone camera functions such as focus, zoom, time-lapse, and still photo settings.
The Smooth-4’s controls reduce the need to touch your phone’s screen, thereby minimizing unintended jostling while recording. A dedicated “Vertigo” function emulates the perspective-shifting, dolly/zoom effect dear to many filmmakers.
Compared to the ZT Smooth-3, the Smooth-4’s controls are more ergonomically laid out and better labeled with icons. The Smooth-4 also has a significantly larger focus/zoom wheel, a PhoneGo mode for quickly grabbing the action, multiple time-lapse functions, and object tracking.
With the ability to support smartphones weighing up to 7.4 oz and measuring up to 3.35″ high, the Smooth-4 is compatible with almost any mobile phone.
In a nod to its filmmaker-centric design, the Smooth-4’s large focus wheel even has a witness mark that can be lined up to focus marks you place on its textured band.
The wheel is located on the left side of the handgrip, with a button placed to its lower right that lets you toggle between focus and zoom functions, with a button light indicating zoom mode.
Scroll and press to select settings with the central Menu/Return button, or choose the Parameter Display button to switch between close shooting, still photo, and full-auto modes.
he Smooth-4 offers 300° of pan and 240° of tilt and roll for nimbly capturing your action shots, or for smoothly gliding along more tranquil scenes. Choose between Pan-Following, Locking, Full-Follow, or the full-speed PhoneGo mode to adjust your level of axis control while shooting.
Powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, the Smooth-4 features a maximum runtime of up to 12 hours. A USB Type-C port on the handgrip enables you to add a separately available power pack to extend your shooting time even further.
An LED display indicates your remaining power, and an output port enables you to charge your phone while shooting with the stabilizer. The Zhiyun-Tech Smooth-4 Smartphone Stabilizer includes a mini tripod, carrying case, and a USB cable.
A single 1/4″-20 female thread on the handgrip bottom can be used to mount the stabilizer onto the included tripod or other support, or to attach a compatible accessory.
What my filmmaker friends say “This this thing is awesome, I have been getting a lot of incredible footage so far!
But there is a downsize to this, the zhiyum app is not connecting to my iPhone 11 because it dose t recognize the gimbal.
However, It is compatible with filmic pro and most of the option you can use on the gimbal controls but Im assuming there are extra things you can do with the zhiyum app.
Still will recommend this gimbal for awesome footage.“
Freefly Movi Cinema Robot Smartphone Stabilizer
The Freefly Movi is the top of the line gimbal. If you aren’t familiar with Freefly they are famous for cinema drones and gimbals.
Movi is taking all of their experience with Hollywood and bringing it to the rest of us. If you are looking for the top of the line gimbal that can carry the most weight. Then the Movi is your choice.
This is the only gimbal with a flat bottom designed to sit flat when you aren’t using it. You’ll learn this matters when you are out shooting and need to put your camera down.
This gimbal also has the most advanced controls between the Movi and their app, from configurable hard buttons to dynamic shooting modes. The Movi is designed for one or two-handed operation, which makes it more stable and versatile.
Movi Cinema Robot is an advanced smartphone stabilizer, designed to turn your mobile device into a powerful storytelling tool.
It’s simple—slip your phone into Movi’s clamp, then point and run, ride, slide, skate, climb, and capture everything. You focus on the story while Movi turns every bump, jolt, and shake into smooth, cinematic footage.
Pair with the free app for pro-level shooting methods and intelligent shooting options including Majestic, Echo, Timelapse, Smartpod, and more. Shoot portrait, landscape, and selfie mode—optimize each shot with customizable settings.
Video is captured directly to your camera roll for easy access. Compatible with all iPhones running iOS 11 and higher and flagship Android devices.
What my filmmaker friends say ” love the device. So many shots that make you look like a pro. I primarily use for filming watersports from the boat and family videos. They continue to enhance and improve the app with a strong community of end-users. Everyone who has seen my videos wonders why my phone is better.”
For all your smartphone accessory needs, check out shopmoment.com.
Beastgrip Pro + Wide Angle Lens Bundle
Do you still want to use a DSLR as well as your cellphone for shooting your film?
The Beastgrip Pro is a versatile, universal, and fully-adjustable smartphone lens adapter and camera rig system that’s packed with features to expand the shooting capabilities of your smartphone camera.
It’s an extremely durable stedicam, uses the industry-standard lens and accessory mounts, and most importantly, works with all smartphones (with or without a protective case), making it the most advanced photography tool in the world.
The Beastgrip Pro + Wide Angle Lens bundle includes a Beastgrip Pro and a Wide-Angle lens with a detachable macro lens for detailed close-up and immersive wide-angle shots.
The phone clamp jaws and sturdy cage keep your phone secure while shooting and the modular design provides thousands of accessory options to unlock your creative potential.
What my filmmaker friends say ” Love this. Very easy to put together and operate. I’ve been using this with my iPhone 6s+, and now my iPhone 7. Lens quality is superb… and the rig (which isn’t too heavy) helps to stabilize the camera, resulting in a much more professional, cinematic feel. Feels great in hands, and very easy to transport.”
As you can tell, whether you are just starting out in filmmaking or a seasoned pro looking for something new to capture your footage, the best cellphone stabilizers for filmmaking are at your fingertips. All you need is your cellphone, a great stabilizer, and just start filming.
Now go out there and win an Oscar!
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