Handheld Gimbal Buyers' Guide

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While not an entirely novel concept, handheld gimbals had something of a breakthrough in 2018. Companies big and small pushed out some truly remarkable stabilizers, including those capable of supporting pro-grade setups like DSLR and mirrorless cameras—not to mention smartphones and even some action cams. Here are some of our favorites:

DJI Ronin-S

Best Features: 3-Axis Stabilization, High Load Capacity, DSLR/Mirrorless Camera Support

Earlier this year, DJI wowed the tech world with its first single-handed prosumer gimbal, the Ronin-S. Boasting an 8-lb load capacity, the Ronin-S can support more sophisticated cameras, including most DLSR and mirrorless systems currently available. To use its motorized 3-axis stabilization, the Ronin-S features intuitive controls, including a user-friendly joystick that enables precise movements and a rear trigger that provides shortcuts to different functions. This is only the top of the feature iceberg, because the Ronin-S also includes several pre-programmed shooting modes like Time-lapse and Panorama—to name two. Those modes, combined with its 3-axis stabilization, heavy payload capacity, and large suite of additional features, make the Ronin-S undoubtedly one of the best single-handed gimbal options on the market.

DJI Ronin-S

Zhiyun-Tech WEEBILL LAB

Best Features: Compact Size, 6.6-lb Load Capacity, Intuitive Controls, Good Battery Life

This year, Zhiyun-Tech delivered one of the most compact handheld stabilizers we’ve ever seen: the WEEBILL LAB. What makes this even more notable is that, despite this small size, the WEEBILL LAB still supports loads up to 6.6 lb, making it ideal for mirrorless camera models like the Sony a7 series and Panasonic GH line. Users familiar with handheld gimbals will find the joystick and controls exactly where they would expect; while newcomers will appreciate the intuitive rear-grip layout and design. Also helpful are the WEEBILL LAB’s individually locking axes, which allow you to run through each axis one at a time to balance your setup. Overall, despite its compact size, the WEEBILL LAB comes through big with plenty of rich features, making it one of the top travel gimbals available. And, if you're looking for more of the same great features, but with a payload capacity up to 10 lb, be sure to check out Zhiyun-Tech's other popular stabilizer, the slightly more robust Crane 3.

Zhiyun-Tech WEEBILL LAB Handheld Stabilizer for Mirrorless Cameras

DJI Pocket Osmo

Best Features: Pocket Portable, 3-Axis Stabilization, Built-In Camera, 4K60 Video

The Ronin-S wasn’t DJI’s only exceptional gimbal release this year. Late in November, the consumer drone giant surprised everyone with an update to its Osmo line: the Osmo Pocket. Touted as the smallest handheld gimbal camera DJI has ever produced (and possibly the smallest available on the market today), the Osmo Pocket travels easily, fits anywhere—including inside its namesake—and puts the power of a feature-heavy, 4K60-capable gimbal camera in the palm of your hand. Users familiar with DJI’s popular Mavic series will see similar photo and video quality, as well recognizable modes and functionality. This combination of power, portability, and performance makes the Osmo Pocket an ideal shooting solution for Vloggers, travel enthusiasts, or anyone who wants to capture life’s impromptu moments in cinematic detail.

DJI Osmo Pocket Gimbal

Moza Air 2

Best Features: High Load Capacity, DSLR/Mirrorless/Cinema Camera Support, 16-Hour Run Time, Unique Shooting Modes

The award for highest payload capacity goes to the Moza Air 2, which supports cameras systems weighing more than 9 lb—meaning it’s powerful enough to handle DSLR, mirrorless, and some compact cinema cameras. It also wins big with its 16-hour battery run time, which bests the other gimbals on our list. A lot of the Moza Air 2’s other features are what you would expect to see in a solid handheld gimbal: 3-axis stabilization, intuitive controls, etc. However, beyond excelling in those core functions, the Moza Air 2 offers some unique features you won’t find in other handheld gimbals. One great example is Inception Mode, which replicates the twisty, turning video effect popularized in the film of the same name. This unique mode, combined with the Air 2’s long list of pro-grade features and modes make it one of the most capable gimbals you can buy. And, if you would like to learn even more about the Moza Air 2, be sure to check out our hands-on review.

Moza Air 2 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer

Feiyu-Tech WG2X Gimbal

Best Features: Designed for Action Cams, Wearable/Mountable, 3-Axis Stabilization

One of the challenges of shooting action footage is how to overcome the inherent shakiness and get smooth, stable footage. Even more advanced actions cams, which often feature some method of built-in stabilization, can only smooth things out so much. Which is why Feiyu-Tech’s WGX2 Gimbal made our roundup. Designed with action cams in mind, the WGX2 can be mounted on helmets, handlebars, even chest mounts. It’s designed to hold action cams in the GoPro HERO 7/6/5 size range and offers stabilization along the pan, tilt, and roll axis, so your footage will be nice and smooth, regardless of activity.

Feiyu WG2X 3-Axis Wearable Gimbal for Action Cams

Feiyu-Tech AK2000 3-Axis Gimbal

Best Features: 6.2-lb Load Capacity, Integrated LCD Smart Panel, Good Battery Life

Of course, the WG2X isn't Feiyu-Tech's only standout gimbal. Their AK2000 3-axis stabilizer can manage payloads up to 6.2 lb, making it a suitable solution for mirrorless and DSLR cameras. One of the many great features about the AK2000 is its 45-degree support arm, which gives you better access to your camera's LCD screen. Another highlight is the 12-hour battery life, which should cover an entire day of shooting. Lastly, its integrated LCD touchscreen for menu and controls is a nice touch that enhances the user experience. In case you need even more payload support, the AK4000 pushes load capacity up to 8.8 lb without sacrificing any of the great features.

Feiyu AK2000 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer

Freefly Movi Cinema Robot

Best Features: 3-Axis Smartphone Stabilization, Multiple Operation Modes, Easy Portability

One of our favorite smartphone stabilizers is the FREEFLY Movi Cinema Robot. No stranger to the professional market, the Movi series has a solid reputation for delivering consistently smooth, stable footage. Freefly leveraged the technology that earned the Movi series its good name and put it to use in the Movi Cinema Robot, which brings 3-axis stabilization to your smartphone. Easy to carry, easy to use (with one hand or two), the Movi Cinema Robot makes recording stabilized footage on your smartphone, well, easy. Used with the free companion app, you get plenty of operation modes, which enable different types of shots and cinematic effects. For smartphone videographers who want smooth, stabilized footage, the Movi Cinema Robot is a great, easy-to-use solution.

FREEFLY Movi Cinema Robot Smartphone Stabilizer

Questions about the gimbals on our list or stabilizers in general? Let us know, in the Comments section.

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