DJI Osmo Review

Rating:

Eye-catching. Attention grabbing. Magical. These are some of the words I have heard when using the DJI Osmo in public, and it’s hard to fault the onlookers who tell me these things: the DJI Osmo looks like something straight out of a science fiction novel, and the way it works feels like magic.

Better yet: how did a potentially game-changing camera come out from a company best known for their unmanned aerial drones?

We take a closer look at the DJI Osmo in this review, and give you the low-down on a device that sometimes feels like a glimpse of future technology.

The Hardware

DJI Osmo Review

The DJI Osmo is sleek – about a foot tall, all matte black, and looking like the futuristic version of an old school webcam mounted on an ergonomic grip, with a set of controls readily accessible via thumb and index finger, as well as a mount for your mobile devices.

It’s beautiful.

Included with the Osmo is a great semi-hard shell case, a battery with a charging station, and a 16GB Class 10 microSD card. Out of the box, and after a full charge, you have everything you need to start taking photos or shooting video, and at a 4K capture resolution, you can grab approximately 45~ minutes of footage on the included 16GB microSD card.

DJI Osmo Review

The review unit I received comes with the DJI Osmo standard ZenMuse X3 camera, sporting a 1/2.3 sensor, can capture up to 12MP resolution for photos, and shoots video up to 4K quality. The three-axis gimbal comes with locking mechanisms for safe storage, but when unlocked, rotates and actuates at a very smooth clip, showing a glimpse of just how smooth operation of the Osmo will be when powered on.

The bottom two-thirds of the Osmo is dedicated to the ergonomic grip and mobile device mount. The mobile device mount is a foldable plastic “claw” that can extend to the length of your phone and holds it using spring-loaded tension, safely securing the device even while in heavy motion. The ergonomic grip has a soft leather-like surface for your palm and is moulded to be comfortably held by either hand, while having easy access to the thumb controls (pan, record, shutter) and trigger controls (lock, re-centre, selfie mode).

DJI Osmo Review

Weight wise, the DJI Osmo clocks in at just over 1 pound, or half a kilogram, which is relatively light considering what you’re getting. For reference, when I used to rent stabilization equipment for my DSLR, I needed to wear a vest to hold the 20-30 pounds of equipment needed for the day, and that was on the lighter end. The DJI Osmo is infinitely lighter than that, which matters a lot when it comes to fatigue while capturing photos or videos.

In addition, it’s quite the compact and sturdy little device. I managed to pack it into my carry-on backpack for a flight, and because of the sturdiness of the shell case, was able to keep it on the bottom of the backpack with items on top of it without any issues.

On sturdiness, my one fear with the DJI Osmo is that the three-axis gimbal looks and feels a little more brittle than it probably is, so I was quite afraid to use it in situations where I would have used a GoPro, because I thought a bad drop or excessive water would absolutely destroy it. I’m sure it’s quite a hardy little machine, but the mechanical aspect of the stabilization is definitely not invincible, and it definitely is not waterproof. A word of warning, is all.

Performance

To preface: I carried the assumption that the DJI Osmo is built for a lot of action, a lot of motion, and mostly centred around capturing video over photos. I tested the Osmo, casually, at the very end of a long curling match with friends, and basically spent 15 minutes sprinting up and down sheets of ice, with the Osmo being held in either one of my hands, without a phone connected.

That said, the DJI Osmo is incredible.

As I mentioned earlier, I used to rent these large apparatuses meant for counterbalancing the weight of my already-bulky DSLRs, and would have to strap them to a vest meant to alleviate some of the fatigue issues, but also to get a much more stable base for the camera to be held with, also improving stabilization. These apparatuses and vests, alone, would clock in anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 for low end devices meant for smaller cameras like DSLRs. It would only get more expensive from there.

Knowing this, the DJI Osmo brings a technological solution to the same problems I faced before, in a much more compact and performant device, and even includes a camera that can shoot up to 4K for $879.

Incredible.

DJI Osmo Review

Something that continuously comes up in discussion about the Osmo is whether or not the app needs to be connected for the Osmo to operate fully. The app is not necessary to operate the Osmo (my curling video was shot entirely without it) but the app does open up a lot of additional features like Automatic Panorama, Timelapse, and Long Exposure, which aren’t readily available with the touch controls. While not optimal, the app also acts as a viewfinder for the camera, making it much easier to see what you’re shooting and how it looks, while also being able to configure and control functionality.

DJI Osmo Review

Image quality of the Osmo does leave something to be desired. Settings wise, you have full control over shutter speed and ISO, but there didn’t seem to be any options to change the aperture or the focal point while shooting. This is somewhat expected, as you’re not shooting on a DSLR, so image quality isn’t expected to be the same. However, the quality of the image, while decent, will relegate the Osmo to shooting b-roll footage, action shots, or scenery shots, as opposed to shots that need to focus on specific areas or people inside of the frame.

DJI Osmo Review

In addition, audio capture feels like somewhat of an afterthought, but connecting the DJI GO app does allow for audio capture via your device’s microphone, and there is also a 3.5mm audio jack where you can plug-in the smaller, consumer-friendly microphones for much better audio capture.

The battery life of the Osmo is quite good. Fortunately, they released a firmware update while putting the Osmo through its paces, which significantly extended the battery life, but shooting full 4K videos, I was observing about 70-80 minutes of actual recording time, and about 7 hours of standby.

Overall, the DJI Osmo performs quite admirably in the right situations. I imagine it being perfect for capturing the action (possibly inside the action), capturing scenery, or capturing anywhere where the full view is what the cameraperson is after. I also imagine it would be great for capturing track days (from all kinds of ridiculous angles and positions), tours of homes or buildings, and even attaching it to boats or bikes and taking it on a fun ride.

The Bottom Line

DJI Osmo Review

The DJI Osmo is a high-performance camera with built-in stabilization, making consumer-level photos and videos better than ever before, at a very affordable price. Not perfect for every situation, and definitely not for everyone, but a great device for smaller video shops, or hobbyist videographers, or adrenaline junkies who want some really stable footage, or even realtors who want to show off their properties. And that’s just a small subset of the many situations where I think the Osmo would perform admirably.

Overall, at its price range and level of performance, the Osmo feels like magic for what it provides. If you’re in the market for a camera that does what the Osmo does, it’s perfect for you.

This product is perfect for: people who want to capture photos or videos and want or need stabilization to get better quality images.

Key things to be aware of: image quality is not perfect, battery life is about 70-80 minutes of capture, and the mechanical aspects of the Osmo might be more vulnerable than it looks.

Final review score: 5. As I mentioned earlier, if you’re in the market for cameras that do what the DJI Osmo does, it’s an amazing offering, especially at that price.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
DJI Osmo
Author Rating
5
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Jon Lim

Jon Lim is a professional developer, writer, and an avid technologist. He has written creatively for the past 16 years, and professionally for 4 years.

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