What Is A Drone Gimbal And How Does It Work

What Is A Drone Gimbal And How Does It Work?

Drone gimbals are camera support systems that provide stability and prevent the camera from shaking during flight. By reducing unwanted camera movement, drone gimbals ensure smooth and high-quality footage.

What is a drone gimbal and how does it work is something I wish I’d known the day I got my first drone.

As an amateur photographer who occasionally volunteers as a cameraperson for my kid’s school events, I consider drone gimbals essential.

Keep reading as we explain the workings and importance of drone gimbals, along with tips for selecting the perfect one. Let’s get started.

Understanding The Basics Of A Drone Gimbal

It’s magical how a drone gimbal makes photography and videography so effortless on a hovering drone that vibrates and moves so much. Let me elaborate on how does drone gimbal work.

A drone gimbal consists of two parts: one is the camera module, and the other is a stabilized drive system. When in the air, a drone is subject to roll, pitch, and yaw motions on three different axes.

  • Roll is the rotation around the front-to-back axis.
  • Pitch refers to the rotation around the side-to-side axis.
  • And yaw is rotation around the vertical axis.

Together, these three movements hinder the smooth operation of a drone camera.

That’s where the gimbal steps in. It integrates an IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) that senses and reports motion to a Drone Gimbal Control Unit (GCU). This controller then activates the motors at each axis to maintain steadiness.

A gimbal may use brushless motors or DC servo motors. The former are preferred as they enable faster and smoother operation, thus offering better images. If weight is a consideration, then go for lighter servo motors.

Mechanism And Operation Of A Drone Gimbal

Mechanism And Operation Of A Drone Gimbal

Most aerial photography drones are pre-fitted with gimbals to serve their purpose better.

Now, when you go out to buy a gimbal or a gimbal-fitted drone, you will encounter three types of drone gimbals. Let me simplify the pros and cons of each so you can make an informed decision.

1. One-Axis Camera Drone Gimbal

One-axis gimbal, as the name suggests, is capable of pivoting the camera in a single direction only. It does make them sound pretty useless, considering there are three axes that need controlling.

Yet, these brushless motor gimbals do manage to get the job done. Consider them if price and weight are a concern, as they are low on both!

2. Two-Axis Camera Drone Gimbal

By handling both tilt and roll, two-axis drone gimbals produce remarkably clear images compared to one-axis gimbals.

If you are comparing costs, then these are priced higher owing to one extra brushless motor.

The downside of a 2-axis gimbal is its need for more control over the third axis or the yaw motion. This leads to wobbling or the jello effect, which distorts videos and pictures.

Example: The Holy Stone Drone with in-build gimbal. 

3. Three-Axis Camera Drone Gimbal

By controlling and stabilizing movement along all three axes, this gimbal provides incredibly clear footage.

The three brushless motors keep the camera stable (even in high winds) and eliminate vibrations, thus giving you smooth footage.

But there are drawbacks as well. The three motors make the drone heavy and consume more battery power.

Being large in size, the gimbal needs to be correctly mounted and positioned on the drone for best results.

Example: The Autel Evo Nano Plus Premium Bundle has everything you can ask for to get stellar performance in aerial photography.

Importance Of A Drone Gimbal In Aerial Photography

Importance Of A Drone Gimbal In Aerial Photography

The exceptionally clear and uninterrupted drone videography shots you see in movies owe their clarity to gimbals. Of course, the post-editing matters, but let’s just say you can get a professional edge by using gimbals.

Here’s what drone gimbals can do for your aerial photography:

a. Stable Footage: The intricate gimbal mechanism of motors and sensors work in tandem to provide stable footage.

We have already seen above how drone gimbals stabilize cameras. Even if your drone is subject to turbulence mid-air or moving too fast, the video will not be impacted or the images won’t stutter. 

b. Professional Touch: The tiniest bump can have a big impact on the picture outcome.

These minor details are what separates professionals from amateurs. Since I’ve begun using gimbals, the drone recordings have been near perfect!

c. Versatility: Shots from the same angle are no fun, especially if you like being creative with your videos.

After installing a gimbal, I’ve found that I can do much more with my drone camera. For example, record fast-moving footage and take pictures flying low to the ground as well as high up.

Factors To Consider When Choosing A Drone Gimbal

Factors To Consider When Choosing A Drone Gimbal

Besides your love for aerial photography, there are other factors that will determine the type of gimbal you need. The market is flooded with options, and these pointers will guide you in choosing the right drone gimbal.

