You Might Not Need a Gimbal With the a7S III

Back in April, filmmaker Mark Bone released a video singing the praises of Catalyst Browse, free software from Sony that took the gyro data from the FX9 and processed handheld footage to make it look as though it was shot on a gimbal. It turns out that the Sony a7S III does exactly the same, and it’s far better than warp stabilization.

When the leaked specifications of the a7S III were being poured over back in July, there was one line to me that stood out: “Movie Edit add-on compatibility for Image Stabilization in post.” No-one seemed to be discussing this feature, so I emailed Bone to get his thoughts, and we came to the same conclusion: if the Sony a7S III does have a gyro, Catalyst Browse will be able to use that data to create gimbal-like footage.

This video from filmmaker Brandon Li confirms our suspicions: the Sony a7S III has a gyro, and you can achieve super-smooth handheld footage, albeit with a crop. If this sounds like Final Cut’s Smoothcam or Inertiacam or Adobe Premiere’s Warp Stabilizer, check out the difference in the quality of results.

Sony’s Catalyst Browse software is free to download: simply process the files to give the desired level of crop and stabilization, and then import the resulting files into your editing software of choice.

Given how excited the likes of Li and Bone are over this gimbal-free footage, it strikes me as a little strange that Sony is not making more of this feature. It doesn’t quite deliver the same results as a gimbal, and of course, as with any software stabilization, there’s the crop to contend with, but it does seem to offer results that are superior to any of the alternatives and brings a host of advantages.

Li gives a good summary of just how useful and effective this method of stabilization is, so be sure to watch to the end.

Is this the future of video stabilization? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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13 Comments

Adam Palmer's picture

Nice overlooked feature. Would be cool if they could unlock it for more cameras.

Charles Mercier's picture

How are people supposed to comment if no one has the a7siii except reviewers?

Alexander Petrenko's picture

How can people vote if no one personally met a candidate?

Charles Mercier's picture

His final question about your opinion is based on someone else's summary. So my answer to you is, it's like voting for a candidate based on someone else's opinion on the candidates. Sure, you can have an opinion but it's not based on your experience.

FocusPulling (.com)'s picture

Another example of Fstoppers damaging its brand with a post that's just taking someone else's word for it. Brandon Li's "advice" is terrible. It's ignorant of central factors to even mediocre footage -- motion blur and shutter speed, no to mention an extra generation of signal loss caused by re-encoding.

Instead of just constantly crawling the Interwebs for content to repurpose at Fstoppers, maybe stick to carefully posting original content after thoroughly learning about it?

Lee Morris's picture

Looks pretty freakin awesome to me.

Tim Sheehan's picture

If you're familiar with the basics of the 180 degree shutter 'rule' and motion blur at slow shutter speeds you should be able to work out why the gryo + warp stabilisation method is limited - you can crop into a shot to counter the camera's movement, even deskew to counter rolling shutter during movement, but you can't counter the motion blur*. IF your subject is static but the camera moves, there will be motion blur on the subject in a static shot which obviously won't look right. For good warp or gyro stabilisation you need a fast shutter speed which produces subpar video compared to following the 180 rule.

* You can remove motion blur on a single image in photoshop with some success, but this isn't something which can be done on every frame of a video. At least yet, with the pace things are going there may be some effective AI software in the next few years for this....

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

*cough* sour grapes *cough*

Instead of whining and crying and flapping your gums about a video you disagree with, do a video to counter it. According to your bio, this is you, "Digital Tech, Director, Photographer, Producer, Videographer". Surely, this task is child's play with your experience and expertise, according to your mouth.

Psssstt...before you dig yourself a hole, towards the end of the video, Brandon did say that software is not going to replace a gimbal. It's not for everything.

Lee Morris's picture

This is amazing

Derrick Monis's picture

I tested this out with my zv-1 and I agree! It's pretty amazing, I love it! I would not have known about this if it wasn't on f-stoppers.

Cool Cat's picture

Sony technology is pretty incredible. I wish they would work on the look and feel of their camera bodies. Personally, they all feel like a brick in my hand. I may be getting a little off subject but we seem to be focused on technology rather than the art of photography. Nevertheless, this stuff blows me away.

Mic Jam's picture

Surprisingly good. Wow 😮

Sam Painter's picture

Will this work with non Sony lenses?