Buying Guide: Stabilizers for DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras
Looking to purchase a stabilizer for your DSLR or mirrorless camera? Here’s a breakdown of your best options and price points to consider before you make your purchase.
Top image via Der-Schweighofer
Unless it’s your thematic intention, in today’s digital filmmaking landscape, there really is no excuse for shaky, unstable footage. Specifically with lightweight DSLRs and mirrorless cameras that don’t have hand mounts and are not suitable for shouldering, handheld shots with even the smallest amounts of movement can cause all types of problems.
There’s only so much you want to do in post to fix these problems. So why not address them at the start by using a stabilizer — depending on what you’re trying to do, they can actually be quite affordable. If you’re ready to invest in yourself and your career, here are your buying options.
Let’s start with the one of the top sellers. The DJI Ronin-M comes in at a hefty price tag, but is really at the forefront of stabilization-for-filmmaking technology. It’s custom-designed for DSLR cameras with a lightweight and quiet build so you can operate for hours and record audio from your camera. The balancing is responsive and customizable and even offers second-party controls via remote. If you’re serious about your investment, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything better.
- Load Weight: 8lbs
- Three Operation Modes
· Underslung Mode
· Upright Mode
· Briefcase Mode
- Built-in independent IMU module
- DJI Specialized Gimbal Drive Motors with Encoders
- Bluetooth Module
- USB Connection
While the DJI Ronin might be the most versatile and pragmatic, the Glide Gear vest and arm stabilization system will be your most sturdy and reliable option. It’s not quite as expensive, but it’s still a bit pricey and packs a punch in its weight and set-up time. If you’re looking to upgrade to a bigger camera in the future, the sturdier vest stabilizers will be your best option — but for a DSLR or mirrorless, it might be a counterproductive luxury. Overall, it will give you the most confidence in your image stability with limited but secure motion.
- Load Capacity: 2 to 7 lbs
- Stabilizer with Three-Axis Gimbal
- Easy Release Camera Plate
- Vest with Adjustable Chest Plate
- Arm with Adjustable Tension Knobs
- Arm Mounts on Left or Right Side
- Powder Coated Anodized Aluminum
- Carrying Case for Vest & Arm
- Carrying Case for DNA 5050 Stabilizer
Quite the opposite of a vest stabilizer, the DS1 Handheld Stabilizer is small, compact, and easy to pick-up-and-go. It does offer two different stabilization modes that can easily be switched between for an endless variety of shots. The 3-axis gimbal is a slight notch below the Ronin but quite capable and easy to pick up. The motorized camera moves and adjustments keep the DS1 competitive with the top-of-the-line stabilizers and right above the non-motorized drop-off. Overall, the most intuitive option available.
- 3-Axis Motorized Gimbal
- Supports DSLRs Up to 3.7 lb
- Supports Mirrorless Up to 3.7 lb
- Quick Release Baseplate
- Tool-Less Balance Adjustments
- Two Stabilizing Modes
- Motorized Pan and Tilt Adjustment
- Use Normal, Inverted, or Briefcase
- Integrated USB Port for Power
- 3/8˝-16 Threaded Mounting Hole
Steadicam’s SOLO option is the most versatile of the bunch with its ability to convert into a monopod and optional arm and vest options. Its price point is below the premier stabilizing options, but the drop off for the majority of productions is minimal. The 3-axis gimbal is solid, but not motorized, and allows for a smooth array of motions. The counterweights may take a little bit to get used to, but once you find your ideal lens balances, you can work quite quickly. If versatility is your biggest factor, you can’t go wrong with the SOLO.
- Converts between Steadicam and Monopod
- 3-Axis Gimbal
- 10 lb Weight Capacity
- Telescopically Extends to Four Sections
- Includes QR Plate and Counterweights
- Folds to a Portable 24˝
- Supports Optional Arm and Vest
One of the most affordable options on the market, the Roxant “pro style” stabilizer is an across-the-board solid option for lightweight cameras, iPhones and GoPros. It’s not nearly the beast that the top-of-the-line stabilizers like the DJI Ronin are, but in a pinch and in small-budget productions, it’s quite capable to keep your footage from looking handheld and shaky. The weights are adjustable for finding the right balance for your camera and the aerodynamic design is great for lots of jerky movements. If you’re looking for something quick and cheap, it can work wonders.
- For use with Point-and-Shoot, DSLRs, Video Cameras, GoPros, Smartphones
- Weighs 1.8 lb
- Holds up to 2.1 lb
- Comfort grip handle
- 3 separate counterweights, for precise adjustments
If you’re still too tight on budget to buy a stabilizer for your arsenal, you can always consider some DIY options as well. Here’s a roundup on DIY Camera Stabilizers and Rigs for Under $25 to check out.
Have any other stabilizers you’d like to recommend? Let us know in the comments.