Reviews

DJI Osmo Review : 4K Video With 3-Axis Stabilisation

 

We’ve always liked filming our videos with minimal equipment, partly because of the weight and partly because we need a more fluid setup. Lok usually shoots with a 5D Mark III and 24-105mm f/4L but we have preferred to shoot with more compact GH3 setup before and we tried using a handheld gimbal with a GoPro for a couple of videos.

With the Osmo, DJI appears to be stepping into GoPro territory (and GoPro has consequently stepped into DJI terrain with their own drone) by releasing a action camera on a stick, with the added benefit of a gimbal to keep things super smooth. Well, when I say action camera, I don’t mean a proper action camera that you can do authentic action activities with it, such as surfing or sticking it in boiling water – you’ll just kill the Osmo if you do that. Although you can hold the Osmo in one hand while riding a moving vehicle, looking like you’re holding a flare as a cry for help. Mind you, I did also mention to my buddy, Scott Hui, who took a couple of Osmos to Barcelona (see vid below), that the Osmo looks a bit like a self-pleasuring device.

Video by Scott Hui

There is lots of pleasure to be derived from using one, although perhaps not in the way I was insinuating. The best bit is that they aren’t all that tedious to setup, it’s just a matter of unlocking this and that, switching it on, connecting via wi-fi and then opening the app. It is relatively idiot-proof to work out how to use it. Perfect for me.

It is a great all-in-one solution, with your smartphone coming into play for the live view of whatever the camera sees. That is one benefit of this over a GoPro with handheld gimbal, a setup that we have used numerous times, including for the GoPro 4 Review.

DJI’s Osmo is a lot smoother and more reliable than the GoPro/FeiYu combo. I tried it while riding a Segway in a forest, with bumps, dips and turns, and the Osmo gave me back some footage that looks like I glided straight through that course. The footage looks great, although the colours and the lack of picture profiles is a bit of a let down. DJI are apparently working on that with a future firmware update but we’ll just have to see.

The Zenmuse X3 camera shoots 4K footage at 24p/25p, 120p in Full HD. Apart from the lack of picture profile options, the image looks decent for a modest-sized Sony EXMOR CMOS 1/2.3″ sensor, although it can’t perform miracles in the low light. The 20mm equivalent lens isn’t particularly fast at f/2.8 but the noise would still be a problem anyway.

You definitely will want to use an external mic because the internal mic will only be good for picking up the sound of the cooling fan of the Zenmuse X3, which is quite loud. Unfortunately, there’s no adjustment for the mic level and no headphone socket.

When I first got this, I thought this would be a really cool piece of kit for Vloggers, people who don’t have the luxury of having someone follow and film them. I mean, after all, it has a feature where you triple-click the trigger button to switch the camera to selfie mode. It would’ve been amazing if only it focused closer. The DJI website says the focus is 3.5m (suitable range 1.5m – infinity), which means if you’re holding it yourself, you won’t be completely in focus. Shame. At 201g (including battery), you could imagine that this could be incredibly useful, practical tool if it could focus on the user. Still, you could always buy the extension stick from DJI if you really want to have your face in perfect focus in selfie mode.

There are a number of accessories available for the Osmo, ranging from nice to necessities. Without a doubt, you will need at least one spare battery, and perhaps more. The battery is supposed to last around an hour but expect less. Definitely get an ND filter also, especially as you’ll likely only use the Osmo in daylight.

I really like the concept and the execution, mostly. But there is a difficult decision to be made, and that’s whether one should for this, which costs around £500 or get a Micro 4/3 Zenmuse X5 version, which would cost almost £1000 more. That will sort out of some of the issues I have with using the Zenmuse X3 one I tested but then that takes away part of the beauty of this – a cool concept that is reasonably-priced.