Price

If you are cutting expenses or just testing the waters of aerial photography, then servo gimbals are what you need.

Granted, they will not give the smoothest footage, but the quality will still be significantly better than a gimbal-less drone.

Flight Duration

As discussed above, one-axis gimbals are the lightest, while three-axis ones are the heaviest. The flight duration of a drone is directly impacted by its weight.

The heavier the drone, the less will be its time in the air. So, keep this in mind when picking a gimbal.

Compatibility

Check the compatibility of the gimbal with your drone’s model. Ensuring a perfect fit is extremely important to enable the best performance from the gimbal – the function it’s meant for.

Features

Gimbals have various features like tracking, vibration control, stabilization, etc. Research the use of each before buying so you don’t end up paying more for a feature you don’t even intend to use!

Purpose

If videography is your prime motive, then a brushless gimbal is a must. It removes unwanted movement and noise when filming. If you don’t want to invest too much, a servo gimbal may be used for still photography.

Maintenance And Care Tips For A Drone Gimbal

Maintenance And Care Tips For A Drone Gimbal

It’s a no-brainer that gadgets tend to last longer and function more efficiently with proper care and regular maintenance.

It took me some research and experimentation, but I think I’ve found the right way to clean my gimbal.

Check out my drone gimbal maintenance tips here to ensure seamless care for your gadget:

–       Use a soft cloth and alcohol to wipe the dust from the body of the gimbal gently.

–     For the hard-to-reach parts, use a blower to remove the dust particles.

–       If your gimbal has a sealed ball-bearing system, then it does not require lubrication. But in the case of a traditional bearing, lubrication is needed.

–       For the lubrication process, take any genuine oil like coconut oil and splash a few drops onto the bearings. Then, gently spin them to let the oil percolate into the cage.

–       Avoid using water at all costs as it may damage the sensitive electronic components of the gimbal.

–       Remember never to force any part of the machinery and be extremely cautious in assembling and dismantling.

–       Never place the gimbal flat on the ground or disrupt its balance when cleaning.

Get your gimbal cleaned professionally once in a while if you are not comfortable with dissembling your gimbal for deep cleaning. Trust me, it will add years to your gimbal’s life!

Future Advancements In Drone Gimbal Technology

Future Advancements In Drone Gimbal Technology

The Importance of drone gimbals in photography cannot be ignored. So long as drones are used for aerial photography, mapping, surveillance, etc., gimbals will continue to be necessary.

As the drone market grows, we can expect gimbals to become smarter and more sophisticated.

The 4-axis gimbal has already hit the market. It brings in the feature of vertical stabilization that can be used to get perfect footage even in the most complex shots.

The weight and size of gimbals is another area where advancements are expected. As drones become smaller in size, gimbals are expected to follow suit.

This will help save battery life and enable professional-quality footage for even the smallest drones.

Complete automation of gimbals using AI is another expected development.  These smart gimbals can analyze drone movement and proactively adjust drone camera stabilization. This will definitely end up improving aerial footage with gimbals.

The brushless motor technology could give way to more proficient motors such as direct drive and piezoelectric motors.

These motors have the potential to reduce response time and enhance accuracy. This is bound to increase the precision and responsiveness of gimbal systems.

Advancements in other gimbal parts, such as sensors and feedback systems, are another focus area.

It is safe to say that the future of gimbal technology is looking bright. As these innovations in drone gimbal technology become mainstream, they will hopefully be within the reach of hobbyists and drone enthusiasts like us!

Conclusion

Gimbals have already begun revolutionizing the way we view and experience aerial imagery.

Since I’ve started using a gimbal, there’s a marked difference in the quality of my videos. The zero-noise, clean, stable footage I’m able to obtain is definitely worth the investment for me.

So, it’s time to bring that gimbal home and get creative with your aerial shots!

FAQ

1. Can drone gimbals break?

Yes. Drone gimbals are prone to breakage during flight. Or if the gimbal cover has not been removed when the drone is connected to the computer for data transfer.

2. Is gimbal calibration necessary?

Gimbals may sometimes need calibration to function correctly. This can be done using appropriate software.

3. What is the advantage of a 4-axis gimbal?

A 4-axis gimbal lets you turn the camera from portrait to landscape mode. It thus makes vertical shooting possible.

Author
Diptesh Das

Diptesh Das is your friendly ‘content maniac’ and drone enthusiastic! Being passionate about content writing. He is a firm believer of the power of words and thereby ended up leveraging them to create an impact by sharing his drone knowledge and experiences.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *