Filming with smooth, stable shots is a simple way to give your filming or photography extra professionalism and quality. In fact, unless you’re using a shaky or blurry shot intentionally for artistic effect, the ability to consistently take stable shots is the expectation for anyone in the film or photography industries. Fortunately, thanks to advancements in technology, shots are naturally looking better and better, and a shaky hand is an easy mistake to fix with the right camera equipment and accessories. For steadying shots, a camera stabilizer is an excellent tool—here's how to choose a camera stabilizer to use in your work.
What Is a Camera Stabilizer?
A camera stabilizer is a piece of camera equipment that helps to stabilize your camera during shooting. When you mount your camera on these rigs, they minimize or eliminate any unwanted movement that could make your shot look sloppy or amateur. While there are a few different types of stabilizers, they all operate on the same basic principle: the weight and movement of the stabilizer serve to counterbalance the weight and movement of the camera. You may need to adjust your stabilizer to properly balance your camera and counteract its movement.
Benefits of a Camera Stabilizer
The obvious benefit of a camera stabilizer is its ability to stabilize shots, both still and moving, better than a camera operator alone could. But camera stabilizers also boast several other benefits for camera users. These include:
- The ability to easily shoot from different angles that might not be possible without a stabilizer
- An easier, more comfortable way for the camera operator to hold the camera
- The ability to capture smooth moving shots
- Provide a place to attach additional camera accessories
Things To Consider When Choosing a Stabilizer
With the benefits and increased quality and professionalism that a camera stabilizer has to offer, it’s certainly worth considering adding one to your collection of camera equipment. But with so many options available, how are you to decide which to choose? To help you make the best decision, consider the following elements when choosing a camera stabilizer.
Why Do You Want a Stabilizer?
Before you even start looking at different types and models, ask yourself, “Why do I want a stabilizer?” What sorts of shots and projects will you be using it for, and how often will you be using it? Do you have a solid reason to purchase one, or are you buying one just in case you need it? A good stabilizer is an investment—if you don’t have an actual need for one and would never use it, either purchase an inexpensive stabilizer to start or wait to purchase one until you really do need it. For those who really do need a stabilizer, identifying your intended use for it will help you choose a model and type that fits well with your work.
Video or Photography?
While camera stabilizers are most often used in filming, they can also be used to stabilize shots in photography. When choosing a camera stabilizer, it’s important to take into consideration whether you’ll be shooting film footage or photos with your stabilized camera. The type of stabilizer you would use to stabilize a still shot in photography or film will be very different and probably less intricate than one you would use while shooting a moving shot. Camera stabilizers for photography will usually be smaller and handheld, while a stabilizer for filmmaking could either be one of these or a larger, higher-tech stabilizer like a camera stabilizer vest and arm.
Compatibility With Camera
A camera stabilizer is designed to seamlessly attach to your camera and fasten it securely to the device. But as not every camera is the same, not every stabilizer is the same. As such, one of the first things you should check is whether your stabilizer is actually compatible with the camera you’re using! An expensive, fancy stabilizer will do you absolutely no good if it won’t attach properly to your camera. If you’re using the camera of a smartphone to shoot, choose a stabilizer that is designed specifically for use with phones. Other stabilizers are designed to be compatible with DSLR or mirrorless cameras—look for stabilizers that are specifically designed for your camera. You should also ensure that the stabilizer’s weight capacity is compatible with your camera’s weight.
Compatibility With Accessories
Depending on the type of stabilizer you choose, your stabilizer rig can also be compatible with other camera accessories. Want to attach an external light or microphone to your camera rig? Choose a stabilizer that can accommodate these additional accessories. If you don’t need to attach other camera accessories, you should be fine with just about any stabilizer.
Motorized or Non-Motorized?
Among the different types of camera stabilizers are two different varieties: motorized and non-motorized stabilizers. A motorized stabilizer has a motor that is powered by electricity to automatically counteract the movement of your camera during shooting. A non-motorized stabilizer, on the other hand, has no motor and mechanically balances the camera using its weight. Non-motorized stabilizers can be manually adjusted, allowing you a bit more control of the stabilizer and shot than you would have with a motorized stabilizer. If you purchase a motorized stabilizer, keep in mind that you’ll need to either charge the batteries or bring fresh ones along with you on your shoots—the last thing you want is for your stabilizer to die mid-shoot.
Stabilizers come in all types, weights, and sizes, meaning that some are more portable than others. How portable do you need your stabilizer to be? If you’ll be holding your stabilizer and camera for long periods of time, you might want to invest in a lighter handheld model. But if your shoots are short or you’ll be attaching your stabilizer to a separate dolly or car, you can probably get away with a bulkier, heavier version. Another thing to consider is whether you want to bring your stabilizer on the go—if so, you’ll likely want one that’s portable and can easily fit in your backpack or car.
Because there are so many stabilizers available, prices will vary based on the type and model of stabilizer you choose. Set a budget for yourself before choosing a stabilizer and purchase one that falls within your price range. Even if you need to get a lower quality stabilizer to start, remember that you’ll always be able to upgrade later when the need arises.
Knowing what to look for in a camera stabilizer will help you to make the best selection of equipment to use in your projects. Look over your options while remembering how to choose a camera stabilizer. Whichever kind of stabilizer you decide on, be sure to check out Glide Gear’s collection of camera stabilizers and rigs. You’re sure to find a tool that will help your film footage and photography shine.