Gimbals / Stabilizers: Best Smartphone Filmmaking Accessory 2021

Gimbals / Stabilizers – With the advancement of built-in cameras included in the top smartphones on the market today, they are becoming an inexpensive way for aspiring filmmakers to shoot cinematic footage.

Smartphones are extremely practical because of the size and portability. AppleGoogleSamsung, and Huawei all offer smartphones with fantastic 4k video quality that can be used to make a vlogging video stand out from the competition.

If you are a filmmaker looking to keep costs low during filming, today’s smartphones can help a filmmaker get cinematic looking shots for his/her projects.

But there is one major problem with shooting a film on a smartphone and that is 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 video 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.

Worried about another expensive piece of camera gear in your filmmaking kit? Not to worry, because some of the best gimbal stabilizers out there are affordable for even the tightest filmmaking budgets.

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. 

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What Are Gimbal / Stabilizers

According to WikipediaHandheld 3-axis gimbals are used in stabilization systems designed to give the camera operator the independence of handheld shooting without camera vibration or shake.

Axis Stabilization

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 / Stabilizer Features

Many of the extremely popular smartphone gimbals made today are loaded with filmmaking friendly features to compliment your smartphone camera. 

Features like a joystick to pan and tilt the smartphone, time-lapse and hyper-lapse modes, object tracking, and more. 

Battery Power

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.

Compatibility

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.

Who Should Buy A Smartphone Gimbal / Stabilizer

If you are a filmmaker or vlogger, chances are you have a smartphone with a decent 4k camera. If not, you should read this article on the best filmmaking smartphones today.

But, if you have a great 4k smartphone, a smartphone gimbal is a piece of filmmaking gear that needs to be in your filmmaking gear kit now!

Why? For filmmakers and vloggers that film subjects while walking and talking, a gimbal allows you to have well framed stable shots each time you shoot.

Smartphone stabilizer

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

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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 moreThe 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

In a sleek and ergonomic design, the Moza AirCross 2, supports up to 7 lb cameras, including wide-body types like the Blackmagic Pocket 4K and those with a built-in grip. 

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 OM 4

The DJI OM 4 smartphone gimbal carries over most of the features from the previous Osmo Mobile model with many improvements. 

The magnetic phone clamp and magnetic ring holder enable effortless capture whenever inspiration strikes. Attach your smartphone to DJI OM 4 instantly, perfect for filming on the go.

Weighing just 0.93 lbs/423 g (with phone clamp), it is portable, light, and incredibly convenient.

You can mount any smartphone up to 3.5″ wide in its phone cradle and capture smooth footage in handheld operation. 

The DJI OM 4 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

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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.

Why I Use A Gimbal For My Smartphone Filmmaking

The first short film I shot on an iPhone was a 48-hour film festival entry, in which most of it was shot using a tripod. 

In the last sequence of the short film, I went handheld, and the shaky footage was a huge pain to fix in post.

After watching the short feature on a big screen in front of an audience, I cringed at the last bit of the film because I knew it could have been better if I used a gimbal stabilizer.

That’s why I picked up the Osmo Mobile because of a conversation I had with another filmmaker at that event that suggested the Osmo, and I never looked back.

The gimbal allowed me to shoot a subject from a near and far distance without worry about shooting unusable footage.

Gimbals / Stabilizers - Smartphone Filmmaking Dream Gadget

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.

Regardless if you are vlogging on the streets of Italy or filmmaking an action scene on your smartphone, smartphone gimbals add cinema-quality to every shot.

Now go out there and win an Oscar!

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0 thoughts on “Gimbals / Stabilizers: Best Smartphone Filmmaking Accessory 2021

  • August 24, 2020 at 5:05 pm
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    The one I bought recently didn’t make the list. I like it so far. I will say, a friend did recommend the OSMO one mentioned above.

    Reply
    • August 24, 2020 at 5:32 pm
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      Which one did you get? I am curious.

      Reply

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