4 January 2019
The Osmo Pocket is the latest stabilised camera from Chinese drone maker DJI. This tiny device is built around an electronic gimbal stabiliser like the ones in DJI’s Mavic drones.
Clips from the Osmo on a boom pole. These students were working to a coursework deadline so I had to work around them. I could easily set up all kinds of unusual angles, and get the camera in close to the action without getting in their way.
Cardiff brass collective Wonderbrass filmed in difficult lighting. Sound from the built-in mic was better than I expected. Filmed in 4K and downscaled to 1080p for Youtube. Mostly filmed at ISO1600.
I think this is a really interesting camera. It’s small enough to take anywhere, and as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you. It offers lots of creative possibilities: you can use it to get smooth tracking shots, steady static shots without a tripod, or on a boom pole to get crane shots like this one. It’s much more discreet and convenient than the Osmo Mobile and iPhone combination, which I find too big and cumbersome for travel and street filming.
It has a very small built-in colour touchscreen, but it’s best connected to your phone. The phone app – Mimo – includes ActiveTrack (for tracking and following objects) and FaceTrack (for faces). In selfie mode, FaceTrack will be really useful for vloggers. You can also switch to FPV (first person view) mode, which follows tilts and leans to show dynamic movement.
The Pocket is designed to be very easy to use, but the Mimo app also has a Pro mode which gives you manual control over exposure. If you want to be discreet, but still use the pro settings, the Mimo will retain them when you disconnect your phone.
The Pocket’s built-in camera has a 1/2.3″ sensor – that’s roughly the same size as the sensors in the newest iPhones. It can record 4K in 60fps slow motion, or Full HD at 120fps. The camera has a roughly 28mm equivalent focal length, which is wide but not extreme like a GoPro. It’s sharp, though dynamic range and colour aren’t as good as an iPhone, and it struggles in contrasty lighting. A future update to the Mimo app will let you shoot in a flat D-Cinelike mode, which should help to compensate for this. Continuous video autofocus is unreliable: it works better in AF-S mode where you choose a single focus point.
The Pocket has a built-in battery (good for up to around 2 hours filming) but you can connect an external power pack.
DJI are developing a range of accessories for the Pocket including a controller wheel for accurate pans and tilts, an accessory mount and a wireless module, a waterproof housing, an extension rod/selfie stick, ND filters and a charging case. A number of third-party providers are also producing Pocket accessories.
I bought a budget tripod mount, which lets me mount the Osmo on a boom pole (I put it on a ball head so I can adjust the angle), with my phone clamped to the base of the pole. Instead of getting the wireless module I used a 2-metre Lightning extension cable.
If you were thinking of buying a basic camcorder or GoPro – or getting a gimbal stabiliser for your phone – it would be well worth considering the Pocket as a more convenient alternative. It costs $349/£329, less than the GoPro Hero 7.