Whether you are just getting started in content creation or are a seasoned filmmaker, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with expensive gear to improve your projects. With so many options for content, audiences demand quality productions. One thing that can set your videos and films apart from looking amateur is a smooth shot. A camera stabilizer is a must-have in your kit. Here are the best handheld camera stabilizers for DSLR cameras.
While there are several types of camera stabilizers, we’ll be focusing on simple DSLR camera stabilizers for this article.
Why You Should Get a DSLR Camera Stabilizer
DSLR camera stabilizers allow videographers and filmmakers to capture smooth shots by removing unwanted movement. Having your footage already stabilized makes your post-production process easier, removing a step to add stabilization effects to your shaky footage.
Camera stabilization is essential for your viewers. Without stabilization, you risk losing your audience. Imagine being invested in a scene of dialogue with shaky footage. Unless intentional, you risk creating an undesired uneasiness with your audience.
DSLR camera stabilizers support while walking and filming, especially when capturing movement. Stabilizers absorb the shock of shakiness and bumping to create a smooth shot.
Keep in mind that gimbals and camera stabilizers are sometimes talked about interchangeably. Gimbal stabilization means the camera is mounted and can rotate on a single or 3-axis. Gimbals require batteries for the motors used to make them run. A camera stabilizer requires no battery and allows you to mount your camera in a secure, balanced fashion.
What to Look for When Buying a DSLR Camera Stabilizer
When buying a DSLR camera stabilizer, look for a few different things. Price point typically reveals extra features that could be useful or overwhelming. Always keep in mind the weight of your camera and the extra gear you may be operating. Finally, be aware of how easy or difficult it is to balance your camera on your DSLR camera stabilizer.
Further Reading: DSLR Camera Guide – What to Look For
Remember the batteries!
I’ve been guilty of forgetting to get suitable batteries for my stabilizer. Gimbal stabilizers tend to take specific brands or voltage of batteries. Make sure you check the estimated battery life and plan always to have spares. Nothing will slow your shoot day down more than having a dead gimbal stabilizer and waiting for the batteries to charge.
Balance. Balance. Balance.
I’ve met many impatient camera operators when balancing their cameras on their gimbal stabilizers. Make sure you familiarize yourself with how to balance your camera on your stabilizer before you buy it. With some DSLR camera stabilizers, it’s a quick process. Check those Youtube videos before purchasing, as an unbalanced DSLR camera stabilizer will bring you nightmares in post.
Weight is everything
While your rig might be lightweight enough for you 5 minutes into the day, what will your body tell you 5 hours into your filming day? Be sure to check the weight of your camera and extra gear, along with the weight of the stabilizer. While a heavy-duty and more durable DSLR camera stabilizer may provide more stability, the added weight could present a problem without an ergonomic fix, like an EasyRig.
Further Reading: The Ultimate Filmmaking Starter Kit for Under $5,000
DSLR Camera Stabilizers Reviews
Now that you have an idea as to what to look for, let’s jump into my personal reviews of a few DSLR Camera Stabilizers. We’ll start with my top recommendation.
1) DJI RS 2 Gimbal Stabilizer Pro Combo: (My Top Recommendation)
DJI is well known for its drones and stabilizers, making my top recommendation, the DJI RS 2 Gimbal Stabilizer Pro Combo, an easy choice. Weighing in at 3.3 pounds and a 9.9-pound payload, a day of filming won’t strain your camera operator. With the RavenEye image transmission feature, you can control your camera movements from your smartphone. With 12-hour battery life, a prominent touchscreen, and an option to lock the screen from making unwanted changes in the middle of filming, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better DSLR Gimbal Stabilizer than the DJI RS 2 Gimbal Stabilizer Pro Combo.
- Carbon Fiber build
- Titan Stabilization Algorithm and SuperSmooth mode
- Easy to use
- Need an iPhone / iPad to use the RavenEye image transmission
- Inconsistent customer support from DJI
2) Glidecam HD-PRO Handheld Stabilizer
Weighing 2.9 pounds without the counterweights, the Glidecam HD-Pro Handheld Stabilizer packs a punch. This 3-axis camera stabilizer is one of the best on the market. With 16 counterweights weighing 4.35 ounces each, the Glidecam HD-Pro allows up to a 10-pound payload. Crafted from precision anodized black aluminum, the 1″ diameter telescopic center post with foam-padded handle grip allows for effortless and precise adjustments to get your perfect shot.
- Quick-release camera plate
- Adjustable dynamic balance through an expandable base platform
- Allows 360° panning
- The learning curve for balancing the camera
- It can get heavy quickly
3) Zhiyun-Tech CRANE-M3 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer
The Zhiyun-Tech CRANE-M3 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer is a tiny but mighty camera stabilizer built for long shoots. With a 1.22″ full-color OLED display, integrated adjustable fill light, and quick-release baseplate, you’ll have eight hours of use on one charge. With 77 different modes of operation, you’ll be able to control your camera through the ZY Play app on Android or IOS.
- Quick auto-calibration
- Able to be powered with a power bank while operating
- Expansion opportunities to include a microphone connection port, 1/4″ audio port, and 1/4″ expansion port
- The mounting plate covers some camera battery doors
- Onboard light is not dimmable
FAQs About DSLR Camera Stabilizers
Here are some common questions about DSLR Camera Stabilizers that are not specific to the above products but relate to Camera Stabilizers in general.
How much does a good gimbal cost?
Gimbals range in cost from a couple of hundred dollars to a thousand dollars. It’s essential to consider the specific features you’re looking for in the gimbal and decide to invest in the right DSLR Camera stabilizer.
Do gimbals fit every camera?
Not every camera fits every gimbal. Check the specs on the DSLR Camera Stabilizer you are looking to purchase to make sure your camera will work. Keep in mind that it’s not just about weight. You have to consider what your complete camera build includes, from monitors to microphones and that all those items will fit on the DSLR camera stabilizer of your choice.
What’s the difference between a Steadicam and a gimbal?
There’s nothing simple about Steadicam operation. Operating a Steadicam takes dedicated training and years of practice to perfect. Gimbals, on the other hand, do all the work for you. While gimbals stabilize the direction of where the camera points, a Steadicam stabilizes the camera where it is.
With DSLR and mirrorless cameras increasingly lightweight, every bump and unwanted motion has become noticeable. DSLR camera stabilizers help filmmakers of all skill levels capture smooth footage. Ranging from a few hundred to thousand dollars, filmmakers have many options in picking the best DSLR camera stabilizer for their needs. While my top recommendation is DJI RS 2 Gimbal Stabilizer Pro Combo, the stabilizer that best suits you could be my second or third choice. Make researching and planning a priority before purchasing your DSLR camera stabilizer.
Any tips or tricks about DSLR camera stabilizers you’d like to share? Make sure to comment below and let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!