Over the last few years, we’ve seen an increasing amount of handheld 3 Axis Gimbal stabilizers appear on the market. It all started with FreeFly’s MoVi, a few years back. This device was seen as a revolutionary new way to get smooth, stabilized shots (without using a bulky steadicam system). A lot of manufacturers quickly followed along and introduced their own gimbal stabilizer systems.
It’s easy to get lost in this quickly evolving field, so we will offer you some guidance. In this article we will give you an overview of the best 3 Axis Gimbal stabilizers for DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras.
Gimbal Stabilizers: a short introduction
Gimbals have been around for some time, but only recently saw their introduction in the film and video world. A gimbal consist of three brushless motors, giving it the ability to keep the camera level on all axes as the operator and the camera moves around. The (IMU) inertial measurement unit uses all the motors separately to stabilize the camera. Algorithms are used to guide the stabilizer so that no noticeable movements are visible.
Originally, 3 axis gimbals were mostly used for aerial applications such as RC helicopters and quad-copters (drones). Individuals and companies have been adapting 3 axis gimbals for heavier cameras, handheld operations, and even for use with other camera stabilization equipment such as camera jibs, car suction mounts, and even remote controlled vehicles. With stabilisation on all 3 axis, they eliminate any shake or vibration otherwise visible.
2-axis or 3-axis gimbals?
It is important to understand the difference between 3-axis and 2-axis gimbals. Choosing the right gimbal all depends on the type of work you will be doing. 2-axis gimbals stabilize only on the yaw and pitch movements whereas the 3-axis gimbals work on the yaw, pitch and roll movements. Unstable horizontal movements are obvious on a 2-axis gimbal where the 3-axis gimbal eliminates that.
Choosing the wrong gimbal can be real frustrating. Some gimbal stabilizers are not top notch in terms of usability and ease of use. Let’s take a look at some of the best 3 axis gimbal stabilizers on the market, so you can make a well informed decision.
The 7 Best 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizers for DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras of 2016
1. DJI Ronin M
- Supports cameras up to 8 lbs
- Includes a RC controller for remote pan/tilt control
- Durable but lightweight construction
- Balancing can be difficult
- Sometimes has issues with Roll drift
DJI, the company that is best known for their Phantom drones, has a very good reputation when it comes to building gimbals. They brought us the Ronin a few years back and recently introduced the Ronin-M, the second generation in the Ronin range.
The DJI Ronin-M weighs 5-pounds, which is half the weight of the original Ronin. This gimbal is well known for its ruggedness and can hold cameras of up to 8 pounds. With a superbly strong and rigid magnesium frame, the Ronin-M brings increased stiffness, though it remains relatively lightweight.
The Ronin-M comes with a RC controller. This allows a second operator to adjust the pan, tilt and roll. It’s also possible to purchase thumb controller unit for this purpose. The gimbal is very quiet, the motors are barely hearable.
2. Varavon Birdycam II
- Well-built frame
- Supports cameras up to 5 lbs
- The platform for the camera is adjustable
- A thumb-joystick is included
- The frame blocks the memory card slots of bigger cameras
- like most gimbals, balancing requires some practice
A 3-axis gimbal that is designed for the more compact cameras. The Varavon Birdycam II strives to be a balanced, robust stabilizer for all videographers. This gimbal is lightweight with a solid build that has no sign of flexing or instability. It is smooth around all the edges and is anodized with a beautiful smooth black finish. It fits comfortably into your hands.
The camera hangs in the center and the 3-axis that moves, up/down, left/right and sideways assist in moving the camera smoothly. The Varavon Birdycam II is equipped with a joystick on the steering handle that gives you the pleasure of tilting and panning without using the handle itself.
The frame is adjusted to be lighter and more stable with a built-in stand, giving you the option to place it down or fold the arms back for more compact places.
3. Nebula 4200
- Spring arm mechanical system for vertical stabilization, unique to this gimbal
- Single or double interchangeable handgrip
- Proper calibration requires some effort
The Nebula 4200 is introduced as a 5-axis gimbal. Its base is a 3-axis gimbal, that can also be mounted onto a unique mechanical spring arm suspension system. This allows for elimination of small unwanted vertical movements, that would otherwise be visible when you walk with the device. A unique feature.
