Gimbal Video Stability that Works

 

When using a standard video camera, I’m sure you have seen that if you are not able to mount it to a motionless mounting point, the picture is all over the place and the resultant quality is very poor.

Have you ever wondered why our eyes are able to see such a stable and focused picture? Surely our eyes are like a video camera requiring a stable platform for our brains to produce a good quality, focused picture?

Its incredible how our bodies are designed and the design of the inner ear when paired with the muscles that control the eyes is exactly where the answer lies. The system that allows our brains to produce a perfect picture from a constantly moving platform(Our heads) is called the vestibular system. This sensory systems’ primary task is to coordinate movement with balance while maintaining the appropriate spacial orientation in relation to our surroundings.

There are 2 primary movements that are measured by this system namely rotational and translational movement. The vestibular system has 2 corresponding subsystems namely the semicircular canals system(rotational movements) and the otoliths system (linear/translational movements). The information received from these 2 systems is connected to both the muscles of the eyes and the muscles tasked with maintaining balance. This entire system working as a unit is called the vestibulo-ocular reflex which is essential in producing the perfect picture that one sees.

 

Focused Structure:

 

Our world is a 3 dimensional one that requires a 3 dimensional solution to produce a clear picture. This has been provided in the form of 3 semicircular canals in each labyrinth of the ears which are arranged at approx. 90 deg to each other in addition to being filled with fluid. The movement of the fluid in these canals and the way the fluid pushes on the cupula (structure able to sense both electrical signals and mechanical pressure changes), then tells the brain how the head is moving and how to respond to that movement.

To illustrate how this works, when you turn your head to the right, the cupula will sense that there is movement in the semicircular canal and will immediately send a signal to the muscles that control the eyes to push on the left and pull on the right side of the eyes. The movement of the muscles will correspond with the pressure experienced by the cupula and will enable your eyes to track the target you are focused on. The system of stabilization that we take for granted is actually quite intricate and delicate to produce such amazing results.

 

Applied Biology Lesson:

 

I am sure many of you are wondering what a biology lesson such as this has to do with travel gadgets or accessories. Well science often turns to nature for answers to problems & challenges and this branch of science is called Biomimicry. Examples of this can be seen all around us such as the wings on a commercial airlines where it has been found that the fins found on a some whales and the upturn of an albatross’ wings decrease drag and increase the efficiency in water and the air respectively. This was included in modern aircraft design and the results were the same as those observed in nature. So why not apply this sort of science to photography…..

Social media has prompted a number of amazing developments and one of them is the showcasing of some really talented people by means of amateur photography and video creation. Instagram has made celebrities of people that only a few years ago would have had no chance of showcasing their talents to such a broad audience. In addition to this, never before has there been such a focused drive to start creating professional looking videos and photos while avoiding the enormous costs that are usually associated with this industry.

So the problem I described in the introduction is an enormous challenge as the creating of good quality photographs and video has always been too expensive for the average person. The demand for cheaper and compact specialized equipment aimed at social media platform uploads has been solved by the science of Biomimicry. The gimbal is a hand held device that provides stability to a camera while shooting a video or movement based photography. The gimbal has been designed in much the same way that our inner ears function by combining electronic sensors with movement tracking camera lens technology. When tracking a target while filming(drone footage or hand held), the unit will move the camera in the opposite direction to the persons’ movement thus enabling the camera to stay focused on target in the same way your eyes move in relation to your head as described above.

 

~~Click Here if You Want To Know About Drones with Gimbal Stabilization~~

 

Gimbal Mechanics:

 

Regardless of what brand you purchase, the integration of the mechanical and electronic components is largely the same. The gimbal uses 2 electrical server motors to provide the smooth precise movement required for the video to appear smooth and focused. Sensors in the hand mounting alert the unit to movement and these move the server motors in turn. Obviously the gimbal is not able to account for massive movements but under normal situations such as driving, running or walking, this will provide adequate stability.

These accessories have camera function buttons available for thumb activation and control. Start/stop recording, zooming and other functions can be activated using your thumb so you can have the other hand free with all key functions being controlled by only one hand.

Gimbals are manufactured with an on-board battery which powers the server motors and on-board electronics required to keep the unit stable while not draining the camera or smart phone while these are connected to it. The batteries last a very long time, depending on the manufacturer, reviews by customers confirm batteries lasting from several hours to many days on a single charge.

 

Selection Basics:

 

There are some key considerations when purchasing a gimbal and most important of these is the suitability of the gimbal to the application. The design of a gimbal meant for a large DSLR Camera would be a lot more robust than for one meant for say a light weight action camera or smart phone. Some cameras are so heavy that they require a two handed gimbal on account of the increased weight and range of movement.

While most of us will not need such an elaborate rig, these are available for the serious photographer. Its important when purchasing a gimbal to check the software compatibility together with the plug connection provided with the rig. Some manufacturers include the software for both android and IOS users, others offer two different models to accommodate the variations in software. It is also therefore logical to check the plug in capabilities as the plug needs to match the port of the camera or smartphone.

 

~~Click Here If You Want To Know About Camera Tripods For Better Results~~

 

No Substitutes:

 

Its very simple really, if you want to produce stable, great quality videos, you need a stable platform to enable the camera to take the best quality footage possible. The gimbal should be a standard in your travel kit next to your spare battery power pack and your selfie stick.

Very good quality rigs are available for a relatively modest investment. If you are still debating whether or not to purchase such a rig, the results might not have been so apparent in qualities up to 1080 pixel quality however when you start producing videos of 4k quality, the difference will be quickly become apparent.

I hope you enjoyed the article and good luck shooting some awesome videos.

 

 

You may also like...

