Posts Tagged ‘Gimbal’

Learning to shoot video with a gimbal: a frustrating, yet highly rewarding experience

14 Feb

A new Panasonic GH-series camera always seems to mean having to learn more about video, but that also tends to mean getting experience behind a video camera. I’d like to think I’m getting better as a videographer. Hell, I even remember to record some background audio most of the time, but the GH5S review meant having to learn about a whole new piece of kit.

The GH5S’s oversized sensor means there’s little scope for any kind of sensor-shift stabilization, which means it’s best suited to shooting with external forms of stabilization*. This meant that, in addition to borrowing a nice video lens, I needed to rent (and learn to use) a gimbal.

Gimbaling around

In just a few years, external stabilization has gone from being the preserve of Hollywood movies (most famously by Steadicam) to something that can be provided by sub-$ 1000 equipment. It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that DJI, best known as a maker of drones, also sells the technology required to mount and control aerial cameras as stand-alone stabilization rigs.

The DJI Ronin M is essentially a scaled-up version of the gimbals DJI mounts its drone cameras on. It provides a cradle that can move in all three axes, with motors to correct for (or provide) movement in each of these directions. At its most simple, it provides a platform that tries to keep the camera steady, regardless of the movements you make while holding the handles. This is both its fundamental role and the thing that makes it tricky to get used to.

The GH5S with Metabones Speedboost Ultra and Sigma 18-35mm T2.0, mounted in a DJI Ronin M: a powerful combination but one that’s not particularly easy to hold at shoulder-height for any length of time.

Initial setup is pretty easy: you connect the camera cradle to a top handle, screw some lateral arms and handles on, then clip a large rechargeable battery pack on the back. You then have to carefully adjust the position of the cradle so that the camera and lens are neutrally balanced (that way the gimbal isn’t having to constantly fight against the camera’s weight to keep the it level).

To make the most of the GH5S I borrowed a couple of nice pieces of kit: a Sigma 18-35mm T2.0 CINE lens and a Speedbooster Ultra 0.71. The problem is that this is a pretty substantial combination, something that would come back to haunt me later.

Lens choice

A Speedbooster is essentially an equivalence machine, condensing the lens’s projected light down onto a smaller sensor, shortening the focal length and lowering the F-number (since you have the same entrance pupil but with a shorter focal length lens). The upshot is that the 18-35mm T2.0 ends up giving essentially the same angle of view and depth-of-field it was designed to provide on APS-C/Super 35 format.

The result is something along the lines of a constant F1.4 lens. And, while it’s not really sensible to start mixing F and T-stops**, it quickly becomes irrelevant. Because, to shoot in daylight, the camera’s base ISO setting (320 in Log mode) meant I had to use a variable ND filter to prevent over-exposure, which meant I could use the aperture primarily to control depth-of-field, without necessarily having an impact on exposure.

Only the realization that I really can’t think in Imperial took the shine off one of my favorite lenses

Coming from a photography background it still feels somehow wrong to throw away light like this, but if your minimum ISO is 320 and you need to keep the shutter speed somewhere around 1/50th of a second, you’re going to have to do something to prevent constant overexposure. Sacrificing it to an ND filter is preferable to stopping down, since you then lose control over depth-of-field and smooth your footage with the power of diffraction.

It was a lovely combination to shoot with, though, offering a really useful zoom range, more than enough control over depth-of-field and beautifully damped controls for everything. Only the realization that this version had its distance scale in feet, and that I really can’t think in Imperial, took the shine off this version of one of my favorite lenses.

In practice

There’s a difference, of course, between knowing the theory and putting it into practice. I knew in principle what 10-bit capture should mean and I knew how a gimbal was supposed to work, but that’s not the same as seeing it out in the field. Or, in this case, in one of Seattle’s public parks.

I’d tested the gimbal the night before. Checked it was level and, via an app on my phone, configured it to move the way I wanted it to. Because while the basic function of a gimbal is to correct for the operator’s movement, the Ronin can also be configured so that a large movement of the handles is treated as an instruction to move the camera. You can configure which axes it’ll move in, how sensitive the system is to your inputs and how quickly it moves the camera in response. It’s all really clever.

It’s also a bit of a handful, at first. I quickly found myself trying to operate the focus and exposure on a camera that was constantly trying to move away from my attempts to grab it. Between this, the sheer weight of the setup and the inability to see the camera’s screen, it was incredibly difficult to make or assess any changes on the camera: a deeply frustrating experience. Then the rain we’d timed our shoot to avoid started. And then turned to hail.

1’9? So that’s, what, about 1/6th my height, plus about one and a half of those 15cm rulers we used at school? I’m not very good at thinking in Imperial measurements.

I was feeling pretty defeated. I’d shot maybe 10 seconds of footage, couldn’t work out how to operate the camera and was beginning to think I was wasting everyone’s time. The rain hammered down and I desperately cast around for a Plan B.

But you know what they say about silver linings? Mine was that the enforced rain break gave me more time to learn to handle the gimbal. In the end I developed a technique that involved powering it down, reaching for the camera with my right hand and letting the carrying frame collapse into the crook of my arms. I could then hold and operate the camera comparatively normally before finally making a grab for the carry handle with my left hand, letting the camera hang, then powering it all back up again.

