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Which DJI Osmo should you buy?

2 February 2017

  • The DJI Osmo offers great stabilisation in a compact package
  • The base Osmo, with its fixed focus ultrawide lens, is most affordable
  • Osmo+ adds zoom and autofocus, and doesn’t cost much more
  • The interchangeable lens Osmo Pro and Osmo Raw are much pricier

Angels Landing by Baris Parildar demonstrates the Osmo’s pan and slow motion features.

What is the DJI Osmo?

The DJI Osmo is an integrated camera and electronic gimbal stabiliser with a mount for a smartphone (which acts as the monitor). It’s the most compact, affordable way to get flowing, handheld sequence shots.  With practice you can get shots that look as if they were filmed with a big, expensive Steadicam-type rig.

The Osmo is good for action, sport and events, but it’s also useful for bloggers, video journalists or documentary makers who want to travel light. You can use it in selfie mode, and you can shoot really smooth, steady automated pans and tilts that look as if they were shot on a big fluid head tripod.

I’m impressed with my Osmo Mobile (a smartphone stabiliser based on the Osmo handle), so I started looking into the Osmo cameras. I’m now planning to replace one of my traditional camcorders with an Osmo+.

What you should know

The Osmo has great stabilisation, but it’s not perfect. These are the main shortcomings:

  • Audio is poor. The built-in microphone picks up noise from the gimbal motors, so every Osmo also comes with an external mic. That’s OK for basic use, but you’ll probably want to use a better microphone or a separate audio recorder.
  • Colours, low-light performance and dynamic range aren’t great (even on the X5). For best results with any of the Osmos, you should shoot in the flat ‘D-log’ picture profile and grade your footage.
  • The DJI GO app is heavy on phone batteries, so you’ll need an external power pack.

Comparing Osmo models

Every Osmo camera can shoot sharp 4K video at 24, 25 or 30fps, and slow motion 1080p Full HD video. But you can spend anything from $550 (£520) to $3600/£3600 on an Osmo. So I’ve summarised the main differences below.

(For full details of the differences between models, visit the comparison page on DJI’s site.)

Osmo and Osmo+

The original, most affordable Osmo has a fixed focus, ultrawide 20mm f/2.8 lens (sharp from 1.5 metres to infinity) and a 1/2.3 inch sensor. It can shoot 12MP stills and panoramas, timelapse, and Full HD slow motion at up to 100fps. It costs around $550/£520. This is probably the one to get as an action or sports cam.
Osmo on DJI.com
Osmo on Amazon

Pay about a third more (around $620/£630) and you get the Osmo+, with a more flexible 22-77mm zoom lens, 2x digital zoom (when shooting HD), autofocus (0.5m to infinity), and Motion Timelapse. This is the one I’m planning to get: I think it’s the most useful model for mobile journalists, documentary makers and event videographers.
Osmo+ on DJI.com
Osmo+ on Amazon

Osmo Pro and Raw

The pro Osmo combination adds the interchangeable lens Zenmuse X5 camera, bundled with a fast 15mm f/1.7 lens (equivalent to 30mm on full frame).  The Micro Four Thirds sensor is is eight times bigger than the sensors on the Osmo and Osmo+, so it’s better in low light and you can get much more creative with shallow focus. But it doesn’t currently do Motion Timelapse or panoramas, and HD slow motion is limited to 60fps.

This is the one to get for more serious filmmaking, especially if you already use the MFT system (e.g. the Panasonic GH4 or G7). It costs around $2000/£1900.
Osmo Pro on DJI.com
Osmo Pro on Amazon

For the ultimate in Osmo image quality, the ‘cinematic’ Osmo RAW uses a Zenmuse X5R camera. This shoots in the CinemaDNG RAW format at a bitrate up to 2.4Gb/s, which gives much better colour rendition and dynamic range than the other models. But the camera bundle (which includes a 512Gb SSD card) costs twice as much as the Osmo Pro, files are very large, and the SSD cards are very expensive. It costs around $3700/£3600, so it’s only for serious filmmakers.
Osmo RAW combo on DJI.com
Osmo RAW combo on Amazon

  • If you already have an X5 or X5R camera, you can buy the handle kit and adapter separately to put together an Osmo Pro. 
  • UK customers should shop around: some prices on the DJI’s UK store have increased dramatically because of the falling pound, but other retailers have stock at the old, lower prices. 

Upgrading

If you’re not sure whether you need an interchangeable lens Osmo, you can get the base model and upgrade it later by adding an adapter plate and a Z5 or Z5R camera. You can also convert it to an Osmo Mobile with the Zenmuse M1 smartphone mount.

Accessories

There are plenty of accessories including a universal mount for adding lights and microphones, base, extension rod and tripod. (As the accessory socket on the handle is a standard 1/4″ tripod mount, you’re not restricted to DJI’s own add-ons.) It’s also worth getting ND filters so you can use slower shutter speeds for smooth motion.

You can buy third-party mounts that let you use an iPad rather than iPhone as the monitor: this is a good idea because of the iPad’s superior battery life.

The Pro and RAW models can also take a ‘Z-Axis’ accessory for smoothing out vertical movement.

Links

DJI’s Osmo product page
DJI’s Osmo+ product page
Osmo X5 video samples from Budgetcam
Osmo Raw review and samples from Cinema 5D