Here’s a detailed and unsponsored review of the DJI Osmo Pocket 3-axis gimbal with camera, as a personal camera and a vlogging camera, including its advantages and disadvantages. I also compared the Osmo Pocket stabilization vs. Hero 7 Black and Insta360 One X (reviewed here). UPDATE: January 2019 update adds several improvements .
How would you like a pocket-sized camera with amazing stabilization, can track subjects automatically as they move around the camera, and can even capture time lapses with panning? It’s not another 360 camera — this is the DJI Osmo Pocket, the smallest camera with built-in gimbal. In this review, I compare it to two other cameras that are renowned for their stabilization: the Hero 7 Black and the Insta360 One X.
Here’s a video of how the Osmo Pocket compares to the Hero7 and Insta360 One X for image quality, stabilization, and usability:
If a video is unstable, most viewers will stop watching not only because it is less comfortable to watch but also because they will often assume that the video was produced by an unskilled creator, and therefore the content is not worth watching. That’s why most video creators agree that stabilization is one of the most important factors for video quality.
These days, most cameras and smartphones do have some form of electronic or optical stabilization, and in 2017, we saw the introduction of 360 and non-360 cameras that have truly incredible stabilization. Some commentators have called these gimbal-killers, and indeed, sales for gimbals have dropped significantly in the past year.
So I was surprised that DJI would release a gimbal now, especially one aimed at consumers, when there are several consumer cameras that offer impressive electronic stabilization. At $349, the Osmo Pocket appears to be aimed primarily at GoPro Hero 7 Black. But how much better would the stabilization be for consumers to want such a camera when the smartphone in their pocket probably already has good stabilization? As it turns out, the Osmo Pocket does have much better stabilization, as you’ll see in the video.
About the Osmo Pocket
The Osmo Pocket is a candy bar-sized camera with 3-axis gimbal that can capture 4K 60fps video. It can be used either standalone or with a phone. It has a multipurpose connector for use with either smartphones or accessories such as an extension handle that can control the Pocket from its handle.
It includes a special case that doubles as a lens and gimbal cover to protect the gimbal when not in use.
Osmo Pocket is literally pocket-sized, about as tall as a typical pen and will easily fit your pants pocket or even shirt pocket, or a purse.
Specifications and features
Here are its key specifications and features:
|Focal length and FOV
|equivalent to 26mm;
80 degrees FOV
|3840 x 2160 60fps, 30fps, 24fps
1920 x 1080 120fps, 60fps, 30fps, 24fps
|4000 x 3000
|100 to 3200
|1/8000 to 8 secs.
|JPEG or JPEG + DNG Raw
|Video format and bitrate
|H.264 MP4, up to 100mbps
|Pan: -230° to +50°
Tilt: -95° to 50°
|up to 120°/s
140 mins in 1080p/30
73 mins recharge time
|Micro SD up to 256GB
|USB Type C or lightning
Optional wireless module
|iOS and Android
Slow motion (1920 x 1080 @ 120fps)
Panoramic photo (180-degree or 3×3)
January 2019 update
The January 2019 update made several improvements to the Osmo Pocket:
– The previously announced Story Mode was finally added to the smartphone app (both Android and iOS). In Story Mode, the app guides you to take videos with pre-choreographed gimbal movements and then puts the video together in a short video clip, complete with color and lighting effects, that you can readily share on social media. For now, 13 templates are available, but more may be added.
– Pro mode is now an option in the camera menu. When Pro mode is selected, the user can change the color profile (see below), gain access to additional frame rates (see below), adjust exposure compensation or use manual exposure (see below), adjust white balance, and mic volume control. When Pro mode is active, a small icon appears on the upper left corner of the main screen which gives access to these settings.
– Exposure control. After Pro mode is enabled, you can adjust the exposure control for both photos and videos. You can either use auto exposure with exposure compensation (+/- 3EV in 0.3 stop increments) or manual exposure, with control of both shutter speed and ISO. ISO also has an auto mode, effectively adding a shutter priority mode.
– D-Cinelike color profile: this lower-contrast color profile maximizes dynamic range. With the standard color mode, Osmo Pocket has been criticized for appearing too contrasty. With Pro mode, you can select D-Cinelike color profile to make it easier to color grade the video.
– 24fps frame rate. When Pro mode is active, you will be able to select 24fps or 48fps frame rate, which many videoographers prefer, in addition to the other frame rates.
– JPEG+Raw. In Pro Mode, you can choose JPEG+Raw as a format for your photos.