The Ronin M went from nearly bringing me to tears to being one of the most fun pieces of equipment I’ve ever used

It also became apparent that some of the difficulty I was having was the result of the combined weight of the camera and lens, rather than just user error. The quick-release lever that locked the cameras fore/aft movement wasn’t tightened quite enough to withstand the weight of my setup. So as soon as I let the camera hang on the gimbal to change settings, it was slipping forwards or backwards on its plate, throwing off the balance I’d so carefully set up. Hence its refusal to then work properly afterwards.

With these problems overcome and the sun starting to strike out from behind the clouds, I found myself getting more and more confident with every shot I took. And in a matter of hours, the Ronin M went from nearly bringing me to tears to being one of the most fun pieces of equipment I’ve ever used.

Back at the computer

Even after dragging all the camera gear back up the hill from the beach, the emotional peaks and troughs weren’t complete, though. As with every other video project I’ve undertaken, there’s a moment back at the editing machine where I wished I’d done almost everything differently, if given the chance to do it again. Obviously I was missing the necessary audio for a key part of the video (again) but I also found myself wishing I’d shot using a different color mode.

The moment I applied Nick Driftwood’s LUT to my sole HLG clip, I wish I’d shot the whole thing that way

As I wrote up my review, I speculated whether it’d be better to shoot using the HDR-video-made-easy ‘Hybrid Log Gamma’ (HLG) mode, rather than the V-Log L workflow designed for professionals. I had reason to believe the simpler mode might make better use of the GH5S’s 10-bit video capability. However, the knowledge that I already had the look-up table (LUT) to convert V-Log L footage into something that more usable was enough to tip the balance in that direction, so I shot everything but the closing shot that way.

The moment I applied Nick Driftwood’s LUT (found via Google) to my solitary HLG clip, I wish I’d shot the whole thing that way. It may not prove to be the professional choice but it immediately got me closer to the end point I was hoping for.

I’m acutely aware of the risks of over-using the effect that that gimbal gives

That said, for all that I’d do the whole thing differently, I’m pretty pleased by the way the video turned out. No, my gimbal work isn’t particularly polished and there are a thousand little tweaks and changes I wish I’d made (including, as always, the need to shoot more little ‘B-roll’ clips to cut away to), but I think the results look better than my previous efforts, and that’s how learning works.

I’m also acutely aware of the risks of over-using the effect that that gimbal gives. But I’m itching to get a chance to use one again, hone my skills and bring a little bit of drifty magic to my next project. Once my shoulders have stopped aching.

*Panasonic would say I’ve got cause and effect confused. The outcome is similar though: I needed a gimbal.

**Since these same optics sold for stills use as an F1.8, you could argue that, with a 0.71x focal length reducer it ends up being an F1.3 lens. Certainly it can’t be said to be a T1.4, since the additional glass in the SpeedBooster will inevitably reduce the light transmission a smidge. But, as I say, the numbers don’t matter so much as the effect.

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Gudsen’s Moza AirCross gimbal can provide both stabilization and power

13 Jan

Gudsen has launched a new gimbal that’s aimed at mirrorless photographers. With a payload of 3.9lbs/1.8kg, the new Moza AirCross can provide stabilization to a mirrorless body even when it’s fitted with a cinema lens, and a new in-handle option can provide power to Sony and Panasonic cameras while they’re shooting.

The Moza AirCross offers a more lightweight alternative to the Moza Air—which is aimed at compact system cameras and small DSLR users. It also has a number of newer features, including a claimed 12-hour battery life, and the ability to accept power from an external power bank.

The handle holds three 2000mAh batteries that can run the gimbal all day, or be used to power a range of compatible Sony and Panasonic cameras via a dummy battery pack that fits inside the camera. As the gimbal can also take power from a portable power bank, Gudsen claims that users need never run out of juice.

Another new feature is a quick release system that is compatible with both Manfrotto 501PL and Arca type quick release plates. The system allows users to remove a camera from the gimbal head and refit it later without having to rebalance the whole rig. Auto-tuning via the Moza app ensures the gimbal remains balanced for the weight and distribution of the attached equipment, and the gyroscopes are said to offer calibration-free IMU technology.

Gudsen has also added roll-follow to yaw-follow and yaw-pitch-follow to the range of movements on offer, and users can expect to be able to tilt between -175° and +135°, and achieve 360° of yaw and roll.

The gimbal itself weighs 896g and 1/4in threaded ports allow accessories, microphones and monitors to be mounted on the handle. The AirCross can produce move-stop-shoot-move long-exposure timelapse sequences with a fully programmable path via the Gudsen app, and the accessory thumb-controller provides wireless mimic-movements when mounted on the optional handle-bars.

Certain Sony and Panasonic models can have stop/start recording controlled via the main handle, while some Canon DSLR models can have their focus controlled too. Gudsen has promised that firmware updates in the future will add aperture control to the AirCross.

The Gudsen Moza AirCross is on sale now for $ 420 at the Gudsen website.

Compatible cameras:

  • Sony a7SII, a7S, a7RIII, a7RII, a7R, a6500, a6300, a9, RX100
  • Panasonic Lumix GH5, Lumix GH4, Lumix G7, Lumix G85
  • Canon EOS M3, M5, M6, M10, M100
  • Fujifilm: X-T2, X-T20

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DJI announces Osmo 2 Mobile smartphone camera gimbal

08 Jan

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DJI has announced the Osmo Mobile 2, an updated version of its popular Osmo Mobile camera gimbal for smartphones. Though visually similar to the original model, the Osmo Mobile 2 adds some useful new features along with a more attractive price point.

