In 2015, the videography community went crazy with the release of the DJI Ronin M. The reason? Its shockingly low price of $1,399! If such amount sends everyone celebrating, then it makes us wonder, “Why are gimbals so expensive?”
Well, it makes sense that a newly released gimbal by a reputable brand selling for $1,399 is deemed something worth celebrating when you put it in context. At that time, guesstimate for the new model in the works was at $2,000. So, its release price was a pleasant surprise! And considering that other systems sell for above $5,000, it makes sense to rejoice in the DJI Ronin M’s release price.
Suffice it to say that the DJI Ronin M ushered in a new area of affordable gimbal camera stabilizers. Today, the model sells for less than $900. And if you’re looking for something much cheaper, then choices abound for those who are willing to do their homework.
We’ll show you some of the more affordable options, from the ones for smartphones to the stabilizers for medium to large DSLRs. But first, let check out what makes gimbals so expensive?
Long before gimbals gained popularity, these instruments were only accessible to Hollywood filmmakers, videography studios, and professional videographers. Understandably, with the first attempts to make them available to the mainstream market, their prices were still somewhat restrictive to only a few. This gives an almost status-symbol quality to them.
If you can remember, such was the case when mobile cell phones and LED TVs first hit the market. Take for example the Nokia 3310 which sold at around £130 in the year 2000. Today, at such price, you can already get a smartphone that’s leap and bounds better than the Nokia 3310. And by 2017, the new and improved Nokia 3310 only sells for £49.
Thankfully, gimbals are already in the stage where prices have dropped significantly. While their novelty certainly hasn’t worn off, you can already find various options that offer you a great compromise between price tag and your aesthetic requirements. And over time, you can expect better specs and features at affordable price points.
And if you’re willing to wait it out, then you’re probably going to get better deals in a few months for a model you’ve set your eyes on.
Whether your budget is $100, $1,000, or $10,000, a gimbal stabilizer will significantly up your game. Smooth and stable footages are the promise of gimbal camera stabilizers. While performance will vary, a gimbal stabilizer will definitely get rid of the annoying shakes and dizzying swings to a large extent—much better than a traditional camera stabilizer can!
Of course, that’s not to say that with the coming of gimbal stabilizers, we’re ready to say goodbye to the traditional ones. The latter will always have a space to fill in the field of videography that the gimbals are not made for. For one, some camera shakes and movements are essential in certain video treatments.
But where graceful transitions and smooth footages are needed, gimbal cameras take the cake!
While not entirely a reason to go high on the price ladder, the fact that gimbals don’t have a steep learning curve makes the purchase worthwhile. It saves you time learning new techniques to fetch you stable and smooth shots.
That’s not to say, however, that once you get a gimbal, you can just pop your smartphone or DSLR, and it will do as you bid. While the operation is close to being intuitive, balancing the device on the camera stabilizer can be challenging at first.
If you’re looking for affordable options, then below are some gimbal camera stabilizers that break your expectations of gimbals being expensive. We have one recommendation for smartphones as well as small to large DSLRs.
The DJI Ronin M S-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer is an affordable option for professional videographers—even cheaper than its predecessor the DJI Ronin M 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer.
The stabilizer has a robust look and feel to it. It can support devices weighing up to 8lbs, perfect for DSLR and mirrorless cameras as well as camcorders with room to spare for lenses, microphones, and even other attachments! However, its ability to support heavy devices entails that the weight of the stabilizer itself should be substantial. In fact, the stabilizer alone tips the scales at 4.1lbs!
The DJI Ronin M S-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer comes with a built-in battery that provides you with 12 hours of juice in a single charge of 2.5 hours.
It also boasts of an electronic follow focus wheel that you’ll be hard-pressed to find in gimbal camera stabilizers of its class. Add to that a sports mode function; you’ll definitely be seeing smooth and stable shots with a professional feel to them.
If you find the DJI Ronin M S-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer an overkill for your needs or too much for your budget, then the Zhiyun Smooth 4 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer offers an alternative solution to hobbyists who aspire professional-looking outputs.
With a maximum 210-gram payload, this gimbal camera stabilizer works great with a wide range of smartphones, along with camera lens and LED light attachments. The Zhiyun Smooth 4 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer also boasts of a 12-hour runtime from a 3-hour charge. And it comes with the option to be powered by a portable power source.
Enticing features of this Zhiyun model include a pull focus and zoom capability, object tracking mode, and various time-lapse options. One feature worth noting is the dramatic vertigo effect that allows the camera to move towards a subject and zoom out at the same time, or vice-versa. Plus, the stabilizer will enable you to adjust phone settings without touching the phone. The Zhiyun Smooth 4 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer comes with buttons on the grip that lets you do that.
So, we hope you no longer find yourself asking, “Why are gimbals so expensive?” Because clearly, at this point, there are many affordable options out there whether you are a professional videographer or filmmaker, a vlogger, a regular dad or mom recording precious moments with family, or someone curious enough to give it a try.
With ample research, you’re bound to find something that offers you a happy medium between good performance and budget. After all, it’s important to note that there’s no one-size-fits-all product. Also, going for the most popular or the most expensive may not fetch you the same results as you’ve intended. The phone or camera compatibility has to be considered, too.