If you think your optically-stabilised smartphone camera is good enough to help you record pro-level (or even semi-pro level) videos, you might want to try out a 3-axis gimbal stabiliser (or simply, a gimbal). A gimbal is a device that looks like a high-tech contraption but serves an important function—of eliminating jerks and shakes. It works on the same principles as a gyroscope does. It stabilizes the tilt, pan, and roll of a camera. So if you move side to side, up and down, back and forth, the gimbal stabilizes the video even if you are shaky.
Further, you even get a miniaturised joystick to move around the camera, thanks to the motors present inside the device.
Being a video-maker myself, I personally enjoy the convenience of carrying a smartphone gimbal around. It helps me take some really smooth shots, especially when I have to pan or tilt.
The Digitek 3-Axis Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer is one such device. Priced at ₹10,995, it is not exactly cheap. But is it worth the money? Let’s find out.
Design and build quality
The Digitek 3-Axis Gimbal is built like a tank. Using a combination of metal and plastic, it secures confidently in the hand. The rubber grip has a leather-esque texture to it and it is contoured in a way that it fits snugly in the palm. It is heavy, like most other gimbals, but the weight distribution is such that it doesn’t strain your hand after long periods of usage. The buttons and the joysticks at the front are placed within the reach, although the trigger button at the back requires a bit of a stretch.
The smartphone holder, however, is very well built. Having abused it on multiple occasions, it is pretty surprising how its springs have held up.
The only major letdown, really, is the adjustment arm that stabilises the roll axis of the smartphone. It requires a lot of trial and error to screw it in a position that doesn’t cause the gimbal in the direction of a smartphone’s weight. This problem only occurs with smartphones that are not iPhones, as this is built specifically around the iPhone 8.
Coming to the accessories it is shipped with, it comes with a Micro-USB charging cable, a wrist-strap, mini tripod base and a hard case to carry all of these.
Getting started is much simpler than I initially expected. First, you have to download the “Gimbal Pro” app from the Play Store. Then you are required to turn on the gimbal by holding the record button (the red one). A blue blinking light means you’re on the right track. The following steps are straightforward, as the app directs you what to do in order to connect the gimbal to your smartphone via Bluetooth.
Once you’re sorted with that, you can open the custom camera app that lets you use the controls present on the gimbal. This means there is no need to touch your screen to record a video or click a photo. You will have to touch the display to lock your exposure and focus and also to select various modes. These include panorama, video, photo, hyperlapse and panoramic hyperlapse.
The features work as advertised, a little better to be honest. The controls, however, could be improved. The sensitivity of the joystick is still very high even when you turn it all the way down in the settings. Luckily, the joystick supports analogue functions, so you can take some slow pan shots by moving it in the direction of your choice ever so slightly. This requires a bit of effort to completely master it.
Coming to stabilisation, almost all of my walking shots came out acceptable. They appear smooth but not overly done. The option to lock one axis of rotation is also very handy during situations in which you’re moving around a lot.
By mounting it on the bundled mini tripod, the gimbal can take some really good panoramic hyperlapses. You’ll just have to make sure the gimbal is not leaning to a side or else chances are it might fall.
It does have a few flaws that you should be wary of. It freaks out when you try using it at extremely steep angles i.e. when the angle between the handle and the smartphone is less than 135-degrees. So if you’re planning to make some close-up walk-in video cutaways of tiny subjects, like smartphones, you’re out of luck.
Second, some smartphones lean even after making the roll axis adjustments—physically and through the app. I didn’t face this issue with an iPhone 8, but contemporary Android smartphones including Google Pixel 3 XL, OnePlus 6 and Samsung Galaxy Note 9 were all a bit painful to use. There were times when the gimbal went completely out of control, especially with the Galaxy Note 9. This is mainly due to the weight distribution of these smartphones.
The Digitek 3-Axis Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer is a great device for people serious about mobile videography. You can get some really good looking shots with it, with no jerks or shakes. Sure, it can’t fit all smartphones, but if you have an iPhone, you can’t really go wrong with it.