The best way I can describe spending a month with the DJI Osmo Pocket camera is a feeling of wonderment and shame. Wonder, because of how incredible and professional seemingly everything your record on it looks, no matter how bad you try to make it not and shame as you come to realise just how bad all of those videos you shot on your smartphone really are.
A drone in your hand
Stabilisation my friends. A videographer’s best friend and worst nightmare. Ten years ago to shoot anything remotely stable required man-sized rigs holding at the best DSLRs costing thousands of dollars. Today that and the camera have been literally miniaturised into your pocket.
Borrowing from its industry-leading drone tech, DJI have seemingly ripped the camera and its 3-axis gimbal off of a Spark or Mavic Air and popped it onto a slim, ergonomic stick that just happens to have a tiny 1″ touch screen and battery inside it.
The camera on top is capable of recording 4K video at up to 60fps, which isn’t too shabby considering DJI’s Mavic Pro 2 can’t even do that yet. It has a 1/2.33″ sensor (same as an iPhone XS Max) with an f/2.0 aperture and a 100Mbps bit-rate.
The quality of the video is better than I expected and easily eclipses the image captured by any top-end smartphone courtesy of that higher bit-rate. There is some noticeable noise as the light lessens but for a sensor this size that’s always to be expected and not what it’s intended for.
It’s tiny, lightweight and extremely good at what it’s been designed to do…
For slow motion fans the Osmo Pocket can also record [email protected], which if anything is pretty sub-par when compared to other offerings. Most top-end smartphones are capable of [email protected] these days, with some taking it even further at [email protected]
There’s a teeny tiny 875mAh battery inside the Osmo that will get you up-to a couple of hours of filming. I want to emphasise the “up-to” here because whilst that’s definitely the case any gimbal movement or filming at 4K drastically reduces that time. In my day spent at Disneyland even with constraining the resolution to [email protected] I only just limped over the 1hr mark.
Thankfully DJI have an accessory that goes a long way to fixing the battery shortfall, whilst also being quite handy with extra features. For an extra A$160 the DJI OSMO Pocket Charging Case provides an extra 1500mAh of juice as well as a hiding place for extra microSD cards and ND filters.
If you’re without a charging case you can always use a portable battery pack, like you would with your smartphone, and this plugs in courtesy of the Pocket’s USB-C port on the bottom.
There are only two buttons on the entire Osmo Pocket. One of those both turns the device on and off, which by the by enacts one of the most cute gimbal calibration dances you’ll ever see, as well as switch shooting modes between video and still. The other has a big red dot on it and, low and behold, starts and stops filming (or shoots in photo mode).
The Pocket’s main source of control is via its 1″ touch screen. Thankfully its quite responsive and is largely interacted with through a series of swipes. When you do have to press on something to change an option for example the icons are large and never smaller than a 1/4 of the screen meaning they’re easily pressed and don’t require dainty fingers.
Additionally the Osmo Pocket can be connected to a smartphone and controlled in DJI’s app. Just beneath the Pocket’s own screen is a small section that can be removed and replaced with either a Lightning or USB-C connector to allow it to sit on the side of your phone. In doing so you now have a much larger unit to operate with but the results are impressive. Your phone’s screen now operates as your view finder and controls are much more readily available to manipulate. You can also record directly to your phone, which is quite advantageous as the Osmo Pocket lacks any wireless file transfer abilities without the purchase of an additional accessory.
If the idea having your phone attached for those finer controls seems like a bit of a downer DJI have yet another accessory that extends the Pocket’s abilities and incorporates a more tactile response. The DJI Osmo Pocket Controller Wheel allows you to change the Pocket’s camera angle with precision and for my money is the one accessory worth buying immediately. Both the touchscreen and smartphone connected app can be troublesome in this regard, so having a simple thumb wheel is a god-send.
The Osmo Pocket’s modes and controls will feel somewhat familiar to anyone that’s flown one of their drones before. There are three different gimbal modes available, Follow, FPV and Tilt Locked. Each can be operated in a regular or fast motion that controls how quickly the gimbal will pan or follow its subject. What you choose and when will depend on what you’re shooting but each combined with its Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) and gimbal make for stunningly smooth video.
The Osmo Pocket can also be operated in a photo mode and has a series of different time-lapse, panoramic and long exposure modes. Some of these may be useful to you but for the most part I left the still shooting to my phone over the Pocket.
There’s no arguing with the fact that in my time with DJI’s Osmo Pocket I recorded better video content than I could’ve ever dreamed to have produced when using just my phone. For content creators and influencers the Osmo Pocket represents a cheaper, more sophisticated alternative to expensive equipment that can mean easily remaining a one person production unit.
It’s tiny, lightweight and extremely good at what it’s been designed to do, but to allow the Pocket to truly shine you’ll definitely be investing in some of its accessories.