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A guide to gimbals: what, why and which?

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Camera stabiliser gimbals come in many shapes and sizes, from the standard handheld devices that people use to run around and shoot tracking shots, all the way up to the stabilisers mounted on drones. A gimbal is a powerful tool in filmmaking, allowing an operator to control and stabilize their shots even during intensely shaky and fast-moving situations. It allows a camera operator to move independently without the need for large and complicated setups, while still achieving the professional Hollywood look of smooth, controlled shots.

Footage that moves through the location can be far more compelling to the viewer when compared to a static and locked-off shot from a tripod. A camera stabiliser offers the ability of movement and spatial awareness, letting the viewer better connect with a location when viewing footage on a flat and two-dimensional screen. When set up and used correctly, a gimbal can become one of the most valuable tools on a shoot.

How a Gimbal Works

At a glance, a handheld gimbal might seem like it uses magic to stabilize footage. A person running upstairs and jumping over walls can achieve the most incredibly smooth tracking shots in a way that almost doesn’t seem possible. These shots are actually produced by a system of small brushless motors, each performing to correct a movement of the camera on a particular axis. Each axis of gimbal movement is classified by the direction of the camera’s position: roll, pitch, and yaw. The best way to think of the different axes is simply by the direction that the camera can move. For example, side to side movement is known as yaw, up and down movement of the camera tilting is known as pitch, and the camera rotating to change the horizon of the shot is known as roll.

Gimbal Axis

The Axis of Movement:

Pitch – Tilting the camera up and down from the ground to the sky

Yaw – Turning the camera side to side from left to right

Roll – Tilting the camera so that the horizon of the image rotates

These motors act as small servos to push against the direction that the camera wants to move, dampening and reducing shake. The best way to think of it would be if your camera were to hang from an elastic band or a spring. If you let go of your camera, instead of it falling and crashing to the floor, the elastic band would slow the movement down until it stopped. The brushless motors are doing the same thing, just in a more controlled and refined way. When these motors are linked up by software, you gain complete control of how much the camera will move and what resistance to shaking it will see. A gimbal is nothing more than a system of small motors working together to keep your camera pointing in the direction that you want to shoot.

Gimbal Types and Designs

Gimbal PITCH

You might have seen different types of stabiliser gimbals out in the field, from the large two-handed versions like the Ronin-MRonin-MX, and Ronin 2, to the single-handed devices like the Ronin-S. Whether it’s a large gimbal like the Ronin 2 or a small and compact setup like the Osmo Pocket, the mechanical function is identical. The motors are achieving the same effect; however, they are built and designed for different arrangements and camera weights. Knowing this, you can pick out and chose the gimbal that best suits your needs. Pay attention to the number of axes that the gimbal provides stabilisation for, as this affects how effective the gimbal can be in your shooting environment. For instance, some smaller gimbals offer only 1-axis stabilisation, correcting forward and backward tilt movement. Other gimbals offer 3-axis stabilisation that corrects roll, pitch, and yaw described above. Depending on your camera, a smaller and more compact handheld gimbal might be a better option for a lighter camera, as it reduces the overall weight of your setup. However, if you are using a larger camera with bigger, heavier lenses, a larger DJI gimbal such as the Ronin 2 could be a better option for you. Many of the various gimbal types will have a specific weight range classified in the gimbal specifications. What that means is that the entire weight of your camera and lens must not be heavier than the specified amount for your gimbal to work effectively. There is a handheld gimbal for various situations, so just pick the one the best suits you.

Setting Up and Balancing a Handheld Gimbal

Before using a handheld gimbal, it’s important to set up and balance the rig first. What this does is make sure that the camera is sitting in a neutral position when the gimbal rig is not moving, reducing the stress on the motors, and allowing it to function more efficiently. If the gimbal has to fight the weight of an unbalanced camera, it is not able to correct shake and movement as effectively.

The concept of balancing a gimbal is quite easy and straightforward. The idea is that the camera is sitting in a neutral position and does not want to tilt or tip over when sitting still. Think of this like you are balancing a pencil on your finger. If the pencil is balancing exactly in the middle, you can move your hand around without it tipping over and falling to the floor. Balancing the gimbal is similar; you want the motors to be working to correct shake and bumps, instead of fighting to hold the camera up.

Gimbal Balance

To balance the gimbal for your camera setup, place the gimbal on a stand while using the adjuster plates to slide the camera backward and forward, as well as side to side until the camera will sit flat and level without tilting over. You should be able to let go of the camera without the gimbal arming tipping over. Repeat the balancing steps, sliding the adjuster plates until the camera is nicely level.

