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Gimbal vs Steadycam: Which one is better?

When it comes to handheld camera stabilisers, gimbals are the go-to choice for any filmmaker. And rightfully so, they’re easy to use, allow for several interesting camera angles and can accommodate anything from a cell phone to a 1DX.

But all that goodness comes at a steep price. Seriously, you need some really deep pockets if you’re going to go for a good quality gimbal. Even the budget ones start at around INR 30,000.

So where does the amateur filmmaker go with their not-so-deep pockets? Well, say hello to the steadycam. Possibly the simplest version of the gimbal, a steadycam uses a little bit of physics and weights to counterbalance your camera.

So which one is better and which one should you use? Read on to find out.

Also read: Photography 101: Framing and Composition

Gimbals

Gimbal is the motorised big brother to steadycam. Essentially, a gimbal is a camera mount with a grip that can rotate in all the three axes at the same time. No matter how much your hands shake while holding the camera, it always stays stable as the gimbal motors automatically compensate for the camera shake.

Sounds cool right? Well, they are. Gimbals are some of the hi-tech, sophisticated camera gear out there. Owing to their effectiveness, they are implemented anywhere camera shake is a possibility, including but not limited to drones.

However, all this tech also contributes towards the high price tag that we see on pretty much every gimbal. These things can cost almost as much as your camera itself. They are effective but cost a ton.

There’s also sort of a learning curve. Yes, they’re easy to use, but don’t expect to pick up a gimbal and shoot awesome cinematic footage straight up. Just like with any piece of gear, you’re going to have to learn how to use these things.

Also read: Photography 101: What are Monopods, and why should you use them?

 Steadycam

A steadycam is a handheld camera stabiliser that uses counterweights to balance the camera. The camera is mounted to the top of a shaft, and at the bottom, there are counterweights. There’s a handle attached to the shaft with a ball head, and that’s pretty much it.

Photo by Thomas Ulrich | Flickr

This setup has its own set of pros and cons. It provides decent enough stabilisation, the only thing is, it’s unsafe using your camera with a steadycam.

Also, it takes a certain amount of practice — way more than the gimbal — to be able to use it correctly. But once you do, it’s worth it. Do keep in mind that the steadycam was the only stabiliser available before gimbals came into the market.

The most significant advantage to the Steadycam, however, is the fact that it’s really cheap. You can pick up a SteadyCam for an entry-level DSLR at about INR 3000 on Amazon right now — that’s 1/10th the price of an entry-level Gimbal.

So which one should you use?

Both of them work the same way. The gimbal is just a way more refined and comfortable to use version of the steadycam.

We suggest going for a good quality SteadyCam unless you can afford a gimbal.

Also read: Cinematography 101: How to record cinematic footage on your DSLR

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