Best DSLR Camera Stabilizer

DSLR Camera Stabilizer Benefits

Whether you’re a novice videographer looking to take breathtaking vacation shots or a professional photographer shooting production video, image stabilization is an essential tool for getting that great shot.  We spent over 37 hours researching the best DSLR Camera Stabilizers to find the best in the business.  After testing and toiling and taking hundreds of videos, we found the Zhiyun Crane V2 Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer to be the Best Overall.

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Best DSLR Camera Stabilizer

ZhiyunCrane V2 Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer

This unit is the top-of-the-line price when compared to our other top contenders, and with a myriad of special features and flawless performance, it’s no surprise that the Zhiyun Crane V2 Gimbal Stabilizer came out as our Best Overall choice.

This unit easily handled anything we threw at it.  Once you get it properly balanced, it’s easy to see how efficient, powerful, and effortless it is to use this stabilizer.

The 3-axis stabilization design provided us with stunning images and a complete 360-degree rotation field, and we loved its Bluetooth capability that allowed us remote control of the unit.

It’s easy to see why this Gimbal is the go-to product for filmmakers, film students, and aspiring videographers.


Runner Up

Neewer 24” Handheld Stabilizer with Quick Release

The Neewer 24” Handheld Steadicam stabilizer is a great product at a great price.  We highly recommend this product as a starter unit if you’re just beginning to think about working your way off the tripod and onto a stabilizer.  This stabilizer is sure to step up your videography game.

This stabilizer can adjust from 15.2” up to 24” which allows you to take both high and low angle shots. This stretch adjustment also allows you to easily balance cameras from approximately 1.1 pounds up to 6.0 pounds. You can also use the bidirectional base plate that includes a fine adjustment system to get this stabilizer in balance easily.

At the top, it offers a quick release plate which can accept any camera with a ¼” or a 3/8” screw hole.  The quick release plate also has a safety mechanism that catches the plate if the locking screw comes loose – a nipple attached to the screw doesn’t allow the plate to fall off and drop your camera.  We loved this!

The unit itself is constructed of a black powder-coated aluminum with a foam-covered handle.

DSLR Camera Stabilizer Differences

Difference Between Gimbals and Steadicams

Gimbals and Steadicams are two distinct types of image stabilization accessories that can help the user capture sharp, stable, video images.The way these accessories work is by moving the center of gravity down from the middle of your DSLR Camera to the accessory itself – to better control movement and therefore stabilize the video. Depending on the make and model of your camera, image stabilization can even help you to capture sharp pictures at slower shutter speeds than was ever before possible.But that’s another topic…

Gimbals

Gimbals are a motorized (usually battery powered) type of stabilizer that automatically adjusts and stabilizes by using thenow-popular and affordable 3-axis system which keepsthe camera level with the horizon. With this technology, no matter how you move, the camera will stay pointing straight forward.  The effect is amazing, and its purpose serves to simulate the way your eyes would view images in real life.

Gimbals are very easy to use because the mechanics adjust the stabilization without any (or minimal) input from the user.  They can also easily adjust to small changes in weight such as adding or taking off a lens filter, whereas a manual Steadicam will need to have these minor adjustments made by the user.

As you might expect, because of the technology involved, Gimbals are more expensive option than Steadicams and could set you back a pretty penny.
DSLR Camera Stabilizer Differences

Steadicam

A Steadicam is not a motorizeddevice.  Alternatively, it usesgravity and weights to balance the shot and keep the camera steady.  They require a bit of setup to get the balance just right for the camera you’re using and only need minor adjustments from there.

From what we experienced, the windcan effectSteadicams quite a bit.  Unfortunately, we (more than once) found ourselves in a position where we didn’t realize the effects of the wind until after getting home and looking at the video.  On the other hand, the automated adjustments made by the Gimbals we tested were much better at stabilizing our video in windy conditions.

Another thing to note about using a Steadicam is that if you want to adda filter to your lens, you will need to rebalance the Steadicam and adjust for the weight change, both when putting on and taking off the filter whereas the Gimbal will automatically adjust.

Despite it all, Steadicams are a fantastic and affordable next-step-up from using a tripod.  If you are a beginner, start by using aSteadicam then move up to a Gimbal. Progressingalong in this way will give you the experience you need tolearn about stabilization, and you’ll also learn when you will and when you won’t need it.

Although we came across some users who handbuilt their ownSteadicams, we would encourage you to purchase an affordable model and learn about the process before you build one on your own.
DSLR Camera Stabilizer Review

Important Features to Note

Capacity Range (camera weight limits) –  Capacity Rage refers to the maximum camera weight that the stabilizer can handle and still find a proper balance.  Sometimes a stabilizer will even list a minimum weight range that it can handle.

