The 10 Best Camera Stabilizers

video play icon

This wiki has been updated 32 times since it was first published in October of 2015. Serious shooters demand steady shots. Our selection of camera stabilizers, which includes everything from budget options ideal for indie filmmakers to rigs suited for professional videographers and cinematographers, will help you capture the perfect moving images for documentaries, sporting events, movies, and more. We've ranked them by their abilities, weight capacity, and ease of setup. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Ikan MD2 3-Axis Handheld

2. Flycam HD-3000 24-Inch

3. Zhiyun Weebill S

Editor's Notes

December 12, 2019:

With improvements in the algorithms for electronic gimbal systems, there have been some new additions to the market that are smaller, lighter, and more effective than ever before. Those include the Zhiyun Weebill S and the DJI Ronin S Handheld, the latter of which replaces the previous DJI model on our list, which was a little outdated, and which required two-hand operation by the user, even though it didn't offer any increase in weight capacity. That new handheld DJI would have fared even better on our list than it did, but it rolled out with some firmware issues that complicated its setup with the popular Panasonic GH5 mirrorless camera, and that might cause trouble with other systems, as well.

We also upgraded the Steadicam model on the list, replacing the Pilot with the Tiffen Steadicam Aero. And while that might be expensive, even for a comprehensive professional system with one of the most finely adjustable counterbalances in the business, it's cheap compared to the other Tiffen model that made its way into our special honors section.

Special Honors

ProAm Autopilot Featuring smooth brushless motors, this model makes incredibly quiet adjustments, whether that's naturally balancing against your movements or following your input through its wireless joystick. It boasts five operating modes to increase your shooting versatility, and is made from carbon fiber and aluminum alloy, making it both lightweight and durable.

Tiffen Steadicam M2 This system features Volt electronics that automatically measure the tilt, roll, and pan of your shot, providing a subtle, but undeniable amount of assistance in maintaining the level and intended motion of the camera. It features a hot-swappable battery mount, as well, so you can keep shooting with as little downtime as possible.

4. Flycam Vista II

5. Tiffen Steadicam Aero

6. Varavon Birdycam Lite

7. DJI Ronin S Handheld

8. Glidecam Devin Graham Signature Series

9. Movo VS7 Handheld

10. Neewer Carbon Fiber

What’s A Stabilizer Going To Do That My Strong Arms Can’t?

Camera stabilizers generally work by way of counterweights.

Let’s say you’re a filmmaker. You don’t have to be modest about it. Own it. Maybe you took some classes in high school or college, or maybe you went so far as to attend film school. You’ve honed your skills on the page, spending hours writing draft after draft. You’ve taken acting classes just so you could speak in the strange tongues that actors use to discuss their craft. You’ve even invested in a high-quality DSLR and a slew of top-notch lenses. All this in the name of telling your story.

So, what do you do when you get to set, you’ve got all the pieces in place to shoot, you’ve got about 30 minutes of sunlight left, and your shot looks too shaky? Well, you could try to fix it in post, but that will mean you lost a good portion of your frame, and, more often than not, those effects are severely limited. You could also try to hold the camera as steadily as possible and hope the audience forgives you (they might, but festival judges won’t). It sounds to me like you should have invested in one of the great camera stabilizers on our list.

Camera stabilizers generally work by way of counterweights. They’ll set your camera on a platform that has some motion to it — usually some kind of gimbal or fulcrum — and they’ll hang weights beneath the heaviest part of the camera body. The effect should balance out the camera against its own motion, though it doesn’t always run so smoothly.

If you want to achieve the kind of stability you see in professional Hollywood films, you’re probably going to end up combining a stabilizer with a small amount of post-production smoothing. What a good stabilizer will do is drastically reduce the amount of parallax in your shots that could lead to warp distortion. That’s what happens when your editing software tries to pick a point of reference for its stabilization, but there’s so much movement in all three dimensions that the whole image shifts unrealistically.

