DJI, more famous for its range of drones that take to the sky than mobile phone accessories, has released a new version of its Osmo Mobile camera. We went hands and eyes-on with the handheld gimbal system during the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, Germany, and were mightily impressed by the gadget. Design-wise, it essentially looks like a high-tech joystick with a robotic smartphone mounting arm attached.
DJI, of course, has released an Osmo before, but the previous version was equipped with its own camera. The fairly expensive device insisted that users still have a smartphone, but use it only as a monitor to see the video they shot.
The new version connects to the smartphone via Bluetooth and uses the phone's camera, instead of having its own. After all, smartphones are being equipped with much more capable cameras for shooting video than they were previously. What's more, the new system gives the user more versatility and ensures the company can bring the cost of the unit down, making it more easily attainable.
The new Osmo still promises to use "DJI’s signature three-axis gimbal stabilisation and SmoothTrack technology to let users shoot effortless, high-quality photos and videos on the go." In action, it's certainly great to watch.
Of all the features, ActiveTrack is by far the most impressive. Users can select an object or person on their phone screen by drawing a square around it, then the Osmo automatically tracks that person/thing wherever it goes. It works in selfie mode too, so if you like to shoot selfie videos on the move a lot, the Osmo Mobile is the ideal tool. For high energy and motion-happy vloggers, it's perfect.
Like any steady-cam type system, it can also be used to keep a steady shot. You can set the Osmo Mobile to stay aimed at one point, so regardless of how the handheld device is moved, it'll keep the camera pointing in one single direction. This is true if you're holding it and moving your arm, or if you're walking.
Given the limited time we had at the Osmo booth, we didn't get to check out the motion timelapse mode, but that - like the ActiveTrack feature - looks to be incredible. With the Osmo Mobile attached to a tripod or mounted on the optional base, you can program it to shoot a timelapse video, but also have the unit move smoothly while shooting.
This means it becomes possible to add motion to your timelapse capture of a sunset (for example). You can have the camera following the direction of the sun across the sky, or just shoot a panning shot across a busy beach or beautiful landscape or cityscape scene as clouds roll in.
Connected via Bluetooth, users of the "rig" will be able to use the device's trigger control to access various modes, as well as switch between the phone’s front and rear cameras. Camera settings, such as ISO, shutter speed and white balance are reachable directly onscreen through the accompanying dedicated app.
That app, the DJI GO App, will also let you do things like Live Stream, Panorama, Long Exposure and adjust camera settings.
The removable battery can last longer than the smartphone's battery (4.5 hours continuous shooting), which is comforting to know, and all the controls, triggers and buttons are within thumb or finger reach. It's equipped with a microphone for recording audio and a rosette for attaching a number of accessories, external mics, frames or tripods.
The Osmo Mobile is compatible with most recent smartphone models, including the iPhone 5, iPhone 6, iPhone 6s Plus, the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Huawei Mate 8, and presumably the new iPhone 7 when that comes out later this month. It should, say DJI, accommodate any Android or iOS smartphone with a width between 2.31 and 3.34 inches.
The Osmo Mobile costs £289 and is available to buy now.