Technology

How to choose your smartphone stabilizer

Update 02/25/2021 – Need a modern stabilizer for your smartphone? We have amended our article with fresher references such as the DJI Osmo Mobile 3 and OM4 which are receiving many positive reviews from consumers.

Faced with the promises of smartphone manufacturers (ever sharper photos, video in 4K, quality worthy of professionals), the desire to publish beautiful photos on social networks is affecting more and more people.

Whether you are looking to make successful videos for YouTube or just want to optimize the quality of your family photos, of course you will need a good basic phone. But an accessory can help you change everything: the stabilizer.

It does not only allow you to widen the field in selfie mode or to avoid tiring your arm: it generally offers many features that make the difference in terms of rendering. How to choose yours? Here are the main criteria that should guide you at the time of purchase.

The weight

If you have to shoot long sequences, an overly heavy prop will undoubtedly penalize you. However, lightness is not always an argument either, because too low a weight will make the much sought-after “stabilization” of the image more difficult.

You will find for example the iSteady X from Gimbal. A super light model of only 259 g capable of supporting a payload of 280 g maximum and smartphones with 58 mm to 90 mm width according to the sheet. For your information, a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra weighs 228g and is 75.6mm wide.

Gimbal iSteady X

A stabilizer for a lightweight smartphone (259 grams). Although it is also compact, this device is able to support smartphones weighing 280 grams and having a width between 58 and 89 mm (perfect for an iPhone 12 Pro for example). You will be able to shoot in portrait mode and in landscape mode with it. The advertised autonomy is 8 hours for 2 hours of charge.

Autonomy

All stabilizers are not equal when it comes to autonomy. Of course, you can play with portable batteries and other cigarette lighter adapters in order to recharge your accessory while traveling.

However, if you are used to using your smartphone to film or photograph often outdoors, without easy access to electricity, prefer backup times greater than 10 hours. The DJI Osmo Mobile 3 and OM 4 models, for example, advertise 15 hours of operation at full charge.

The application

Each stabilizer works with its own application. They are more or less well thought out, and offer a variable number of options. Obviously, you must already ensure that the program is compatible with your operating system (Android, iOS).

Do not hesitate to look at the applications on the different stores before purchasing the stabilizer, to see user comments as well as their ratings. This will help you make your decision.

Compatibility with smartphone dimensions

Not all stabilizers display the same flexibility: some small models will not be suitable for smartphones with a large screen. Take a good look at the dimensions and, if you have an XXL version phone, pay extra attention.

Some stabilizers do not support smartphones larger than 5.5 inches, limiting themselves to regular phones. Conversely, the Zhiyun Smooth 4 accepts smartphones with a width of up to 8.5 cm (knowing that an iPhone 12 Pro Max is 7.81 cm wide).

Zhiyun Smooth 4

Zhiyun Smooth 4 turns your smartphone into a professional camera, helping you to create stable and smooth footage with your phone. The design of the integrated control panel can reduce the need to touch the screen and help users to control the stabilizer and the mobile camera directly by using hot keys.

Real stabilization: not all models are created equal

Obviously, between an image captured with or without stabilizer, you will immediately feel the difference. But that does not mean that they are all equal, on the contrary. Concretely, the Pan (ability to turn around a fixed point), the Tilt (vertical pan) and the Roll (forward / backward) are the 3 angles on which a good stabilizer should show no sign of weakness. Already presented earlier in this article, the DJI OM 4 still appears to be a benchmark in the field.

Fonctionnalities

Each stabilizer will be more or less complete in terms of functionality. Some models are delivered with many accessories (wrist strap, carrying case, etc.) but, above all, offer practical and innovative functions:

  • Perform a timelapse intuitively
  • Easily switch from vertical to horizontal mode (with a suitable button)
  • Specific modes to stay focused on faces or a particular detail

Logically, the more advanced the features, the more it shows on the price. For around 150 €, you can already get good value for money to start. But there are also models which easily exceed 300 €, often intended for more professional profiles and more specific requirements.

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