Review: DJI Osmo Mobile

The iPhone X has arguably the best camera in the mobile phone world.  With beautiful 4K 60fps video (adjustable down to 4K 24fps), it is hard to beat.  Image stabilization on both cameras make it the industry leader.  But now, thanks to drone leader DJI, we can have dramatically better, cinema-quality video utilizing the DJI Osmo Mobile.  This handheld gimbal is a game-changer, and brings ‘steadicam’-esque quality stabilization to an already great camera system.

The Osmo Mobile, available in both black and silver, fits the majority of phones in its carriage, and setup is pretty easy.  After you slide your phone into the carriage, you tighten the wheel to secure the grip, the sit the gimbal on a desk or level surface.  The arm has an adjustment wheel, and you simply turn the wheel to adjust the arm with the unit off, until it can balance on its own.  This was literally less than five minutes for me with my iPhone X in its case.  If you use third party lenses on your phone, you may need to add counterweights to balance it.  Once it is balanced, it is locked you should rarely need to adjust it.

The unit is much smaller than a selfie stick, and is similar in size to other handheld gimbal smooth motion grips.  It charges utilizing a 3.5mm headset jack cable with USB on the adjacent end.  The grip connects to your phone via bluetooth, and once connected, it controls the native camera controls from the grip.  The record button starts your video, and if you hold the trigger and move the joystick, this controls the zoom.  Battery life is around 4 hours or so, and you can hot swap batteries as needed.

With iPhone image stabilization, however, some problems can arise when using DJI’s Go mobile app.  It has its own image stabilization, and the two methods don’t play nicely.  I primarily use the standard camera app to shoot video, and still get 99% of the benefits of this beautiful gimbal.  Video is silky smooth, pretty much the best I’ve seen coming out of a mobile phone.  Tracking is top notch, but the entire product does have a small learning curve I am still getting used to.  I was a professional photographer/videographer for a decade, and I am still not perfect with this…yet.

The Go app has not been updated for iPhone X, so the camera resolutions through this app aren’t as good as it could be through the native app, especially for taking selfie videos with the iPhone X’s True Depth camera system.  DJI will update this surely sooner than later. 4K 60fps isn’t supported yet either through the DJI app, but support will be added soon (4K 30fps is the highest it offers now).

The one feature I find myself sorely missing through the native app that the DJI app nicely offers is the Active Tracking feature.  You click on the face you want to track and the DJI app follows that face, and does it pretty well even with quicker motions.  For shooting selfie videos, this is quite the beautiful feature since you get set the unit in the optional stand, and shoot the video much more naturally and professionally than you can with a normal selfie video.

Is the DJI Osmo something that every consumer needs? Absolutely not.  But if you have kids in sports or are an amateur videographer of any style, this can make a huge difference in how any action or panorama videos can turn out.  I love my Osmo, and it is a welcome addition to this photographer’s arsenal.  Great job, DJI.

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