If we know what taking a photograph with shaky hands is, we can understand what flying a drone without a gimbal means. The odds will be against you and the pictures you click will incorporate a lot of vibrations and movements. This is why using the best drone gimbal is an absolute must for taking good quality aerial photographs and videos.
The mechanics behind a gimbal is simple. It is essentially made up of rings that are pivoted at right angles around the camera which help keep the device steady while the drone moves. Since drones are being employed for a wide variety of purposes requiring strong photographic actions, using a good gimbal has become imperative.
Just like there are lots of drone models, there are also different kinds of gimbals available in the market. Some cater to the extreme photographic enthusiasts while others meet the requirements of amateur flyers who want to have a first person view. And speaking of different drone models, if you want to know which model is the best for your GoPro, or any other, similar action cam, you can also check out our article about best GoPro drones.
Types of gimbals
When we talk about drone camera gimbals, there are a number of different classifications possible. Here, we will look into some of these different types.
2 axis and 3 axis drone gimbals
Drones usually are available in 2-axis and 3 axis brushless gimbals for the camera. Each of these types has its own set of pros and cons. The one you opt for between the two depends on the purpose of utilization.
2 axis gimbal
This type of a gimbal works towards stabilizing the video feed from the camera in 2 axes, mainly the pitch and the roll. A major part of the horizontal movement becomes very evident in the case of a 2 axis gimbal. However, it is lightweight and thus easy to carry for the drone.
It is capable of holding the camera perfectly in position without any hassles. If you are a drone enthusiast and want to fly it for a First Person View, the 2 axis gimbal would be a good idea. This is because it is light, consumes less power and can work for longer flight times. Because of its lightweight structure, the drone retains its agility.
3 axis gimbal
This gimbal is much heavier than the previous version and a lot more expensive. But it has one major advantage here. This gimbal provides stabilization along 3 axes, namely the yaw, pitch, and roll. There is an extra motor in the gimbal that absorbs all sorts of unnecessary movements.
Because of this reason, any horizontal vibration is completely eliminated from the drone. For aerial photographers and filmmakers, a 3 axis gimbal is an absolute must. This gives you more stable and clear videos in spite of reducing the net flight time of the drone. Extra batteries will become a necessity if you are flying with a 3 axis gimbal.
Servo gimbal and brushless gimbal
The servo gimbal is in use mainly because it is light, gives better agility to the drones and is also cheap, catering to the drone flyers working on a tight budget. Besides, you can plug this gimbal directly on to FC and not have to worry about other controllers.
However, the video recorded will show some jitters because of the movements. This is because of a mechanical limitation for the servo gimbal that it is slow to react and shows some overshooting motion. But if you want to use a drone mainly for its First Person View feature where the video quality is not one of the most important aspects, then a servo gimbal should do the job well for you. Also, if you are interested in shooting mainly photographs, then a servo gimbal should be ideal for you.
Brushless camera gimbals
This is yet another kind of a camera gimbal for drones. The one big advantage over the servo gimbal is their picture clarity. The videos recorded with this device are absolutely smooth and without any noise. This can be attributed to a faster reaction time making the gimbal swift in action, which, in turn, leads to a smoother movement.
For people interested in hardcore drone filmography, a brushless gimbal should be your first choice. It gives you stable and smooth videos. Since this is a little more expensive, you need to be clear about the purpose of using the drone before purchasing this product.
Top 5 gimbals on the market
Walkera White Plastic Version G-2D Brushless Gimbal
The first product on our list comes from the house of Walkera. This is one of the most durable and stylish designs available for camera gimbals. This 2D gimbal has been designed especially to cater to the GoPro camera series on your quadcopter. This includes the GoPro Hero 3 and the GoPro Hero 4 along with other devices like Sony cameras. It will hold the camera perfectly still when your drone goes out in the air for its mid-air adventures.
If you want to have a taste of stable and efficient aerial photography, this should be your go to drone gimbal. It comes with a separate video aux output as well. The gimbal incorporates a set of 2 sensor rotors including the 2-axis MEMS gyroscope rotor and the MEMS accelerometer rotor. It comes with a special short circuit and voltage fluctuation protection so that the camera remains insured from all these accidents. Being made of plastic, it is extremely durable. This means the gimbal will hold its structure even in the case of collisions.
