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How to Shoot Video With a Gimbal

Brushless gimbals have ushered somewhat of a revolution for video producers, from the hobbyist to the professional camera operator. A video camera on a gimbal has enabled us to achieve smooth, floating-like camera movement on all kinds of shoots, including features, commercials, documentaries, weddings, and even home movies.

Before the rise of gimbals, in order to achieve this level of smooth video while moving the camera you would have needed to hire an expert Steadicam operator, or try to master the skill on your own. These kinds of camera stabilizers would utilize a precise system of counterweights, and if you carefully held the rig at exactly the center point between the camera and counterweights, you could achieve stabilization.

Using a Glidecam stabilizer with a DSLR

But using a Steadicam or similar stabilization system takes a lot of skill to use correctly, and the weight on your wrists can cause pain in your hand, wrist, and arm after even a couple minutes of use. Of course, you could purchase additional support equipment that helps ease the pressure on your wrist, and you could take classes on operating a Steadicam, but that can be an intense commitment for many shooters looking to add a few steady shots to their videos.

With a gimbal, however, you can achieve smooth shots relatively easily, without investing in a ton of equipment or time before you're up and running. Gimbals typically feature electronic motors that counteract your jitters and shakes on three axis: the pan, tilt, and roll axis. The motors can sense motion along these axis several thousands of times per second, and then they correct for that motion by keeping your camera level and jitter free. 

Using a gimbal in a car

In just a few years after they were widely adopted by filmmakers, gimbals have now become simpler to use and lighter to manage. Today, there are one handed gimbals for small cameras, from DSLRs to mirrorless cameras to GoPros, and there are also micro gimbals that have built-in cameras. Best of all, they can be had for around the cost of a decent tripod. 

But a gimbal doesn’t automatically make your shots perfectly smooth out of the box. There are still a few basics that you need to learn, like how to get your gimbal balanced for your specific camera, how to get different kinds of shots, and how to walk while using a gimbal. We'll cover those topics and more in this series of tutorials on How to Shoot with a Gimbal, starting with what you need.

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