The biggest change most users will notice right away is that the Osmo 2 Mobile no longer uses interchangeable batteries. DJI claims the new built-in battery will provide enough power for up to 15 hours of filming, which is probably more than most peoples’ arms will endure over the course of a day. Additionally, a new USB port enables the phone to charge off the internal battery while in use, preventing battery drain while filming, and can also be used as a power bank to charge other electronics.

Perhaps the most notable feature of the new Osmo Mobile 2 is a lower price: it will retail for $ 129, significantly less than the $ 299 price point of the original model

The new model also supports shooting in portrait orientation – perfect for people who want to create content that will primarily be consumed on mobile devices. It also includes a 1/4″ universal screw mount, making it possible to mount the Osmo Mobile 2 on a tripod or attach other accessories.

In addition to existing software features like ActiveTrack and time-lapse modes, DJI has added a hyper-lapse feature, as well as a zoom slider on the handle that will allow users to simulate the effects of a dolly zoom.

Perhaps the most notable feature of the new Osmo Mobile 2 is a lower price: it will retail for $ 129, significantly less than the $ 299 price point of the original model. It will be available for pre-order exclusively at beginning on January 23, and directly from DJI and other authorized resellers beginning in early February.

If you’re attending CES 2018 in Las Vegas and want to try the Osmo 2 Mobile in person, DJI will be offering free daily ‘rentals’ of the device to attendees.

Press release:

DJI Reveals New Handheld Camera Stabilizers At CES 2018

A Redesigned Osmo Mobile 2 Turns Smartphones Into Smart Steadycams and Ronin-S Becomes DJI’s First Single-Handed Stabilizer for DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras

January 7, 2018 – DJI, the world’s leader in creative camera technology, introduced two new handheld camera stabilizers at CES 2018 – Osmo Mobile 2 and Ronin-S. Built for smartphones, DSLRs, and mirrorless camera systems, they give consumers, professional videographers and photographers new tools to capture smooth, steady videos and stunning photos wherever they go.

  • Osmo Mobile 2: The handheld smartphone camera stabilizer from DJI, redesigned for the storyteller in all of us. Using a lightweight design that supports portrait orientation, with simpler controls with cinematic zoom, a longer battery life for more filming, and intelligent features to help you share a professional-looking story wherever you go.
  • Ronin-S: DJI’s first single-handed stabilizer for DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras. Built for efficient setup and ease of use with a compact form and dedicated buttons to control camera settings and precise positioning, plus intelligent features for advanced shooting modes all designed to help bring a steady shot to any set.

“With the introduction of these two stabilizers, DJI now offers gimbal technology to help unlock the creative storyteller in everyone no matter what camera they’re using,” said Paul Pan, Senior Product Manager at DJI. “Osmo Mobile 2 offers the best in smartphone stabilization at an affordable price, and Ronin-S brings the quality of DJI’s professional gimbal technology to a new form factor that is perfect for run-and-gun filming using your favorite DSLR or mirrorless camera system.”

Osmo Mobile 2 – Redesigned for the Storyteller in All of Us

Osmo Mobile 2 is a smartphone camera stabilizer that captures smooth videos and high-definition panoramas with cinematic movement and incredible ease. DJI’s industry-leading three-axis gimbal technology cancels out movement in three directions so your video stays steady even if your hands shake or wobble, while DJI’s built in SmoothTrack technology detects and compensates for your movement of the camera to ensure a smooth cinematic shot every time.

Designed to be lightweight and portable, Osmo Mobile 2 is made from high-strength modified nylon and features a folding design that makes it perfect for all-day use. The two-way mobile clamp lets you easily pivot between landscape and portrait orientation so that you can chose the most engaging full-screen format for your audience. In addition, a 1/4” universal screw mount ensures compatibility with your favorite photography accessories, making Osmo Mobile 2 more versatile than ever.

Simpler controls let you use your phone’s camera like a professional camera with integrated settings for ISO, shutter speed and more. A new zoom slider lets you completely operate your smartphone camera from the handle and you can even produce dolly zoom, a visual effect usually created only on professional film sets.

A more powerful built-in battery system lets you film for up to 15 hours, over three times longer than the original Osmo Mobile’s battery. The new USB port enables phone charging during use and serves as a power bank for charging other electronics while on the go.

Smart software in the DJI GO mobile app unlocks intelligent photo and video features that help you create professional-looking content automatically. Videographers can use modes including ActiveTrack to automatically follow of subjects in motion, Motion Timelapse with up to five different camera positions, Hyperlapse to create dramatic time-lapse videos with the camera in motion, or stream live to popular social platforms like Facebook and YouTube. Photographers can expand their creativity with options such as Panorama, Long Exposure and LightTrail modes.

Ronin-S – Bring a Steady Shot to Any Set

Ronin-S is DJI’s first single-handed stabilizer for DSLR and mirrorless camera systems. Available in two frame sizes for either camera type, DJI’s powerful three-axis gimbal technology delivers smooth, shake-free video and crisp photos, adding a cinematic and professional look to your work.

Powerful high-torque motors support the most popular camera and lens combinations including the Canon 5D, Panasonic GH and Sony Alpha systems. Its stabilization system compensates for zoom lenses with higher magnification ratios and an external zooming barrel, while its advanced stabilization algorithms work with both in-camera and in-lens optical stabilization technology.