Besides, the installation of the device is pretty easy and hence can be carried out by any amateur flyer, without needing specialized help.
Like this amazing product? Then you can check its price here.
Andoer 2D Light Weight Silver Brushless Motor Gimbal
This is yet another interesting gimbal that has been designed especially for the DJI Phantom series of drones. It is a very simple gimbal with an uncomplicated structure. One of the biggest advantages here is the fact that the gimbal is lightweight. Usually, the camera fitted to the drone is pretty heavy and that will increase the total weight of the copter, making it bulky and thus heavy to fly around. Thus, having a lightweight gimbal will work towards decreasing the total weight of the unmanned aerial vehicle. This can be attributed to the CNC Aluminum structure.
Next, it keeps the camera stable when the drone flies in the air. The gimbal gets rid of all sorts of vibrations by means of the anti-vibration rubber balls. It is most suited with the GoPro 3, 4. The whole package will include aluminum gimbal along with some wirings and screws. According to the users, the gimbal can contribute to some really stable photos and videos. Along with a Velcro strap, this forms the perfect structure for holding the camera. However, the instructions for installation are not very clear and thus need some effort behind it.
If you like this product you can find and check its price on Amazon.
Qiyun Shock-absorbing DJI Phantom Gopro 2 3 CNC Metal Brushless Camera Gimbal
Next up is a drone gimbal that caters to people with a tight budget, designed for the DJI Phantom series.
This brushless camera gimbal is extremely lightweight, owing to its CNC metal make – it has a total shipping weight of 4.2 ounces. This also makes it easier to fly the device in the air.
The whole framework requires 2 pieces of 2208 motors and a brushless gimbal controller. Once again, since this device is fitted with the DJI Phantom series, it comes with anti-vibration measures and structures that help keep the camera is place while the drone is mid-air. This is one of those gimbals that help users get extremely stable setups for the camera that directly leads to very clear pictures without much noise even while the device is in motion. The brushless motor gimbal has proven to be a hit amongst the users. Talking about its compatibility, it works best with the GoPro 1, GoPro 2 and GoPro 3.
Like this amazing product? Then you can buy it from Amazon.
Feiyu Tech FY-M3D Mini 3D PRO 3-Axis Air Gimbal
The next model on our list comes from the house of Feiyutech. It comes with a 360-degree panning support. It works well with a number of cameras including the likes of GoPro Hero 4, Hero 3 +, and Hero 3. It can also work with other cameras that are of the similar size.
It finds its main uses in the field of aerial photography especially when the drone works on a First Person View basis. The important aspect to consider here is that the gimbal has been revamped with an all new design. This facilitates easy installation. Each of the components of the gimbal is made from metal and that is what leads to a very stable and safe setting. It keeps the camera absolutely stable during the drone’s flight.
You can alter the manual modes of operation for the gimbal including pan and tilt movements by connecting it to the remote controlled receiver. Besides, more importantly, the gimbal can work independently of the drone and requires a separate power supply that helps keep your drone camera in position. With a durable product and efficient performances, this gimbal surely is one of the perfect options.
If you think that this product could be useful for you, then you can buy it from Amazon.
3DR Solo Gimbal
The last product on this list comes from the house of 3DR, a name well-known in the field of drones. It is a 3-axis brushless gimbal that caters to people who aim to achieve perfect aerial photography with a drone. This gives you rock-solid photography working with an extremely stable camera.
To give you an idea of the strength and stability of the gimbal, let us tell you that it comes with a 0.1 degree pointing accuracy. This tells you how clear the pictures are. It facilitates extremely smooth and fluid HD photography that does not come with any sort of noise grains.
As the name suggests, it works best with the 3DR Solo drone, a device known for its smooth flights and unique camera functions. This includes features like ‘Selfie’, ‘Orbit’, ‘Cable Cam’, ‘Follow’ and the likes. And the gimbal is well-designed to meet the requirements of such advanced features. It can be mounted on other drones as well, but the controls will differ and you might not get optimum performance from the same. So, if this is the gimbal that interests you the most, and you want to get more familiar with the drone model meant for it, we suggest checking out our 3DR Solo drone in-depth review.
