This year marks the 20th anniversary of The Blair Witch Project, a film that both terrified and nauseated audiences the world over. The movie’s unique marketing blurred the lines between reality and fiction to such a degree that it genuinely confused an internet-naive audience as to its origins.
Further adding to the supposed authenticity of the movie was its stomach-churning handheld camera technique. Never had a cinema audience been rocked, swayed, and spun around a big screen to such a seasickness-inducing state. What was then a novel filmmaking technique, however, is a big no-no today.
VC Daily has predicted that 2019 will be the year vlogging explodes as a form of broadcast entertainment.
We don’t treat our audiences with that much disrespect anymore, especially when shooting feature films on webcams or smartphones. In fact, even our vlogs are steady as a surgeon’s hands, thanks to the arrival of a slew of devices that hold our handheld cameras still while we stream.
The best stabilizers for vlogging are cheap, single-person operated updates on the selfie stick that make it possible to stream from any location without having to literally rock our audience’s viewing world.
VC Daily has predicted that 2019 will be the year vlogging–paid vlogging, for that matter–explodes as a form of broadcast entertainment. If you want to be the creator of the next Blair Witch handheld phenomenon, here are a few of the best stabilizers, or gimbals, for filming your out-of-studio streams without upsetting your audience’s stomachs.
The Best Stabilizers for Vlogging
SMOVE MOBILE – $249.00
This is likely to be at the high end of the price range that a vlogger who is not already famous might be willing to pay, but it’s not an exorbitant price for what you get. The SMOVE MOBILE is a smartphone stabilizer with a built-in telescopic extension that offers extra on-stick controls to make your vlogging life easier. It’s among the most feature-packed items in a field dominated by glorified selfie sticks, with the extra expense going toward full wireless control, programmable functions, and a three-axis cradle that allows a full range of camera movement.
Like all the best stabilizers, the SMOVE MOBILE lets you move your mobile without shaking the audience’s perception, so you can recreate the sweep of a Hollywood crane shot with your own hands…although in this case you’re paying a comparative big budget movie price.
DJI Osmo Mobile 2 – $139.00
Built by one of the world’s leading drone makers, the DJI Osmo 2 is one of the lightest entrants in the high-end of the stabilizer market. That’s an advantage when the majority of your users spend their time holding your device in the air with a single hand. It has all the features you’d expect from a triple-figure price: a three-axis cradle, on-stick controls, a long-life battery, Bluetooth connectivity, active track recording, and a solid build that feels high quality. The Osmo 2 has been tweaked to allow the emerging use of landscape filming, but the spring-loaded clamp won’t be as easy to navigate as the more common screw and lock configurations, especially if your smartphone is large.
Zhiyun Smooth 4 – $119.00
One of the more popular stabilizers among streamers, the Smooth 4 is a nice compromise between functionality and affordability. Its on-stick controls run the gamut of essential technologies, with recording, focus, and lighting options to keep your hands away from the video screen. In fact, it has more buttons and knobs on the handle than the Osmo Mobile 2, which some users will appreciate. It is an iPhone specialist with Android compatibility after 5.0 (we have heard that Android users sometimes have trouble when it comes to compatibility with Zhiyun’s software) and is both compact and lightweight. The bottom line is that the Smooth 4 is like a cheaper version of the Osmo, and while it does reflect that price difference in some ways, it also has its own fans and defenders.
Pivot by Olloclip – $34.99
The chief selling point for the Pivot is its wonderfully titled “articulating mobile video grip.” As you can see in the video below, it’s a rotating handle that lets you fix your camera in position through 225o of movement. If you were having trouble finding precisely the right angle to shoot from, then this articulation will come in handy. If that doesn’t seem particularly revolutionary, the Pivot still offers handheld stability and GoPro/smartphone compatibility. It’s important to note that the Pivot isn’t an active stabilizer like the products we described above; it’s more of a simple phone holder that takes things one step beyond simply holding your phone in your hand to film. If you want to introduce motion and handheld mobility to your streams without spending a fortune, then this is all the technology you need.
Roxant Pro – $54.87
If you follow in the footsteps of the world’s professional vloggers and streamers, you’ll probably want to eventually upgrade to the higher resolutions of a DSLR camera. Once you do, you’ll need a more heavy-duty stabilizer. The Roxant Pro represents the entry level for such devices in terms of both price and function. It’s a battery-free mechanical stabilizer with the ability to dissipate the weight of a DSLR camera for smoother shooting (the device itself weighs less than two pounds). It’s one of the best stabilizers for vlogging using an actual camera; for those unwilling to give up using their smartphone, it is compatible with a smartphone mount. The only drawback is that the Roxant can’t accommodate larger cameras–and keep in mind that since it’s mechanical, balancing your camera or phone properly will take some practice.