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DJI Osmo handheld 4K steady cam review – hands on

By Tom Morgan

There’s no question that DJI is best known for its Phantom drones, but the Chinese company has also found success in the film industry with its professional-grade Inspire range of ‘aerial photography platforms’ – again, drones to you and I, which combine drone flight with three-axis stabilised 4K video capture. That technology is now coming to people on the ground in the form of the Osmo, a gimbal stabilised 4K video camera disguised as a selfie stick. Compared to handheld filming on a smartphone, or even a head/body/board/cycle-mounted action camera, the footage Osmo captures should be beautifully smooth in all situations.

“Traditional handheld cameras are either shaky or require bulky stabilizers that are difficult to set up,” Paul Pan, DJI’s Senior Product Manager, said at the US launch. “The Osmo moves the experience of handheld filmmaking from capturing what happened to sharing expressive, smooth video that shows what an experience was like.”

The Osmo uses the same camera module as the one found on the Inspire, which has a 1/2.3in sensor capable of 4K video capture and 12-megapixel stills, with a 94-degree field of view. Because it’s designed for hand-held use, the sensor has been set up for 1-meter focus, rather than the infinite focus setup found on the Phantom and Inspire drones. The camera module can also be exchanged for the professional-grade Zenmuse X5 or Zenmuse X5r sensors for videographers looking for a cheaper alternative to a full rig.

The sensor comes attached to the same 3-axis gimbal that stabilised the Inspire and attaches to a handheld trigger grip that lets you film incredibly smooth, cinematic video without the need for a full Steadicam rig. The trigger grip is relatively lightweight, with buttons within easy reach to control recording, still image capture, power, and smooth camera panning. A trigger will lock the gimbal in place, letting you focus on one subject while moving around it, and tapping the grip multiple times will switch between modes, including ‘follow’, ‘flashlight’, ‘underslung’ and ‘selfie’. It has an on-board stereo microphone, but a 3.5-millimeter audio jack will also let you hook up an external mic for professional sound.

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