Best Camera Stabilizers

Updated October 2019
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Buying guide for best camera stabilizers

Last Updated October 2019

When taking photos and videos, having a smooth, steady shooting base will yield better results. In certain shooting and lighting situations, holding the camera by hand doesn’t give you the sturdiness you need. Instead, you may need a camera stabilizer.

For still images, a slight movement in the camera just as the photo is being recorded can result in a blurry image. This is a phenomenon called camera shake. It’s especially prevalent in low light photos. Video recording can contain sudden jerking motions if the photographer doesn’t hold the camera steadily when shooting. These motions are extremely distracting to viewers.

Camera stabilizers fix this problem. They absorb slight, inadvertent movements the photographer makes. These units are available with a variety of features and in a variety of sizes, so you can find the perfect stabilizer for your needs and to match your camera. Check out our top picks or read on to learn more about camera stabilizers.

Both heavy and lightweight cameras can benefit from the use of a stabilizer rig system.

Key considerations

The following is a list of functions that a camera stabilizer needs to be able to perform to give you the best results:

  • Absorbs movement: A camera stabilizer unit should have components built into it that absorbs slight movements. These components will compensate for unintended movements you may make while using the camera, especially very small movements. Gimbals are commonly used for this.
  • Allows freedom of movement: Look for a camera stabilizer that allows you to adjust the angle of the shot without sacrificing stability. It may do this with a pivoting plate, an adjustable post, or through a sliding track. Additionally, the unit shouldn’t be so cumbersome or large that you can’t move freely.
  • Stabilizing base: This type of hardware should allow you to stabilize the camera by giving it sturdy base on which to rest. Some units do this with one or more legs, like a monopod or tripod. Others use a harness that rests the camera against your arm or shoulder.
  • Supports the weight: A camera stabilizer must be able to support the weight of your gear. A stabilizer that helps you hold the weight of the camera enhances your ability to shoot smooth photos and videos without suffering arm fatigue.

Supports large cameras

This rail system is made for camera gear as heavy as 17.5 pounds, allowing it to glide as it moves. The track system is engineered smartly, creating a smooth path for the camera to follow. The slider can even tilt at various angles, allowing you to shoot many different types of video and photographs.

Camera stabilizer features

When selecting a camera stabilizer, having one that contains a three-axis gimbal provides the best performance. A gimbal allows an object to rotate smoothly around a single axis, ensuring it stays on the desired plane.

With a three-axis gimbal, the camera’s tilt, pan, and roll will be stabilized. No matter what slight movements the photographer makes, the gimbal adjusts and keeps the camera steady.

The gimbal works by tracking the movement of the photographer and compensating as required. It attempts to measure the difference between movement made purposefully and inadvertent movements. If you have a slight tremor in your hand while shooting, the gimbal would compensate for it, for example.

Pan

As the camera moves left to right on a horizontal plane, this is called panning. The gimbal keeps the camera’s movements smooth on the horizontal axis when you’re following a runner or animal moving through the scene.

Roll

For some shots, you may need change your position as a photographer, while keeping the subject in frame. The gimbal uses the roll stabilization to compensate for the movement you make forward and backward while walking into position. The gimbal keeps the camera from bouncing in relation to the horizon.

Tilt

As you move the camera up and down on a vertical plane, the gimbal will keep the camera steady. This allows the video to remain smooth when you’re shooting someone walking down a flight of stairs or something falling, for example.

EXPERT TIP

Using a camera stabilizer helps photographers achieve certain types of photographs and videos they cannot shoot successfully by just hand-holding the camera


Staff  | BestReviews

Camera stabilizer prices

Camera stabilizers have quite a large range in price. You can expect to pay at least $10 for a basic camera stabilizer, while high-end models will cost up to $1,000. There are many options in between too.

Basic

The most basic camera stabilizers carry a price point of $10 to $40. These stabilizer units won’t consist of much more than a handle with a single-axle gimbal that helps to compensate for slight movement. They’re usually made for smartphones or lightweight cameras.

