Gimbal vs Steadicam: Which Should You Choose?

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It doesn’t matter if you are working in the video-making industry professionally or you just want to step up your personal videos to make your social media pages more interesting. Chances are you are in the lookout for a good camera stabilizer, and wondering which is best between gimbal vs Steadicam, to help you produce breathtaking videos.

Understanding Camera Stabilizers

Camera stabilizers are probably among the best investments that video enthusiasts buy, apart from the camera itself. Stabilizers can make a smooth transition from a somewhat shaky video, especially when taking shots while running, jumping, turning, and making uphill movements.

The gimbal and Steadicam may look simple and not that important. However, they can actually help a lot in making your videos steady and smooth, particularly if you know how to use their components.

The most obvious differences between the two are that the Gimbal has batteries to operate its moving parts, so it needs a charger. On the other hand, a Steadicam doesn’t need a battery because it doesn’t have a motor. On that note, it does require more physical work to operate.

Gimbal vs Steadicam

In order to find out which one is ideal for you, let us check out their specific differences and similarities.

1. Stability

One of the purposes of gimbals and Steadicams is to provide stability. While both can make your shots stable, the Steadicam is only great for vertical shots. On the contrary, the gimbal can do good with both horizontal and vertical stability.

2. Make

Both are typically made with aluminum alloy, carbon fiber, and other durable materials, but we can say that the Steadicam is sturdier than a gimbal. That is because it doesn’t have sensitive components that can be damaged by excessive use, water, and other elements.

3. Weight and Size

Comparing the weight of the two, the gimbal is relatively lighter and can be easily held using one hand. It is also easier to maneuver because of its compact size. Using a gimbal is like using a monopod; it is convenient but with added efficacy.

The Steadicam is heavier and bulkier, so it is not ideal for newbies and also hard to use in cramped conditions. Nevertheless, because of its lightweight, the gimbal has a limited capacity, holding only about 1.8 kilograms of camera weight. The Steadicam, on the other hand, can handle heavy camera equipment up to 15 kilograms.

4. Control

Since it just serves as a stabilizer, using a Steadicam allows you to have direct control over your camera. On the contrary, a gimbal makes you feel less attached to the object you are filming because you have less control over the camera.

Additionally, a gimbal gives your videos a more robotic feel, and there are times when the camera mic catches the motor sound, while the resulting videos shot using a Steadicam are more fluid.

5. Ease of Use

For starters, using the Gimbal is easier because of its electronic controls and low weight, while mastering how to use the Steadicam will require more training and experience because it is heavier and bulkier. Gimbals require batteries to operate, though, so you have limited time. Steadicams do not require batteries, allowing you to use them whenever you need.

6. Technology

Steadicams have been around for decades, and while there have been slight changes, no significant upgrades took place over the years. Gimbals, though, are like smartphones that need upgrading after a few months or years. Hence, Steadicams may last you a lifetime without becoming outdated.

7. Price

Compared to gimbals, Steadicams are a more affordable option. Gimbals can be pricey, especially the ones that are just released recently. Additionally, Gimbals tend to become obsolete sooner because of continuous upgrades, requiring you to buy the newer model.

Benefits and Drawbacks

Here is a rundown of the benefits and drawbacks of using the two.

Gimbal

Benefits

  • Horizontal stability is better handled
  • Typically made of durable materials
  • Easy to handle and balance
  • Versatile
  • Creates smooth movements
  • Electronic operations
  • Allows easy tilting, panning, angling and inverting
  • A remote controller can operate some models
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Less straining to use
  • Ideal for cramped situations
  • Small and flexible
  • Great for amateurs
  • Some models can accommodate dual handle attachment

Drawbacks

  • More expensive
  • Limits camera configuration
  • Low weight limit
  • Touch sensitive
  • Can create video jitters as the motor tends to overreact
  • Provides you with less direct control of the camera
  • A feeling of detachment from the filmed object
  • Motors might create humming sound; can possibly ruin a video
  • Battery-operated
  • Susceptible to mishaps
  • Complex design
  • Less weatherproof
  • Vulnerable to damages
  • Can become obsolete in a few months
  • Has a more robotic feel

Steadicam

Benefits

  • More affordable
  • Vertical stability is great, particularly when running or walking
  • Hands-on camera control
  • High weight capacity
  • Have better camera configuration, even with a full rig
  • Complete with mic and heavy zoom lens
  • Easier focus pulling
  • Generally easy to balance and control
  • Doesn’t produce unwanted sounds
  • No need for batteries
  • Unlimited operation
  • Simple design
  • No electronics and other components that can break
  • Weatherproof and versatile
  • Typically made with durable materials
  • Manual operation
  • Easy tilting, panning, angling, and inverting
  • Can be used as a true Steadicam by utilizing a stabilizing west
  • Doesn’t become obsolete
  • Provides a more analog, organic feel

Drawbacks

  • Heavier and more straining to use
  • Large and not portable
  • Difficult to maneuver in cramped conditions
  • Horizontal stability is not handled well
  • Not ideal for beginners

Conclusion

On the Gimbal vs Steadicam debate, it actually all lies on the user’s preference. If you are an experienced YouTuber or videographer, you may want to choose between the two depending on the circumstances.

For instance, if you want steadier, more stable vertical shots, you may need a Steadicam, while if you are to do a highly active shot with mostly twists and turns, it might be easier to carry a Gimbal. For beginners, it is better to use a Gimbal because of its low weight, versatility, and electronic controls.

In addition, the choice also depends on the user’s budget. Since Gimbals are more on the high-tech side, they are understandably much expensive. Nevertheless, Steadicams seem to be more durable and will last for long, not only because they are less vulnerable to damages, but also because they are less likely to need an upgrade sooner.

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