Join Jim Heid for an in-depth discussion in this video Tips for using the gimbal, part of DJI Mavic Pro: Tips, Tricks, & Techniques.
- The Mavic's gimbal is its key to smooth video and sharp long exposure photos. And it's obviously the secret for getting video shots that tilt up and down. I want to share a few gimbal-related tips in this video starting with that whole tilting thing. Early in this course, when we talk about the Mavic's cinematic mode, I mentioned that good drone camera movements should start and end gradually. They should ease in and ease out instead of just starting and stopping jarringly. The same applies to gimbal tilts. I love shots where the gimbal tilts up or down either a little or a lot.
Moves like these are great for adding a dimension to a shot and to tell a story, to start on a detail, and then reveal a bigger scene or vice versa. But again, easing in and easing out are critical. The gimbal's dial on the remote control helps a little. If you move it only a small amount, the gimbal tilt slows, but it's a little overly sensitive and when you're working outside and also working the sticks, making that small finesse move can be hard. Fortunately, you can customize the gimbal's responsiveness so that it's much easier to get that gradual starting and stopping.
In the DJI Go app, go into General Settings, tap the gimbal item, and then tap Advanced Settings. Here you have a couple of options for taming your gimbal. The gimbal pitch speed setting is exactly that. It's how fast the gimbal moves. The higher the number, the faster the tilt. Try a setting of about 10 to start with and then experiment. The setting that controls that whole ease in ease out business is called gimbal pitch smoothness.
When it's at zero, the gimbal just starts and stops with no gradual increase or decrease. Not what you want. The higher the setting, the longer the ease in and ease out process takes. We can test it right here in the studio. I'll change it all the way down to zero and then do a little tilt. And you can see when I release the gimbal tilt wheel, it just stops, not what we want. I'll change the smoothness back to about 25.
And by the way, you can tap these little plus and minus buttons to get precise adjustments. Then we'll try it again. That's more like it. Notice that it's slowing down and taking a couple of seconds to do so after I let go of the gimbal tilt knob. You can adjust these settings to your liking and then leave them be or you can adjust them for a specific shot. For example, if you know you want a slow gimbal tilt and you don't want to have to delicately turn the gimbal knob, maybe you're wearing gloves and it's cold out, just crank the gimbal pitch speed all the way down to something like two or three.
That way, you can mast the dial all the way to one side or the other and still get a nice slow tilt. While we're in the Advanced Setting options, let's take a quick look at what else is there. The enable upwards gimbal tilt limit to 30 degrees option. That's a mouthful, but it's easy to understand. When you turn this on, you can tilt the gimbal upwards a bit more. On the downside, you're more likely to see the props in your shot, but it's an option you might want to experiment with. Finally, there is enable synchronized gimbal pan follow.
Another mouthful. For smoother video when you're yawing, rotating left or right, you might want to turn this off. Otherwise, the gimbal attempts to anticipate your move and that can cause a little sideways jerk in the video. Finally, reset settings. That just takes the gimbal settings back to their factory values. Let's step back one level to look at other gimbal settings you might want to adjust, starting at the top with the gimbal mode. When you're shooting video, you want this to be on follow. This is the setting that enables the gimbal to pitch left and right to counteract the drone's movements.
If you put it in FPV mode, you'll see more tilt in your shots. This is supposed to make a flight seem more realistic when you're flying wearing goggles. Moving down on the screen, the centering camera option is a maintenance feature. If you find your camera view doesn't seem centered after a crash or some rough handling or if the camera appears to be pointed a little bit left or right, use this option. Next up, adjust gimbal roll. This is often really useful when the gimbal isn't quite level. Many times you won't even notice a little bit of tilt, but if you're flying near the ocean or in a particularly flat part of the world, a little bit of tilt can become very noticeable.
That's where adjusting the gimbal roll can be helpful. Tap it and then tap the arrows to adjust the roll. This adjustment is a little wonky though. Sometimes the gimbal will adjust and then snap back a notch or two. You might have to overcompensate so that when it does snap back, the shot is actually level. By the way, this is another good reason to shoot video in 4K to have the option of leveling a slightly tilted horizon using your video editing software. If you find the gimbal is consistently tilted and adjusting gimbal roll doesn't help, you can try recalibrating the gimbal.
To do that, tap gimbal auto calibration. It's very important to do this on a level surface with the drone away from magnetic fields, even things like refrigerators. I once had auto calibration fail because my drone was on the kitchen counter a foot or so from the fridge. I'm not going to do the calibration here because we're surrounded by a lot of electronics, but I'll add that if you get an error message saying calibration failed, double check that the drone isn't near anything that's giving off even a faint magnetic field. The Mavic's gimbal is a miniaturized marvel, but with that miniaturization also comes a lot of sensitivity so calibrate carefully.
One last note that's related to the gimbal and that's to talk about this thing, the dome. Obviously, you should always put this on when you're traveling with the Mavic. It protects the gimbal. You can also shoot with it on after you peel off this protective cover of course, but you will introduce some optical distortion, especially strong lens flare when you shoot towards the sun. Also, some Mavic pilots have expressed concern that leaving the dome on could cause the Mavic to overheat since some of its air vents are just behind the gimbal and the dome blocks those a bit.
You'll see people say, "Use the dome if you're flying in a snowstorm "or in conditions where you might be more likely to crash." I say, think twice about flying in a snowstorm or in conditions where you might be more likely to crash. You'll need to make those decisions for yourself, but do know that shooting through the dome will cost you a little bit in image quality.
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