The DJI OSMO was announced in 2015
Not many products can live up to the hype that gets piled onto them before their release. Most fail only because reality never seems to compare to the promise. I feared the DJI OSMO would crash and burn like the rest, but then I got my hands on one. It’s magic (when it works), and that’s why I decided that the DJI OSMO had to be the first gear reviewed on our site.
From the DJI OSMO’s first preview trailer, I knew I would eventually own one. It appeared to have everything I’d been dreaming of since I began using image stabilization three years ago. From the Merlin 2 to the Glidecam HD 2000, I’ve done all I could do with mid-level stabilization equipment that I could afford. My shots were more from luck than pure mastery. I would spend more time fighting the gimbal rather than focusing on composition and movement. So when I first saw the OSMO, I crossed my fingers and hoped it would be the camera stabilization gear I had always wanted.
The OSMO released in late 2015. I initially held off on purchasing it. I tend to avoid buying 1st generation products just to make sure the company has time to address any unforeseen issues.
This time around, it worked out in my favor. My excitement for the OSMO infected my brother in purchasing one for himself. Being the great brother he is, he was very generous in letting me use it.
Our Hands on DJI OSMO Review
When you get your hands on a new piece of equipment, it’s common practice to test it out before a big shoot. That’s not how I roll, though. My first experience with the OSMO was more like a “This better freaking work!” trial by fire. I take my travel videos seriously and get just as much satisfaction out of making them as I do on the trip itself.
I shot my first real videos with the DJI OSMO in Mykonos, Greece. Mykonos is a beautiful city and one that I wanted to capture well. Before landing in Greece, I had little to no experience handling the OSMO. Besides unlocking it and connecting it to my phone, I was a newbie.
The OSMO is surprisingly easy to use. Right off the bat, I was able to get both the shots and compositions that I wanted. It felt too good to be true. The app’s touch screen user interface is also very easy to use. You can quickly change the video settings and get right back into shooting. Double clicking the trigger resets the gimbal, and clicking the trigger three times turns the camera towards you. So easy!
After about a day of shooting, I started to notice the video on my phone was skipping during the recording and playback. I wasn’t sure if that skip was transferring to the recorded video, so we went back to the hotel to review the footage on a computer.
The shot looked great! But I did notice there was a bounce to the video. So I began to use the old walking technique I learned using the Merlin 2 and that fixed the issue. The shots were working out exactly as planned!
How does it handle extreme movements?
The DJI OSMO is a cinematographer’s equivalent to black magic, and I’m not joking either. I used the OSMO to record my donkey ride in Santorini, and the resulting footage blew me away as I held on for my dear life while the donkey’s handler RAN us down the mountain. I was flying left and right in my saddle, trying my best not to fall off.
Once the ten minutes of terror was over, I sat down to review the footage, thinking it was all going to be unusable. After watching a few of the clips, I had to pick my jaw off the poop covered sidewalk. The footage looked like it was shot off an escalator moving right next to me. I was in complete amazement to what the OSMO was able to capture. It’s still hard for me to believe how well it worked. I shot with the OSMO for the rest of the week and got some excellent footage.
This camera is not reliable if you are recording in 4k mode. Doing so will run you the risk of losing your footage to file corruption. If you are planning to use the OSMO exclusively in 4k mode, do not buy it. I recently visited the space shuttle Endeavor in Los Angeles and lost 90% of the footage. We had been planning that visit for weeks, so you can imagine how frustrating it was to get home and realize none of the videos came out.
There’s nothing worse than losing your footage. It’s a deal breaker. After doing some research, I found that the file will corrupt if the user turns off the OSMO before the video is completely processed. This is a problem because most users turn off our cameras in between shots to save the battery.
You would think DJI would have launched this product with some safeguards in the software to prevent this from happening, but they have not. It puts me in an awkward position because I love the shots I get filming with the OSMO. But dang, such a high chance of file corruption in scary!
Before filming in 4k, I had been using the OSMO to film almost exclusively in 2k without any issues. I shoot in 2k because I find editing in 4k to be a pain. So I plan to continue using the OMSO in 2k mode for future projects. Hopefully, DJI products won’t suffer from similar issues.
The OSMO also suffers from limited battery life. Our battery lasted about 30-45 mins before dying. It’s expected, but much faster than we thought. Thankfully I had three batteries on the trip, so it wasn’t a problem. I wouldn’t recommend going out on a shoot without having at least one backup battery.
On a few occasions, I had forgotten to turn off the OSMO and the camera automatically went into standby mode. When I brought it out to use it again, the OSMO was almost burning to the touch, and the battery was nearly drained. Luckily after it cooled down, it worked just fine.
Noise & Audio
As expected, the OSMO does have its limitations. I would only use the camera to shoot during the day because the night shots introduced too much noise. Anything shot after dusk or inside typically had more artifacts and graininess than I prefer.
The sound recorded from the OSMO may be its biggest detractor. The OSMO isn’t going to give you pro-quality sound. Its three-axis gimbal is easy to hear throughout your footage. I tend to record my audio separately, so this isn’t an issue for me. In my experience, not many products are excellent at recording both audio and video.
Eventually, you’ll have to separate audio and video in search for better quality, and the OSMO is one of those cases. I’ll gladly accept the sound artifacts for better image stabilization.
The OSMO is a great addition to any camera bag. Right out the box, it can do some amazing things. DJI has created a handful of different accessories for the OSMO. Each offers useful benefits that all OSMO users should consider.
- Neutral Density Filter – I consider this an essential accessory for all OSMO users. By cutting the amount of light to the lens, you’re able to use a broader range of options when adjusting your shutter and ISO.
- DJI Osmo Part 7 Intelligent Battery – As I said earlier, the battery drains pretty fast. There is nothing worse than wanting to capture a great shot when your one battery is already dead.
- DJI OSMO Tripod – This tripod opens up more of the great features for the OSMO. It’s compact and easy to set up. After you’ve attached your OSMO, you can use its stationary position for time-lapses, shoot panoramic photos, and capture yourself from a distance.
The OSMO X5R. This camera has a bigger 4/3 sensor (full frame DSLR sensor size), and the ability to record raw. One day perhaps!
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DJI osmo Review Conclusion
I do recommend the DJI OSMO for recreational shooters and semi-professionals that are looking to bring a whole new dimension to their videos. Mainly because the OSMO offers some the best image stabilization you can ask for at a reasonable price.
That being said, you have to be aware of its flaws. Bad image quality in low-light situations, audio artifacts, and the possibility of file corruption are all big drawbacks.
Check out our other travel gear suggestions