Gimbals or stabilizers are some of the most popular GoPro camera accessories, and for good reason. A 3-axis gimbal is used to hold a camera in place and thus helps in image stabilization during active shoots. With this in mind, how does a 3-axis gimbal work? 3-axis Gimbal. GoPro cameras can also benefit with the use of a handheld gimbal.
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What is a 3-axis gimbal?
The term gimbal is used to define an adjustable camera built to keep a device level, stabilized or from vibrating. A 3-axis gimbal makes use of brush-less motors to adjust the camera position, which are both powerful and durable. 3-axis describes the different motions a camera can be stabilize, that is, left and right, up and down, and front and back; otherwise referred to as tilt, pan and roll.
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The tilt axis is the motion of moving the camera up and down. Most often this feature is used to follow an object as it moves up and down or visa versa. Following a leaf as it falls to the ground is an example of tilt.
The pan axis is the motion of moving the camera left and right. Most often this feature is used to follow an object as it moves from left to right or visa versa. Following a bike rider or a skier as it passes from left to right is an example of using pan.
Roll axis is the motion of moving the camera horizontally. Most often it is used to correct an issue as a result of the video not being level with the horizon.
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How does a 3-axis gimbal work?
The modern 3-axis camera gimbal bundles most of the same technologies that electronic gadgets such as smartphones, gaming controllers and even drone controlling systems do.
Handheld 3-axis gimbals offer a vibration and shake free, camera shooting experience.
Gimbals use a function known as Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) to translate commands made by a camera operator, into movement responses while utilizing its three different brushless motors to level the camera.
Utilizing a number of powerful electronics, sensors and motors, a gimbal is able to pinpoint any sudden and unwanted motions. As a result they are instantly canceled out. This means that the camera is protected from any jolts, as it just remains floating in the air.
Most of the computing power that a 3-axis gimbal needs to execute its actions is usually housed in a circuit board known as the controller. Here you'll find an internal software installed by the manufacturer and Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) which contain the structures that create a level. MEMS respond to movement commands, by sending electrical impulses translating the exact force and direction.
The controller ensures that the 3 brush-less motors keep the camera stabilized by sending commands numerous times per second. These commands are what keeps the camera level and the gimbal itself vibration free.
Besides handheld shooting, gimbals can be the best alternatives for mounting on cars, where camera mounts such as tripods, would not be suitable due to sudden movements that may occur.
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Shooting using a 3-axis gimbal
3-axis gimbals usually come in two primary form factors:
Handheld GoPro Gimbal mounts allow you to create stable action videos while running or skiing. Depending on the model some may have a 1/4"-20 threaded screw hole for use with a tripod.
Smooth and vibration free videos are a result of using a GoPro handheld gimbal. 3-axis Gimbal.
Wearable GoPro Gimbal mounts are great when an handheld is not possible. Amazing videos can be created using a chest mounted wearable gimbal. Most have a 1/4"-20 threaded screw hole for use with a tripod or the standard GoPro mounts.
This means you can capture all of the immersive action camera shots that you're accustomed to, but with motorized pan and tilt axis stabilization. 3-axis Gimbal.
WHAT ARE A GIMBAL’S DRAWBACKS?
Like any tool, there are benefits and drawbacks to brushless gimbals that you need to be aware of when evaluating whether it’s right for you. Here are some of the downsides to shooting with a gimbal:
Controllers, sensors, and motors all require power, so you’ll have to remember to bring enough batteries to last for your entire shoot.
Takes time to balance
The camera needs to be properly balanced on the gimbal each time you change cameras or lenses.Requires technical savvyYou will need to be adept at using computers and electronics to configure and tune the gimbal for the best results via software.
Tiring to use
A gimbal’s form factor requires you to hold it out in front of you with both arms when shooting, putting strain on your arms and shoulders.
A gimbal is not something you just pick up and use. You need to become familiar with its controls and different modes of operation to get good results.
A gimbal’s wide handlebars and rigid frame make it more difficult to travel with and use in small spaces compared to just the compact GH4 and a minimal handheld rig.
Important features that you should look for when choosing a gimbal for any camera:
The gimbal must be able to support the camera and the lens you intend to shoot with. For example, the gimbal should support at least 1kg to handle the GH4 and a small lens.
Balancing the camera will go much faster if the gimbal features tool-less adjustments for adjusting the camera sled’s position in the gimbal.
Better performance and more control via software compared to the older 8-bit controllers.
Quick-Release camera plate
Quickly being able to mount and dismount the camera from the gimbal is important.
Be sure to pick a gimbal that uses standard Lithium batteries. 18650 lithium batteries easy to find and relatively cheap. Stick with well know brands and stay away from any with the word 'fire' in the brand. These are cheap Chinese batteries found on Ebay or Amazon.