The use of gimbal stabilizers in filmmaking has grown exponentially in recent years. By stabilizing your camera on three axes (roll, pitch, and yaw), these devices have revolutionized the way one operates a camera by making it easier than ever to attain smooth cinematic footage on the fly. However, with the lack of fourth axis stabilization, getting the optimal results could often be a serious challenge, especially if you are unexperienced gimbal operator.
This is where a device such as the Digitalfoto Z Axis Dual Handle Grip may come in handy. In essence, it works as an add-on to your current gimbal that helps stabilize the fourth axis, supposedly reducing vertical jitter in your shots. Josh Morgan from Momentum Productions has tested out the unit, as he shares his insight on the topic in the video below.
The handle grip itself utilizes a spring mechanism that suppresses the unwanted vertical movement. Basically, it works as a shock mount for your gimbal. Plus, Digitalfoto’s particular handle grip supports many types of single-handed stabilizers such as the DJI Ronin-S and the Zhiyun Crane 2/Plus/v2, etc.
As intriguing as the handle grip may sound, you should take into consideration the fact that the setup process could be tricky and time-consuming as you will need to replace the types of screws used depending on the gimbal and its handle diameter before start shooting.
So, after all the time spent setting up the system, is the Digitalfoto handle grip worth its almost hundred-dollar price tag? Surprisingly, Morgan noticed very little to no difference between shots with and without the fourth axis stabilizer. In fact, he states that the add-on may actually make the shots less steady, introducing even more unwanted vertical jitter unintentionally.
You should also keep in mind that the fourth axis stabilization will only work if you’re using the gimbal upright. If you’re planning to take advantage of it in a telescope or underslung position, the fourth axis handle grip will be of no use to you.
Even though Morgan can’t quite justify the value of Digitalfoto’s offering, he did go on to mention that if you are a beginner who doesn’t want to spend time perfecting the level of steadiness, the fourth axes stabilizer may indeed help suppress some vertical jitter. So, it’s really up to you and your skill set as a gimbal operator to decide whether the extra $99 spent for this particular fourth axis rig would be worth it in the end.