DJI Osmo Pocket: Hands on review
A tiny camera that shoots video and stills, and has a tracking gimbal built inside
The DJI Osmo Pocket is a device you don't need, but it's certainly fun. The barely 5-inch camera, which launched in November, shoots video, photos, and tracks its subjects — all in a device around the size of a charger.
We spent about a month playing with the Osmo Pocket, a loan from DJI, taking it out at night, across the country to Las Vegas, and through the streets of New York. There are limitations of course — you don't think we're telling you to shoot a movie on this do you? — but it's small enough, and fun enough, to toss this into a bag, or (you knew we would say this) your pocket, and bring it along when you head out.
Osmo Pocket stripped down
The Osmo Pocket is a $349 small, handheld camera that you can use to shoot finished video, still shots with features that let you create panoramic images, plus time-lapse and motion lapse videos. Did we say it was cheap? No, we did not. But you're getting a lot for about $350.
Packed on its tiny body is a screen, a power button, a second button to start and stop shooting, and the camera on top of a rotating gimbal. It can't really hold more than that. This gimbal is the secret sauce for the device — allowing you to shoot Steadicam-like moving videos all within the camera itself.
You can set the camera, through the gimbal, to move and follow someone — or you — as it shoots, and even set a start and end point for a motion lapse scene. The gimbal keep the camera's movements fluid, and it's silent. You don't always need the gimbal — you won't for still shots — but it's definitely crucial to some of the options including panorama shots, slow motion video, and time and motion lapse video.
Panorama offers a unique addition: besides shooting one long image, you can opt to have the extreme take broken into three separate screens. With this feature Osmo Pocket actually shoots nine images, and the stitches them together. The triptych option is pretty cool.
Motionlapse on DJI Osmo Pocket, Lower East Sideyoutu.be
Let's start shooting
The biggest barrier to Osmo Pocket is the screen. The size of a postage stamp — a small stamp — the screen is where you'll control most of your features. You're sliding up and down, and left to right in this tiny real estate to bring up all the menus you need. Words are used with restraint, and many options are picked through symbols, some of which made clear sense (trash can), some of which didn't until you tapped and tried them to understand what they meant.
Luckily, you can connect the camera to your smartphone through a USB-C cable or Lighting piece (both included), and control the camera and shooting features through the larger screen.
I will say that the Lightning end attaches the Osmo Pocket to the iPhone in a rather cumbersome way, having it fixed against the end of the phone, and making it awkward to hold. The Lightning end also did not fit into my iPhone X until I took my case off. While that's not a huge problem, it's inconvenient and I had to be aware of that while shooting on the street, giving a bit more focus on how I held and protected my smartphone. Just something to note.
Images can be a bit grainy in low lightGearBrain
The Osmo Pocket was definitely completely efficient at shooting still images. Now, I'm not telling you that this is Hasselblad-level quality. And frankly, in low light, my iPhone X does a better job. But photos close up were supremely crisp, and the video features more than made up for the limitations on the camera. The camera itself is a wide f/2.0 shooting in 12MP, which can be stored on a 256GB microSD card. In one month I never filled that up.
I liked that the camera could actually stand on its end, by itself. Would I do that outside on a windy day? Hardly. Although for any motion or time-lapse sequence you do need to put the camera down, leave it alone, and let it shoot. The camera is well-balanced for standing on its end.
If you're using the Osmo Pocket to shoot images, then tossing it back in a bag, turning it off is key. Doing so returns the camera and gimbal return to a center position, which makes it easy to put it back into its carrying case and protects the camera.
Detail in close-ups is sharp and extremely crispGearBrain
Ups and downs
I found the menus on the screen a bit awkward. If I chose a style I wanted, and then slid right, it would automatically take me to the shooting screen. But sometimes, I would want to make a change, and would have to go through the sliders again. It's nice DJI makes some shortcuts, but they're not always the ones I wanted.
One concern I had was how warm the body would get — and fairly quickly. It made me uncomfortable using the Osmo Pocket for long periods of time, such as more than 15-20 minutes. Even two motion lapse shoots — five minutes each — heated the body substantially. Luckily, it's easy to turn the Osmo Pocket off, you just push the same button as turning it on, and the main core seemed to cool down within about 15 minutes.
Overall, I found the camera extremely fun, and a solid device for anyone who needs to shoot short, well-produced videos, or is a heavy social media user. The images and videos are quick to download with a cable or Lightning port attachment, both which can be tucked into the Osmo Pocket carrying case, making this a great traveling accessory for those constantly on the go.