Advantages of electronic gimbals over mechanical systems

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Advantages of electronic gimbals over mechanical systems

Advantages of electronic gimbals over mechanical systems

Mechanical gimbals

Generically speaking, a gimbal is a pivoted support that allows the rotation of a given object about a single axis. Earlier mechanical versions of single-axis gimbals employ only the gravity to keep an object (usually a camera) on the upright position. Essentially the mass of the camera will help the gimbal to keep a platform level at all times. Usually mechanical gimbals for cameras are provided of one or two-axis only.

gopro gimbal mechanical Dareware Labs


Electronic gimbals

Three-axis gimbals are used in stabilization systems projected to give the camera operator the independence of handheld shooting without camera shake or vibration. They are also very popular with on-board footage, as their biggest advantage is that electronic systems do not suffer problems such as abrupt changes of speed, gravity or g-force in corners for example. Usually driven by three servos or brushless motors, the electronic gimbals have the ability to keep the camera level on all axes as it moves, with very rapid responses. A set of electronic gyroscopes and accelerometers (also called micromachined inertial measurement unit – IMU) will help a powerful micro-controller to responds to movement and utilizes its three motors to stabilize the camera.

gopro gimbal - 3 axis electronic stabilizer

With the guidance of algorithms and powerful processors, the stabilizer is able to notice the difference between deliberate movement such as pans and tracking shots from unwanted shake or tilt. This allows the camera to seem as if it is floating through the air, an effect achieved by the mechanical Steadicam used in Hollywood movies. Not limited to handheld shooting, gimbals can be mounted to cars and other vehicles such as drones, where vibrations or other unexpected movements would make tripods or other camera mounts unacceptable. One very known of automatic self-leveling gimbal is the Wenpod X1. Our very own example is our GoPro gimbal for bikes, the SteadyRide (unfortunately cancelled).

But what are the advantages (and disadvantages) of each system?

The main advantage of a electronic gimbals is that you can use your stabilizer on-board moving objects. For example a mechanical gimbal would suffer from inertia and then from the g-force if used on-board a fast racing car. An electronic gimbal would have no problem leveling a camera on these conditions, including turns, vibrations and real quick change of directions. The main disadvantage of electronic systems is the power limitation, as these gimbals are usually powered by batteries that need to be recharged – or have to be wired. As another advantage of mechanical systems over electronic gimbals is the price, as usually mechanical stabilizers for action cameras tend to me much much cheaper than the electronic ones.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Gareth

    I so want one!!!!! Let me know once the steadyride is released pls I am looking forward to have mine!

  • Ben Cullen

    Decent article!

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GoPro gyrocam SteadyRide