Mid-range

In the middle range of price points, you can expect to pay $40 to $100. Some of these will be a single post that may be able to convert to a tripod. Many of these units will be made for heavier DSLR cameras. Some will have shoulder or arm braces to help support the weight of the stabilizer. Some three-axis gimbals are in this price range.

High-end

If you have high-end photography or video recording needs, a stabilizer in the $100-plus price range is a smart idea. These stabilizers will have three-axis gimbals, creating a steadier shot. They’re also strong enough to handle the weight of big cameras and lenses. You may be able to add extra gear, such as lights or a microphone, to the rig.

DID YOU KNOW?

Systems made for especially heavy cameras may use a support vest, support arm, or shoulder brace to help you support the weight without suffering fatigue or pain.

Tips

We’ve collected some tips to help you receive the greatest benefit from your camera stabilizer purchase.

  • Steady shooting is nearly always better. Sure, some video projects use a jerky, handheld camera as an artistic feature. Think of movies like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield. But most videos look better when shot smoothly with a steady hand. However, in instances where shooting steady is difficult or even impossible, camera stabilizers can be a true asset.
  • Pay attention to the weight of the stabilizer. An extremely heavy camera stabilizer isn’t a great choice. After all, photographers choose to use a stabilizer to help them carry heavy camera gear successfully. If the stabilizer weighs several pounds or more, think about whether you’ll be able to handle that weight for hours at a time. And don’t forget to add the weight of your camera gear to the stabilizer’s weight when calculating.
  • Select a good battery life. The gimbals in camera stabilizers should provide several hours of performance on one battery charge. Some units use rechargeable li-ion batteries, while others run from alkaline batteries.

Having a stabilizing system available is especially useful when shooting photos with a telephoto lens. Even minimal movements in the camera are magnified when using a long lens.

Useful for smartphones

When you want to shoot smooth photos and videos with a smartphone, this stabilizer is an inexpensive option. Because smartphones are so difficult to hold steadily with your hands alone, this stabilizer is a great choice. You even can attach extra lights or a separate microphone to the unit for better quality.

Other products we considered

If you want a high-end stabilizer for shooting smartphone videos and photos, the Hohem Smartphone 3-Axis Stabilizer performs well. It uses a three-axis gimbal to maintain a steady shot. Another high-end option for a smartphone is the Freefly Movi Cinema Robot Smartphone Stabilizer. This unit includes a motor, adjusting the position of the smartphone camera automatically. Or you can program it to compensate for only certain movements. If you prefer a stabilizer rail that’s motorized, the GVM Track Dolly Slider is made to fit DSLR cameras. It has a heavy-duty, carbon-fiber construction. The DJI Ronin-S Handheld 3-Axis Stabilizer is another high-end model made to work with DSLRs. It simplifies one-handed shooting, and it can save personalized settings regarding how sensitive it is.

Be certain the camera stabilizer you select can support the weight of your camera and any lens you attach to it. Cameras with small lenses attached weigh less than those with large lenses.

FAQ

Q. Can I operate a camera stabilizer with one hand?
A.
Often, these units are made so the photographer can hold the stabilizer with one hand. The other hand then is free to control the camera’s settings and buttons. Some people do feel more comfortable holding the stabilizer with two hands for a more secure grip. You may want to use two hands when moving through a crowd, for example, where you may be bumped.

Q. What if I want to add extra lights or other gear to the camera stabilizer?
A.
Some stabilizers are made to hold all your gear. You can add lighting or a microphone to the stabilizer, making it easier to record video. Having extra lighting attached to the stabilizer allows your hands to remain free, while keeping the light you need positioned properly near the camera.

Q. What are some other benefits of camera stabilizers?
A.
When you want to shoot a photo of an object that’s tight to the ground, a stabilizer works well. Rather than laying on the ground to position the camera properly, you can just place the stabilizer near the ground and shoot the photo while standing. The same is true when shooting a photo of an object high above your head. The stabilizer helps you shoot all awkward angle photos or videos more successfully.

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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