It was only last week that DJI unveiled the Osmo+, an updated version of its handheld video stabilizer, but the Chinese drone company already has a new model ready: the DJI Osmo Mobile. As the name suggests, the main difference between this and previous Osmos is that it doesn't have a built-in camera — you just clip your phone in place instead. It sounds as basic as a selfie stick, but with DJI's software and the Osmo's stabilizing gimbal, this really does transform the capacity of the camera that's already in your pocket.
silky, stable video with minimum fuss
The main feature of the Osmo Mobile is the 3-axis gimbal, which flips between portrait, landscape, and an underslung mode that's perfect for getting shots that seem to scrape the floor. In our review of the original Osmo, we were impressed with the fluid, silky video it produced with minimal effort, and in our short hands-on with the Osmo Mobile, it seems DJI is definitely continuing this good work. Although it's worth reminding yourself that picture quality, frame rate and the like will depend on what your phone itself can produce.
DJI's Osmo app offers a number of picture taking modes, including panoramas, long exposures, and a neat time-lapse feature that lets you set up slow panning shots. To change mode you just pull the trigger, and if you pull it three times in a row you get the front-facing camera. The most useful feature, though, is active tracking, which is also available in some of DJI's drones. With this, you just outline an object on your phone's screen and the Osmo will follow it as you move around, rotating your phone smoothly in the gimbal to keep your target in the frame.
It's not completely foolproof. A couple of times during the demo the app couldn't find the desired target, and it lost its lock if you moved too fast or if there was too much business in the frame. You probably couldn't use this feature to track racecars, for example, but it produces solid footage on slow panning shots. (You can check out this feature in action in our hands-on video above.) You can also combine this mode with the app's facial-tracking feature to deliver pieces to camera — perfect for vloggers. Just stand the Osmo up on a table, set it tracking your face, and then wander around a room, safe in the knowledge the camera is following your every movement.
There's also support for live-streaming video via YouTube and Weibo. There's no Facebook Live, but DJI blames Facebook's live-streaming rules for that. DJI is also promising 4.5 hours of battery life. That's not enough for a full day of shooting, but it's definitely better than the original Osmo, which couldn't last an hour.
Good for vloggers, but also everyone else
That's one target audience for the Osmo, but DJI also wants to attract more mainstream consumers who just want to get the most of their mobile. The Osmo would certainly be a boon for capturing stuff like holiday footage, and although it's not as discreet as simply using your mobile, it's relatively inconspicuous. We still have to test it more for ourselves, though, to see how it performs in outdoor environments and how it compares with other handheld stabilizing rigs.
What we do know now is that with a price tag of €339, the Osmo Mobile certainly isn't an impulse buy. Would-be buyers will have to be convinced of the benefits of stabilized video before they shell out, and that's something that will limit DJI's potential market. For those that are already keen, the Osmo Mobile goes on sale today with first shipments expected in the next two weeks.