DJI OSMO Review – Promising but is it worth the switch? (Updated)

After 10 months of eager anticipation, I finally got the new DJI Osmo handheld gimbal camera last Friday evening! When it was announced 3 weeks ago, I was impressed by the numerous positive reviews given by established sites and forums. All the videos from DJI channel were promising and I set a pretty good level of expectation about this. So the big question is: For those who owns a Gopro 4, is it worth the switch to Osmo? 

By now, you would have guessed that I am not going to sing praises about DJI’s latest gadget. Despite owning the impressive DJI Inspire 1 and the Phantom P3 Professional drones, I must say this is not as satisfying as the drones. After all, this is DJI’s first attempt in handheld action cam. The gimbal works great but there are other things that are rather disappointing.

29 Oct – This is another updated blog. After posting a rather negative first review 4 days ago, I have done more tests against Gopro 4 on Feiyutech 3G and read a couple more readers’ comments. They are all very good discussion and debates. Here are my final assessment: 

On a fairer note, there are indeed many good points about the DJI Osmo that I didn’t mentioned in my earlier blog as those features are very well-covered by other reviewers. 

1) Integrated body. Its sexy design and lightweight body. The overall packaging is very well-protected. The case really comes in handy! Osmo (422g) is slightly heavier than GoPro 4 + Feiyutech G4S (348g) but you can’t feel the difference.

2) The gimbal is superbly smooth and the camera captures more details in the background too!

3) It is a blessing to be able to change the exposure settings easily on the phone. This helps a lot during the recording!

4) It offers bigger screen-play on the phone! This is important as it is very difficult to see how the camera pans on a small Gopro 4 silver screen.

5) The refresh rate is much better than the Gopro. During a trial in my office, we can’t see any flickering light from the ceiling fluorescent tubes. Unfortunately, the flickering appeared on our Gopro 4.

6) At the widest angle, there is no distortion on the Osmo. The Gopro 4 offers a wider angle but it does have the spherical distortion at both ends. So, it is really down to preference

Here is a video shot by another user (Helipal). From the test video, it seems that the Osmo is more vibrant, stable and sharper in the video. It is a great comparison video for those who are thinking if they want to switch or not.

There are many imperfection about the new DJI Osmo that I want to share with the readers. I am a little surprised that these flaws weren’t commented by other reviewers. Here are some of issues that I would like to share:

1) Osmo Camera cannot be used on Inspire 1 Drone
It is already written under the FAQ section of DJI’s website, you cannot use the Osmo camera on the Inspire 1. However, you can use the Inspire 1 camera on the handheld gimbal.

2) Poor Average camera performance in indoor-lighting condition (Standard ZenMuse X3 Camera)
The image quality is pretty average in semi-bright indoor condition. When I zoomed in at 100%, it is quite noisy and not very sharp. (See photos at 100% cropped). To be fair, GoPro 4 performance just as bad in dim conditions.

3) Tilt-issue after short panning 
Like most handheld gimbals, after panning for a while, the camera will tilt slightly (the horizon will not be leveled). I have to press the button to level the camera. It is quite disruptive to re-level the horizon during a video shoot.

4) Poor microphone recording
Of all the bad points, I feel this is the worst. It is of unacceptable quality. The Osmo in-built microphone is really soft! Recording is low and very muffled. You might want to add an external microphone to capture the sound.

5) Poorer Battery Life 
I have used for only 20 minutes and the battery life is already 50%! Understand that the Osmo battery has to power both gimbal and camera (plus wifi to the phone), the power-hungry Osmo is not going to be a good travel camera to bring along with unless I carry extra batteries. Unlike the Osmo, the GoPro 4 and Feiyutech gimbal has its own battery – that’s why the gimbal lasts longer than Osmo.

Battery compartment is also poorly design – DJI has to include a tape at the end of the battery so user can pull out the battery. The spring inside doesn’t seem to work to push the battery out.

6) Panning motor noise captured in the video
Osmo allows user to pan the camera via a joystick. However, the panning motor noise is also captured in the video. It is so loud that the motor sound was also being captured by the GoPro 4. Come on! Seriously?

7) Tight Handphone Grip (only on the iPhone 6+)
If you are using iPhone 6 Plus and you have the official iPhone cover on, you might find it extremely tight to fit the iPhone 6 Plus onto the metal grip. There is very little allowance for a iPhone cover. The metal fits perfectly with the iPhone 6 Plus so you might need remove the cover if you want to grip both corners of the phone. What I did was grip the phone by the side.

So the question is: Should you buy it? 

I say a big YES, if you don’t have a Gopro 4 and are looking for a gimbal+cam, this is the perfect gear for you (provided you are not using the camera for underwater diving or extreme sports. Osmo is not weather-proof!) You will find this very smooth and easy to use! The camera X3 performs slightly better than Gopro 4 in some of our tests. However do note that the microphone is way way more inferior than the Gopro 4.

For those who have a Gopro 4 and are not sure if they should fork out USD649 for the Osmo, my take is the improvements on Osmo may not justify the price difference. For that, you might consider buying the new Feiyutech G4S at RMB2,100 (about USD330). Also, do note that you may need to fork out extra $$$ to attach an external microphone on the Osmo (if audio is important for your shoot),

Overall verdict – Osmo is promising (it is afterall DJI’s first attempt in handheld camera) but don’t expect it to be at professional grade as some of the videos you saw on Youtube were shot by the higher end X5. It is a new category and isn’t here to replace Gopro in the extreme sports segment. Osmo has its issues but it is no doubt a great traveling and vlogging video-recording tool.

And yes, I hate it when someone call this a high-tech selfie stick. It is 100% more than that!

17 Responses to DJI OSMO Review – Promising but is it worth the switch? (Updated)

  1. Paul says:

    Thank you for encouraging me to buy Osmo. I never bought a Gopro because of the terrible spheric distortion.

  2. Ruru says:

    hi… may I know how long the batteries last? is it 40 minutes for the one battery? is it safe for winter weather. what do you think if I want to capture fireworks with this?

    • Wahbiang says:

      Ruru… The battery lasts 40m at temperature of 28-30 (that’s when I tested the gadget). I am sure you can deduct another 15%-20% for the colder weather. The battery should be safe under cold condition.

      Fireworks…I can’t answer you for that however I believe it should be good enough as fireworks will be sparkling bright. However, do note that it can be very “noisy” under dim condition. I don’t think the small sensor will be as sharp and clear as the high end DSLR lens.

      The only and closest apple to apple reference I can think would be Inspire 1 drone shooting fireworks: http://youtu.be/HOmX0bCUIi4

      They uses similar camera system.

  3. Paul says:

    I do like your updated assessments, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have mine and have been testing it out here and there, I went walking with the dog while filming and lo and behold steady images, Awesome.

    The battery life is bad, like really bad not even 40 minutes out of it before it gives up the ghost or nearly anyway. I know they had to strike a balance of weight and size but there has to be a better way. Even if they included a mains such that and external power supply could used, perhaps they will make and adaptor for that.

    During the dog walk this evening and filming I did I find that my iphone 5 battery life go from 100 percent to around 57 percent in about the 40 min mark too. Yup more batteries are needed for the Osmo, and so far about the phones, you can always use and external battery to power the phone.

    To use the Osmo throughout the day I figure you will need about 4-5 batteries when your on location and there is no power. I think DJI could improve the battery by better control of the on board camera fan, which is on all the time. 4K heats the sensor and that will make it more noisy. However 1080P should not need to have the fan drive that hard or at all.

    I am of course underwhelmed by the image indoor image quality but its actually, on par with what I expected, I previously owned had the Sony AX-33 and that also had amazing stability, terrific battery life but it is worse I think indoors than this camera. That being said, if I use this on and indoor set, there will have to be more light used. The x3 is not amazing indoors, but its certainly not awful.

