Updated 21 November 2019
This review is independent but I may earn commission from affiliate links.
The Osmo Pocket is the latest stabilised camera from Chinese drone maker DJI. It’s built around an electronic gimbal stabiliser like the ones in DJI’s Mavic drones. It looks tiny, but you can get some great footage with it.
It’s on sale for only $309 ($90 off) as part of DJI’s Black Friday deals from 24 November – 5 December 2019.
This short movie shows the kind of cinematic footage you can get with the Osmo Pocket. Filmed in 4K (24p, and 60p slow motion) downscaled to 1080p24, edited in Final Cut Pro X. Thanks to Cosmic68 (YouTube channel) for permission to feature it.
These students were working to a coursework deadline so I had to work around them. So I mounted the Osmo on a boom pole. That let me easily set up all kinds of unusual angles, and get the camera in close to the action without getting in their way.
The Osmo Pocket is a really interesting camera with a huge amount of potential. 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 an iPhone on a gimbal stabiliser, 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 (shutter speed, ISO and white balance). 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 slightly bigger than the sensors in the newest iPhones. It can record 4K in 60fps slow motion, or cropped Full HD at 120fps. The camera has a roughly 28mm equivalent focal length, which is wide but not extreme like a GoPro. It’s really sharp, though I don’t think dynamic range and colour are as good as the most recent iPhones (it’s better than my older 6S), and it struggles in contrasty lighting. You can also shoot in a flat D-Cinelike mode for easier colour correction. 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. You can get a controller wheel for accurate pans and tilts, an accessory mount and a wireless module, an extension rod/selfie stick, ND filters and a charging case. There’s also an underwater case. A number of third-party providers are also producing Pocket accessories.
For the clips in the forge, I mounted my Osmo to a boom pole using a ball head, with my phone clamped to the base of the pole. Instead of buying DJI’s wireless module I used a 2-metre Z-Cellularize Lightning extension cable (get the braided version: I bought a longer, non-braided one and it kept losing the connection).
The Osmo Pocket is a much more convenient alternative to a mobile phone and gimbal combination, and it’s cheaper than upgrading to a new phone.
I teach all kinds of people to make films. I provide training for businesses, arts organisations, nonprofits and education. I’ve worked on film education projects with Apple Education, the British Film Institute, Film Education, Film: 21st Century Literacy and many more. My publications include Making Movies Make Sense and Editshots.