Stabilizer Dimensions– It’s important to note the size of the stabilizer you’re looking at and be sure to consider the fact that you’ll be carrying it around quite a bit and even packing it up for travel.  Many frequent users and professionals invest in a vest that can help hold the weight.

Stabilizer Weight– Remember that you’ll be lugging both the weight of the stabilizer as well as your camera around with you.  Be sure to add these weights together, so you know what you’ll be needing to carry around as far as total weight.

ProAm USA Stabilizer Neewer Stabilizer PULUZ Stabilizer ZhiyunCrane Stabilizer FLYCAM Stabilizer
Capacity Range Up to 6 pounds Up to 6 pounds Select Cameras Only 0.77 lbs – 3.95 lbs Up to 8 pounds
Dimensions 18 x 4 x 10 inches 4.8 x 9.2 x 16.3 inches 10.4 x 6.7 x 2.4 inches 5.5 x 15.8 x 14.2 inches 21 x 7.5 x 6.5 inches
Weight 5.3 pounds 4.6 pounds 1.7 pounds 6 pounds 11 pounds
Type Gimbal Steadicam Steadicam Gimbal Steadicam

How We Selected

We started our search with over 900 DSLR Stabilizers that we needed to weed through.  Obviously, we needed to look thoroughly at these to determine which five models we would test.

To start with, we knew we wanted only to test models that have a 4-or-more star rating (out of 5) regarding customer satisfaction.

Also, we wanted to test one higher-end model, but we wanted our choices to be more in a range that would be affordable for most users.  Additionally, we wanted to be sure to thoroughly test a combination of both Gimbal and Manual-style of stabilizers.

Once we weeded out many of our options by using the above criteria, we were left with 23 choices ranging in price from $995.00 to $69.95.  With such a wide price range, we surmised that the best choices would lie somewhere in the middle and we also felt that a decent stabilizer could be found without having to spend an exorbitant amount of money.
DSLR-Camera-Stabilizer-Price

How We Tested

We took each of these five models through a range of tests – each test was performed five times – one time with each stabilizer.

Walking up a set of stairs – The wooded background of this test helped each stabilizer to give acceptable results.  It seems that the background plays an important role and that you don’t notice stabilization (or not) as strongly with a busy background.  There’s just too much to look at to notice much wobbling.

Running towards a picnic shelter–We chose this test because we felt the vertical post lines at each of the 4 corners of the shelter would help give perspective. Interestingly, at first glance, the video seemed stable, yet once you compared themovement to the 4 vertices, you could see how much better the Gimbals performed.

Walking along a railing above a river–Same idea here as using the vertical test, only this test was to determine the stability of horizontal lines.  Just as we suspected, we experienced much the same outcome as the vertical test.  The image was acceptably stable with the Steadicam, but you could definitely notice a difference when comparing themovement to the horizontal lines of the railing.

What We Liked

  1. The Zhiyun Crane V2 Gimbal Stabilizer worked wonders for us. It could easily handle anything we threw at it.  There is no question as to why this unit is the go-to stabilizer for so many videographers.
  2. We were happy to notice that the ProAm USA Autopilot Gimbal was both designed and assembled in the USA. It’s hard to find any type of electronic accessory made outside of China these days,so this was a welcome bonus.
  3. The Neewer 24” Steadicam Stabilizer performed well for an extremely affordable price. After getting the hang of getting balances, you’ll be well on your way to taking incredible video.

What We Didn’t Like

  1. The FLYCAM 24” Steadicam Stabilizer was the heaviest of the five we tested. It definitely gave us a workout, and our arms started to become tired holding this unit.
  2. The PULUZ Camera Cage Steadicam was a bit tricky to use and didn’t fully accommodate the cameras we tried in it. Some cameras even had the battery slot blocked which meant that we had to take the camera out of the cage to replace or recharge the battery.
  3. The Neewer 24” Steadicam is the most basic of all the stabilizers we tested. This makes it a great starter stabilizer but also means that it is the simplest design and therefore it might take a bit of time to work out the balance on this unit.

Reviews

ProAm USA Autopilot Gimbal Stabilizer

ProAm USA Autopilot Gimbal Stabilizer
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The AutoPilot Gimbal Stabilizer was introduced by ProAm USA, a company that both designed and assembled the stabilizer here in the USA.

We love that this stabilizer offers a camera platform that features both X and Y adjustments as well as multiple mounting holes for various camera positions and that the company provided us with a ¼ – 20 camera thumb screw.

As do most Gimbal Stabilizers, this model offers triple axis stabilization for smooth and flowing movements.  The large, precision bearings of this Gimbal absorbed unwanted motion no matter what type of terrain we experienced while testing.

As did other models, this one offers a soft, foam-grip handle which makes handling very comfortable and the body is made of black anodized aluminum which reduces fingerprints.