Yes, it is a little pricey to begin with, but being a one-time investment, it is a rather useful purchase.
Like this amazing product? Then you can buy it on Amazon.
Buying guide: what to look for in a camera gimbal
Choosing a gimbal for the camera in your drone isn’t the easiest of jobs. This would include a number of factors to be considered. The most appropriate gimbal for you mainly depends on the features you are looking for and the purpose of the drone. Let us have a look:
If you are on a tight budget, you have to choose your gimbal accordingly. A servo gimbal would work the best in these situations. Yes, your video quality might be a little disturbed, but it meets the purpose of a first person view. However, if you are willing to spend a few extra bucks on the gimbal to get better aerial photography and filmmaking, the brushless gimbals would work the best.
Photography or filmmaking
This is another aspect to consider. For capturing a few normal aerial photographs, you can make use of the servo gimbal, which is cheaper and lighter. You could make a few adjustments by holding the drone still while you take the picture. This eliminates the presence of jitters in your photographs.
In the case of recording videos, you would need to make use of a stable gimbal that gets rid of movements. In this case, a brushless gimbal would be better suited for the purpose. Also, to get some new ideas and tips regarding aerial filming and photography, you can check out our article about drone photography tips.
The next question to ask here is how long do you want your drone to fly? Even the most efficient drones fly with a reduced flight time if you select a heavy gimbal that consumes a lot of power. We are going to focus on brushless gimbals only here.
If you choose a 2 axis gimbal, it might give you a compromised video quality, but it is surely going to consume less battery and thus the drone will run for longer flight times. This is pretty decent for a first person view and for casual drone flyers.
However, if you are looking for the best quality pictures, you will have to compromise on the flight time and opt for a 3 axis gimbal. This essentially consumes more power and you will get lower flight times than normal.
This is the most important factor to consider while purchasing a gimbal for your drone camera. If you want the best videos that are free from noise and disturbances and jitters, it is better to opt for the brushless gimbals. Between the two variations of the brushless gimbal, the 3 axis device will lead to clearer pictures.
However, we are often restricted by other factors like the price, power consumptions and the likes. If we neglect the other factors and base our choice entirely on the quality of videos recorded, the best option would be a 3 axis brushless gimbal that provides stabilization on 3 axes and hold the camera absolutely still for the clearest videos.
As we have already understood, the gimbals work towards reducing vibrations and other unnecessary movements from the camera while the drone is still in flight. So the ideal gimbal should have maximum accuracy, good picture quality, less power consumption and the likes.
Using a gimbal would lead to improved pictures and especially videos since it helps keep the camera stable and in position even when the drone flies at high speeds. Different drones make use of different gimbals based on the type of camera in use.
There are a number of different gimbals in the market and the one you purchase and use depends on the kind of use you want to put your drone to. Let us have a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of drone gimbals.
- Camera feed stabilization – this is the most important advantage of using a drone gimbal. Irrespective of the direction the drone is moving in and how often it makes those swift and sharp turns, the camera will always be pointing in the right direction and you will get the most stable pictures with no vibrations.
- Better pictures in bad weather – even when the drone is flying in relatively unpleasant weather conditions, the pictures will be clear for you.
- Usage of long lenses – with the incorporation of a gimbal in your drone setup, you can now have the freedom to use long lenses for your camera. This ensures a wider range of photography that will cater to the aerial photography enthusiasts.
- Shooting the sides – you do not need to worry about orienting the drone in a particular direction to get the best shot. Since the gimbal can turn the camera around to take shots on the left and the right sides of the device, you can fly the drone just with the wind and still get good quality pictures from all around.
- Power consumption – a good and efficient gimbal tends to consume more power from the drone battery, making the battery drain very fast. Hence, you need to charge the batteries repeatedly or have a lot of spares.
- Reduced flight times – due to excessive power consumption by the gimbal, the drone now travels with a reduced flight time.
- Price – some gimbals can get very expensive and increase the overall expenditure you make for the drone.
So, now that you’ve seen the best gimbals that will help you maintain a steady camera, which one are you going to buy? Let us know in comments.