Capturing stabilized video has never been easier because Ronin-S was designed for easy setup and use. A new Push mode lets you adjust the pan and tilt axis by hand while the Ronin-S is powered on and axis locks speed up the setup process so you can spend more time filming and less time prepping your gear. Ronin-S has a comfortable, ergonomic curved design that helps capture smooth cinematic movements from upright to underslung positions without obstructing the camera’s display. Ronin-S also features DJI’s intelligent battery technology that can be hot-swapped during operation for extended shoots.*

Dedicated control buttons for the camera and gimbal let you toggle between SmoothTrack settings, record and stop the camera, and the high-precision joystick changes the camera position to help frame your shot perfectly. A new Sport mode allows for fast movements with tight and quick subject following speed.

Harness intelligent shooting modes on Ronin-S through the DJI Ronin mobile app to create complex camera moves automatically like Panorama, Hyperlapse, Track and CamAnchor that lets you designate specific camera positions in a scene and rotate between them on demand. Directly customize SmoothTrack settings with dedicated controls for responsiveness of each axis. Camera settings can be directly adjusted as well.**

Ronin-S is compatible with a variety of DJI Pro Accessories to capture any scene and expand your creative freedom on set or location. Supported accessories include a Focus Control Center consisting of a focusing dial and a screen allowing advanced gimbal and focus control without a mobile device, a vehicle mount solution, DJI Master Force, DJI Master Wheels, an external focus motor, and a cheese plate adapter so you can use your favorite third-party accessories. A dual-handle support will also be available for when an added level of comfort and stability is required.

Price and Availability

Osmo Mobile 2 retails for $ 129 USD and will be available exclusively for pre-order at on January 23, 2018. Starting in early February, it will also be available at, DJI Flagship Stores, and DJI Authorized Retailers, with additional availability later in February at Apple Stores in select regions worldwide. For more information on all the new features and capabilities of Osmo Mobile 2, please visit

Ronin-S will be available in the second quarter of 2018 from, DJI Flagship Stores, DJI Authorized Retail Stores, and DJI Resellers worldwide***. Pricing will be announced prior to availability. Additional information on Ronin-S can be found at

?Osmo Shield for Osmo Mobile

Osmo Shield is a coverage plan that extends the warranty of any Osmo series product by one additional year, including accidental hardware damage coverage, that covers up to one free replacement and provides repair solutions for two years. Osmo Shield is currently available in select countries, including China, the United States, and Canada.

Photos and Videos Available for Download

Osmo Mobile 2 photos:

Ronin-S photos:

DJI at CES 2018

Visit the DJI booth at CES to see the new Osmo Mobile 2 and Ronin-S, and experience the entire DJI product portfolio of camera drones and image stabilization systems. Onsite activities and promotion for CES attendees at the DJI booth include:

  • Rent an Osmo Mobile 2 for free each day
  • Compete in DJI’s daily flight simulator challenge to win a DJI Spark Fly More Combo
  • Register to enter a daily raffle for Ronin-S and receive a $ 100 USD discount coupon

DJI’s main booth is located in the Las Vegas Convention Center South Hall, Level 2, booth #26002. Drone flight demos will also take place at DJI’s booth in the Central Hall, booth #14710T.

*Can be utilized with dual-handheld accessory as well

**For supported camera models

***The Ronin-S products shown at CES 2018 are prototypes and the final specs and features may vary

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Gudsen Moza Air gimbal review

08 Oct

Gudsen Moza Air
$ 599, ($ 798 for the thumb controller kit)

There are whole lot of things about shooting video that are difficult, such as getting to grips with the specific terminology, mastering audio, understanding input/output files types and finding your way around new software. All of this stuff can be learnt, but what I struggle with most, and which just wrecks most of the videos I shoot, is just holding the camera steady. This beats me even when I’m standing still, but it destroys every beautiful or dramatic scene I encounter if I have to so much as pan across a view let alone actually move my feet as well. I can achieve smooth motion sometimes, but with such a degree of concentration that everything else goes out of the window. In short, I find this aspect of shooting movies almost impossible to overcome.

The Moza Air is designed for compact system cameras and small to medium sized DSLRs

I guess I’m not entirely alone here, as there are now quite a number of mid-sized gimbals designed to help videographers achieve smooth footage when they are moving with a handheld camera. The Zhiyun Crane has been a popular option for some time, but newer on the scene is the Gudsen Moza Air.

Gudsen had mostly produced gimbals for small devices and mobile phones, but has recently moved into support for larger, heavier cameras. The Moza Air is designed for compact system cameras and small to medium sized DSLRs with a maximum payload of 5.5lbs/2.5kg – a restriction which actually only really excludes top-end professional models.


The Gudsen Moza Air is motorized gimbal platform-on-handle designed to create smooth motion and steadier stationary views for videographers. It is made from aluminum tubing and weighs 2.4lb/1.1kg when it is all put together and the batteries are loaded. The large camera platform offers two cut-out runners and two sizes of threaded screws, as well as plenty of room to shift cameras backwards and forwards to find a balance. There is less side-to-side space than front-to-back though, with the maximum gap between the camera retaining screw and the right hand arm being 3 7/8in/97mm. This isn’t necessarily an issue when it comes to actually fitting a camera in that space, so much as for attaching cables to ports on the right hand side of the camera.

The platform allows continuous 360° yaw, tilt and roll movements, all of which can be controlled via the joy stick on the main handle. Built-in Bluetooth 4.0 allows these actions to be controlled remotely via a separate thumb controller too, and users can take charge of settings and motion via the Moza Air app. Further connections come in the form of a micro USB port for connection to camera remote control sockets.

