Buying yourself a stabilizer for your digital single-lens reflex camera, or DSLR is a great way to transition from shaky, amateur footage, to smooth, professional-quality footage. There’s not much point in spending the extra money on a quality camera if your video footage is still going to be hard for viewers to watch. Fortunately, there are options available to help with DSLR stabilization, depending on your preferences, budget and recording style. These stabilizers use different methods to compensate for unwanted camera movement or shaking.
If you’re looking for an affordable DSLR stabilizer, there are several small, hand-held options that can be found for as low as 20 bucks, but generally, live in the $60 to $70 range for a decent model. These are probably the most common and preferred types of stabilizers because they’re extremely mobile compared to other types. They offer a relatively low amount of stabilization compared to shoulder mounts or stabilizers that don’t rest on the body, but these handhelds offer a drastic reduction in movement compared to footage taken without any type of compensation. You can also find hand-held stabilizers with a gimbal, which is a device that levels a piece of equipment attached via a pivoting assembly, by using gravity to keep a hanging weight vertical beneath the equipment.
A bigger and slightly more effective kind of stabilizer is the shoulder mount. Shoulder mounts are only slightly more expensive, with most brands averaging $75 to $100 for casual-use models. Just as it sounds, this type rests on the shoulders of the videographer, offering weight distribution and support. The camera is attached to the front, above two handles. The videographer holds these handles and guides the camera, while the shoulder mount compensates for the unnecessary movement and shake. Some shoulder mounts also incorporate the use of a gimbal. The gimbal is more effective in a shoulder mount because the added weight is distributed between three or four support points: two handles and one or two shoulders.
Tripod and track stabilizers rest on the ground or on a table, whatever puts the camera at the desired level and allows the operator to pivot or slide the camera to a different position, usually with an undetectable amount of unwanted movement. These options offer fantastic compensation of movement, but are limited in their mobility, and thus in their functionality as well. There are also harness stabilizers that utilize the stability of the videographer’s body to steady the camera in his or her hands. These options range from $20 to over $100, depending on the brand, model and type of support you’re looking for.
If you’ve decided to start shooting higher quality footage, a DSLR stabilizer is a great option. Choose the type that suits your needs and style of filming, but also keep your budget in mind. You don’t have to dip into the savings to improve the quality of your video, but the quality of your video will have some correlation to how much you’re able to spend on equipment. For casual videographers, any of the options listed here will provide adequate stability when used as intended.