In December 2018, DJI released a revolutionary product: the Osmo Pocket.
DJI basically took the same camera sensor found in their popular Mavic Pro and Mavic Air drones and put it in the Osmo Pocket. The result is a tiny, pocket-sized camera that can capture high-quality 4K video and 12-megapixel still photos. Given the presence of the 3-axis gimbal, this camera is widely marketed as an ideal compact video camera. But how is it for still photography? Read on to learn more!
Standing at just about 4.8 inches (12.19 cm) tall and weighing 4 oz (113.4 g), the Osmo Pocket looks more like a toy than a camera. This makes it ultra stealthy. Despite its size, this camera comes packed with pro features. The tiny camera sits on a full 3-axis gimbal to give you stable video. You can shoot at up to 4K 60fps, remarkable for its 1/2.3-inch sensor. There are dual built-in microphones with noise canceling to capture high-quality audio.
The Osmo Pocket has many more video features including ActiveTrack to follow subjects, FaceTrack to automatically recognize faces, Slow Motion shooting, Timelapse and Motionlapse.
Based on features alone, this is clearly a camera for those interested in shooting video. But there are notable features for still photography as well. The camera has a fixed lens of about 26mm (35mm format equivalent) and a fast f/2.0 aperture.
It also has panorama photo mode, which is brilliant on a camera with a built-in gimbal. When shooting a panorama, the camera automatically pans and shoots 4 images in sequence. This is much more accurate than precariously handholding your camera while panning or having to lug a tripod around. The only downside is that the camera won’t stitch the pan together automatically unless you shoot with a cell phone attached (more on this below).
Osmo Pocket LCD screen
A camera this tiny has its challenges, especially when it comes to seeing what you’re shooting. The built-in LCD screen is tiny and can be quite hard to see if you don’t have the best eyesight. I found it a challenge to not only compose my images but also to see if my shots were in focus. Luckily, DJI has a solution.
There’s a port next to the LCD to connect a smartphone via USB-C (or Lightning connector for iPhones). When using the free DJI Mimo app, a connected smartphone becomes an extension of the LCD screen.
This makes shooting with the Osmo Pocket an entirely different experience. It is much easier to compose your images and even unlock more photo and video features, such as stitching panoramas together automatically.
However, this makes the camera rig significantly bigger. It’s also much harder to shoot one-handed with a cell phone precariously attached to the Osmo Pocket via a USB-C connection.
Shooting with the Osmo Pocket
Using a camera this small is fun, but challenging. Its design is very different than cell phones or traditional cameras, so that can take some getting used to. When using the Osmo Pocket by itself, it is a one-handed device. There are just two buttons and a tiny touchscreen LCD that you swipe up and down to control the gimbal, and left and right to activate various features. Attaching the phone turns the Osmo Pocket into a two-handed camera, which can feel more ergonomic and natural.
When shooting with the smartphone, my instincts were to use the device as I would a smartphone camera. Instead, I had to use the DJI Mimo app, which has a very different interface than most smartphone apps. It also doesn’t let you zoom, and you instead have to physically move forward to zoom in.
Also, it was difficult to remember where my camera was. I usually shoot with my smartphone cameras on the left, and in this case, the Osmo Pocket camera is on the right since it is plugged into the phone’s USB-C port. This made composing images a challenge as I struggled to remember my main camera location.
Osmo Pocket photo quality
If you’ve shot photo or video with DJI drones, the photo quality that comes out of the Osmo Pocket is very similar. Colors are pretty natural, and the images are sharp (almost too sharp, depending on your taste). While the fixed lens is definitely not a macro, you can get reasonably close to your subject and capture photos with pretty good bokeh. Osmo Pocket is slow to focus (tap on the LCD to focus), which can be frustrating if you’re trying to shoot action.
Who’s this camera for?
Osmo Pocket isn’t aimed at a professional crowd, although it certainly could be used by a pro to capture B roll (supplemental footage). However, the size of this camera plus some of its limitations suggests that this is for casual camera users.
If you’re wanting to dabble in videography without investing in large and expensive camera stabilizers, the Osmo Pocket is a great option to consider. Keep in mind that it isn’t waterproof and definitely not a tough action camera like the GoPro; in fact, this camera is somewhat fragile given the loose nature of the gimbal.
DJI is slowly releasing accessories to add on to the Osmo Pocket such as 3.5mm external microphone adapter, mount, extension rod, and WiFi module. There are also polarizers and ND filters that you can get to mount to the front of the camera. These little accessories add to the cost of the already pricey camera and also point out some of the seemingly basic features that are missing from this camera.
If you want an ultra compact and stealthy camera for capturing smooth, high-quality video footage, the Osmo Pocket is a great option to consider. However, in most cases, this isn’t a do-all camera and is instead a supplemental device for capturing very specific footage.