Three 3.7V lithium ion batteries drop into the handle to power the device and Gudsen claims their 2000mAh capacity will drive the gimbal for between four and eight hours. The dramatic discrepancy between the battery life figures is a function of the range of weights the gimbal can accommodate as well as the differences in power required to hold a camera in the normal position and at some contorted angle.


The Moza Air comes very nicely packaged in a hard case with a range of accessories. I’m not entirely sure what is in the standard kit, as I received two kits each with different accompaniments. The basic setup includes the main handle with the gimbal as well as the battery compartment and the thumb controller. Also in the box is a set of handlebars is that allow the device to be used with two hands while a second person deals with the head movements via the thumb controller.

A set of cables allows you to connect the handle to certain compatible cameras for stop/start recording controls and there’s a support bracket for heavy lenses. In one package I got a mini-tripod that attaches to the threaded base of the handle. This is very useful for getting the camera balanced and can also be used to extend the handle for an even greater field of motion.

Once the gimbal is assembled you have to balance the camera in the main cradle. It’s important to get the kit as well balanced as possible before switching the gimbal on so that you get the maximum out of the movements possible and so that you don’t use more power than you need to. Getting the balance right can be time consuming especially the first time you have to balance a kit. You have to remember to get the camera exactly was you want to use it first as well, as even taking the lens cap off, or flipping out the camera’s screen, will upset the balance.

Having a tripod, mini or not, with you is a good idea for when the kit needs to be altered.

Switching lenses during a shoot means taking a break to rebalance the gimbal, which is difficult to do in the field if there is nowhere level to position it – so picking a non-extending zoom makes life a bit easier. Having a tripod, mini or not, with you is a good idea for when the kit needs to be altered. Using in-camera levels is handy for ensuring the camera is perfectly balanced, if your camera has them.

The Moza Air makes leveling reasonably easy by having arm-brackets that slide nicely to allow small adjustments. There are three brackets to get in balance so this isn’t a ten-second job – though measured markings on each of the arms makes positions easier to return to when re-attaching a previously used camera and lens combination. Some way of keeping the camera screw in place would be really useful, and in fact a quick release plate even better, so that after moving the camera for a battery change or a card swap you don’t have to rebalance it all over again.

One of the more obvious differences between the Moza Air and the Zhiyun Crane is that the Moza Air features controls that face the user, so they can be operated with the thumb. There are only two control points and each can perform a range of tasks according to how many times it is pressed. It doesn’t take too long to commit these functions to memory, and I appreciated having all the controls in one place while trying to keep an eye on the screen while filming – so I guess it is better than having a collection of dedicated buttons for each task.

The stop/start function is very useful, and the proximity of the thumb rocker is handy for controlling the camera angle without having to change the way your hand is gripping the handle. The rocker controls the left-right/up-down direction of travel of the gimbal, but there’s no way to tilt the camera left-to-right, and it takes some practice to get the motion slow and smooth.

Despite its light weight, in use the Moza Air gets quite heavy

Despite its light weight, in use the Moza Air gets quite heavy. That isn’t an inherent fault of the device so much as the nature of holding a camera on a stick at an angle for a long time.

If you record sound from a hotshoe mounted microphone you’ll want to choose a small one that doesn’t restrict your movements too much. When using the gimbal in the upright position there is loads of room for a microphone, but as soon as you begin to tilt the gimbal forward into the flashlight position the brackets of the device will clash with the back of the microphone.

When the camera is slung under the gimbal for low angle shots there is even less space for a microphone, but there are accessory points where a mic can be attached. I used the Rode VideoMic Pro and Pro+ in the hotshoe for most of this test, and attached it to the handle bars when shooting with the camera slung low.

Motion in action

The second version of this gimbal that I received was dramatically improvements over the first very early version I used. Its motor seems much stronger, or better tuned, so it can hold more weight in more difficult positions for longer without suddenly giving up and throwing the camera around – which happened a lot with the early model.

The ability of the gimbal to support and steady the camera at quite a wide range of angles is pretty amazing, and allows the user to perform crane-like sequences with the camera coming from a low angle up to an overhead view in one smooth motion. The side-to-side support is also very good, and though side movements can create clashes with cables and screens sticking out to the side of the camera.

at the extremes, the head can’t hold the camera for long before flipping out

Using the controller on the Moza Air’s handle you can introduce tilt and twist actions. With the handle in the upright position you can rotate the camera 360 degrees about the vertical axis while the tilt motions are more moderate. Although I didn’t expect to be able to get the camera to look directly down I’d rather hoped to for a better range of tilt angles – and at the extremes the head can’t hold the camera for long before flipping out.

The controller on the handle doesn’t really allow fine movements or adjustments during filming as the increments are crude and a bit jerky, so users will be better off using the Bluetooth thumb controller that comes in the kit. With a bigger joystick and a wider range of actions this provides a little more precision. The thumb controller can instruct the head to move at different speeds as well as customize the way it works and to instruct the system which camera is in use. It is important for the system to be informed of the camera brand so that the cabled remote that connects the head and the camera can operate properly.

