What Is a Gimbal Stabilizer and How to Effectively Use It?

What Is a Gimbal Stabilizer and How to Effectively Use It?
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Professional photographers and amateurs alike strive to take a shot that is free of distortion and with a sharpness that does not fade at the edges. This is also the reason why some beginner to intermediate photographers start to ask what is a gimbal stabilizer and how it can help with their craft at an early stage.

This curious piece of photographic framework involves interlocking pieces of gear that rotate around different axes to provide images that are free of distortion at the edges. The gimbal stabilizer also allows the photographer to capture moving subjects or while he is moving with the camera as he captures the scene he wants to take a photo of.

What Is a Gimbal?

The principle of the gimbal has been around for centuries and previously called the Cardan Suspension System after the Italian mathematician that first described it in detail. However, Gerolamo Cardano has no claim over inventing the gimbal as this mechanism has been around since ancient times.

Basically, a gimbal is a pivoted support that lets an object rotate in a single axis. A set of three gimbals, often found in gyroscopes and compasses, allows objects in the innermost gimbal to maintain an independent movement in relation to its support and axis.

What Is a Gimbal Stabilizer?

In photography, single-axis gimbals are often used for a more balanced movement of its lenses since they allow the lens to move around its own center of gravity. This allows the user to manipulate the lens easily while tracking a moving object, or while the camera itself is moving.

Mechanically speaking, gimbal stabilizers use three brushless motors that go around in three different axial directions. This simple mechanism eliminates all the unnecessary vibration caused by the movement of the lens, which in effect provides a blur-free image as an output.

This contraption or mechanism is found externally, and cameras are often attached at the center while arms and handles are used to control its movement. Most models would have a remote control trigger for the camera so that you can capture that photo even while in a weird angle.

What Are the Benefits of Using Gimbal Stabilizer?

Gimbal stabilizers bring a set of benefits into the world of photography. They aim to elevate the art form and improve the techniques commonly used for this trade. Some of the major benefits of using a gimbal stabilizer include:

  • Easier Positioning

A photographer would sometimes have to lie down or climb up platforms to get the best angle. With a gimbal stabilizer, one just needs to tilt its arm either downwards or upwards to capture the angle that they need or want. In the end, this protects your equipment, and it also prevents strain on both your arms and neck.

  • More Versatility

It’s not an obvious benefit, but a stabilizer mount can let a photographer attach microphones, strobes, and lighting, adding more versatility to the camera and the photographer as well. This is not something an amateur photographer would normally do as it is the professional photographers and filmmakers who often use these techniques and equipment.

  • Better Stability

Of course, the reason why one would want to use a stabilizer is to get better stability while using their photographic equipment, hence the name. This is especially beneficial for moving shots and moving subjects as it lets the photographer swivel the camera more smoothly to the exact angle that is needed to capture that perfect shot.

How Does A Gimbal Stabilizer Work?

Part of knowing what is a gimbal stabilizer is understanding how it works, and how one can use it more effectively. First off, here is how you can use this photographic equipment:

Balancing Act

Smaller gimbals would not require you to balance them beforehand, but the majority of larger gimbals needs to be balanced to get the best results. Here is how you should balance it:

  1. Rough Front/Back Balance
  2. Tilt Axis Balance
  3. Roll Axis Balance
  4. Fine Front/Back Balance
  5. Pan Axis Balance

You would need to adjust each clamp or bracket of the gimbal stabilizer, and check each of this balance settings. The balance should be leveled perfectly and should not move when you shift the camera to the angle that you need.

Carrying On

There are several ways to carry gimbals, although it is instinctive. Handles and arms allow the gimbals to be carried in almost any way possible: upright, inverted, and even below the handles.

Most of the time, you would want to use the center handle for just about anything as this is the standard setup for most gimbals. This is also the center of gravity for this equipment which makes it easier to carry around.

Handle Control

Using a gimbal primarily involves controlling the handles or arms to get the best angles without straining your body. Maneuvering the handles can be done mechanically or electronically, both of which give you the ability to adjust the movement and control the camera independently. These rigs often have a remote trigger for the camera installed on the handles so that you can click while you’re holding it at a certain handle, while some would just let you hold the camera’s remote while getting the right angle using the gimbal.

Shoot That Thing!

As previously mentioned, using a gimbal stabilizer is instinctive as you just need to tilt and point it wherever you want. However, to be more effective in using it, one needs to know the different shots that can be taken using a gimbal.

  • Tracking Shot

More known as dolly shots, this technique would usually require a metal track and a dolly to push or pull the camera away or onto the subject. With a gimbal, you can just hold the handles steady and walk away or towards the subject while the gimbal provides the stability that the dolly and track would usually provide.

  • Crane Shot

Traditionally, you would need to rent or build a crane to get overhead shots. With a gimbal, you just need to extend your arms a bit to get the same shot although it can be tiring if done for a longer period.

  • Pass-throughs

Professional filmmakers and photographers would often use chest and shoulder rings to capture images in tight spaces. The gimbal can do the same thing without having to wear a restricting chest attachment.

These are just a few techniques that you can use with a gimbal. All it takes to add more is to use your imagination and a drop of innovative angling to move your current techniques forward.

Final Thoughts

Gimbals are steadily becoming a thing in the world of photography as stability is slowly becoming more and more important, especially when it comes to photography competitions. The details that the gimbals help to reproduce, as well as the relative absence of distortion, make this equipment an essential piece in a photographer’s arsenal.

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