14 Responses

  1. Laura says:

    These gimbals are a life-saver for not only vloggers all over the world, but also for us people who always got dizzy by watching those unstable youtube videos…

    One thing I do notice is that these devices can cost a lot of money. Not only the big ones you actually put professional cameras on, but the little hand-held ones for your smartphone. They can easily cost more than $400.  Do you know what makes these things so expensive?

    • Richard says:

      Hi Laura,

      I must be honest that when I come across vloggers who have not used some sort of video stabilizer, I automatically move to the next video as there is absolutely no excuse these days for poor quality video uploads.

      If you look at some of the links at the bottom of my post, there are some examples of gimbals that are not quite so expensive. For a good quality rig suitable for a phone, action camera or alike will cost typically $90 – $150 depending on the features and extras.The rigs meant for very heavy cameras start at about $300 but from what you describe, these are way too over-designed. Click on the link below the article and check out some of the cheaper options and you will not regret is.

      Thanks again for your comment.

      Rich

  2. cpascal says:

    Hopefully, word will get out about gimbals and more photographers will buy them. There are far too many YouTube videos that could have been a pleasure to watch if not for the constantly jerking camera. They also look as though they’re easy and light to pack. Although the price is a bit high, it will probably pay for itself with increased views on YouTube. 

    • Richard says:

      Hello Cpascal,

      The gimbal is not the cheapest item that one can buy however when you look at the general price for photographic equipment, this is very reasonably priced. This is not an item that you will be purchasing on a monthly or even annual basis so one could view this as a once off investment. 

      I agree with you that some videos on YouTube leave you wanting to move their video to either focus on the target better or just to stop the video shaking all over the place. I think as we move towards 4k video as a standard for uploaded videos, those focused on making good quality videos will find this indispensable.

      Thanks again for your comment.

      Rich

  3. R.J. says:

    Hey Richard, cool article. I’m definitely going to keep your article close by because the cameras on there have given me a great idea as far as where to get one to do the video game recording that I do. Also, I want it to go on record that I’m definitely looking for something else to help me with my recording besides my cell phone and your article is the ticket. Thanks for the info. Good job!

    • Richard says:

      Hi RJ,

      There are so many accessories that are not necessarily expensive but result in huge improvements in the quality of the video that is produced. As we move more towards 4k being the standard in video quality, small defects in a videos quality become more obvious similar to viewing a diamond under the microscope. Therefore its becoming more important for us as amateur photographers to take advantage of these accessories to up our game to a professional level.

      Thanks again for the comment.

      Rich

  4. Jenny says:

    Good advice on the gimbal and a nice explanation with the biology lesson!  Yes, I was wondering why you were giving a biology lesson on a tech blog. But it all makes sense now.  Would you recommend getting a gimbal for making YouTube tutorial videos?  Do you have a review on the different brands?  

    • Richard says:

      Hi Jenny,

      It would depend on the type of YouTube tutorial you are planning on making. There are many video tutorials that require only a static mount as the field of vision is small enough for the lens to capture everything in one frame without it being moved. However if there is a lot of movement of the camera during the video then I would recommend this to produce a smooth, high quality video. I can personally recommend the ZHIYUN that is linked in the article as this one supports both IOS and Andriod Based Phones. This gets a little tricky sometimes as not all phones phones are automatically comparable as some might only support IOS and not Andoid so be careful what you select. I will also be reviewing some of my test rigs so stay tuned for a product review that will be posted in the next few days. 

      Thanks for the comment.
      Rich 

  5. Loes says:

    Thank you for your biology lesson. The Gimble is really an amazing gadget which can take away all those small vibrations and thereby produce much sharper pictures. Thank you for showing this compact specialized equipment for movement based photography and videos. I read that they thought of everything and that the Gimble is to control by the thumb, very handy!

    Loes

    • Richard says:

      Hello Loes,

      Thanks for leaving a comment. They have made some improvements in the thumb control which has really improved the operation of the Gimbal. Ergonomically they have achieved a good product and the improvements in battery life are being constantly improved upon.

      Stay tuned for some product reviews for the gimbal.

      Rich

  6. Shy says:

    I want to get one.  I don’t go out traveling but who wouldn’t want to take great quality video of the kids when we go out to the park.

    This would be great to take with you to all kinds of places where you want to capture some video.  Great quality and the ability to move around without the camera looking all shaky.  

    • Richard says:

      Hello Shy,

      Any motion based photography will be greatly improved using the gimbal as the target tracking function enables the camera to stay focused on, in your case, kids playing in the park. The investment in such accessories is relatively small when compared to the improvement that you will see in the final product.

      Stay tuned for some product reviews for the Gimbal and thanks for leaving a comment.

      Rich

  7. Kuu says:

    Hello Richard, that was very informative and in-depth. I really find it fascinating on how you describe how biology and our three dimensional have an impact in how we take pictures. It really shows how technology has really evolved into designing sophisticated equipment such as gimbal and take a perfect picture and make it very simple. 

    One question that I have is, are there different types of these equipment? If so it will be great to purchase one of the best for my friend because he loves taking pictures. Thanks a lot. 

    • Richard says:

      Hello Kuu,

      In answer to your question, the variations of the gimbal are numerous. The basic concept and functionality are relatively the same however it is dependent on the type and weight of the camera rig. For instance the gimbals used at major sporting events are heavy duty purpose built rigs that can support the weight of those cameras. That rig would be complete overkill for a private person wanting to shoot from say a compact action camera. 

      So choosing a gimbal should be based on a persons specific requirements and what they intend on shooting with. If you could elaborate a little on your question, i will be able to be more specific in addressing your question. 

      Thanks again for leaving a comment. 

      Rich

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *