The biggest downside to using a gimbal is losing basic controls of the camera. Sure, you can use a monitor, but you can't actually control the camera. Could your phone fix this problem?
B&H has an insane deal on Manfrotto's Canon remote. Designed for use on a tripod, I'd considered replacing a handle on a gimbal with it. That way, I could control my focus and exposure without needing to touch the camera.
It's the inherent problem that comes with a gimbal. If you try to touch and move the camera, the motors will fight against you. Sometimes, this leads to turning off the gimbal, changing your settings, and then starting it all up again. There's got to be a better way right?
My solution was to install DSLR Controller on my phone, plug it into a Canon DSLR via Mini USB, and use that instead. Not only could I monitor the scene, but I also had full control over the camera, and I could review footage from the phone. No more hitting record, no more focusing blindly, and no more turning the gimbal upside down to see the screen better. If I placed my phone near the center handle, I could keep my two hands on the gimbal and use my thumb to hit record, change the exposure, picture profile, and just about anything else.
The cost? Well, I used my bike mount from Joby, which is a real trooper. One Amazon reviewer claimed that they fell off their bike, and their phone still clung on to the handlebars; which is why it's worth $35. Then, I used an old Mini USB cable and the USB-C to USB-A adaptor that Google provides with their new Pixel phones. That's it!
Controlling the camera works just fine, but monitoring the scene doesn't come without its fair share of lag. For a fast-paced shoot, it can get frustrating, because if you're running with it, then you're always a few feet behind on the monitor. However, if it's a walking interview or something simple of that nature, you'll likely get away with it. If you can get over this, then you'll save yourself a few hundred bucks and gain more control of the camera than ever before.
Supposedly, this will work well with most Android phones that were made past 2015, and luckily, the developers have a free app that acts as a shutter in case you need to test your phone's compatibility first. If iOS users want to do this, then they'll need to buy Manfrotto's Digital Director. It appears to have less lag; however, it will cost you around $270.