Over the years, I’ve advised readers to use a tripod in order to differentiate yourselves from the amateur videographer. With a tripod, you’ll create perfectly smooth and stable images.
But carrying a tripod is tiring, and setting it up takes time. Luckily, new technology has almost eliminated the need for messing around with a tripod—at least some of the time.
Ever hear of the steady-cam?
It’s a vest that uses weights in order to stabilize the camera system. It’s what professional cinematographers use in order to get steady shots while walking and filming.
Now the same company that created video drones, Osmo, has produced its version of a steady-cam that’s electronically stabilized without a vest: a hand-held gimbal.
Essentially, Osmo has reversed the three-axis gimbal system used in its drones and made it into a stick that you can easily hold with one hand.
The cheapest version is just $299, and you simply attach your smartphone to it to create steady and smooth video in high definition.
If you’re willing to spend a little more, go for the gimbal and an integrated camera with a 22-77mm zoom lens for $649. With this combo, you have all you need to shoot great (and steady) professional footage.
It shoots in up to 4K resolution and allows you to create motion time-lapse shots, as well as panorama photos and long exposure shots, all without the need for a tripod.
It also comes with an external microphone jack, so you can record professional audio (another great differentiator between a pro and an amateur).
And, an extension on the gimbal allows you to attach a smartphone, which acts as your control and your display and connects wirelessly to your camera.
The entire system is extremely easy to use. You simply position the camera using a controller on the stick before you start recording, and then turn your camera on and either walk to capture footage in front of you or stand still, turning slowly to capture footage around you – essentially simulating a pan.
You can even do this by standing still and moving your camera up and down or sideways, simulating a slide.
I don’t recommend using the electronic controller to pan or move the camera around while you’re recording, as it moves too fast. It’s better to create the movement you want using your arm or body by slowly moving the camera in the direction you want it to go.
I also recommend bending your knees slightly and lowering your center of gravity while walking and filming, as this will make your footage look even smoother and will create the sensation of gliding. I had to learn this through trial and error myself. At first there was still a slight up and down movement as you’ll see in this video, which I shot entirely using the Osmo gimbal.
I use the gimbal primarily for extensive walking trips, either while hiking in nature or in the city. Here’s another sample video, which was almost entirely shot with the gimbal.
I still shoot with a DSLR and use a tripod for that purpose, but the gimbal has made my wrk so much easier and more enjoyable.
If you’re just starting out and want to create professional videos, then the Osmo gimbal could be the only camera you use –you’ll never have to reach for that tripod again.