Choose Your Gear Wisely


Different shoots have different gear requirements. I always try to bring the minimum necessary gear to get the job done. Since I’m primarily a solo shooter, everything I bring needs to fit in my back, and frequently go through airport security. Every bit of weight matters. 

The fewer things you depend on means fewer points of failure to get the shot.

Less is more when it comes to solo shooting.


Here is the gear I always bring: 


    • Gimbal (DJI RS 3 Mini)
    • Camera (Sony A7S III)
      • Extra Camera Batteries (Sony FE batteries with USB-C port)
      • Magnetic Variable ND Filter Kit (Kenko PRO1D+ INSTANT ACTION)
      • Air blower
      • At least 2 lenses, depending on type of shoot
        • Zooms (Docu and Daylight shoots): Tamron 17-28mm; Tamron 28-200mm
        • Primes (Narrative and Low Light shoots): Sony 24mm f1.4 GM; Viltrox 50mm f1.8; Sony 85mm f1.8
  • Extension Poles
  • Microphones
  • Expendables
      • Gaffer’s tape
      • Lens cloth
  • Cables and Power
      • Worldwide Wall charger with multiple USB outputs
      • USB type-c cables
      • 10000 MAH Power Bank with magnetic charging dock
  • Backpack (Shimoda Action X30)
    • Lens wrap cloth for gimbal
    • Camera pouch
    • Lens pouches


Here is gear I will sometimes/rarely bring. If I bring these items, it’s because I have extra storage space and help with transportation. Also I will be more likely to bring more gear if I’m shooting for a client with specific requirements. TIP: if shooting for a client, always bring a monitor so they can see playback of your shots.


    • Second gimbal (in case the first one breaks during shoot)
    • Dual Handles for gimbal (for longer shoots to reduce fatigue)
  • Monitor (for client playback)
    • Accsoon Seemo 
      • iPad
    • Feelworld LUT 7S
  • Camera cage (for dangerous shots, or mounting accessories)
  • Manfrotto Gimboom Extension Rod (for extra secure extension shots)


Dummy Check Your Gimbal

  • Mount camera on gimbal
  • Balance camera
  • Power on gimbal
  • Check battery level
  • Auto-tune gimbal
  • Check the horizon of the gimbal (use camera’s horizon level display)
  • Power off the gimbal, remove camera
  • Keep the gimbal pre-balanced when you pack it


Pack your Backpack


Everyone has a different system for packing. I change my style of packing depending on what kind of shoot I’ll be doing. Here are my general tips:


  • Pre-balance your camera on the gimbal. Use your most common lens on the camera.
  • Remove camera from the gimbal but leave the quick release plate on the camera
  • Put the gimbal in the top part of a rolltop backpack so it’s easy to access and repack
  • Put the camera in the main compartment of the backpack in an easily accessible place
  • Arrange other items according to how delicate they are, and how much you need to access them
    • Less delicate stuff on the bottom or in the less-protected areas
    • More delicate stuff in the protected, higher parts of backpack
    • Less necessary stuff away from the access points
    • More necessary stuff near the access points


During Your Shoot


Choose a Lens


When you’re shooting with a gimbal, changing lenses is a slow process. It usually requires re-balancing. So you need to choose wisely. Here are my tips:


  • Start with a wide zoom to get your establishing shots
    • Tamron 17-28mm
    • Sony 10-20mm (APS-C)


  • Switch to longer focal lengths for your close-ups and detail shots
    • Tamron 28-200mm
    • Viltrox 50mm f1.8
    • Sony 85mm f1.8
    • Sony 35mm f1.8 (APS-C)
    • Sony 50mm f.8 E (APS-C)


Choose Your Camera Settings


Camera settings will greatly impact how your gimbal shots look. Since I’m a Sony A7S III  user, I’ll give the settings that work for my camera. You can adapt these tips to your particular rig.


    • Shoot the highest resolution possible (you might need to crop/reframe/stabilizer later)
      • I shoot UHD 4k
    • Enable in-body stabilization 
      • I use Steadyshot Standard for most shots
      • I use Steadyshot Active for linear movements only (no panning or tilting)
    • Shoot high frame rates (50p, 60p, 100p, or 120p)  for creative reasons or to smooth your gimbal shots
      • When to use 60p
        • Medium-speed action shots (jogging, laughing, swimming)
        • Static subjects such as architecture, real estate interiors, product close-ups
        • Any shot that might require some warp stabilization in post
      • When to use 120p
        • High-speed action shots (running, explosions, glass breaking, acrobatics)
        • Extreme close-up product/object shots (wedding ring, wristwatch)
        • Any shot that might require extreme warp stabilization in post
  • Note that Sony Catalyst Browse “gyro stabilization” doesn’t work with 120p footage


Choose Your Gimbal Settings


Gimbal settings will greatly affect how your shot looks. But they might not be as crucial as you think – most of the steadiness of a gimbal shot comes from the operator’s technique. Here are my tips for gimbal settings


  • Make sure your balance is correct before adjusting any other settings
  • Auto-tune for your camera and lens
  • Set your custom modes for your most frequent types of shots. Here are my most important modes, in order of importance: 
  • Set your follow speed according to the shot. 
    • Use the slowest follow speed that allows you to track your subject
    • Wider lens = slower speed
  • Set your joystick speed
    • I usually only use joystick for positioning the camera before shooting, not during the shot
    • Wider lens = slower setting


Get Ready to Shoot!


  • Put your mini tripod feet on the gimbal and set it on the ground
  • Mount your camera on the gimbal
  • Make sure the quick release plate is locked in place
  • Unlock all your gimbal arms, if necessary
  • Power on the gimbal 
  • Power on the camera
  • Check gimbal and camera battery levels
  • Auto-tune if you’re using a different lens than last time
  • Check the horizon again using your camera’s horizon level display

Keep this checklist handy whenever you go out on a gimbal shoot!

This is currently a work in progress and I’ll be adding to this daily.

When it’s complete I’lI share this as a downloadable checklist.

If you have any questions or ideas that would help make either checklist better please drop a note here!