    I do really like the the footage overall and ease of use. I will probably get the x5 piece as I have the lenses already, but not the raw one… way too pricey. The other thing I love about this is the joy stick, the re-center option for underslung, flashlight, and upright holding. The lock is also a great feature for creating interesting shots. I do find that the camera struggles sometimes to correct the image display when moving from underslung to upright (its upside down).

    I totally concur this is not a selfie stick, its a great tool. I think I am going to go ahead and keep it. My first response to it was a return but I do realize the shots I can get with it are going to be more interesting. I have been using my FZ1000 for steady-cam 4K shots because the stabilization in it is amazing, you can turtle it on a monopod with a little weight on the back and and it works great (plus a little work in post), but you cant move the head like a gimbaled camera.

    The Osmo has a place for sure, its a great compact steady cam rig with no vest, arm and weights required. I think it will be a good time saver too because its quick to rig ( turn it on pair with your device and run the app). I also think firmware will continue to improve and the camera will become even better. For 650 its a pretty good deal.

    Cheers
    Paul

    • Wahbiang says:

      Thanks Paul for your comment. The feeling is mutual. OSMO isn’t something I love at first sight and the more I use it, the more I appreciate it. I am pretty sure the X5 will make a lot more difference to the output quality.

  4. MJ says:

    An osmo plus a X5R camera will be a serious competitor to a GH4 on a Ronin

  5. Forward Thinking says:

    Take a look at this comparison:

    Osmo vs. GoPro4 on a gimbal.

  6. plberanek@gmail.com says:

    Anyone who compares the X3 to a GoPro and says the GoPro is better is missing a huge point. The X3 allows manual exposure control. The GoPro does not! I’ve had more than just a few GoPro shots ruined because of the lack of manual exposure. So, yes, you point out some things other reviewers missed, but you missed one of the biggest selling points of the OSMO vs GoPro with gimbal.

    • Wahbiang says:

      Thanks for sharing this. Yes, this is one of Osmo’s selling points that have already covered in many other reviews. So, I won’t repeat them in my post. What I am sharing are the other flaws that X3 and the gimbal had which aren’t mentioned by the other reviewers.

  7. G Cooper says:

    mmm. lets see. If i were to shoot an unlit indoor scene professionally then i would use my Ronin M with a gh4 and my voiglander 25 f.095 lens =$5,000.00 or the Ronin M with my nikon d800 with my 24 mm f1.7 lens.=$6,000.00. If i was shooting from a horse, bicycle or boat then i would use an Osmo. For $700.00 your not going to get what the preceding can achieve. And on a pro level the Gh4 and Ronin is considered cheap. As far as audio goes how could one even consider that this little gadget could come close to being anything more than giving you a guide to sync your pro audio with. Poor review. Its a seven hundred dollar high end selfie stick. Perfect for walking down a street while giving a review on your youtube channel.

    • Wahbiang says:

      Yes. It is a semi-casual tool. At this price point, we are not expecting anything more. For the least, fix the minor operation imperfections.

  8. pl says:

    So yes this is small sensor camera so we know that low light is not a forte. My quess is that it’s no better or worse than a gp4, Sony action cam or even the Sony ax33 which is a totally abissmal for interiors. I had one, then returned it because of this, it was bad.

    The battery life is known to be about an hour you can order several of them.

    With regards to sound, the type of shot this would be used for would generally be MOS or sound is recorded on a separate recorder. That being said there is a cheesplate adaptor that you can use a separate mic and improve this, I plan on using the sure lenshopper with it.

    Generally internal camera mics are just used for scratch audio. I would fully expect that you would hear the whirling motor noise because of the small space and vibration being carried through the body of the osmo. I am not sure they would be any way to isolate the mics so this couldn’t happen. The mics have to be sensitive enough to pick up the ambience and motors, well they are not going to be silent enough or insulated enough on an object of this size. It’s best to mount a mic off camera. Take any of your DSLR cameras with image stabilaztion on and auto focus and listen to the internal audio. Canon 5dm3 are loud. As a side note, You may be able to record that sound and then in post eliminate it.
    One more thing, to be fair, one wouldn’t want to catch on board audio with a ronin or any other gimble system either.

