DJI Osmo Mobile Review
There’s clever technology in DJI’s Osmo Mobile
What is the Osmo Mobile?
The DJI Osmo Mobile is a handheld gimbal for smartphonesA three-axis gimbal allows mounting of an object – usually a camera – so that it can move independently of the support – in this case a handle. In other words, with some clever software, it stabilises the camera even when the handle is moving around. So you can create smooth video when you are walking or even running with the phone, and all using just one hand.
The Osmo Mobile is among several products from DJI’s Osmo range. DJI are a Chinese manufacturer of class leading consumer and professional cinematography drones and gimbal cameras. We at AVForums use their Osmo+ cameras which combine the same handle and gimbal as the Osmo Mobile with a DJI X3 Zoom 1/23” CMOS camera.Key Features
- Three-axis stabilisation
- DJI GO App with functions (including ActiveTrack, Motion Time lapse, Live Stream, Panorama, Long Exposure, Camera Settings)
- Trigger control (double-tap for re-center, triple-tap to change between front and rear-end camera, long press for locking gimbal direction)
- Different operation modes (Standard, Portrait, Flashlight and Underslung)
- Bluetooth connection between Osmo and phone
- Compatible with Osmo range of accessories
The Osmo Mobile is a mount for smartphones enabling the stabilisation of the video from the (usually pretty good) camera in the phone. An obvious advantage of the Osmo Mobile over its Osmo and Osmo+ siblings is that you can use it with the improved camera in your next phone when you upgrade. Assuming you don't upgrade to a phone which is too big for the Osmo's holder.
It's available in black and from January 2017 also in silver.
Stabilised VideoSome people like shaky video. It’s often employed to give a film an ad hoc or documentary feel to it. Like the Blair Witch and Cloverfield ‘found film’ footage movies and the Bourne series directed by Paul Greengrass, who uses it frequently.
It’s not to everyone’s taste, however, and it may not be appropriate for a number of uses like recording holidays or presentations, so a gimbal will be a good solution.
Where recording with gimbals has historically been expensive, the advent of smaller cameras and cheaper, good quality, brushless motors means that there are now several gimbals for GoPro action cameras which cost as little as £150. Since the quality of smartphone cameras has also been improving and so many people own them and use them instead of a dedicated camera, it’s a sensible idea to create a handheld smartphone gimbal. At £319 (increased from £289 December 2016 undoubtedly due to Brexit exchange rates) it seems quite expensive, but the build quality and performance justify the price tag.
The Osmo Mobile can be held in four different ways for four different styles of shot, and its (or the phone’s) sensors determine orientation and adjust the rotation of the app accordingly.
The TechThe gimbal uses brushless motors, which have been around a few decades, but are now so quiet, small, light, powerful and inexpensive, that they are commonplace in many consumer products like gimbals and drones. With DJI’s Intelligent Smoothtrack software controlling the gimbal, even severe movement and vibration can be reduced or completely cancelled out.
The Osmo has Bluetooth connectivity allowing connection to the phone so that the installed DJI Go app can be used to control the phone’s camera using a trigger and buttons on the handle.
The DJI Go app is available on iOS and Android and does more than basic camera control functions. It also facilitates timelapses, motion timelapses and uses the same Active Tracking technology as used with DJI’s drones to move the camera to track objects.
My experience is that the app doesn’t support all the video resolutions that the phone is capable of. The 4K option is missing when using a Samsung S6, for example. The ability to shoot stabilised 4K is important because 4K capable cameras (like the GoPro) can digitally or optically stabilise (or be stabilised in post-production) to 1080p making the Osmo Mobile less useful.
To counter this, app development is ongoing so bugs do get fixed (Active Tracking wouldn’t engage in a previous version) and new features may appear, like the recently added slow motion video recording, although this is on iOS only.
The technology, both electronic and in software, combines to create a powerful, yet simple product.
- Build quality
- Battery life
- App features
- Phone case won't fit
- Video resolution missing from app
DJI Osmo Mobile ReviewThe Osmo Mobile does an excellent job of stabilising video as can be seen in the video accompanying this review. It’s not cheap, but then it’s good value given the precision build quality.
The 980mAh battery easily lasted a day when I used the Osmo on holiday, and spare batteries are not expensive and will fit easily in the accompanying bag.
The two issues I had with the Osmo Mobile are that
- The clamp is too narrow to accommodate phones in a case. This leaves the phones vulnerable in case of an accident. For this reason and because the gimbal motors are inherently delicate, I strongly advocate using the wrist strap habitually
- The app doesn't support 4K recording even though the phone does.
My experience is also that the phone gets hot when running the app. It's not a Samsung Note 7, though, so fingers crossed it won't blow up.
Also I have seen elsewhere that phones with built in digital stabilisation don't work so well with the Osmo Mobile because the two stabilisation systems 'fight' against each other causing jerky video. Key to this is that apparently on iPhone 6S+ and 7 models, the stabilisation can't be switched off. If you have either of these phones I recommend trying an Osmo Mobile yourself or at the very least doing some research in to the issue before committing to purchasing. I couldn't check this issue myself because I don't have access to either the 6S+ or 7 and my experience with my Samsung S6 was flawless.
I was impressed by the excellence of the stabilisation and convenience of easy (read single-handed) video (and photo) recording afforded by the Osmo Mobile.
Update 6th March 2017:
I found this useful video which compares the results of the stock iPhone camera app with the DJI Go app and the Filmic Pro app.
Is the Osmo Mobile for you?
Vloggers will appreciate the ability to use the trigger to swap between the front and rear cameras and publish direct (or even live stream) to YouTube from the app.
Amateur movie makers can use the impressive stabilisation to create professional video for their productions.
Holidaymakers will enjoy recording their experiences while sightseeing on foot or in vehicles while leaving one hand free.
Everyone who appreciates technology will warm to the Osmo Mobile's form and function.
Click to view at the DJI store: Osmo Mobile Black or Osmo Mobile Silver.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £319.00
Ease of Use10
Value for Money8
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