It seems like a new action camera gets released every week, and the news is often yawn-inducing. Not this time. DJI’s new $649 Osmo camera changes the game in a big way: It’s the first action camera with gimbal stabilization.
Instead of using built-in software to stabilize your shaky action footage, like a GoPro does, this device, which comes with a handhold, uses three motors to keep the camera steady and level at all times, creating buttery-smooth footage that rivals what you’re used to seeing from pro-level steady cams used in big production documentaries and Hollywood movies.
It makes sense that DJI is the first to release something like this. The company has been using the same technology to create image-stabilized footage on its drone-mounted cameras for the past two years.
Like the GoPro Hero 4 Black, the Osmo shoots 4K video as well as 1920x1080 at up to 120 fps for super slo-mo. Its sensor is also the same size as the GoPro’s. In terms of stabilization, however, the Osmo blows the GoPro out of the water, according to what we’ve seen so far on YouTube.
On the other hand, a GoPro is still better for the action world. That’s because the Osmo, with its handheld stick, is significantly bulkier, even more so if you attach an iPhone as a viewfinder (there’s no built-in LED screen). Plus, the Osmo isn’t rated for water, drops, or cold temperatures.
We like the panorama mode: Hold the handle and the camera automatically turns to create a perfectly framed 180-degree photo. We also dig the 94-degree field of view, which is narrower than the GoPro and thus creates less distortion and feels more realistic.
We’re guessing the Osmo won’t be the camera of choice at next year’s Red Bull Rampage, but we do see this technology pushing camera makers like GoPro and Sony to up their image-quality games. Hopefully we’ll soon see a camera that not only uses this kind of industry-leading stabilization but also is designed to take an absolute beating.