DJI has been on a roll the last few years. I’ll admit, I was skeptical when I first saw their first consumer product, a white toy-looking quadcopter that could carry a GoPro. They’ve since grown into a serious player in the video production space with amazing tools that help video makers add production value that we only dreamed of a few short years ago.
Ironically, the same thing that made aerial photos and video affordable and accessible to the masses is the same thing that makes fully stabilized 4k video in the palm of your hand a reality – shrinking camera size.
Borrowing the same gimbal and camera tech from their flagship aerial camera platform the Inspire 1, the Osmo places that same stabilizing power in a comfortable to hold and easy to use handheld device.
I used the Osmo for the first time on a video shoot in Moab Utah this winter. It was fantastic for hiking with. I could easily cary it in one hand while hiking and capture shots along the way. The final video is embedded below. Most of the stabilized shots during the hiking near the end were taken with the Osmo.
My first thoughts with using the Osmo on a location shoot was appreciation for how portable it is. I could easily hike with it in one hand the entire time without getting tired of caring it. It also fit nicely into my backpack when not in use. It is slightly awkward to put your phone in the spring tension holder, but once you’ve done it a few times it’s not so bad. Using your phone as the control and monitor of the unit is convenient, but it also means effective use of the Osmo is tied to your smartphone. If your phone dies, you could still use the Osmo, but you wouldn’t be able to see exactly how your shot is framed.
Using the Osmo is definitely a bit different than using other stabilizers such as the glidecam, ronin, or movi. Again, the first thing you’ll notice is how lightweight and portable it is over those other options. Because of this, I’d say it’s actually a bit harder to get really smooth motion, especially when walking. If you walk normally with the Osmo in hand, you’ll definitely notice each footstep when you play the video back.
If you’ve used the glidecam you’ll know that you have to still walk as smoothly as possible, heal-to-toe in order to get a smooth, acceptable result. The Osmo requires the same type of walk for ideal results.
Video quality on the Osmo is probably it’s weakest point. It does shoot 4k video and under good lighting conditions the image is pretty passable. I’d place the image quality in the action cam category – it’s comparable to footage you’ll get from the latest GoPro. Both suffer in low light conditions. The image also seems to be a little over sharp for my taste.
Another weak point of the Osmo is the sound quality. It does have an integrated microphone but the internal buzz of the brushless motors make the audio unusable. This is not a deal breaker though… for one thing video creators often record audio separately anyway. The Osmo also has a built in audio jack so you could potentially connect an external microphone and use that instead of the built in microphone. At this point I don’t think I would trust it for mission critical productions.
It’s quite easy to overlook the image quality when you consider the amazing portability this stabilizer offers. Also, when you consider you can upgrade the Osmo with DJI’s micro 4/3 camera the X5, it’s really quite impressive. Creators who pick own the DJI Inspire 1 drone as well as the Osmo will be able to share a X5 camera between the two units. For a run and gun producer, this is a dream come true.
The Osmo has more photo modes than you’d expect. I could see each being useful in the right situation:
- Single Shot
- Photo Burst Mode: 3/5/7 shots
- Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB): 3/5 bracketed frames @ 0.7EV bias
- Auto Panorama
- Selfie Panorama
I tried the auto panorama feature while visiting Mesa arch and it did a reasonable job. I had no issue stitching the resulting images into a seamless panorama in photoshop when I got home. The companion DJI Go App will also automatically stitch the pano as soon as you take it which is a handy feature as well for instant sharing.
There are several accessories available for the Osmo that could make it even more useful including a car mount, tripod, and extension arm.
Overall I’m impressed with the DJI Osmo. For the one man shop it’s almost a must have. I found myself leaving my DJI Ronin behind more and more after I got the Osmo. With the improved X5 camera I could see where this might be the only camera I need on some shoots.
Have you tried the Dji Osmo? Tell me what you thought in the comments.