We've used lots of 3-axis gimbals on video projects over the years - mainly with professional gear like Canon, Blackmagic or RED cameras. The Freefly Movi was the first one on the market (that we recall) and then many competitors like DJI, etc. came along making quality ones too, but for less money.
A couple years ago DJI released the Osmo, which is a gimbal that uses a smartphone, but doesn't shoot with a smartphone. It has a built-in camera and the phone controls it and the gimbal.
Not too long after that, loads of companies began making smartphone gimbals (and larger professional ones too - so numerous today it's hard to keep track) and now they've almost become ubiquitous with almost every level of video / film production. Everyone has one or a drone on set, now that the cost of entry is so low. And that brings us to the topic of this post...
With all the competition in the market what is the best 3-axis gimbal for the money?
Well, we think we've found that in the Smooth Q by Zhiyn-Tech (who also make larger professional gimbals). This gimbal listed for $139, but we got it on a Black Friday deal for only $99 (and it's still that price now at the time of this writing). That's really cheap when you think about what this thing is doing. And doing it quite well.
Here are 3 videos we shot with the Smooth Q as we tried it out over several hours, and then days right after we bought it.
Once we figured out a few things - and got it calibrated properly - this worked very well. Really well in fact. So well that we're planning on using it on larger professional shoots as a b-roll rig for stylized footage and more (and now we need to try it our with our larger iPhone 8+ too).
Overall we think the Smooth Q is a remarkable product for under $100 and even stands up to other similar gimbals that cost more.
So we think it's a no-brainer to add one of these to your iPhone filmmaking kit.
Quick side note: Speaking of Freefly Movi... their recently announced Movi for smartphones looks really great, too.
Albeit at $299 it's not cheap, but still looks to be a great deal based on early test reviews (and pro level quality build, etc.).
But for more budget-friendly projects the Smooth Q is the way to go (even over the Osmo Mobile by the way too).
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.