Camera stabilisers: everything you need to know
Image shaking is one of the biggest problems you’ll struggle with as a cinematographer, and unless you’re willing to invest in a camera stabiliser, chances are that you’re going to keep struggling with it. We’ll take you through everything you need to know about camera stabilisers right here:
What is a camera stabiliser?
So, first things first, what exactly is a camera stabiliser? They’re devices that you can use to hold a camera, stopping unwanted movement or ‘camera shake’. There’s a range of different types, but the most well-known are probably Steadicams, tripods and hand-held devices.
- Steadicams: A body-mounted stabiliser consisting of three main elements: the arm, the sled (which holds the equipment) and the supportive vest. It provides the camera with balance, as well as acting as a shock absorber, helping to produce a smooth and steady image.
- Tripods: Portable and typically three-legged, camera tripods will reduce blur and shake. If you’re using it for photography they’re great for framing an image, while in video shooting they’re much more often used for stabilization.
- Hand-held: If you’ve got a lighter camera, a hand-held stabiliser is probably the best option. They give you steadier shots without the need to carry around a huge amount of equipment with you.
What can you do with a camera stabiliser?
Camera stabilisers can be used in a variety of key areas:
- Action footage: If you’re shooting fast moving images which require you to move and swivel around, a camera stabiliser can help you to capture them without losing out on quality.
- Close up or far away: Shooting objects on the ground or high above can be difficult, but with a camera stabiliser all you need to do is tilt the arm of the stabiliser down or up.
- Vehicles: For anyone crazy enough to be attaching their camera to a car or vehicle, a camera stabiliser is absolutely essential in order to get a smooth image.
- Long exposure: Planning a long exposure shot, you’re going to need a stabiliser – preferably a tripod – in order to realistically make the shot.
How to choose the right one for you?
If you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and buy a camera stabiliser for yourself, there are a few factors that you’re going to need to consider:
- What’s your budget? It goes without saying, but a higher budget is going to net you a more versatile and capable rig.
- How heavy is your camera? Different camera stabilisers are able to handle different weights, so if you’ve got a heavier camera, you’re probably going to need to spend a little bit extra.
- What sort of mobility do you need? Are you standing still or up and around? Need an aerial shot? Want to attach your camera to a car? These are all things you’ll need to consider when picking out your camera stabiliser. From a Steadicam to a 3-Axis Gimbal, the type of camera stabiliser you go for is dependent upon how mobile you need to be.
- How quickly do you need to set your rig up? When you’re checking out the different options, make sure to pay attention to the setup times for each rig. It’s also worth examining how compact the camera stabiliser is, particularly if you’re going to be travelling with the rig.
- Do you really need a camera stabiliser? It might sound a bit negative, but the reality is that not everyone really needs to buy high-end camera stabilising equipment, and if you’re not willing to invest the necessary funds, it might be worth considering whether other options are available. For example, Reel Steady for After Effects can help you to stabilise an image in post-production. This may be a more budget-friendly option.
Where can you buy a camera stabiliser?
There are lots of different places you can pick up a camera stabiliser. You can find a great selection at a range of online retailers, including Jessops and Amazon. Specialist shops like GripUp and CVP are also great options. Of course, you could always go straight to the supplier – JOBY, Tiffen, CobraCrane and Freefly are just a few of the options you can choose from.
Want to bring balance and stability to your camera shots and video shooting? You now know everything you need to pick out the very best camera stabiliser for you.