Gimbal hyperlapse vs handheld hyperlapse

Check out these two different ways of shooting a hyperlapse.

What are the pros and cons of shooting a hyperlapse on a gimbal vs shooting a hyperlapse the manual (handheld) way? This article explains the differences between two different hyperlapse shooting methods.

If you don't like to read you can check out the video I made about the subject right here.

Handheld hyperlapse

I shoot 99% of all my hyperlapse sequences the handheld way. (other people often use tripods or monopods)

This means I frame up my shot, take a photo, take a step, take another photo etc.

Afterwards I stabilise this series of photos (using the Warp Stabiliser effect) and render it into a video file using Adobe After Effects.

If you'd like to learn more about how to shoot and process a handheld hyperlapse, check out the article or tutorial video below.

Click here to read the hyperlapse tutorial.

Gimbal hyperlapse

With a gimbal hyperlapse, in this case specifically, I am shooting video while tracking my subject automatically with the camera/gimbal, and speeding it up afterwards.

I am using the DJI Osmo Pocket for this as the app features great subject tracking which is very easy to set up.

Buy the DJI Osmo Pocket here.

The reason I'm shooting it this way is because the timelapse or hyperlapse mode of the DJI Osmo Pocket only creates a 1920×1080 (Full HD) video file. When shooting video and speeding it up I can get a 4K video file. The more pixels the better!

Check out this article I wrote about shooting timelapses with the DJI Osmo Pocket.

What are the benefits of a handheld hyperlapse?

First up, your resolution can be massive. It is only limited to how big your sensor is, not the video resolution of the camera. There are 100 megapixel cameras these days, just imagine the size of the video file when you render those photos into a video file. HUGE.

Secondly, the dynamic range of photos (how much detail is captured in both the highlights and shadows of the scene) is much better than the dynamic range of video files. Unless you're shooting RAW video, but then you're working on something else entirely and this blog post isn't for you.

Thirdly, if you expand your gear a little bit and decide to use a tripod, you can use ND filters and shoot long exposures. This technically falls under a different category of hyperlapse photography (because it's not handheld) but I decided to put it in here anyway because it is vastly different from shooting video on a gimbal and then speeding it up.

What are the negatives of shooting a handheld hyperlapse?

Shooting a handheld hyperlapse simply takes a lot of time! It doesn't only take a long time to shoot, it also takes a long time to process.

The post production workflow for a hyperlapse sequence adds a lot of time and energy to the total production. I used to charge three days of post per day of shooting for hyperlapse productions, because that's how long it took to stabilise all the footage!

When you're shooting a hyperlapse a lot of things can go wrong. It only takes one wrong frame to throw you off your game, which can result in time jumps (clouds moving around in a jumpy manner because your interval wasn't consistent when shooting). You can also have a bird fly in front of your lens or fall over and break your arm or your gear. Luckily that hasn't happened to me, yet.

When you're shooting really long sequences (one hour plus), your body will struggle. The longer sequences I've done involved a body rig to mount the camera, and even then my neck and shoulders got incredibly sore.

What are the benefits of shooting a gimbal hyperlapse?

Shooting a hyperlapse in video mode on a gimbal is very easy and fast. The DJI Osmo Pocket subject tracking makes it as simple as pointing the camera, selecting your subject and then walking along your desired path.

In post production all that is left to do is speed up the video file and possibly add some motion blur, or extra stabilisation where needed.

It is so simple you could almost call it cheating.

What are the negatives of shooting a gimbal hyperlapse?

Because you are shooting a video, you are limited in your resolution. Very few cameras shoot any resolution larger than 4K.

Your dynamic range will also be less, as videos tend to be way worse when it comes to DR than RAW photos.

Not every gimbal has this easy motion or subject tracking either.

Conclusion

I prefer the manual, handheld way of shooting hyperlapse sequences. This method gives you the most control and gives you the highest quality. Yes, it costs time and energy but so do all great things in the world.

Read more about the basics of timelapse photography here.

Check out my e-books about timelapse photography. They contain all the information you need to know to shoot the highest possible quality timelapse and astro timelapse sequences.

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