    With regards to the posted images, there is some notable CA in the high contrast shot shown, many small sensored cameras and even larger sensors will show this, most modern cameras eliminate this with software. Lightroom has a very handy CA removal tool. That being said, you can still see something outside.. I am actually kinda pleasantly surprised to see that.

    Also, specifically wregards to cropping and 100 percent pixel peep, realize that’s a high level of magnification on a tiny sensor, so it’s expected. The resolution is after all 12 megapixels not 16 or 20, the camera more optimized for video than photos. My guess is the noise is probably a little better on this sensor than the GP secondary to them having larger photo sites.

    I ordered the osmo with no illusions to compete with a FS7, c100 or gh4 with v-log. It will hopefully satisfy my filmmaking needs and avoid having to deal with a full on Ronin. Which are hard to hold after a short time and take a long time to set up.

    I have been hoping for a small practical reliable solution for gimbled shots for low and microbudget film making. I hope the osmo can fulfill this place, at least it’s advertising seems to indicate that it can. I am hoping this device will be amazing is its ability to have jib like movements and get me the POV while walking without a whole lot of camera shake. If I like it then I may purchase the x5 module. If it’s not great, there is a 7 day return policy that will be exercised.

    • Wahbiang says:

      Fair and good comments. Thanks for the time to share.

      Guess there are too many things we users have to compromise and fix offline for now. I expected the Osmo to be better than the current today’s market-offering but it isn’t. The incentive to switch to Osmo should be higher than this. Believe the X5 will perform much better than the X3.

      These are some observations that are not reflected in many other reviews, so it is good to share all here. Thanks.

  9. Normstock says:

    Thanks for your early review, l’m thinking about getting one for my stock video business so sound is not an issue for my use. A couple of points on your comments, I had read that the X3 shipped with the Osmo is optimized for use on the Osmo handle and it can’t be used on the Inspire but the Inspire X3 can be used on the Osmo handle, this is on the DJI Osmo FAQs. The battery tab is the same as the GoPro battery on the Hero 4. Your last comment on getting another brand handheld gimbal at half the price, I have seen this said by different people the “it is half the price”, it’s true but there is no camera included so they will be cheaper.

    What I would like to know is how different the quality of footage is on the X3 to a Hero 3 or 4

    Despite my comments I do appreciate your review as there are too many “paid” reports around new products these days that seem to be unbiased reviews. I might hold off getting an Osmo

    • Wahbiang says:

      Your comments are valid and good.

      1) On Battery Tab – There is a spring inside the Osmo’s battery compartment. So clearly, the spring isn’t working, therefore the tab as an alternative solution.

      2) Zenmuse X3 performs just as bad as Hero 4 in extreme low light. See testing by another youtuber: http://youtu.be/vt1ozs5T0eU

      On compressed YouTube, both performed fine but one you see them 100% on the editing software, you will find X3 a little poorer in its sharpness.

      Just one concern on Hero is its curved horizon on very wide angle – the X3 has no issue on that. So, if you want better wider angle with no distortion, then X3 is the one.

      If you are looking at audio recording, it is the microphone that X3 loses out.

      Here is another test by another youtuber. Watch: http://youtu.be/NMkz0Ugls4k

      As Osmo’s lacking in its photographic and video capturing, it is best to consider a gimbal that allows the application of other reliable cameras (like GoPro or even DSLR). There is another alternative that I haven’t try but so far – reviews seem potential – Beholder MS1 and Beholder DS1.

      See video: http://youtu.be/UCDqFE7JP2M

      For now, it is too restrictive to be stuck with X3 on the Osmo. Especially with the lousy mic and the poor battery.

  10. Piseth says:

    Good product

    • Wahbiang says:

      Average my friend…

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