The new Mimic Motion Control feature makes a massive difference to the finesse with which movements can be communicated to the head. Attaching the thumb-controller to the handle bars and setting it to the appropriate mode allows users to control the head remotely just by moving the handle bars – and the head follows every action. This allows much finer movements as well as complete flexibility in the speed at which the head moves. It makes a huge difference to how the camera angle can be dictated when the rig is mounted on a tripod or being carried by a third party.

recording can be initiated and stopped using either the thumb controller or from the buttons on the gimbal’s handle

Using the cabled remote, which connects the camera’s remote control socket to the gimbal via USB, recording can be initiated and stopped using either the thumb controller or from the buttons on the gimbal’s handle. Canon users’ cameras compatible with the system can be made to focus from the remote buttons as well. The stop/start feature is particularly useful as it means you don’t have to alter your grip on the handle to kick off the recording – and suffer a few seconds of wobbly footage at the beginning and end of each clip. This can save time in editing and quite a lot of memory card capacity during a long shoot with a number of scenes.

The App

I used the smartphone app with my iPhone 5s and found early versions of it slightly prone to hanging and displays lagging behind what the head was doing. The app offers a virtual joystick for controlling the head, but I found the lag such that accurate instructions proved hard to communicate.

The app also allows you to program the speed of the head as well as to calibrate the motors and determine the angles of movement in each of the controllable axes. The early version was not especially easy to use, but the more recent update has made a big difference.

The head’s timelapse feature is also controlled via the app, and gives filmmakers the opportunity to determine start and end points for motion in the sequence as well as three other points for the head to cover during the action. Thus the head doesn’t just move from side to side or up and down – it can move in all directions across the four shooting segments of the timelapse. Initially the head moved continuously during the sequence, which wasn’t ideal for those wanting to use long shutter speeds. Consequently many of my first timelapse sequences are a bit jerky.

The recent firmware update allows the head and camera shutter to synchronize and offer a move-stop-shoot-move routine that holds the camera still while the shutter is open – with cameras that are compatible with the head’s cabled remote. The timelapse feature of the app now offers plenty of control over the end result, and with cameras that plug into the head it will start and stop the shooting too.


I have been very pleasantly surprised by how well this gimbal performs. I had expected it to be of some assistance in keeping the camera stable during walking shots, but didn’t expect the degree of correction that it provides when running. When kept within the perimeters of the angles it can handle the gimbal works really very well, so it is a question of finding where those extremes are. Inevitably I wanted it to be able to cope with angles it could not manage, but in the course of normal shooting I suspect the more difficult poses I demanded in testing would not be required. I found that the more I got used to what it can do the more I was able to compensate with my own movements so that the gimbal didn’t have to work so hard.

There were a number of occasions on which the humming of the motor rose to a level that would be noticed in the audio. These occasions were not limited to handheld and demanding shooting with heavy equipment, but also occurred while the Moza Air was mounted on a tripod. Usually the whirring could be solved by rebalancing the camera, but sometimes that wasn’t enough – but it would go away by itself.

Battery life isn’t too bad, and I found a set of three could keep the Moza powered for at least four hours. I also found though that removing the batteries from the handle in between shoots was a surer way of there being power in them the next time of shooting.

In general, I thought the Moza Air behaved rather well throughout the test, and it allowed me to get plenty of shots I wouldn’t have managed otherwise, and the updated timelapse feature is actually really useful.


The Gudsen Moza Air is slightly less than perfect in some respects, such as the complications of getting the camera balanced to begin with and in the arms clashing with each other when in certain positions. However, the company doesn’t appear to be sitting on its laurels – there have been really quite significant updates even during the period of this test. It is an excellent solution though for holding a recording camera steady for 80% of the shots any videographer is going to want to shoot. It can’t do angled up or down shots very well, but for everything else I found it a great assistance.

In the world of video, where everything seems to cost a small fortune this device is relatively affordable

Critically, the Moza Air has allowed me to create a video that doesn’t look like it was shot by a monkey even though this is pretty much the first time I have shot more than two clips that were intended to be stuck together, and my videography experience is slim to say the least. In the world of video, where everything seems to cost a small fortune this device is relatively affordable and actually presents very good value for money considering the difference it will make to your footage.

Yes, some of the mechanical design is in need of refinement, but for the most part I can live with that for now – although when the motors give up when holding the camera during a difficult angle it can be frustrating. More powerful motors would allow it to hold better and would reduce the whine and wobble that can be produced in the extremities of the head’s operating envelope, but I suppose that would cost more money. If you don’t push it too hard, and don’t expect too much you will be very happy indeed with the Moza Air – as I have been.

This little movie was made for a bit of fun – but primarily to demonstrate what the Moza Air can do in a range of situations. It was shot with the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 in VLogL and edited in Davinci Resolve. I used two Moza Airs – one to support the camera for the whole of the shoot and the other in the box that we could film being assembled. It’s neat that Gudsen supplies a hard case for the kit, but it struck me as something you might see in a gangster movie – hence the theme we went with for this clip.
  • Relatively good value
  • Supports most DSLRs
  • Nice button controls
  • Good stabilization
  • Mimic Control is excellent
  • Build quality could be refined
  • Could be made lighter with different materials
  • Hard to balance the camera quickly

For more information see the Gudsen website.

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Demo: Gudsen adds ‘Mimic Motion Control’ to Moza Air gimbal

22 Aug

Chinese gimbal manufacturer Gudsen has released new firmware update for its Moza Air that offers new ways to control the motion of the head, as well as better timelapse features for long exposures. The Moza Air—which is designed for cameras ranging from CSC bodies to high-end enthusiast DSLRs—now allows operators to control the direction and angle of the head remotely just by moving a small handlebar-mounted control unit.

