Some people like to argue that shaky cam has an artistic effect and should be viewed as such. The rest of us know that’s only true in horror movies, and the rest of the time we’d like our videos to come out clean and smooth. But that can be a real struggle when you’re filming with your iPhone, especially if you’re not stationary while filming.
That’s where gimbals come in – they stabilize your iPhone so that unsteady hands, road bumps, and other unavoidable facts of life have less impact on the quality of your final video. In this article, we’ll take you through a few of our favorite and help you choose the best gimbal stabilizer for your iPhone X/Xs or the Max model.
- For a simple and easy to use but effective gimbal, the FeiyuTech Vimble 2 Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer offers a clean design and a great balance between the advanced and basic features available. It’s also super portable and can support both landscape and portrait filming.
- Prefer to step it up a notch or two? The DJI Osmo Mobile 2 has a stellar reputation for its ability to work hard whether you’re an amateur or an old pro. The 15 hours battery life will keep you on the go all day, but you’ll need to make sure to choose which videos to import once you’re done.
- If you’d rather have minute control over every part of your video, the Zhiyun Smooth 4 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal includes an array of buttons with functionalities ranging from a simple record button to activating the flash or an additional menu. It comes with tripod legs for when you want to take a break without packing everything up.
Do You Need an iPhone Stabilizer?
From amateur filmmaker to backyard antics to Instagram influencer, there’s a range of people who can take advantage of a gimbal to stabilize their videos.
While Apple clearly values mobile photography/videography and has put a good deal of effort into making outstanding cameras on their latest iPhone (i.e. iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max), there’s always room for improvement, or to adjust for human error.
So if you’re interested in taking things to the next level, a gimbal is definitely a good bet for you. However, if you’re just occasionally filming your cat chase lasers or taking selfies, a gimbal may be fairly unnecessary — maybe consider trying out some iPhone lenses instead to experiment with your phone’s camera.
Best iPhone Stabilizer: What to Consider in 2020?
Number of Axes
A gimbal rotates around your phone on several axes in order to keep your phone stabilized in one place. The amount of axes determines how precise and smooth the stabilization will be. A 3-axis gimbal is fairly standard, but there are some available in 2 or 5 axes that may better suit your needs.
Mounting & Handle
Almost every gimbal will mount your iPhone by clamping around it because this method is secure and makes it easy to manipulate. However, when it comes to handling design there is a wide range of options. From extremely short handles that mean you’ll need to hold the gimbal close to yourself to longer or adjustable models or even those with a built-in tripod, make sure to look at all your options before you settle.
Since most gimbals connect to your phone using Bluetooth in order to provide auxiliary buttons, they’re going to be held back by a battery life. It would be terrible to have your gimbal die in the middle of filming a great scene, so you’ll want to make sure you get something that will last you all day without worrying about a backup charger or an iPhone power bank.
Best Gimbal for iPhone in 2020: Top 3 Picks
With four different ways to hold it, a strong clamp, and Bluetooth buttons to control your shutter, the Osmo is a workhorse that’s ready to keep your videos steady whether you’re jumping and down or simply traveling along a bumpy road. Its simplicity is great for beginners, but its high-quality design will draw in the experts as well.
What we like:
- A 15-hour battery life means you’ll never be concerned that you’ll run out of juice while filming, while the light device weight and carry case won’t drag you down as you go about your day.
- Clean, sleek, and simple design that gets the job done.
What we dislike:
- The app doesn’t automatically save videos to your photo gallery, you’ll need to manually choose to transfer it.
Looking for precision control over your phone while using the gimbal? The Zhiyun handheld stabilizer features buttons galore to give you access to every possible feature on your phone for fine tuning video, and the stabilization is top notch as well. It’s available in black and white.
What we like:
- Includes a wide array of tuning buttons to give you the most precise control possible over your video.
- You can charge your phone with the battery inside the gimbal while you are using it, and it also comes with tripod legs for when you want to set it down or simply take a shot from a single position instead.
What we dislike:
- You’ll need to remove your phone case before attempting to insert it into the gimbal.
- Also, if you have an android device you’d also like to use instead of just your iPhone, this gimbal is likely not compatible with it.
Simple and easy to use, the Vimble 2 hits all the right marks without anything too fancy that you’ll need a 20-page manual to decipher. It has a joystick to pan and tilt your phone while filming, as well as a shutter button and zoom function. The Feiyu ON app also allows you to easily focus on the face that you want to track, which is great for video bloggers (vloggers) to film in a hand-free mode.
What we like:
- Splash and snow proof, and can rotate freely even under extreme temperatures.
- Supports portrait mode if that’s more your style for live broadcasting or similar applications.
- Packs into a small travel case.
What we dislike:
- You’ll definitely need to remove your phone case in order to properly fit it into the clamp.
Interested in how you can get the most of out of your gimbal and catch some interesting shots? There are a lot of ways you can do it, from moving your gimbal in different ways or adjusting the point of focus. If you want some specific ideas, check out this article from NoFilmSchool. Although the tips are meant for a DSLR gimbal, they are easily applicable to mobile videography.
Meanwhile, you can also step up your movie making game with the editing program you use before, during, and after your shoot. While iPhones and Mac computers come with iMovie built in, there are also plenty of 3rd party options that can fill in some of the gaps. For advice on which programs are best, we looked at MacWorld’s recommendations.
With a gimbal, you don’t have to worry about how your extra shot of espresso this morning is making your hands shaky or if you can manage to focus, move, and operate your iPhone all the same time. Since none of us are an 8-armed octopus, a gimbal will make it much easier to manage all of these tasks at once without sacrificing any video quality.
Like our picks or suggestions? Make sure to leave a comment below and tell us what worked best for you!
Andreas is a freelance tech writer based in California. He works on a Mac in the office and lives with a PC and many old computer electronics at home. While he is not reading or writing, you’ll probably find him playing online games with friends.