The weight platform offers eight, steel plate weights which balance your camera on the stabilizer.  We could easily add or remove weights based on our camera load.

In the end, we found this model to be a great introductory unit and the perfect step up from using a tripod since we saw a vast improvement in stabilization.

Neewer 24” Handheld SteadicamStabilizer with Quick Release

Neewer Handheld Steadicam Stabilizer with Quick Release
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We were impressed with the high number of positive reviews on this stabilizer and knew we had to include it in our tests.

The price is affordable, and we feel that this model is a great introductory unit that will get you well-on-your-way tounderstanding the feel of using a Handheld Stabilizer.

This model is typical of this design style which includes a long carbon-fiber frame with weights at the bottom.  It also includes a quick-release system on top to easily mount and dismount any camera with ¼” or 3/8” fixture.

We like the rubber cover on the handle which helped reduce shoulder strain during long shoots, and also liked the fact that it can extend from 15.2” to 24” to adapt to different weight cameras.

In the box, you will receive 1 stabilizer and 1 Carry Case.

PULUZ Camera Cage Steadicam Stabilizer for Panasonic and Sony

PULUZ Camera Cage Steadicam Stabilizer for Panasonic and Sony
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This Camera-Cage Stabilizer kit is designed to hold the following cameras: Panasonic G7 & Lumix DMC-GH4/ GH3, Sony A7/ A7S/ A7R/ A7RII/ A7SII.

We enjoyed using this camera cage stabilizer and love its adjustable rail rods and quick release knob. It uses an ergonomic camber design that provides a comfortable hold.

We found that the universal holes on the base plate made it easy and simple to attach our cameras.

The cage is a bit unforgiving with a few camera models and not all battery compartments can be opened while the camera is in the cage.  However, this cage is a great base model that will do a suburb job of stabilizing your video if you’re willing to work with it a bit.  It is a great value for theprice.

The package for this kit includes 1 – Camera Cage, 1 – Handle Grip, 1 – Cable Clamp, 1 – Base Plate, 2 – Rail Rods.

ZhiyunCrane V2 Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer

ZhiyunCrane V2 Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer
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The Zhiyun is the most expensive of our five contenders, but with good reason.  It clearly outperforms the others by a wide margin.

This product allows 360-degree rotation along all three axes and supports cameras up to 3.9 pounds.  A bonus feature is the lens support for longer lenses and offers 32-bit MCUs (Motor Control Units) that are running in parallel at 4000 Hz.

We found the balancing to be extremely sensitive which you would expect on a model at this price.  Once we got it balanced, we found the shots to be smooth as silk.

Each camera we tried needed a bit of adjusting, but this Gimbal stood up to the test and was able to handle any changes without problems.

We loved that we could control the unit wirelessly from an iOS/Android app using the built-in Bluetooth system.

In the box, you will receive (2) 26500 Li-ion Batteries, a 26500 Battery Charger, a Micro USB Cable, a Lens Mounting Clamp, a Lens Mounting Screw, a User Manual,and a Battery Compartment.

The Zhiyun Crane V2 comes with a Limited 2-Year Warranty.

FLYCAM 24” Handheld Steadicam Stabilizer

FLYCAM Handheld Steadicam Stabilizer
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The FLYCAM brand is newer on the market but quickly proving to be a quality contender in the Handheld Stabilizer market.

This 24” Steadicam Stabilizer allowed us to take incredibly stable shots even when running, going up and down stairs, and while shooting on uneven terrain.

The foam-cushioned handle is easy to hold, and the quick release plate worked well – allowing us to attach and remove cameras quickly.

After spending a bit of time balancing the FLYCAM, you should only need to make micro adjustments going forward for precise balancing.

As the heaviest of all our choices (which is why it can hold the heaviest camera of all our choices), we might suggest using a body vest or arm brace along with this unit if you are planning to use it for any extended length of time. Using one of these will helpreduce arm and neck strain which we experienced while testing.

The box includes the FLYCAM stabilizer, a Heavy-Duty Table Clamp, a Unico Quick Release Clamp, and a Storage Case.

Conclusion

While looking for a great DSLR Stabilizer, you’ll find that there is a slew of choices from which to pick.  You’ll likely find yourself wondering where in the world to start.

Our goal with this guide is to provide you with all the information you’ll need to make the choice that’s best for you.  We’ve researched the difference between Manual and Gimbal Stabilizers and tested both to see which came out on top.

In the end, we determined that the best decision for you will be based on how you plan to use your stabilizer and how much money you want to spend on it.  Be sure to read our above suggestions as we review five of the Best Stabilizers out there.  We’re confident that our research will lead you to the purchase that’s best for you.

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Author: Cheryl C.

Cheryl is a Senior Editor for ReadPlease and a contributor to several other leading consumer review sites. When Cheryl isn't researching, testing and writing, you'll find her enjoying a yoga class.

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