All the Rage
Gimbal shots are all the rage these days. Some might say they are overused. But like all things, the craze will die down and we’ll be left with a great tool in our toolbelts to add style and movement to our indie films. In this review, I’ll be looking at the best GoPro gimbal that will allow you to pack some big cinematic punch in a small package.
Things to Consider Before Buying a GoPro Gimbal
Battery life is probably the biggest concern to think about with GoPro gimbals, or really any gimbal. Batteries can be a double-edged sword when it comes to filmmaking.
On one hand, they allow you to venture out into areas you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. They also give you the ability to be mobile, agile, and have a small footprint; very important assets when shooting indie projects.
On the other hand, you need to master power management and be sure that you have enough batteries, chargers, and life to complete the day.
There is really nothing worse than pulling out your last battery only to find that your spares are not yet fully charged.
Size and weight is obviously a big factor with gimbals. This is an item that you’ll be holding out in front of you in one hand (or maybe two) for hours. Particularly when dealing with narrative films, there can be hundreds of takes done each day that you will be holding the camera and gimbal through.
Luckily, in this review we are talking exclusively about GoPro gimbals, which means the size and weight will be substantially lower from the get-go. But, none the less, we’ll be taking a look at the form factor of these gimbals when making our decisions.
Several of the gimbal models out there are somewhat universal, meaning they will fit any model of GoPro. But, not all of them are.
That just means that you need to verify that the gimbal you are looking at will fit with your model of GoPro. Here, I’ll specifically be looking at the GoPro Hero 7 and gimbals for that particular camera model.
Quality can vary wildly when looking at different manufacturers of camera equipment. Some companies cut corners and others have higher standards.
I’ll be looking at the materials used, the electronics, and different bugs or issues that may arise.
In the early days of the gimbal craze, I had a Defy G5. I like Defy and think they make some great products. They utilized carbon fiber rods and custom machined metal housings for the electronics. But there was one major oversight in that original design. The charging port was simply hot glued to the metal housing, so after a while, the micro-USB port was pushed into the box and the gimbal could no longer be charged. This happened to me while the G5 was rented out on a professional shoot. As you can imagine, they were not pleased. These are the kinds of things you will be trying to avoid when it comes to build quality.
The Hohem iSteady Pro 2 is for anyone with an action camera that needs a reliable gimbal with great battery life to last you all day and weather-resistant protection that can withstand the elements.
It comes with rechargeable batteries, a semi-rigid carrying case, a small tripod that allows you to set the gimbal down between takes, charging cable, and micro-USB and USB-C charging cables for the cameras.
Features and Benefits
The biggest feature for the Hohem iSteady Pro 2 is the improved battery life. This thing will last you up to 12 hours on a single charge. That means you will likely be able to get through a whole day without changing batteries or losing power.
Plus, it is powered by 18650 rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which can be purchased from many online retailers for under $20. Some people see proprietary batteries as a sign of quality, but once you have to pay for those special batteries plus the proprietary charge, you’ll be changing your tune.
The housing provides IPX4 splash-proof protection to the electronics inside, so you are free to venture into those more rugged conditions and get the shots you need.
At only 12.6 oz, this thing is light as a feature, but the build quality is what you would expect for a professional tool at the price.
The controls on the face of the gimbal will be familiar to most. It includes a thumb joystick to direct the camera to your desired positions, allowing you to expand the shots you are able to get with this tool.
With the free Hohem app, available on the Apple App Store and Google Play, you are able to remotely control the gimbal and create time-lapse shots.
There’s a record button, making it easy to start and stop your shot without having to touch the camera itself.
The trigger on the front of the gimbal allows you to quickly switch modes. The included modes are:
- Pan following mode (one click)
- Pan and tilt following mode (two clicks)
- All locked (three clicks)
- All following (four clicks)
- Calibration (long press for 6-seconds)
And, the compatibility for cameras is tremendous. There is a long list of action cameras from various manufacturers that can be used with the iSteady Pro 2, including:
- GoPro Hero 3-7
- DJI Osmo Action
- Sony RX0
- And other similarly sized cameras
This compatibility helps to “future proof” this gimbal because it will continue to work with new models in the future that maintain similar shapes and designs.
What Others Are Saying
Hohem iSteady Pro 2 Alternatives
The Feiyu G6 is a popular choice for GoPro gimbals and includes an extra adapter for GoPro Session cameras, making this the go-to gimbal for those of you with Sessions.
Another bonus is the phone mount for using the GoPro app and viewing the shot on a bigger screen.
There is a small OLED screen on the face of the gimbal that provides information such as battery life and signal connectivity.
Battery life is 12-hours when not charging the camera through the gimbal, and 5-hours when charging the camera.
Feiyu has their own app that helps you connect with the gimbal to control it remotely and adust some of the settings.
It also has a splash-proof design and the addition of a “selfie mode”.
The Freevision VILTA is unique in that it’s both a handheld gimbal and a wearable or mountable gimbal.
The handle separates from the head portion of the device to reveal a standard GoPro mount that allows for additional mounting options on handles, suction cups, articulating arms, clips, clamps, and many other standard GoPro accessories.
This one feature dramatically increases the use cases for the gimbal, creating the opportunity for helmet cam or car-mounted situations.
Battery life lasts up to 8-hours but the VILTA is only compatible with GoPro Hero 5, 6, and 7. Additional adapters are available to mount earlier model GoPros, but no additional cameras are supported.
The Freevision VILTA also has a much heftier price tag, but one could chalk that up to essentially getting two gimbals in one – wearable and handheld version.
The Karma Grip by GoPro is the camera manufacturer’s version of the stabilizer. As such, the gimbal is only compatible with GoPro cameras and it works natively with the Hero 5, 6, and 7. Adapters for earlier models are available separately.
The main benefit of this gimbal is the purpose-driven nature of it. It works and works well with the GoPro cameras. The buttons and controls communicate with the camera to create a seamless operating experience.
Plus, having a much larger and more trusted company behind your purchase has its benefits when it comes to customer service and maintenance.
The biggest negative with the Karma Grip is the low battery life, at only 1 hour and 45 minutes per charge – substantially lower than the previous mentions.
Wrapping It Up
Finding the right gimbal can be difficult. There are so many unknown brands in the game that pop up overseas and quote awesome features. But you never know who you can trust and the last thing you want is your equipment failing when it is needed the most.
My pick for the best GoPro gimbal, the Hohem iSteady Pro 2 checks all the boxes. You may not have heard of the brand or the company, but the product itself not only provides the features and quality that one would expect from a name brand but it does so at a price that nearly anyone can afford.