Obviously, the smoother you can get your shot in-camera the better. The best stabilizers on our list do this by providing you with a lot of adjustment points. Remember, these stabilizers are designed for universal use across a wide array of DSLRs, camcorders, phones, and more, so they need to provide counterbalance for an equally long range of camera weights. In most cases, manufacturers market their devices for units of a certain weight range. Even these will require minute adjustment points, however, as the use of different lenses and the addition of various accessories for capturing sound and controlling light will all affect a camera’s weight.

How To Choose The Best Stabilizer

When comparing the camera stabilizers on our list, the first thing you ought to do is eliminate any that cannot accommodate your camera. In some cases, this will be a weight issue; in others, size will be the problem. This is a pretty common sense step, as a stabilizer intended for a tricked out RED setup is probably overkill if all you need to stabilize is your iPhone. Of course, you may need to physically weigh your go-to setups, with everything from hotshoe mics to mounted monitors attached.

They can attach to a variety of vests, and when they work, they can provide you with stunningly smooth shots.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list to the stabilizers that are meant to hold your type of camera, you should — as we indicated above — investigate the stabilizer's method of counterbalance. The more nuanced your weight adjustments, and the more axes upon which you can adjust the camera’s center of gravity over the counterweights, the more likely you’ll be able to effectively stabilize your shot.

In most cases, the more completely a stabilizer allows you to control the smallest aspects of counterbalance, the more you’ll pay for it. There are exceptions to this rule, but at this step, you’ll want to maximize your adjustment options from within your budget.

There are electronic mechanical gimbal options out there, as well. These often come with software and take a while to setup at home before you ever get to set. They can attach to a variety of vests, and when they work, they can provide you with stunningly smooth shots.

I have to be honest here, though: I’ve been on a lot of indie sets where this exact type of stabilizer did nothing but cost the production valuable time. They can be extremely finicky if anything about the preprogrammed weight profile for a given camera changes, and making adjustments in the field is not usually easy. As a result, I’d say this option is best left to the pros, or to anyone with a lot of time on their hands to master the ins and outs of its temperament.

The Quest For A Stable Shot

There are a lot of techniques filmmakers have used throughout the years to achieve a steadier shot. Indie filmmakers today build complex DIY dollies, mount cameras on skateboards, and operate while sitting moving wheelchairs, among other innovative techniques. For a famous shot in Godard’s Band of Outsiders, the legendary director supposedly laid the camera down on his leather jacket and had his cinematographer pull the coat along the museum floor throughout the take.

Given all this ingenuity in the field, a development like the Steadicam was almost inevitable. In the early 1970s, an American cinematographer named Garrett Brown got to work on a counterbalance system that could stabilize handheld shots. His invention won him an Oscar and gave the movie world some of the most iconic shots in film history, including the image of Sylvester Stallone as Rocky bounding up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Of course, it wasn’t long after its initial creation that imitators showed up to the party. Some of these drove minor innovations, though most were content to make a cheaper version of the original. That Steadicam, produced now by the company Tiffen, has gotten lighter and more versatile, with attachable monitors and a vest that makes the device feel practically weightless.

Daniel Imperiale
Last updated by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel Imperiale holds a bachelor’s degree in writing, and proudly fled his graduate program in poetry to pursue a quiet life at a remote Alaskan fishery. After returning to the contiguous states, he took up a position as an editor and photographer of the prestigious geek culture magazine “Unwinnable” before turning his attention to the field of health and wellness. In recent years, he has worked extensively in film and music production, making him something of a know-it-all when it comes to camera equipment, musical instruments, recording devices, and other audio-visual hardware. Daniel’s recent obsessions include horology (making him a pro when it comes to all things timekeeping) and Uranium mining and enrichment (which hasn’t proven useful just yet).

Thanks for reading the fine print. About the Wiki: We don't accept sponsorships, free goods, samples, promotional products, or other benefits from any of the product brands featured on this page, except in cases where those brands are manufactured by the retailer to which we are linking. For more information on our rankings, please read about us, linked below. The Wiki is a participant in associate programs from Amazon, Walmart, Ebay, Target, and others, and may earn advertising fees when you use our links to these websites. These fees will not increase your purchase price, which will be the same as any direct visitor to the merchant’s website. If you believe that your product should be included in this review, you may contact us, but we cannot guarantee a response, even if you send us flowers.