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Answered: Gimbal Must-Have for Aerial Drone Photography?

Answered: Gimbal Must-Have for Aerial Drone Photography?

The first thing that comes to every drone owner’s mind is how to put their UAV in action by using a camera to capture great aerial drone photos. Naturally, this raises questions about hardware – what drone technology will be use to record these videos? Of course, the main ingredient is the camera, which can

The first thing that comes to every drone owner’s mind is how to put their UAV in action by using a camera to capture great aerial drone photos. Naturally, this raises questions about hardware – what drone technology will be use to record these videos? Of course, the main ingredient is the camera, which can be anything from a GoPro to an AEE MagiCam.

But, recording high-quality video is not as easy as simply mounting your camera to your drone and letting it rip. This is because even in the most stable drones, small vibrations from the drone can make the video turn out jerky, especially in bad weather. Many people solve the camera stability issue by installing a gimbal. but does your drone really need one?

Take a look at the following aspects of gimbals to decide if this is a required component for your aerial drone photography purposes:

  • A Gimbal is the Most Effective Way to get Smooth Videos: Although there are simpler ways to steady an aerial video, such as using vibration-reducing rubber pads, none are as effective as a gimbal. This is because using a gimbal isolates the camera from the body of the UAV and motors within to help it to actively fight against vibrations coming from the body. The result is extremely stable footage even during sharp maneuvers.
  • A Gimbal will Control Your Camera Independently from Your Drone: Another huge advantage of a gimbal is the ability it provides to move the camera around regardless of what direction in which your drone is flying. This means you can record videos of your surroundings without having to move your drone in that direction. As an example, without a gimbal, if you want to capture video of the ground directly beneath your drone, you would need to do a sharp forward movement. This is not necessary when using a gimbal.
  • With a Gimbal, Tilting the Drone Doesn’t Also Tilt the Video: One of the most annoying aspects of capturing aerial video without a gimbal is the fact that banking the drone left or right means the video also becomes tilted. The gimbal helps keep the camera stable during such maneuvers so that you can focus on the footage without worrying about the orientation of the drone.
  • A Gimbal Adds Weight and Reduces Battery Time: The primary disadvantage of using a gimbal apart from the cost is the fact that it has substantial weight (mostly 100-200g) to the UAV. This means that the UAV has to do additional work in order to get airborne which leads to reduced flight times and agility. As a result, gimbals are almost never installed on smaller 250mm drones as their weight adds too much of a burden on the multirotor. However, on larger frames, such as those greater than 450mm, this disadvantage is reduced substantially.

Ultimately, if you can absorb the cost, a gimbal is a must have in order to record clean, smooth video provided you have a mid to large-sized UAV in action. Regardless of your choice, I’d recommend that you get a drone which has an upgradeable airframe. Such a solution would provide the ability to start off with basic features and then add the bells and whistles such as a gimbal later on, offering much more value over an airframe that you cannot upgrad.


Image via Flickr: Martinez Wehrle

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