This is DJI’s handheld gimbal, which they claim brings silky smooth professional cinema quality stabilization to the masses, not to mention a fun, adventurous lifestyle. I’ve spent a few weeks with the Osmo, and my verdict? Fun and adventurous: yes. Professional: not so much.
The day DJI announced the Osmo I watched the promo video and read everything I could about this new little gadget for $650. I immediately started telling myself how much we could use it at Priceless.
I’ve used other DJI gear, including the Ronin and the Phantom 3 drone, and love how they push the ability to capture cinema grade video to the masses.
There have been shoots in the past where this would have been a great tool, getting shots that neither a drone or Ronin could realistically pull off. Our shoot for the 525 North development in Atlanta came to mind, and how the bulk of the Ronin prevented us from getting some freehanded intimate shots that the Osmo could seemingly pull off effortlessly.
So of course I convinced myself this was a necessity, and a few days before its release I got Amazon to ship it to my door on launch day.
When the Osmo arrived I was pretty pumped. I had some ideas of what I wanted to shoot and things I wanted to test it on. Unfortunately, the rain had other ideas, so I was stuck inside with the Osmo and my pug Roxy.
The Osmo is easy to learn, and after only a few minutes glancing at the instructional card packed inside you know how to do nearly everything. But knowing how to technically use it and knowing how to make video that looks good with this new tool are two completely different things.
Walking around the house, chasing the dog, and taking selfies all look great. Way better than my iPhone. But it quickly hit me: who really needs to have these buttery smooth shots?
Who needs this?
No one complains about the sometimes-shaky video I usually post of Roxy, and the photos I take are definitely not blurry.
Thinking about it as simply another tool in your toolbox is the right approach with the Osmo. It’s not going to replace your Ronin, but for someone who doesn’t have a Ronin or Movi, it’s a great, cheap alternative.
Although it’s somewhat limited camera falls into the realm of unusable in low light (just like the Phantom 3 and Inspire 1), where I see this shining are the places where you can’t or don’t want to fit a Ronin. You can strap it to your car to get great hyperlapse city shots without flying thousands of dollars of gimbals and other gear. And it’s small enough that it opens up even more creative opportunities. For instance, I’d love try the bicycle attachment for this, and take it cruising around my neighborhood.
And this just emphasizes my point: I keep coming back to thinking of it as a device I want to travel and explore with, more so than one I’d do a lot of work with. I’m sure that now that we have this in our toolbox we’ll use it in new and creative ways, but the real draw for me is making sure it’s in my bag next time I travel.
Being more professional
Along with traveling, I can also see this being used in the micro budget doc world. It’s a great little camera for telling simple stories with, and will produce better footage than trying to hand hold your 5D while walking around. You won’t have the color fidelity and fully manual controls of a better camera, but it’s very well suited to a more POV-style documentary.
But beyond that, I can’t help but think that in a few generations, this could be a lot more powerful. Sure, it’s not a Ronin replacement, but considering its grab-and-go ease, the variety of ways it could find itself, now and in the future, are very appealing.
Next I want to get my hands on the new DJI Zenmuse X5R, DJI’s RAW micro 4/3s camera that will fit on the Osmo. This is where the Osmo could break out of its prosumer mold. But at $5,500 you could buy a Ronin and fly a much better camera for your handheld gimbal shots. Though if you already have an Inspire One and the X5R, then adding an Osmo to the mix is an easy decision.
The X5R is, in my opinion, the real direction DJI is going. They want to compete with Canon and Sony in the camera game, all the while getting us hooked with their amazing accessories. It’s a page out of the Blackmagic playbook (except of course DJI tends to deliver their products on schedule).
The Osmo is can be a great tool, and a fun toy, for professional and hobbyist filmmakers alike. It is a good way to dip your toe into a new world of filmmaking, but don’t buy it expecting to replace your Steadicam operator.
If you like to capture awesome video of your travels and adventures, this could be a great investment of $650 and a little extra space in your suitcase. Shoot in slo-mo and in 4k while casually walking around will give you a lot of opportunities to capture some truly amazing images.
I’m happy with my purchase, and look forward to what DJI has in store for this strange little gadget.
We used the Osmo for some behind the scenes for our shoot with the Opportunity Task Force. Here is a quick promo video we put together using some of the Osmo footage.