What Is a Gimbal Stabilizer and How Does It Work?

Last update September 25, 2020
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Though the advantages of professional video cameras are beyond any doubt, today, the cameras on your smartphone are about just as capable and able to deliver close to professional performance with amazing footage. Besides, unlike professional shooting equipment, a smartphone is something most people have, which is why it’s the easiest and most affordable way to try your hand at shooting without spending an exorbitant sum of money on everything filming usually entails. 

However, that doesn’t mean you can just pick your camera and capture brilliant photos just like that. Anyone who has ever tried to take video footage with a smartphone knows that it can be quite hard to get a perfect shot without it ending up being blurred due to shaky hands. This may be alright for most home use scenarios, of course, but if you are looking to produce a high-quality video to share on social media websites, you need to make sure your film content looks its best. Is it possible though? Well, it definitely is! Have you heard of special gimbal stabilizers for professional DSLR cameras? Great! Because the market offers plenty of gimbals, like these best GoPro gimbals and special gimbals for smartphones as well!

History of gimbal technology

It is interesting but these devices aren’t something new and have been around for quite a long time. In fact, the roots of this technology run as far back as 280-220 B.C. In Greece, for example, as accounts of the Greek inventor talk, they had an eight-sided ink pot created based on this technology which made it possible to dip a pen and avoid spilling no matter what way the inkpot was turned. Gimbal systems were widely used in Ancient China as well. One such example is an incense burner, the invention of Ding Huan who lived around 180 A.D. 

Now, after this short historical excursus, let’s answer the questions “What is a gimbal stabilizer?” and “How does a gimbal work?”, and define it in terms of its mechanisms so you know how to make the best of the technology and maximize its benefits.

What Is a Gimbal?

What is a gimbal?

In layman’s terms, a gimbal is a type of stabilizer (support) that can pivot, allowing you to rotate an object along one axis. The device consists of three concentric circles that are connected to each other at two points, which allows a smartphone camera mounted on it to remain steady on the base without you having to hold it in hands. The three axes that the gimbal has are defined as yaw, pitch, and roll.

The yaw helps counteract the tilt while the pitch and roll are in charge of preventing the camera from shifting side to side and back to forth. That way, once you install your smartphone at the center of this gimbal system, you can be sure it won’t shift in any way however you move the base.

Now the question is, how does it stay that way and what exactly keeps it so balanced? The answer is: its axes. Due to the way they are positioned, they prevent the slightest movement of the construction, maintaining the center of the device at a level position no matter what.

The Difference Between Gimbals and Stabilizers

Stabilizers vs gimbals

Now let’s outline the key distinctions between gimbal systems and stabilizers and see what makes them different. First things first, gimbals are a type of camera stabilizer, so we are basically talking about the same device. Having said that, they are not identical. As a rule, handheld stabilizers do not incorporate any type of vest or 3-axis gimbals and rely on a smooth operation. Most of them are also less expensive. When it comes to 3-axis gimbals, those use a set of pivoting gimbals plus they are electronic, so they largely rely on the battery and charge time.

How Does a Gimbal Work?

How does a gimbal work?

We’ve already answered the question “What is a gimbal?”, now it’s time to take a look at how this equipment works as well as outline the most important things to consider when choosing a device for your needs. As we mentioned, gimbals allow maintaining a camera mounted on it at a level position with rotations of its axes. Aside from this, though, they also incorporate a brushless motor and sensors that, upon detecting any bumps, jolts or shakes, work instantly to eliminate movements. At the same time, the camera maintains its position and faces the direction it was set.

That said, these devices can do much more than just keeping your camera steady. Most of the models created today come with a bundle of advanced features tailored to improve the user’s experience, including utility software, for example, or Bluetooth that enables operating the device via a mobile app. Below, we offer you to take a look at some of the features that can be found on gimbals today, so you can compare the functionality and choose the best one for your smartphone.

What things to consider when choosing a gimbal

Axis Stabilization

This is the most important feature, because the whole value of a gimbal is its ability to keep your smartphone steady. As for now, the market offers two types of gimbals to choose from - two-axis and three-axis stabilizers. Two-axis stabilizers are intended to stabilize the tilt and the roll and let you capture objects at unleveled angles as well as those that move or fall in a downward direction. More often than not, they are quite inexpensive. When it comes to three-axis stabilizers, these, in addition to controlling the tilt and the roll, also help stabilize the pan which allows capturing great footage at all angles. They come at a higher price point but the performance they offer is well worth it.

