Good travel photography or videography is all about being on the move and capturing once in a lifetime shots which are never likely to be repeated.
For the very best, it means only the best equipment will do. This is no different when shooting on a GoPro. As with shooting via any camera, some shots call for the best GoPro gimbal stabilizer.
A gimbal is a type of motorised stabilizer, with a three axis system. The mechanical nature of the gimbal means that your shots will be steadier than with a non-motorized stabilizer, combating the well-known issue of motion blur with the GoPro.
Finding the right gimbal stabilizer for the type of videography or photography for your style can be painstakingly time-consuming, with hours of research, shortlisting and reading reviews online or in magazines, before finally selecting your preferred gimbal.
To save you the time and effort, we’ve gone to the liberty of compiling a list of features that you should be looking for in a travel photography gimbal.
We then detail a selection of the best GoPro gimbal options currently on the market based on these features.
This will give you an idea of what an ideal gimbal should include, and what you should be looking for when conducting your own search.
**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
Listed below are the primary features that your new GoPro gimbal should tick off above anything else. These will help with functionality, comfort, lasting use amongst other things.
Firstly, you will be travelling with your GoPro; you will have luggage allowances and your own personal abilities in terms of carrying equipment.
Because of these restrictions, your chosen gimbal will need to be as lightweight possible. The other reason for this is that you are likely to be using the stabilizer by hand. A heavy gimbal will limit your filming time and could even cause injury if mishandled.
A lightweight gimbal will allow you to film for as long as you need, as well as causing limited disruption to your baggage limits or personal strength. Lightweight materials include titanium, aluminium and some alloys, amongst others.
If you’re buying in-store, make sure to test out the product you’re thinking of purchasing before you buy it. Bring your GoPro and ask if you can perform a demonstration. Get a feel for if you’re tiring as time goes on or if you think you’d be comfortable using the gimbal long-term.
If you are buying online, check reviews and the listed product weight before you purchase. See if anyone has complained about the weight of the item or maybe made positive comments about the item’s portability.
Equally as important as weight is durability. You don’t want to be buying a new gimbal every six months, especially if you are venturing on a long trip where replacements or repair shops may be hard to come by.
Often it can be equated that a durable product is likely to also be a heavier product, and many will compromise on durability for portability. This doesn’t need to be the case. There are many gimbals made of both tough and lightweight materials, such as the above mentioned metals and alloys.
The reasons for a gimbal needing to be durable are multi-fold. When travelling, you are likely to be putting your trust in airport baggage control, or some form of transport department where handlers may not be as conscientious as you would be. A poorly designed gimbal may snap or crack in this situation, or the bearings may loosen, ruining the product for future use.
We can all be clumsy sometimes too, we may be filming and extra focused on a take and not see a rock. We may trip, we may fall, or we may simply drop the gimbal and GoPro as a natural reaction for self-preservation.
You need to be sure that if that ever happens your gimbal will stand up to the fall and come away from the incident with minor scratches.
As with the need for a lightweight design, the product should also be compact.
A GoPro is a small piece of equipment, perfectly portable and designed precisely for taking away in hand luggage or to be tucked into a tiny corner of your checked luggage.
The same should be the case for your gimbal. If you are serious about filming, chances are a gimbal isn’t the only piece of kit you’ll be carrying, so it’s important that your gimbal doesn’t take up more space than necessary, in turn forcing you to leave other kit at home.
More than just for initial transport to a set or destination, you will need your gimbal to be compact for daily use; for it to tuck into a kit bag or attach to a utility belt when not in use. Half of the issue with finding good kit is having to compromise with other pieces on a shoot, purely for transportation, especially if you are a one-man-band without caddies, doing the majority of filming yourself.
It seems self explanatory, but often we jump to buying products without truly questioning how they will be used.
The only option for a gimbal is to be handheld, to truly utilize its fullest strengths, so you need to make sure that your choice is at most two handed, but preferably one handed.
The reason for the specific focus on handheld-ability is that due to the dexterity of your hands and wrists, you have the most control with them, and the more of your body you use with a stabilizer, the more rigid your shots will be.
To utilize your full creativity with the GoPro, make sure your gimbal offers you as much flexibility as possible.
Comfort is a huge factor in deciding which gimbal to choose. Ergonomic designs will ensure that alongside lightweight and handheld features, your comfort comes first. If you’re looking to spend hours per day filming, you do not want to be dealing with blisters or sores after the first day.
Look for designs where brands are clearly considering comfort. Gel grips are excellent, as they absorb any strains and allow for a more lubricated hold of the handle. Foam grips are equally capable of absorbing your hand’s movements and strains, but are a little less durable than gel, depending on the type of foam. Although they are easily replaceable compared to gel grips.
Plastic or metal grips are also a viable option, but mainly if they have been carved for hands to hold. This reduces the amount of slip when filming for long periods of time, helping to keep your skin in the same place and not rub against the surface.
Now that we’ve outlined the features we look for in GoPro gimbals, it’s time to list our five favourites that are currently on the market.
Professional handheld gimbal with shoe mounts for extra kit such as flash and lights. Foam handle for comfort.
3-in-1 design for flexibility and plurality of uses. Compactable design with comfortable handle. Waterproof for action shots.
3-axis technology removes chance of distorted or bumpy video. Strong alloy composition to decrease chance of wear or breakage.
An all-in-one stabilizer, grip and tripod, works for both GoPro and smartphone models. Perfect for budding film makers and photo takers.
Slim and lightweight gimbal is compatible with both GoPros of all models and generations and countless other camera types.
Five great options for GoPro gimbals have been outlined, with our favourite being the Opteka X-GRIP.
The reason for this being our pick of the bunch is due to the sheer professionalism of the product.
Its gimbals, detachable and utterly top quality, give it the edge over other options on the list.
Due to its professional standard, it can be pricey which may put amateurs or budding filmmakers off, but for professionals it’s the premium option.
For those who are budget conscious, the official GoPro option is our favourite. Its waterproofing allows travel videographers to explore the full extent of their chosen landscapes; lakes, rivers, cenotés, snowfall or torrential rainstorms.
Overall, all of the above options would be excellent picks for users of all abilities and statuses, and choosing one will fall purely down to your individual preference.
If you have any experience with the above gimbals, why not drop us a comment below and let us know your opinions?
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