Best Handheld Gimbals

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

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

22 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
224 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

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 buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best handheld gimbals

Last Updated September 2019

Handheld gimbals allow videographers to move along with the subject of their video while maintaining a smooth, steady character to the shot.

Stabilizing gimbals have been used on full sized professional cameras for decades, and they are now available in a smaller handheld version for use with smaller video cameras and smartphones. Handheld gimbals are great for both personal video use, as well as for a professional production tool.

Smartphone uses are expanding exponentially with every new model release. Improvements in video and sound quality have made cell phone cameras the go-to tool of both ameteur and professional videographers, and even filmmakers in recent years. In addition to a valuable tool for use with a professional camera, a handheld gimbal makes any cell phone video look like a professional production.

The first mention of a gimbal was by Philo of Byzantium, a Greek inventor, around 250, BC.

Key considerations

Although the basic function of handheld gimbals is the same for every model, each one is unique in its features and functionality. Some of the key differences between each handheld gimbal model are the style and size of camera or smartphone which they can accommodate, what kind of app, if any, are used in concert with the hardware, and the additional videography features that they offer.

Perhaps one of the most important considerations is whether you plan to use the gimbal for personal, or professional use. Those who plan to use one solely for personal videos will want to consider the convenience and size of the gimbal. Conversely, anyone planning to use such a gimbal for professional videos, will likely be less concerned with size or convenience than they will be with video and sound quality of the final product.

Size and weight

The material that makes up a handheld gimbal has an impact on both the size and weight of the unit. Some are made of lightweight aluminum or plastic, while others are forged from heavier metals. Whether you prefer a more sturdy build or a more spritely option comes down to personal preference. Some feel that more weight equals more stability, while others find the opposite to be true.

Camera of choice

Whether you plan to use your handheld gimbal with a smartphone, a digital SLR, a GoPro, or a standard video camera will be your primary determining factor in choosing the right option for you. Every handheld gimbal has a maximum payload, based on the kind of camera they can accommodate. Luckily the market has provided consumers with quality options for every camera type.

Ergonomics

Every handheld gimbal has a different ergonomic signature. Some are held similar to a gun in the hand, while others are based on a thick post to be held upright. Think about your own ergonomic preferences when picking out a gimbal. If the purpose of this product to make your videos appear stable and smooth, you’ll need to have something that fits with your personal preferences and physical capabilities.

DID YOU KNOW?

A gimbal is based on the same physical principles that allow a gyroscope to stand on its own when spun.

Features

Material- As mentioned above, handheld gimbals come in many different materials which will impact both weight and overall feeling of the unit. For those who prefer a more solid unit, try an aluminum frame. If your filming style works better with less weight, then you’ll be better off with a plastic or composite gimbal.

Video capabilities - Many handheld gimbals operate as small-capacity video cameras on their own, which can be useful when you just want to grab a short clip.

Editing tools - Some handheld gimbals come with either a preloaded editing suite on the unit, or work with a downloadable app to your smartphone or camera.

Water resistance - Some handheld gimbals are waterproof, some are simply splash resistant, and others offer no protection from water damage. Make sure to check these features before buying.

Tripod stand - The majority of handheld gimbals offer a tripod stand either built in, or as an accessory. They have many different designs, so check to see which appears to be the most stable option for your individual purpose.

The human hand is not capable of providing the same stability during forward motion as a handheld gimbal.

Staff
BestReviews

Price

Handheld gimbals are available in a broad range of prices. There are an impressive number of options available to consumers right now, which means it shouldn’t be difficult to find a handheld gimbal that works for your within your chosen budget. The features available on most gimbals are not exclusive to any given price range. As such, if price is one of your most important determining factors, you should not have to sacrifice your preferred features for a lower cost unit.

Inexpensive: Lower priced options for a handheld gimbal hover around the $100 mark. Some are available for slightly less while on sale, but this price range seems to be a popular option for first-time buyers. A handheld gimbal is an electronic accessory that most are not familiar with, so it’s important to have an entry-level option available to new users at a reasonable price.

Mid-range: The $200-$300 range does not offer a lot of options for buyers. There are some handheld gimbals available in this range, but the preponderance of choices for this product seem to land in both the inexpensive and expensive ranges, with only a few choices in-between. The ones that are available though, offer a favorable mix between features and price.

Expensive: Because handheld gimbals are a somewhat specialized electronic accessory, there are many high priced options for consumers. The expensive range runs from $300 to more than double that. Buyers looking for a handheld gimbal tend to be more technologically savvy, which means they are quite aware of the spec differences between each option. Within the expensive price range, buyers have the greatest variety of features and options. This is the range where most professionals, and the more finicky amateurs will find what they’re looking for.

EXPERT TIP

Handheld gimbals are smaller versions of camera gimbals that are worn by camera people on movie sets.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • For sturdy movements: A gimbal can be a powerful tool for storytelling for both personal and professional videos. Do some research on gimbal movements and how they can help to frame your story and make shots more dramatic, emotional, or suspenseful. This will help you get the most out of using your handheld gimbal.

  • Try different techniques. How you choose to hold a handheld gimbal goes far in determining your satisfaction with the end product. One hand vs. two hands, higher vs. lower, and straight vs. bent arm, will all have an impact on how you feel about the results in your video. Don’t be stuck to one technique, as you may be surprised by what works best.

  • Practice in different conditions. Use your handheld gimbal outside in high light, then inside in low light. See how it reacts in the wind vs. calm conditions. Using it in a number of different conditions will give you a better handle on how to make the best use of it during any eventuality.

Other products we considered

Choosing a handheld gimbal is no easy task. There are so many possible features and design aspects to this product, it’s difficult to narrow down “the best.” However, through our review process we’ve determined what we consider to be the best five options for the average buyer. There were though other gimbals that caught our attention during our research that deserve mention.

The Zhiyun Crane Plus 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer is one of those products. The ability to work with both DLSR and mirrorless cameras make this a strong option for those who need professional level quality. Its large payload (2.6 KG) means that professional cameras with large lenses are no obstacle for this gimbal.

On the other end of the size spectrum is the Hohem iSteady Pro 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer for GoPro Hero. This gimbal is a pint-sized powerhouse with an affordable price. It is made of one single piece and needs no assembly. It is exactly what a GoPro user needs when filming action on the go. At $100, it offers a great mix of price and quality for the amateur cinematographer.

Gimbals were first used only for professional camerawork, but now they’re available to the layperson for improved video stability.

FAQ

Q. Are gimbals only for professionals?
A.
No. With the increasing availability of high quality video equipment, anyone now has the ability to turn personal home movies into impressive stanzas of cinematography. The affordable price tag of many of the gimbals on the market means that you can have the highest quality video you wish at a decent price.

Q. Should I start with the cheapest gimbal?
A.
Not necessarily. It’s important to determine the most important features that you wish before getting stuck on price. The least expensive option may be the best choice for some people, but think about how you plan to use the gimbal first, then look at the available options. Price range should be in mind when shopping, but don’t make that the only thing you consider when purchasing.

Q. Does a handheld gimbal really make a difference in producing quality videos?
A.
Yes it does. A handheld gimbal offers what the human hand alone cannot, which is stability. Even the steadiest of hands are far from perfect. When you’re looking back at your memories years from now, you want to make sure you’re looking at the highest quality video stability so that you don’t miss a thing.

The team that worked on this review
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Jacob
    Jacob
    Editorial Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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