I don’t know about you guys, but lately, I’ve had a hard time getting excited about new small action-style cameras. For as long as they’ve been around, the quality of the video has been only marginally better than the footage you can get with a cellphone. And, the majority of them have limited feature sets and functionality beyond their single intended purpose.
To my eyes, this doesn’t seem to be the case with the Osmo pocket. This little thing seems to have quite a few cool tricks up its sleeve.
As someone who used the original Osmo quite a bit, I wasn’t all that impressed for the most part. To me, the Zenmuse cameras (the camera system for the Osmo and DJI’s Inspire series drones) were fantastic quality for drone shots at the time. But for something I was using at ground level, I’d have rather picked other options most of the time. The video quality would fall apart pretty quickly in post, and there was little to no reason to use it in low-light environments. (Much like the same issues that plagued the use of those cameras on the drones.)
Now, I’m not one to be fooled entirely by a demo video. Demo videos always look amazing, but I’ve always found DJI’s advertising to generally be pretty accurate in picture quality. The shots in this demo do look fantastic for such a small device. But to me, beyond any picture quality related woes that may come from this device, the other functionality and features included would earn it a (admittedly tiny) spot in my camera bag.
So what makes the Osmo Pocket different than the previous Osmo? What makes it more of a potential value proposition than the recently released GoPro Hero 7? What about other, similar cameras?
Self Contained 3-Axis Gimbal System
In this video from B&H, the gimbal is put to the extreme test with some potentially shaky snowmobile adventures. The footage comes out smooth as butter.
Just like the original Osmo, the pocket includes a self contained mechanical 3-axis gimbal system. This time, however, it’s a bit more significant because of the tiny size of the device compared to its predecessor (which was already remarkably portable). To my knowledge this the smallest self contained 3-axis gimbal system you’re ever going to find, beyond the ones on DJI’s own drones.
It appears to be extremely good at what gimbals need to be extremely good at: smooth footage. Mechanical stabilization is always going to be more effective and smoother than optically based or software based stabilization.
One of my favorite things about all DJI products is their attention to software capability. They’ve always had cutting edge tracking modes, flight modes, sensitivity controls, and other expanded functionality, all at affordable prices.
The Osmo Pocket has functionality via software in no short order. The software functionality aspect of the little device is, to me, what makes such a viable little piece of gear.
It includes the same activetrack functionality that you’ll find in the Mavic drones, as well as a new face tracking feature in selfie mode. This will make tons of vloggers and travel documentarians extremely happy. Using this device, you can tap on something on the screen, and it will automatically track that object in frame. It will also do the same for any recognized face in selfie mode.
Most gimbals these days include this gimbal operation mode. It basically dampens and softens all movements. So, you retain all of the motions of the gimbal, but they’re smoothed out.
This photo mode will capture a very large and highly detailed panaromic photo of your environment. It’s similar to what you’d be able to get with a cellphone, just likely higher quality.
This is a fantastic idea on DJI’s part. This feature allows you to capture a motion timelapse, where the camera physically moves however you’d like, while capturing timelapse video.
This one is very intriguing to me. Apparently, the Osmo is able to detect low-light environments and illuminate them. It can also take handheld long exposures of up to 2-3 seconds without losing sharpness. This is a feature I can’t wait to put to the test.
A Very Reasonable Price-Tag
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the DJI Osmo Pocket is it’s incredibly friendly pricetag of $350. This gets you 4k video (up to 60fps) and 12MP photos, in addition to the ability to capture timelapses, panoramas, and more. And, it will all fit in your pocket.
That’s all pretty hard to pass up.