With the supplied thumb controller attached to a set of handle bars, the Bluetooth-paired head mimics the motion of the bars so that the mounted camera can be moved by small increments without the user even touching the gimbal.

Pitch, Roll and Yaw movements can be controlled while a read-out on the thumb controller’s screen lets you know the exact position of the head.

The second part of the update adds improved timelapse functionality, ensuring the head is still during long exposures. It does this by using a ‘move-stop-shoot-move’ process rather than a continuous moving path across the programmed points. The timelapse interface on the Moza Assistant app has also been updated, allowing more control in a clearer design.

For more information, visit the Gudsen website.

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Fancy is a pocketable smartphone gimbal

16 Feb

Smartphone stabilizers are a great tool for capturing professional-looking video footage on your mobile device and are getting more powerful with every new generation. However, most current models have one thing in common: they are not really pocketable, making them more of a dedicated tool for serious video shooters rather than an everyday item for the average consumer. 

The Fancy Stabilizer is now out to change this. It is an electronic smartphone gimbal that takes up less space than the smartphone it is attached to. The makers of the Fancy, Chinese company Wewow, is currently running an Indiegogo campaign to fund the production of the device and claims it is the currently smallest and lightest smartphone gimbal on the market.

With just 43.5mm (1.7 in) wide, about 118mm (4.4 in) tall and 23mm (0.9 in) thick in its folded state, the Fancy Stabilizer easily fits in any small bag or even jacket pocket when not in use. It weighs just 180 grams. The phone is attached via an adjustable clip and an electronic stabilization system keeps your smartphone steady while walking or otherwise moving. Thanks to a standard tripod mount the device can also be attached to selfie sticks or most other types of camera support. 

In addition, Fancy comes with a LED light for added illumination and a small selfie mirror on the back. The built-in battery provides energy for eight hours of stabilization or alternatively can charge your smartphone. If this all sounds interesting to you, you can now reserve a Fancy Stabilizer for $ 89 on Indiegogo. The retail price is expected to be $ 128.

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ZeroTech to introduce 4K action cam with built-in gimbal

26 Jan

Chinese drone manufacturer ZeroTech has announced it will introduce a handheld action camera that features an in-built 3-axis stabilization gimbal. The Rollcap will shoot 4K video and 13MP stills while providing +/-0.03° of angular vibration compensation as well as gimbal movements to smooth video footage. The company says its built-in gimbal can tilt up to +/- 30°, can pan up to +/-40° and has a roll range of +/-85°.

The lens offers a 94° angle of view, so compares approximately to a 21mm on a full frame system. The camera features are controlled remotely via a smartphone app and recording can also be started and stopped at the camera. Features include slow motion video, high drive burst modes, time lapse, self-timer and HDR. A tripod thread allows the Rollcap to be mounted on a pole, helmet or accessory grip, and a single charge of the internal battery is said to be good for 110 minutes of 4K footage.

The device will be available later this year, and pricing will be between $ 500-600. For more information visit the ZeroTech website.

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GoPro Karma Grip gimbal now available as stand-alone product

06 Dec

GoPro’s Karma Grip motorized gimbal mount was first released as part of the Karma drone kit.  Unfortunately, GoPro had to recall the Karma drone due to problems with its power supply, but now the company has made the Karma Grip available as a stand-alone product.

The Karma grip is compatible directly with the GoPro Hero 5 Black and needs an adapter for Hero 4 Black and Silver models and the Hero Session 5. The motorized gimbal is used to stabilize video while walking or during other outdoor activities, when smoother footage is required than the cameras’ built-in electronic stabilization can produce. The camera can be charged and transfer data to a computer while mounted on the grip. 

The grip can be handheld or attached to GoPro’s chest harness, Seeker backpack, helmet mounts and other camera supports. It’s available now for $ 300.

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Vimble S is an intelligent smartphone gimbal with physical camera controls

16 Nov

A Kickstarter project that just launched is aiming to raise funding for production and distribution of the Vimble S smartphone gimbal. The Vimble S is a three-axis motorized image stabilizer that is compatible with a large range of smartphones, including Apple’s iPhone models, the Huawei P9, Google Pixel, Samsung Galaxy and other devices with similar dimensions. The gimbal communicates with the phone via a Bluetooth connection and folds down to about 11.2 inches when not in use.

A range of physical controls on the handle allow you to adjust the smartphone camera’s exposure, zoom, focus, and white balance and trigger the shutter. The gimbal’s motor keeps the camera steady, allowing for the recording of smooth video and still image shooting at slow shutter speeds. However, it also gives the Vimble S a number of intelligent functions, which are controlled via a dedicated app. Those include the ability to track faces, allowing for video-selfies, shoot panorama images with automated panning and record time-lapses.

The engineers behind the project say the Vimble S has a battery life of 8 hours and a very quiet motor. The handle is designed to also function as a monopod. With 29 days to go currently, the campaign is a good way to reaching its funding goal. If the feature set sounds like what you have been waiting for, you can secure a Vimble S by pledging $ 179 or more on the Vimble S Kickstarter page. Shipping is planned for January 2017.

