In a race against time DJI forgot to actually finish their product before shipping it out. They claim 4K at 60fps but it only does 25? All the issues aside, is it any good?
I bought the Osmo Pocket on impulse. It was one of those cool little gadgets that called to me whenever I looked at it. And after watching iPhonedo’s superb review (they always are by the way) I knew I just had to have one, but didn’t really know what to use it for.
My review is a quickie to get a pro users perspective out there. The tech specs and all that will be left for others to talk about. We know it has a gimbal to stabilise the 4K video it shoots. I’m not gonna bother with looking at the stills capabilities and if you don’t want to read the whole thing I’ll just say it’s good enough, for what it is. Get one if you think you need it.
So, getting home, unboxing and picking it up it does feel very well built, and even though you know it’s going to be small the tiny size still amazes you. This is one very small device yet the gimbal is solid metal, high quality and has a nice weight to it.
The buttons and touch screen located on the back, facing you, all line up perfectly with your thumb when you hold the Osmo Pocket. This makes double tapping the power/function button to recenter the gimbal or tripple tap to spin the camera around to toggle selfie mode a breeze. DJI has taken the time to add a nice rubbery texture on the back around the buttons and the whole device has a textured plastic to keep it from slipping out of your hand. When you do want it out of your hand and into your bag DJI has provided us with a really nice little case that protects the gimbal and camera while still allowing for charging without you having to take the Osmo out. Great job on that DJI.
And then it starts going sideways
As usual with DJI’s products you need to activate it prior to shooting. This process requires you to connect your phone. The Osmo Pocket comes with a USB-C and Lightning adapter to hook up your phone. Removing a protective plate and sliding in the adapter is a breeze but then things start going sideways.
Even though the adapter itself slides in very snug and tight on the Osmo Pocket, the plug going into the phone sits kinda loose and is prone to accidental disconnection. At least that’s the case with the Lightning connection for the iPhone. It took me three tries to update the firmware cause the phone disconnected half way through. Then you have to unplug it completely and connect again. Not good. Though there are some nice solutions for this from PGYTECH, with handles to keep your phone firmly in place, I still feel this kinda sucks.
Osmo Pocket only shoots 4K at 25fps
So activated and ready to go I kept my phone connected to check out the DJI Mimo app. This will turn your phone into a large viewfinder and lets you access all settings of the Osmo Pocket. If you’ve ever used a DJI drone and the DJI GO app you will find Mimo very familiar.
My background in video production naturally led me to the quality settings where I set it to 4K (UHD 3840×2160) at 50fps frame rate, and to my surprise that disabled the Superfine video quality option. As it turns out, if you want the best quality possible you will have to stick to 25fps in 4K and a maximum of 30fps (29,97) in 1920×1080.
In the Osmos defence I haven’t actually check how big a difference there is between standard and superfine quality. It’s been boring weather here for a week now so no motivation for testing that. I still think the 25fps limit for best quality is something DJI should tell us up front.
Issues stacking up
After making my video settings I unplugged the iPhone adapter, slid the protective cover back in place and headed out to shoot.
That bad weather led me to a nearby mall, so I needed to change the white balance to suit the mall lighting, and boost the ISO a bit. Tadaa! Swiping on the Osmo Pocket’s touchscreen to access the settings presented me with a question “Exit Pro Mode?”. I figured sure, I’ll exit and then the settings appeared, but now there is no way to go back to Pro Mode, without connecting my iPhone and starting the Memo App. Of course the phone adapter is back home where I left it. What is the logic behind this DJI? I want to use the Osmo Pocket because it’s small, I don’t want to hook up my phone to change settings. I can choose to leave the phone adapter plugged in for situations like this but that plug is annoying, and it also sits very close the screen making the upward swipe a bit fiddly.
Knowing DJI I’m sure the settings issue will be addressed in future firmware updates, but to me this really screams “Fuck it, we need to rush this product out before the holiday season”. It’s worth noting that the Osmo Pocket is clearly aimed at the casual user and vlogger rather than a pro video producer. Still I think these shortcomings puts a real dent in the experience for me. It basically leaves me to use auto exposure settings if I want the best quality possible, and that to me is no option.
Shooting and quality
All issues aside, the image quality is still great. Better than expected really. It focuses a little bit slow when you’re close to your subject, but it’s very sharp and detail rich. As for the gimbal and stabilisation the DJI pedigree is clearly shining through. Video is super solid and smooth. The built in screen is big enough to see if your shots are framed correctly but don’t rely too much on it for checking exposure. It does tend to look overexposed even if the video is not. For the intended user the video is awesome, but for the picky user, the lack of a more flat image profile makes this a tough choice for serious work or intense post production. You can pull back some data but often you have to choose between blown highlights or too dark shadows. That said, the video quality is still to be considered superb The audio is great too. Not too tinny or thin. Check the audio test below.
Osmo Pocket vs. Osmo Mobile 2 + phone.
I know this review hasn’t shown a lot of sample videos or photos, but there are plenty of reviewers showing that already. I wanted to address some of the issues that may be important for a pro user before buying. As far as image quality goes I would argue that an iPhoneX with a proper recording app will produce a better result. However that will require an additional gimbal to match the Osmo Pocket’s stability. So, Osmo Mobile 2 or Osmo Pocket? It all comes down to portability and how much you shoot in selfie mode or not. The Osmo Mobile 2 is only one third of the price, and odds are you already have a great camera in your phone, but you can’t see yourself when filming in selfie mode, unless you use the lower resolution front facing cam, which you don’t. For portability though, the Osmo Pocket knocks everything on the market. Including the worthless GoPro 7 Black Blue Session Ultra or what ever the name is.
Will I keep my DJI Osmo Pocket? Yes, I probably will for behind-the-scenes videos and things like that. It is capable of producing amazing video quality. But although I create awesome videos with drones which have similar or worse image quality I don’t see myself shooting anything serious with the DJI Osmo Pocket. At least not with the current firmware (late Dec. 2018). For a vlogger though, this is your new camera – get one today!
– Extremely portable
– Great build quality
– Very good video quality
– Superb stabilisation
– Good protective case included
– Adequate battery life
– USB-C charging
– Flimsy iPhone connection
– Only 25fps in 4K Superfine quality
– Slow focus at close distances
– Pro mode settings only accessible with phone connected
– Phone connector’s proximity to screen can make upward swipe tricky at times
– Three times the price of an Osmo Mobile 2 gimbal.
– Not for the pro user