DJI Osmo Action – The Tables Have Turned

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Review of DJI Action Camera – For those of you who are looking for a value for money action camera that is significantly different from the GoPro we are all used to, the Osmo Action is your best bet.

It was only about a few years ago that I decided to get into the field of content creation. Anyone can make a video, but it all comes down to having the right gear which sometimes can be a very expensive affair. But, does it really have to cut deep holes in your pocket?

You see that’s where DJI jazzed into my life. My first ever investment was a ‘First Generation Osmo Mobile’ which took smartphone videography to a whole new level. I mean you had cinematically stabilized footage with a tiny gimbal. It was durable and incredibly easy to use. Naturally I became heavily invested in the DJI ecosystem when my next cool gadget was their ‘Mavic Air’ drone. That was game changing for me. I mean a tiny drone capturing such surreal footage with a 3-axis gimbal. Just wow.

GoPro was ruling the Action Camera industry. Sure, we had a few players in the market like the Yi 4K, Sony FDR X3000R, HTC Re, Garmin etc. I myself had one of their flagship Hero 6 flagship devices but there were a lot of areas where I felt GoPro could improve. They were lacking innovation and the wow factor with their yearly upgrades.

RELATED: Review: GoPro Hero6, The Best Action Camera Money Can Buy

You can imagine my plight when DJI announced the “Osmo Action” An actual worthy contender for the GoPro capable of giving the company a run for its money. DJI is trying to fill the gaps in areas where the GoPro simply couldn’t. Time to take an in-depth review of what DJI has to offer with the Osmo action.

RELATED: Meet Sony RX0: GoPro’s Worthy Contender for the ‘Hero’ series

Design

The Osmo Action has a very simplistic yet very practical design. The 16:9 wide aspect ratio of the primary display does come in handy while capturing wide-angle shots. No letter box video playback.

The body is well built and rigid enough to withstand all the extreme adventures you subject the device to and the fact it is waterproof up to 36 feet without a case. The camera can also withstand harsh weather conditions up to -10 degrees C.

Check out this cool video from DJI demonstrating Osmo Action’s durability.

The lens can be easily replaced if damaged or for professional ND Filters simply by turning the lens anti-clockwise.

But what truly sets it apart from the rest of the devices out there is the bonus front screen (1.4 inches) which kind of is a big deal. One of the reasons action cameras aren’t compelling for vlogging is the fact that you can’t see what is being recorded. Though the screen on the Osmo Action may seem tiny, it definitely enhances the overall experience. However, do note that you can only use one display at a time. DJI has made it easy to switch between both the screens either by long pressing the ‘Quick Switch’ button or a two-finger double tap on the rear LCD.

Fun fact, The Osmo Action footage is quite similar to the Mavic Air and Osmo Pocket given they all use the same sensors and if you are heavily invested in the DJI eco-system as I am, that helps maintain the consistency of the quality of videos where in the air, land or inside water.

Functionality

DJI products have always been incredibly easy to use. The user-interface on the Osmo Action known as ‘Action OS’ may have a bit of a learning curve if you’re transitioning from a GoPro but it is still pretty user friendly.

Modes can be switched either by pressing the QS button or through the companion app on your smartphone called “DJI Mimo” which we will get into depth a little later.  The other two buttons are the record button and a power button to toggle on/off or simply turn off the display while recording to save battery.

DJI also gives you the flexibility of saving your frequently used settings to a custom mode so that you don’t have to make all the adjustments over again. The snapshot feature allows you to record videos almost instantly when the device is switched off simply by pressing the shutter button.

Voice control may seem like a great feature as you can double-tap the back screen, press and hold the QS button, or just say “Screen switch” to change the live view to the front screen in seconds. Pose and try different compositions to get your best shot.

Want to extend possibilities with a selfie stick? Slightly bend your arm, adjust the angle with the front screen, and then tell Osmo Action “Take photo.” No need to worry about revealing the selfie stick and bid farewell to Bluetooth remote shutters.