How to use the Osmo Pocket
Osmo Pocket can be used either by itself or with a phone. It has a small touchscreen that provides not only a preview but also a way to switch modes and choose basic settings.
There are also two buttons – one for record and a power button that also doubles as an Fn button:
– Pressing it once toggles between photo and video
– Double-click to recenter the video
– Triple-click to switch between forward facing and selfie modes
You can also connect the Osmo Pocket to a phone to get a live preview, and to use the phone touchscreen as a joystick to control gimbal movement. You can also access settings that would otherwise be unavailable, such as 24fps frame rate for video
The Osmo Pocket can be controlled remotely with your phone if you have the optional wireless module.
The Osmo Pocket can be used vertically, or horizontally in flashlight mode. It can also be inverted for underslung mode to get low angles. If you hold the Pocket sideways, it will switch to portrait mode (e.g. for Instagram videos).
Image quality and performance
The Osmo Pocket’s stabilization is excellent and it can correct for very fast movements. However, the range of motion is limited. In practical terms, the most noticeable limit is to the yaw, If you turn the camera left or right, the movement will be dampened but not totally stabilized.
I found that if you go beyond its gimbal range, it will not return to the same position as before, so you’ll have to re-center it. (Fortunately, you can re-center it by double-clicking the power button instead of having to go through the menu).
The Pocket can switch from forward-view to selfie view by triple clicking the power / Fn button. I also found that you have to get the triple-click timing right, otherwise you could accidentally switch to photo mode instead. To be honest, I don’t know why photo mode is a quick access function because I would only use the Osmo Pocket for videos. For photos, I prefer to use my phone. I think it would have been better to toggle between standard video mode and slow motion mode.
As for image quality, it looks quite good when there is adequate light. In low light, there is a noticeable decrease in bit depth, but it’s still usable. In addition, if you use the slow motion mode, it appears to be a crop from the 4K, so the field of view is narrower — I estimate around 50mm or 60mm equivalent in 35mm terms, and it’s a bit granier in low light. Check out the video above to see samples.
DJI has created an array of accessories for the Pocket, including some that would not be possible on conventional gimbals, such as an underwater housing.
Accessory Mount– This clamp enables you to use the Pocket with GoPro-compatible accessories.
Wireless Module– The wireless module lets you use your phone to control the OP wirelessly. It would have been nicer if DJI built in a wireless module into the OP. The wireless module does NOT have a tripod hole in the bottom, but does have a USB pass-through port.
Controller Wheel – This dial lets you tilt the camera or pan the camera (you can control only one axis at a time). Please note that you can use the touch screen to tilt the camera even without the controller wheel.
Expansion Kit– The expansion kit includes the Accessory Mount, Wireless Module and Controller Wheel.
ND Filters Set**– ND filters for the OP, if you want to add motion blur for effect.
Waterproof Case**- You can use the OP underwater up to 60 meters. It can also protect the OP.
Extension Rod**- This is a 31-inch long selfie stick for the OP. It connects to the multipurpose port and has buttons on the handle to control the OP.
Charging Case**- This case can store the OP and charge it at the same time. It also has receptacles for the phone connectors and micro SD cards and ND filters.
3.5mm Adapter**- A USB type C to 3.5mm adapter for use with external microphones.
Should you get one?
The Osmo Pocket is a very good compact camera that will enable you to capture videos that look more cinematic thanks to its excellent stabilization. However, its field of view is limited, with an equivalent focal length of 26mm — similar to the field of view of most smartphones. It is good for solo selfies, but for group shots, it is too tight unless you have the optional extension handle. Also, unlike a 360 camera or GoPro, the field of view is so narrow that you’ll have to make a conscious effort to aim the camera.
Whether you should get one depends on whether you are shooting a video of someone else, or yourself. If you’re shooting a video of yourself, the FaceTracking helps, but it is not as convenient as a GoPro or a 360 camera because you still need to aim the camera at yourself, and the view is not wide enough to show everything that you’re doing. For example, if you’re skiing, then you can get a shot of your head and shoulders, that’s all. The extension handle will improve the field of view, but it’s not yet available and it will still be much less convenient than a 360 camera or GoPro, since you’ll have to aim it while skiing at the same time and not getting into an accident in the process.
For those reasons, the Pocket is better suited for shooting talking head videos, or for videos of other people or objects. For those purposes, the Pocket can make your video look better than a video from a smartphone, GoPro, or a 360 camera.