Some people were disappointed that Sony’s new vlogging camera, the ZV-E10, didn’t have stabilization built into the body. We were kicked out, though. If you want to shoot with your hands, you need as much stability as you can get. This is at least partly a camera for beginners, and they won’t understand why their new “real” camera can’t stabilize video as well as their phone.
But Sony had the answer – embedded gyro data. Even though the ZV-E10 doesn’t have a stabilizer built into the body, it does have internal gyros that can record the movement of the camera frame by frame and embed it into the video file.
Using the gyro data, you can then use Sony’s free Catalyst Browse software on your computer to stabilize the video. In effect, it uses digital stabilization, but it does so by looking at how the camera moves.
How the digital stabilization works
Digital stabilization is not a new idea. It can be found on many video cameras, either as an alternative to IBIS or as a replacement for it. Digital video stabilization might sound like a cop-out, but it makes a lot of sense.
It basically works by comparing how each frame in the video is framed to the frame before it. If it sees a shift, it moves the frame to get everything in the right place.
For this to work, there needs to be some empty space around the edges of the frame to allow for this constant “reframing.” This is why there is a crop factor in digital stabilization modes. The software needs a bit of wiggle room.
Digital stabilization works the same way IBIS does, but it changes the frame in software instead of moving the camera’s sensor.
But if the Sony ZV-E10 already has built-in digital stabilization, why not use the gyro data instead?
Two things come to mind. First, in-camera DIS has to be done quickly and on the fly because the camera only has a limited amount of processing power. Doing it later in software gives you much more control and probably much better results. Second, if you put it on in camera, it will stay there forever.
Okay, but digital stabilization is already built into almost all video editors, so why would you need this?
Because video editing software uses generic algorithms to detect movement, while Sony’s system uses actual data about how the camera moves. In theory, that should be a much better way to do it technically.
Does Sony’s gyro DIS work?
We thought we’d try a few things, like a “run-and-gun” style sequence where we filmed while walking, a few still shots with different focal lengths, and some slow pans and “crane” movements. The results are shown below. Remember that both the stabilized and unstabilized versions come from the same clips. These videos have only been made once.
So, here are a couple of thoughts. One is that the stabilization is amazing. It’s better than what we’d expect from an IBIS system and definitely better than the digital stabilization in most cameras. But the more movement there is, the more the software crops the image, and we can see shimmery artifacts where the stabilization hasn’t been able to stop movement everywhere in the frame at the same time.
But the short answer is that Sony’s Catalyst Browse software is a very good way to use the embedded gyro data. Some people say it works almost as well as a gimbal, but we wouldn’t go that far. We would say that it is at least as good as Sony’s IBIS systems on other cameras, which aren’t the best, and that we would definitely use it again.
We also compared it to the digital stabilization built into iMovie and DaVinci Resolve 18. iMovie didn’t match the results from Sony’s own data, but Resolve came much closer, and in our limited testing, if Sony’s gyro results were better, it wasn’t by much.
Sony ZV-E10 gyro data disadvantages
There is still a big crop factor, so if you shoot in 4K, your stabilized video will have a lower resolution, maybe closer to 3K. If you use it in a 4K project, it will be upsampled, which means it will lose some detail.
- To stabilize the video, you have to use Sony Catalyst Browse, which means you have to add another video editor to your workflow.
- To give the software full control, you must remember to turn off the DIS in the camera and probably any lens IS as well.
The Sony ZV-E10 isn’t the only device that stores gyro data.
Some other examples are:
• Sony A7C
• Sony A7S III
• Sony FX3
• Sony FX6
• Sony FX9
• Sony RX0 II
Not just Sony, either. Blackmagic has released an update for its Pocket Cinema cameras, such as the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, Pocket Cinema Camera 6K G2, and Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro, that turns on a “secret” gyro feature. These will now include gyro data that DaVinci Resolve 18 can use to stabilize footage automatically.
Is gyro data the way of the future for stabilizing videos?
It’s not THE future; it’s A future. In the video, the real problem is often keeping the camera still and moving it smoothly, which requires a physical stabilization device for the whole camera, not just the sensor or lens. As with digital stabilization, these only stop the movement, but they don’t fix all the problems it causes.