Gimbal Modes Explained (updated)

I have been playing a lot with gimbals of late. I have models here for review from both DJI and Zhiyun, and each is aimed at a specific target, or more correctly camera type, from smartphone to a big bruiser such as my Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K  and upwards.

I also have the DJI Pocket, which has become my day-to-day camera of choice due to its flexibility, feature set and of course the gimbal camera.

Now gimbals I have found, add a level of complexity many I gather find tricky to understand, at least in the beginning. All of a sudden you are thrown into a sort of 3D world in terms of gimbal movement, and it can be frustrating getting you head around it.

I know initially I did. So here goes a quick explainer.

There are 3 axes to a gimbal, and these dictate where the lens is pointing and at what angle. While a student of geometry would call them the x, y and z axes, in gimbal terms they are the tilt, pan and roll axes.

Rotate (Pan) Tilt Roll

With a camera and gimbal – or the DJI Pocket 2 – you have the ability to lock some of these axes and therefore force the lens to act and point in a specific direction.

Using the DJI Pocket 2 as an example, these modes are called FPV, Follow and Tilt Lock.

In FPV (First Person View) mode, all three axes are unlocked. This means that no matter what direction you tilt or rotate the camera, the lens will follow that orientation. The best analogy of how footage will look is to think of what you see when on a roller coaster. Your head (and therefore line of sight) will follow the curves, dips and so on of the roller coaster and when in FPV mode, this is how the gimbal will also react. With careful planning, using FPV mode allows you get some really creative shots.

In Follow mode, only two of the axes are unlocked. In Follow, the lens will stay in the same orientation as the camera body when tilted, but when you rotate or roll the camera, the lens stays in the same orientation, that is, it becomes independent off the camera body’s orientation. In short, the horizon will always remain level making this mode ideal for vloggers or if you are, well, following, someone or something (or yourself).

When Tilt Locked the gimbal is locked on two axes and unlocked on one, the pan axis. When the camera is tilted or rolled, the lens will hold its current orientation, but when you pan the lens will follow the camera’s orientation. Use this mode when you are filming something on the same level but want to have the option to move the camera up or down but still keep the horizon level.

There are two more things that make these modes even better and these are FaceTrack and ActiveTrack modes.

If you want to track an object, frame it up and then double click it on the Pocket 2 display screen and the gimbal will then follow that object. If it is a person, the Pocket 2 will automatically search out the face of the subject and track that.

If you have the Pocket 2 in Selfie mode (the lens facing you) it will automatically enter FaceTrack mode.

  Tilt Pan Roll
FPV Locked Locked Locked
Follow Unlocked Locked Locked
Tilt Lock Locked Unlocked Locked



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