Gimbal Hike (FeiyuTech G4 Pro vs DJI Osmo)

Blame it on El Nino, winter arrives late this year. In fact, we are just experiencing the cool weather of late autumn. Building insulation in Hong Kong isn’t as good as the northern cities’, so it may not be a bad thing for a warmer winter.

My perfect weather would be anything between 16-23°C. Sunny and cooling, this is the perfect season to test my two newly-bought handheld gimbals.

Newly launched in November 2015, the new Feiyutech G4 Pro received its debut listing in Apple Store. Couldn’t resist the “poisonous gadgetry temptation”, I got the G4 Pro at IFC Apple Store this afternoon.

I was a little disappointed the second I unboxed the G4 Pro. The box exterior looks decent but its interior looks rather bad. Compare with another Chinese brand, DJI, the FeiyuTech G4 Pro packaging looks far from being an international brand. It looks typically Chinese 3rd-class brand. The interior packing is dusty and looks raw. The second I took the gimbal in my hand, I spotted fine sketch-marks and oil stains on the metal handle. Even the brand is not evenly silk-screen printed on the product. I can’t believe Apple allows packaging of such poor standard to be listed in its store. Anyway, these are cosmetic flaws that will not impact the hardware performance.

The family and I randomly jumped on the next available ferry at Central (not really sure where it was heading until it arrived at its destination). We arrived at the Lamma Island. I put both DJI Osmo and the newly-bought FeiyuTech G4 Pro to the test. After a 2-hour hike around the island, here is my verdict of today’s experience.

PROs of FeiyuTech G4 Pro + iPhone 6 Plus
– Longer lasting battery (gimbal)
– Better photograph quality (phone)
– Better audio-recording (phone)
– Quicker setup and activation (no Wifi needed)
– Quicker switch-on speed (gimbal)
– Quicker colour and contrast balancing and correction (phone)
– Comes with a 2nd set of batteries
– Interchangeable weights for different handsets (5s, 6s, 6s plus)
– Durable and sturdy solid metal body (Osmo is mostly plastic)

CONs of FeiyuTech G4 Pro + iPhone 6 Plus
– Narrower camera angle 65° (phone) vs 94° (DJI Osmo)
– No locking of gimbal during off-mode, gimbal hitting the rod
– No bluetooth or connection to iPhone (for video/photo-taking)
– Loose grip on iPhone (not securely tight enough during running)
– Not as smooth as the Osmo (during the running test)

As a gimbal, FeiyuTech G4Pro fares very well. It is very reactive to my panning. There is hardly any tilt on the horizon (seen on the G4 Pro predecessor), everything is straight and balanced. The video and photo output relies 100% totally on the mobile device. Therefore, it can never be an apple to apple comparison. 

As a whole package (gimbal and camera), DJI Osmo fares slightly better than the FeiyuTech G4 Pro. It captures wider and smoother footages. (See video below: Jump to 4:07 of the video to see side-by-side video comparison of 2 videos of me chasing Elkan.) One of the things I love about the Osmo is how easy for me to take a photo or video. All the buttons are integrated on the handle, allowing one hand operation. For the G4 Pro, I need a second hand to press on the iPhone screen to select the video/photo mode. I also prefer the wide camera angle on the Osmo. That is why for over 70% of today’s hike, I switched to Osmo than using the G4 Pro.

My conclusion – the current handheld gimbal tech is far from perfection. Osmo did well in integrating the gimbal and the camera but its battery is bad (went dead in less than 45 minutes) and its native microphone performs worse than the iPhone (some of the audios you heard in the video came from the Rode VideoMicro Microphone I installed). The day when FeiyuTech G4Pro integrates its handle buttons to the iPhone camera settings, it will be a formidable rival to the DJI Osmo.

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