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Smooth Operator — Gimbals to the Rescue!

March 23, 2018

Gimbals have hit the mainstream in the last few years and now might just be the right time to consider adding a gimbal to your production kit.

5 Essential Reasons to Shoot with a Gimbal

  1. Get your shoots in motion and smooth out the bumps.
  2. Keep your shots level, even when the action speeds up.
  3. Create shots that previously required huge jibs and dollies.
  4. Mount the gimbal to moving objects like cars and bikes.
  5. Very affordable.

From the first time you pick up a camera in your hands and start to frame a shot for stills or motion, you will immediately notice that the world through your viewfinder is moving around a little bit thanks to the natural subtle human instability of your hands, arms and legs.

If shooting stills, we can use the old rule of thumb of keeping our shutter speed faster than the reciprocal of the 35mm effective focal length (ie. 1/50th of a second if shooting at 50mm) to minimize the effects of handshake.

For video where we like to be shooting with shutter speeds in the range of the actual recording frame rates, (say 24 to 60 frames per second) this doesn’t give us much leeway when it comes to longer focal lengths and of course it really starts to fall apart as soon as we add camera motion to the production.

Shaky video footage is such a huge problem that completely new technologies are being constantly created and refined to help users capture the smoothest and most cinematic footage possible. The modern gimbal is a perfect example of new technology to the rescue!

The word cinematic of course describes what the general public perceives as best of breed production standards commonly associated with the big budget Hollywood movies. This is the standard which every aspiring film maker aims for — yet the cost of the tools, size of the teams and complexity of the setup have often prevented them from even getting close to the desired results. Until recently, placing the camera on a purpose built video tripod and with a fluid head was about the only sure fire way to make sure the captured footage was rock solid — but at the cost of camera movement.

Modern motion picture story telling techniques are always evolving and camera movement more and more has become an important technique in this endeavour. Since the invention of the Steadicam in the mid 1970’s, getting the camera in motion to track a subject has become somewhat easier, but by no means simple or inexpensive.  Historically, tracking shots were achieved with cameras mounted on a dolly which in turn needed to ride over rails or leveled boards and required a team to both setup and operate.

The Steadicam enabled a skilled operator to “wear” the camera and walk or run the tracking shot, yet provided extremely smooth footage that looked like it was shot with an invisible dolly. The underling technology behind the Steadicam is basically just gravity and it is often referred to as a passive gimbal. Of course this doesn’t mean they are simple to use or inexpensive — they require skilled operators and don’t come cheap!

A simple search on YouTube for the best Steadicam Shots should give you some great inspiration for what you can achieve with a Gimbal once you get rolling.

On the back of the drone revolution over that last decade, a new breed of active gimbals have come to market that provide much the same capture capabilities of the Steadicam in a much more affordable, compact and easier to use package. You only need to take a quick look at the incredibly smooth footage captured by an affordable consumer drone to to understand how much of a game changer this technology will be for your ground based shooting!

Gimbals are available to help you steady your mobile phone, all in one units that use your mobile phone for live monitoring all the way up to heavy duty units capable of supporting full frame DSLR’s.

Come and see us in person at michaels and we can help get you started in this exciting new field so you too can become a smooth operator!

Check out the hottest Gimbals for 2018.

 Zhiyun-Crane-2-3-Axis-Handheld-Gimbal

Zhiyun Crane 2 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal 

Only $999.95 more info

Zhiyun-Crane-Plus-3-Axis-Handheld-Gimbal

Zhiyun Crane Plus 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal 

Only $799.00 more info

Zhiyun-Smooth-Q-Black-Phone-Gimbal

Zhiyun Smooth Q Black Phone Gimbal

Only $149.95 more info

Feiyu-a2000-3-Axis-Gimbal-Dual-Handle

Feiyu a2000 3-Axis Gimbal Dual Handle

Only $899.00 more info

Feiyu-a1000-3-Axis-Gimbal-For-DSLRMirrorless-Cameras

Feiyu a1000 3-Axis Gimbal For DSLR/Mirroless Cameras

Only $699.95 more info

Feiyu-WG2-Waterproof-Wearable-Gimbal-For-GoPro

Feiyu WG2 Waterproof Wearable Gimbal for GoPro

Only $399.95 more info

Feiyu-G5-Hand-Held-3-Axis-Gimbal

Feiyu G5 Hand Held 3 Axis Gimbal 

Only $399.95 more info

Feiyu-SPG-Smartphone-&-Action-Cam-Gimbal

Feiyu SPG Smartphone & Action Cam Gimbal - Black

Only $299.95 more info

DJI-Osmo+-Handheld-Gimbal-w-4K-Zoom

DJI Osmo+ Handheld Gimbal w 4K Zoom

Only $879.00 more info

DJI-Osmo-4K-Camera-With-3-Axis-Gimbal

DJI Osmo 4K Camera With 3-Axis Gimbal

Only $799.00 more info

DJI-OSMO-Mobile-2-Gimbal

DJI OSMO Mobile 2 Gimbal 

Only $209.00  more info