The Nebula 4200 comes with interchangeable handles, so you have the option to choose between a single or double handle for convenient operation.
If you are not already intrigued with this gimbal, you may find the Bluetooth wireless control an extra bonus. This further eliminates physical bumps. Also, a wireless joystick is available as an extra. The Nebula 4200 has a 32-bit dual sensor controller that increases the operation speed and precision control.
4. CAME-TV CAME-ARGO
- Multiple operational modes
- Already assembled on delivery
- Able to carry loads up to 3 kg / 6.6 lbs
- Balancing takes some time
- Battery life could be better
This 3-axis gimbal stabilizer has two side handles and a top handle. The Came-TV Argo is great for getting those sought after low-angle shots.
The gimbal gives smooth and free-floating shots along its pan, tilt, and roll movement. With the size and the weight capacity, this gimbal can hold camera systems such as the Canon 5D3, Canon 5D2, Canon 7D and the Sony A7.
With various operation modes, you are able to choose, lock the camera in place or let the camera follow smoothly along the pan and tilt motions and keep the horizon level. An extra mode is available to lock the tilt axis and only use the left and right movement for panning. With the included joystick you are able to switch between modes instantly, never missing a shot.
The Came-TV Argo is built with quick release knobs that allow for tool-less adjustments on the yaw and roll axis. Although the gimbal has to be properly balanced beforehand, the quick release knobs allow for quicker and easier adjustments.
5. Ikan DS1 Beholder
- Simple operation
- Durable construction
- light weight
- Eco-friendly, low maintenance lithium battery
- The single-handheld grip can become uncomfortable to hold
- Maximum load of 3.7 lbs
The Ikan DS1 Beholder is designed for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras up to 3.7 pounds. It is a handheld stabilizer with stabilization on 3-axis that provides you with superb smooth and stable footage. This gimbal uses brushless motors for movement on the tilt and roll axis while walking. The Ikan DS1 Beholder’s 3/8″ thread mount at the bottom of the handle is perfect for mounting it on a monopod, a tripod or a slider.
The Ikan DS1 has a built-in joystick and offers you a 5-way command over the pan and tilt mode. You have a choice of follow or lock, and you are able to adjust the pan-tilt motion. A plus for this gimbal is that it has a USB port on the side where you can power a small LED light to brighten up your shot or plug in other accessories.
Included in your purchase is a quick-release balance plate, offset camera mount, USB LED light and a USB cable for charging, together in a travel case.
6. Pilotfly H2
- 5 profiles pre-configured (home move, follow roll, follow mode, pitch lock, full lock)
- Auto Inverted Mode
- Battery last 26 hours and is an integrated
- Calibration through software is quite a hassle
The Pilotfly H2 is a gimbal with a single handheld grip. It weighs 30% less than it’s predecessor (the H1). This gimbal’s construction is made out of an aluminum alloy with a tool-less design. The handle is detachable to ensure better handle and movement in your shots. A 4-way joystick is included and easy to operate. On both sides and on the bottom you will find 1/4″ 20 screw holes where you are able to mount extra accessories.
The Pilotfly H2’s yaw and roll axis have a full 360° rotation with an inverted mode without obstructing any cables. This gimbal is able to carry a camera with a lens up to 5 pounds making it a good fit for the large DSLR cameras.
7. Moza Lite 2 (Premium)
- Can carry a camera system of up to 8.8 pounds
- Sold with a remote thumb controller
- Built-in video transmitter
- Battery life is not great
The MOZA lite 2 is made of a magnesium alloy material that is similar to the materials used in the aerospace industry. It is light weight, weighing only 4.8- pounds and it is extremely durable. The u-shaped arm enhances its durability and is coated with an environmentally friendly coating and finishing.
It has an advanced FOC algorithm technology that helps you to achieve incredible balance. This gimbal comes with its own app that you can download from the Apple Store or from Google Play. It will assist you to calibrate and tune your gimbal for the best possible results.
The top handle is detachable with a quick release system that accommodates a diversity of platforms. You will be able to use tripods, cranes, rigs and even drones. With this gimbal, you can use a wide range of cameras from DSLR and mirrorless devices to more professional cinema hardware.
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