Pictured above: The gimbal plate was balanced for a standard 18-105mm lens (left image). When a heavier 12mm fisheye lens was added (right image), the gimbal plate was moved backward, shifting the weight of the camera body to compensate for the weight of the large glass element with the fisheye.

Gimbal tip: Remember to adjust the balance of the camera every time you switch lenses, as the difference in lens weight can be enough to through the total balance off.

The Best Small and Compact Handheld Gimbals

Osmo Pocket

DJI Osmo Pocket

Osmo Mobile 2

DJI Osmo Mobile 2

Some of the smaller gimbal stabilisers such as the Osmo Pocket have integrated cameras built in that do not require balancing. These can be a great option for quick and compact setups that can be taken out of a bag and used immediately without adjustment. The Osmo Mobile 2 even allows you to attach and use your smartphone, allowing for quick shooting and smooth videos to instantly share with friends online. These handheld gimbals are incredibly smart and contain software that know the size and weight of the camera and has the ability to correct itself, which means that you can focus on your shot and what you want to share! If you’re looking for a quick and easy gimbal setup that you can throw in a camera bag and pull out in a moment’s notice to achieve high-quality images, these integrated setups can be a great choice.

https://store-guides2.djicdn.com/guides/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/om3.jpg

DJI Osmo Mobile 3

Osmo Mobile 3 is DJI’s first foldable smartphone gimbal, which gives users a more portable option for filmmaking. With a lightweight design, foldable tripod grip, and quick balancing, users can quickly shoot incredibly smooth footage. This new smartphone gimbal also lets you transition between portrait and landscape mode with just a tap of the M button. With the new Gesture Control feature, content creators can also take a photo or start recording with simple gestures. Osmo Mobile 3 combines all these useful features with the convenient DJI Mimo app, allowing users to take cinematic footage at the touch of a button.

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Security issues grow with transition to smart TVs

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You can’t picture a modern home without smart equipment. Smart thermostats, smart refrigerators, robot vacuums, and smart TVs won’t surprise anyone these days. For example, around 70% of the TVs being sold worldwide are smart TVs. Although they bring more entertainment, these devices also carry new digital threats. 

Sometimes people forget that smart TVs are as vulnerable to cybercrime as their smartphones and computers. Daniel Markuson, the digital privacy expert at NordVPN, says that “although smart TVs are connected to the internet and have similar functions to computers, they aren’t equipped with the same security tools, which makes them easy prey for hackers.” 

What’s so scary about your TV getting hacked? As smart TVs gain more features, the amount of your private information they handle increases too. TVs aren’t just for watching movies and shows anymore. Now you can use them for web browsing, streaming video content, gaming, and even shopping online. 

To enjoy your smart TV to the fullest, you need to download various apps and games. These cost money, so you need your credit card details filled in. Putting your financial information, logins, and passwords on your TV makes it an appealing target for hacking. 

According to Daniel Markuson, a smart TV can be used to spy on its users. Hackers can access its camera and microphone through malware, which they can slip into your TV when it is connected to Wi-Fi. They can use footage from your bedroom or living room to blackmail you and your family. By watching your home and listening to your conversations, hackers know what goods you have, where you keep them when you’re away, and what your plans are. 

If you use your smart TV for web browsing, you can infect it with various viruses too, says the digital privacy expert at NordVPN. Like computers, smart TVs run on software, but they don’t have the same strong antivirus and firewall systems installed. Once your TV gets infected, your browsing history, passwords, and other private data become accessible to hackers. And they won’t miss the opportunity to use this information in ransomware attacks. 

Even though smart TVs are vulnerable to cyber threats, Daniel Markuson says there is no need to panic yet. The expert names a few simple principles every smart TV owner should follow to protect their device.

Always update your TV’s software whenever a new version becomes available. The expert says that software updates are crucial for cybersecurity as manufacturers do their best to patch vulnerabilities. Updates often repair security flaws, fix or remove various bugs, add new features, and improve the existing ones. Some TVs install updates automatically by default. With others, you may need to check for updates periodically to make sure your device runs on the latest version. 

Use available security measures such as a VPN. The best practice for any internet-connected device is to install a firewall and use a VPN such as NordVPN. It secures your device and lets you enjoy fast internet access with encryption-powered privacy.

Connect your smart TV to the internet only when needed. It isn’t necessary to have your TV connected to Wi-Fi all the time. To make it less vulnerable to hacker attacks, turn on the Wi-Fi connection only when you are using it.

