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!

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