Press Release:

Vimble S, the gimbal stabilizer for smartphones, allows everyone to capture professional-quality video

Never capture shaky video again, available on Kickstarter from US$ 179

November 15, 2016 (Hong Kong) – Today Vimble S, a 3-axis gimbal stabilizer specifically engineered for smartphones, launches on Kickstarter. The intelligent monopod ensures, no matter what, that your smartphone stays stable while filming, producing silky smooth video and sharp photos. It’s also accompanied by a feature-packed app, ViCam, allowing users to create stunning time-lapses, track selected faces for perfect selfies and snap effortless 180° panoramic vistas.

Aiming to provide everyone with a professional yet affordable way to shoot high-quality video and images, Vimble S has been expertly designed to produce fantastic content in every situation.

Vimble S perfectly balances smartphones to cancel out unwanted movement in a 3-axis space, counteracting any jarring wobbles or shakes. Its motors are silent too, so not to disturb the footage audio. The handle embraces ergonomic design, with the integrated control panel easily accessible with just one hand, allowing users to easily operate every aspect of the gimbal’s movement and camera settings. 

Vimble S also comes with a companion app, ViCam, specifically developed to control each of the smart shooting features available. Create beautiful montages of passing time with a few simple clicks. Automatically centre on your subject with ViCam’s face tracking tool, recording their every movement even if they move out of the camera’s range. Capture the entire scene with the spectacular 180° panoramic mode, smoothly rotating while staying completely level. Users can edit and share photos directly from the app, while keen developers can tinker with the provided SDK to customise features and unlock hidden capabilities. ViCam will be available for iOS and Android. 

Rian Cheng, Founder and CEO at DelTron Technology, comments: “Our dream is to bring professional videography into everybody’s daily lives. Sharing our experiences of the world through pictures and video is now second nature, with over 1.8 billion digital images uploaded everyday. Whether posting on Instagram, Facebook or another social channel, we love to share what we see. Vimble S puts the power in your hand to create beautiful visual memories with complete ease.” 

Manufactured using high-grade materials, Vimble S is a sturdy and reliable travel companion. The premium device is prepared for rigorous use that any practical camera stabilizer has to go through. Small enough to be tucked away in your bag, it also has a long-lasting battery life of up to 8 hours, besting their closest competitors. Whether filming a trekking tour through a national park, catching that awesome skateboard trick, or gaining self-shooting experience as a videographer, Vimble S allows you to take on the director role with everything you create. The gimbal also opens up a wide range of angles including landscape, portrait and underslung to add variety to your shooting style.

“This isn’t just some fancy selfie stick, the technology we’ve implemented into the Vimble S sets your photo and video content apart from the mundane. Vloggers, extreme sports enthusiasts, travellers or anybody else can use features such as our intelligent face tracking to breathe new life to their videos. It does, of course, take incredible selfies too.” adds Peter Zeng, Co-Founder and CTO at DelTron Technology. 

Vimble S is available to back on Kickstarter now from US$ 179 and will ship to backers worldwide in January 2017 – 

Vimble S Tech Specs: 


  • Angular vibration range : ±0.03°
  • Max Controllable speed: 200°/s
  • Axis freedom:
    • Tilt: 320°, Roll: 320°, Pan: 360° – Slip ring design for limitless rotation


  • Supports phones of various sizes – the iPhone series, Huawei P9 and P9 plus, Samsung Galaxy S7/edge, and other smartphones with similar dimensions
  • Standard quarter inch nut on bottom, thus Vimble can be mounted on tripod


  • Battery life: 8 hour maximum; 6 hour under heavy usage condition. also varies by temperature
  • Battery capacity: 3000mAh
  • Charging: Micro USB port


  • Model: Bluetooth 4.0

Weight & dimensions

  • 486g, including built-in battery
  • 285mm x 113mm x 60mm 

ViCam app

  • Automatic panorama
  • Face tracking
  • Night photo enhancement
  • Exposure/ Focus/ White Balance and Zoom can be easily adjusted by the control panel
  • Shooting parameter adjustable. Up to 4k/ 30fps or 720p/ 240fps
  • Upgrade firmware wirelessly
  • Motion time-lapse
  • Remote control of rotation of Vimble S

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DJI Osmo Mobile brings 3-axis gimbal stabilization to smartphones

03 Sep

DJI has introduced the Osmo Mobile, a variation of its previously launched Osmo that is, in this case, designed for smartphones. With Osmo Mobile, users can insert a smartphone into the mount and record smooth, stabilized footage with the handset thanks to the SmoothTrack technology and 3-axis gimbal stabilization. The stabilizer works with the DJI GO App for livestreaming videos, sharing content, and tracking moving objects via DJI’s ActiveTrack.

The Osmo Mobile’s 3-axis stabilization claims accuracy down to 0.03 degrees, while the SmoothTrack tech works to reduce small movements and shaking. Trigger control enables switching between the handset’s front and rear camera, as well as re-centering and locking the gimbal direction. Standard, Portrait, Flashlight, and Underslung operation modes are available.

The DJI GO App offers, in addition to ActiveTrack, functions including access to camera settings, Panorama, Long Exposure, Live Stream, and Motion Time Lapse. Other Osmo features include Bluetooth, a 3.5mm charging/upgrade port, and compatibility with Osmo accessories. DJI says Osmo Mobile ‘should’ support any smartphone between 2.31 and 3.34 inches wide; this includes the most recent high-end smartphones, including the Galaxy S7, iPhone 5/6/6s Plus, and the Huawei Mate 8.

The Osmo Mobile is available as of today for $ 299.

Via: PRNewswire

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