Download apps from official stores only. Do not install any programs and games from unofficial sources on your smart TV. Make sure that both the app and its provider are reliable. Moreover, if an application asks for access to your data, camera, or microphone that isn’t necessary for its operation, never accept it.

Be careful with personal files and financial data. Shopping online on a big smart TV screen might be fun, but be careful providing your credit card details and other sensitive information this way. Although some manufacturers equip their TV sets with security features, they cannot guarantee safety online. “People who synchronize their smart TVs with their computers to access compatible media content should be especially cautious,” warns Daniel Markuson. The connection between your smart TV and your computer can be a weak link and lead to a data breach.

Use strong Wi-Fi passwords. This practice is the most obvious and the easiest to follow. Create a strong password to protect your Wi-Fi connection at home and don’t share it with any outsiders.

Turn off your TV camera when not in use. Whether it’s a built-in camera or the one connected to a TV via Wi-Fi, turn it off when not using it. If you can’t turn off your camera, use a piece of tape or a sticker over the camera lens to cover it. 

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Tech too complex? It stresses out even the tech-savvy

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Picture by hobvias sudoneighm on Flickr.

Even the savviest members of the tech industry get stressed by common devices that power their everyday lives, according to a recent poll conducted at CES 2020 by Asurion, the global leader in helping people connect, protect and enjoy their tech.

Survey screen by Asurion at CES 2020.

Asurion surveyed nearly 1,400 attendees of CES 2020, the world’s largest and most influential tech industry event, about their relationship with personal tech and their role as tech expert for family and friends. What the tech care company found is that even the tech-savvy, tech DIY’ers and early adopters stress out over some of the most ordinary devices in our hands and homes.

So, what tech tops the list of devices that stress out some of the consumer electronics industry’s tech enthusiasts?

  • Mesh routers and Wi-Fi networks (33%)
  • Phones (26%)
  • Smart home security systems (23%)

And, the tech-related activities that even the tech-savvy dread the most?

  • Troubleshooting a device that worked perfectly yesterday (39%)
  • Device security (27%)
  • Setting up devices (nearly 27%)

Asurion helps nearly 300 million customers worldwide unlock the potential of their tech with a team of over 10,000 Experts who are just a call, click or tap away. The company’s Experts provide ongoing tech support, same-day device repair, and same-day delivery and setup services. They’ll meet customers virtually, in-home, at select partner stores, and in more than 540 uBreakiFix stores across the country or wherever it’s convenient.

“The tech industry just spent four amazing days experiencing and celebrating the latest innovations in the future of tech,” said Teresa May, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Asurion. “What we heard is that even common tech tasks and devices can be challenging. Every day, our Experts help people across the country with their devices – everything from setting up a new phone to troubleshooting streaming issues on their smart TVs. Our CES poll reveals that the industry’s top tech innovators share the same pain points affecting millions of Americans.”

Asurion’s Experts received more than 18.5 million calls and chats from customers seeking tech help last year. And while the No. 1 question this holiday was a strong “How do I activate my new phone?” Asurion Experts also received many questions ranging from “How do I connect to Wi-Fi?” to “Can I sync my smart speakers to play them in tandem?”

And while the tech industry may have tech challenges of their own, they also get tapped by family and friends for help. Eight out of 10 attendees surveyed said their family and friends rely on them to help set up and troubleshoot their tech. Nearly two-thirds (63%) said they hesitate to gift tech to their loved ones because the recipient won’t know how to use it, and nearly half (46%) gave pause to gifting tech to family and friends because they didn’t want to be the one to help set it up.

Asurion CES Tech Poll

Consumer Tech Devices That Stress CES Attendees Out the Most

1. Mesh Routers and Wi-Fi Networks (33%)
2. Phones (26%)
3. Smart Home Security Systems (23%)
4. Smart Home Assistants/Hubs (20%)
5. Bluetooth Printers (19%)
6. Smart Home Automation (19%)
7. Laptops/Tablets (18%)
8. Smart TVs (17%)
9. Smart Appliances (14%)
10. Home Energy, Lighting and Switches (13%)

Tech Activities That Stress Out CES Attendees the Most

1. Troubleshooting Tech That Worked Perfectly Yesterday (39%)
2. Security (27%)
3. Setting up a Device (27%)
4. Privacy (23%)
5. Helping Others With Their Tech (20%)
6. Managing or Connecting Multiple Devices (19%)
7. Wi-Fi Connectivity (19%)
8. Paying for Personal Data Storage (18%)
9. Learning a New Operating System (17%)
10. Choosing Which Brand To Purchase (17%)

To learn more about where you can get tech support and protection, visit Asurion.com.

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