Technology has come a long way in the last twenty years, but smartphones can still only reduce camera shake. They cannot totally eliminate the blurriness that ruins photos. To do that, the only true tried and tested method that has stood the test of time is camera stabilisers.
The simplest and least pricey are stands, and there are a few types, each suited to different uses.
An overview of the types of camera stabilisers for smartphones
A flexible tripod has rubber legs that are easily manoeuvred. They are not stable on a flat surface but wrap them around a thin enough object and they will grip onto it.
These are suited to shooting photos outdoors where you are more likely to find it easier to latch a phone to the branch of a tree, a fence or railing, or even for a cyclist to stop for a moment, attach the tripod to the handlebar or cycle frame and capture a breath-taking scene like a pro. Zero or at least minimal editing would be required for a quality photo ready to print and frame directly from the device’s camera roll.
The traditional tripod is designed to be versatile, but that is also a pitfall of its design; its rigidness. They are designed to afford users the highest level of stability, ensuring that there is no shaking of the camera when in use. Traditional tripod stands have collapsible legs making them convenient for travelling. But whether it is useful on trips depends on whether there will be a flat surface available to stand it on.
Where these outshine other types are in the materials used to make them. The most affordable is the plastic models. As the quality of material increases, so does the price. Expect premium price tags for tripods made of wood, aluminium, and carbon fibre. It should be noted that it is not the material used to make the tripod that gives it the strength to stand stable without toppling over. It is the weight of the tripod. If you want superior stability, go with the heaviest tripod you can find.
Tabletop tripods are as they sound. They are designed to only sit on flat surfaces. As such, these are best suited to shooting flat lay photography. Small objects organised into a professional display on any flat surface, then shot directly from above; the bird’s eye view. A difficult angle to shoot from without a stand of some sort.
Standard tabletop tripods are the smallest of the bunch. More professional setups can be achieved using a taller camera tripod with a smartphone attachment.
Gimbals are a camera stabilizer. They are similar to tripods but without the legs, because they are designed to be handheld. The advantage these have is 360-degree pivoting, and depending on the model, some have integrated sensors and even apps to pair devices together eliminating the need to touch the phone screen to take photos or capture video. A control panel is on the handle.
Given that gimbals use technology and are not just a stand to stabilise a phone, they are in the highest price range.
Gimbals are better suited to people who need pro equipment regularly such as vloggers, professional outdoor photographers and videographers.
For casual use, tripods are the next best thing for shooting quality photos without having to rely on a camera shake-reduction feature.