It's common for action cameras to have a lower frame rate when the electronic stability function is turned on.

My question is if you have a gimbal, is it useful/do you need to have electronic stability enabled on the camera itself?


2 Answers 2


As Michael Clark pointed out when the question was on photography, it depends on the type of gimbal, how good the gimbal is and how skilled the operator is.

An inertial gimbal works by giving the camera assembly a larger size and mass and then having the operator hold the assembly near the center of gravity. When the operator moves, inertia slows changes in the orientation of the camera, resulting in smoothing of angular changes. This requires the gimbal to be very near frictionless to minimize the impact of the operator's movement on the rotational inertia of the camera assembly. A low quality or poorly maintained gimbal won't properly isolate the assembly and an unskilled operator may improperly balance the assembly or cause excessive motion do to the added weight and complexity of operation.

A robotic or motorized gimbal, such as a Ronan, acts on a slightly different principle. They do not require the finesse of the operator to execute changes in camera direction as this is accomplished by a joystick (less direct control, but easier to operate). Additionally, they are not quite as balance sensitive as the orientation correction is provided by gyroscopes and motors which can tell what's actually happening vs a simple passive physics based system. Additionally, counterweights aren't needed for stabilization so the rig can potentially be lighter overall making it easier to handle. The down side is the previously mentioned lack of direct control and the power requirements. Additionally, the quality of the gimbal still becomes a major factor. If gyroscopes are not sensitive enough or the motors are too imprecise or laggy, then the quality of the stabilization will be greatly reduced.

Both of these types of gimbals are designed for correcting 3 degrees of orientation and do not handle any lateral movement on their own (adding things like vest & arm systems can add some position stabilization as well, but weren't specifically mentioned in your question.)

Image stabilization on the camera depends on the camera. Some use movement of lens elements (optical image stabilization) to correct the direction the lens is pointed as the orientation changes. Others use free floating sensors that are able to move in response to motion to keep the sensor in the correct orientation and location in the image circle.

The amount of correction that either of these in-camera systems can provide is extremely limited since they don't govern the actual aiming of the camera body, but they can help with a degree of hand shake. There is one noteworthy distinction though. For the floating sensor types of camera stabilization, it is possible to correct of a limited degree of positional stabilization, not just orientation as the sensor can move up and down and side to side a bit.

In general, I would expect that with a half way decent gimbal and even intermediate experience as an operator, you should get much better overall results with the gimbal, but depending on your shooting situation, you may still gain some additional benefit from the camera's built in stabilization if it has a floating sensor particularly. You really need to try messing with it either way though as the movement may be sufficient to throw off the balance and cause issues with the gimbal as well.

Certainly the effects should be pretty minimal, so if your primary concern is recovering the higher frame rate, then using a gimbal and turning off the in camera stabilization won't give you a major sacrifice in stabilization quality.


Any type of stabilization requires trade-offs, IMHO. Motorized/Gyro mounts are not cheap, and are bigger and weightier than most action camera scenarios I can imagine using, especially when you get 4 and 5 axis controls. Most action cams seem to have a very short focal length lens so the apparent motion is minimized while the field of view is increased. I think this is a design criterion for them.

In my experience with my action cam (a Garmin VIRB Elite) I found that the built-in stabilization kinda-sorta works. (I have not used a newer Garmin or a GoPro, they may do better.) The stabilized image seems to suffer from block artifacts in the biking videos I have shot, using the stabilization. I finally got a helmet mount instead of the handlebar mount for the VIRB, and use the camera without internal stabilization. This gives me acceptable frame rates with the action camera, all by using my head.

For just walking around and fairly stable shooting, I have my handlebar mount attached to the top of a weighted walking stick. Keeping a firm but soft grip on the stick gives me a very good poor-man's steady mount for the action cam. You can do the same sort of thing with a heavy (i.e. professional) tripod and your "other" camera. (Light-wight computer store or big box store tripods don't have the mass to do this, again IMHO.) Just be sure not to run the bottom of your steady mount into the ground, that really spoils shots.

One last caveat. Read the Fine Manual. There are often specific situations the documentation of good cameras will recommend that certain digital features be turned off. They don't tell you to do things like that if it were not important to help get you good pictures and videos.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.