However, I have mixed feelings voice controls. It depends on how much background voice is around you. Too loud, and the camera simply won’t pick up the command. But, you can connect Osmo Action to a third-party microphone through the USB-C port via a 3.5mm adapter.

The Nerdy Facts

The Osmo Action is no slouch. With the capability to record videos 4K up to 60 frames per second, footages simply look mind blowing. DJI basically combined all their expertise into this tiny little camera. You have multiple modes to choose from like Hyper-lapse, Time-lapse, High Dynamic Range (HDR) video and Slow-Motion Videos at 4x and 8x.

You’ve got a 1/2.3” CMOS sensor that is capable of taking 12MP shots with a field of video of 145 degrees f/2.8.

Does Osmo Action supports shooting RAW pictures. Just set the file format (which should be stored in the microSD) in the settings.

The 1300 mAh battery gives you about an hour of 4K video recording and more if you reduce the resolution. And it takes about 90 minutes to fully charge the device via USB-C.

Comparison of Action Cameras Vs Smartphones

Action cameras naturally perform better than the front-facing cameras on smartphones. Here’s a comparison of both.

Rocksteady

Most devices today like to flaunt their stabilization skills. DJI with its EIS based Rocksteady feature helps you record buttery smooth videos regardless of what you’re doing. You could be cycling down a rough terrain or simply mount the device on the bonnet of your car for FPV purposes. We’ve pushed the camera to its limits and must say we were very impressed.

The only drawback to Rocksteady is that a small portion of the video is cut for the software to optimize the footage and the fact that Rocksteady isn’t available on all the modes. For instance, you can record rocksteady footages in HDR or in a 4:3 aspect ratio which can be a little bit of a bummer. Nevertheless, Rocksteady is a good addition in enhancing the overall experience.

DJI Mimo

We’ve come a long way from the DJI Go App days. With a flush new funky interface, the Mimo app can be a lot of fun to use. DJI has now implemented the app for functionality across its new suite of devices namely the Osmo Action, Osmo Pocket and my personal favorite, the Osmo Mobile 3.

The app connects to your devices through Wifi and Bluetooth. I’ve managed to get file transfer speeds of about 7-8 Mbps between my Osmo Action and Samsung S10 mobile which is decent.

DJI also has a bunch of tutorials on the apps which may come in handy while recording complicated shots for that ultimate cinematic effect. Also acts as a live viewfinder in the event you need to place your device elsewhere and view it from a different location.

One of the things I love about the Mimo app is the ability to create short videos or stories as they like to call it from within the app itself. Makes it a fully integrated app for all your new DJI devices.

Verdict

For those of you who are looking for a value for money action camera that is significantly different from the GoPro we are all used to, the Osmo Action is your best bet. It’s a refreshing change in terms of innovation and features that make sense. Given this is an entirely new product from DJI, you can expect more features to be added in the coming months via software updates.

DJI has designed the device in such a way that it is compatible with all your existing GoPro mounts, so you won’t have to make any additional investments. In terms of picture quality that depends from person to person. Colors may seem a little less saturated compared to competitive devices but that only makes editing a lot easier.

The Osmo Action retails for AED 1499 at all major retail stores in the UAE. 

Sample Photos

Here are some photos that we took on DJI Action…

Photos taken from DJI Action
People skating inside Dubai Mall ice rink. DJI Action’s wide angle lens allows you to capture the massive hall almost completely. Photo- Mahsoom Thottathil
Photos taken from DJI Action
Model of Dubai Downtown outside the VR Park in Dubai Mall. Photo-Mahsoom Thottathil
Photos taken from DJI Action
Fountain Views in Dubai Mall. Night capture in low lights is decent with DJI Action. Photo-Mahsoom Thottathil

VIDEO

We shot a few videos under water, driving along Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed road, inside Dubai Mall and people skating in the ice rink.

Unedited video clips shot on DJI action camera.
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