Power Source

When it comes to the power source, smartphone gimbals can use either regular alkaline batteries or rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. With regards to the former, those are quite cheap but you’ll need to replace them frequently. The latter are more practical in this regard, but compared to standard batteries, they usually have shorter operation time.


Most gimbals today come with some utility software already installed on the device. It allows you to get the most out of not only the gimbal itself but also your smartphone camera. However, keep in mind that this software is not versatile and, as a rule, can only work with a particular operating system, therefore, make sure to check its compatibility with your camera (and your smartphone) before the purchase.


Finally, consider the weight and overall dimensions of the equipment. Even though gimbals, in their vast majority, do not usually weigh much more than two-three pounds, even that weight can get heavy if you need to hold it in hands for a long time. That said, when choosing a gimbal for your camera, what you should focus on is not its weight but performance, even if it’s half a pound heavier than you’d want.

Filming Tips

Quick tips on how to film with a gimbal

In order to get the most out of a gimbal, we recommend following a few quick tips. They will allow you to maximize the benefits of the technology and get a lot of versatility in terms of the quality and types of shots you can take.

Tip 1

First things first, make sure to balance your gimbal. It’s an important step for capturing clear footage without blurs. After that, vloggers recommend focusing on the foreground and make sure there’s something interesting in each of your shots. With that in mind, place an object of interest in the foreground and move your camera around it. As a rule of thumb, viewers are more interested in shots of this kind since there are shown in relation to the background.

Tip 2

Another tip: don’t be afraid to get close to an object, because this is exactly what this equipment was created for. You can get low to the ground and take photos from this angle or you can follow your subject and capture tight moving shots. The beauty of gimbals is that they allow for experiments, you just need to know how to use its potential.

Tip 3

Whether you’re using a professional DSLR camera or the camera of your smartphone, you should always plan out your shots. Not only will it allow you to save time and get fantastic shots, but also you will not need to mess around with the construction mounting and unmounting it more times than you need. Aside from that, if filming video content is more than just a hobby for you, you may also want to take advantage of special software solutions created specifically for video producers.

3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer From Hohem

Hohem's 3-axis gimbal stabilizer

At this stage, you already know everything there’s to know about what a gimbal is and how it works. What you should do next, of course, is to find the best gimbal that will serve your needs best. Our suggestion is to consider the 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer from Hohem. This gimbal is compatible with a wide range of smartphones and provides endless possibilities for video creators. Let’s take a look at its key features that make it stand out from the crowd.

Axis Stabilization

With regards to stabilization, this gimbal is hard to beat. It has three axes of rotation and features four different stabilization modes, so you can play around with it until you find the option that will be the most suitable for the type of uses you have in mind. You also get a handy 4-direction controller that will let you adjust the camera’s rotation however you want. What’s more, this gimbal is even able to do one full 360 rotation along its axes, so it’s up to the task of being a solid option for taking both great still footage and some strange arty shorts.

Power Source

Bringing this gimbal along with you won’t be an issue, since it has a capacious built-in 4000 mAh battery that provides up to 12 hours of operating time. Not only that. What we find especially attractive about it is that it can also be used as a power bank, so you can charge your smartphone via its USB power port just as you film.

Characteristics of 3-Axis gimbal stabilizer


Speaking of compatibility, this gimbal is fitted with a 2.3-3.5-inch wide clip that will snugly hold most smartphones, including all iPhones, the Samsung Galaxy S series, as well as Huawei smartphones. To get the most out of the gimbal, you can download the accompanying Hohem Gimbal App - it has a lot of nifty features and allows for full control of filming both from your gimbal and remotely, via the app. The features include various time-lapse modes such as slow-motion, tracklapse, hyper-lapse, and many other extras including strobe mode that can enhance the quality of your shots without you having to edit them later.

Design and Convenience of Use

This gimbal is very easy to use and carry around. Weighing just about 1.07 pounds, it won’t add weight to your backpack and it won’t be tiring to hold it in hands even for an extended period of time. At the same, the device feels very solid, so it will hold your mobile gadget reliably in place. When it comes to controls, everything is simple here. There are just a few buttons on its handle that allow you to zoom in/out and control the rotation of the camera. Thus, getting to know this gimbal and understanding how to mount and operate it will take you mere minutes.


All told, this 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer is a real beauty, especially considering its price. Though you can find plenty of similar devices for smartphones on the market, there aren’t many among them that can provide the same set of advanced features and let you get perfect shots in motion that you can immediately share on social media sites.