It’s a pretty irresistible idea: a handheld 3-axis gimbal that shoots 4K for under $600. That’s the kind of promise that usually falls into too-good-to-be-true territory. But when that promise is made by DJI, the company behind the Ronan gimbal and Phantom drone system, it’s at least worth checking out.
Right up front I have to admit, after putting the DJI OSMO through its paces over the past few days I’m very impressed. More than just being a great way to get interesting shots, the OSMO is just flat out fun to use. By the end of my first day using it my biggest disappointment was actually when the batteries finally ran out.
More than just being a great way to get interesting shots, the OSMO is just flat out fun to use.
The first thing you’ll notice right away is that the OSMO is almost impossibly small and light for a device that films 4K, gimbal-stabilized footage. Weighing in at just over a pound (closer to two when you add the a smartphone), this camera is cake to use for hours at a time. For anyone who’s filmed with the Movi or DJI Ronin for any length of time, this is a very big deal.
In an unexpectedly savvy move, one of the ways DJI has kept costs down is to find a way to incorporate a monitor you already carry around in your pocket (your smartphone) as the primary screen for the OSMO. The device itself communicates via it’s own Wi-Fi signal directly with the your smart phone through the DJI Go app. In my tests the frame rate lagged a few frames during recording, but this didn’t have any effect on the device’s usability or the footage. It’s possible to use the OSMO without a smartphone at all, but you’d have to be smarter than me to figure out how to get great footage that way.
There are a number of different options available for controlling the camera, and they’re all a blast to use. The camera will automatically follow the natural motion of whichever direction you point the camera, which works extremely well and quickly became my default way to operate the OSMO. In addition, it has a thumb controller for pointing the camera, and a trigger for quick re-centering or a 180 degree ‘selfie mode’ turn around. The final control scheme I found myself gravitating towards was simply touching the screen on my phone to point the camera what I wanted it to look.
Which leads us to the most important question: how does the footage itself actually look? To answer that question there are two factors you have to consider. First off, the gimbal stabilization works, and works really well. Footage coming off the OSM looked silky smooth with minimal practice.
The quality looks pretty solid considering all factors together. When filming in locations with plenty of light, such as outdoors or in a concert environment the footage coming off the camera looks good. Color look great and the details hold up well, even when shooting in higher frame rates.
In low-light situations the footage tends to fall apart pretty quickly. Even at 1080p the noise is pretty obvious in the shadows and midtones. Which is to be expected of a camera with a sensor small enough to work within an ultra-portable device like this.
The most important thing to remember on a device like the OSMO is that there’s no such thing as a camera that’s perfect for all situations. You’d never use the OSMO as an a-camera or even b-camera on an interview or concept film; that’s not what it’s designed for. As a run-and-gun action camera it’s an absolute knockout.
For church filmmakers, the OSMO is a slam-dunk camera for capturing wide motion shots of your worship experience. It also excels at capturing live scenarios like outdoors events and mission projects. In our context we’ve already had success sending the OSMO out into the field with missions teams. (one quick piece of advice: spring for an extra battery and larger microSD card, which should currently run you around $50 together)
So as you can probably already tell, I’ve become a big fan of the OSMO. It’s a blast to use, and it’s the kind of camera that can open up creative doors you would never have even consider could be walked through. And at a price under $600 you don’t have to loose sleep about putting it in harms way a bit. It’s a great investment and definitely something you should give some serious consideration to adding to your arsenal.
What are your questions about the OSMO? Have you spent any time with the OSMO yourself? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts below.