My DJI Osmo Mobile Review
At $300, one might scratch the Osmo Mobile off their list without a second look. But after playing with mine for a couple of weeks, I’d tell that someone to slow down a bit and check out the pros and cons of this gimbal. Here’s my DJI Osmo Mobile review, based on some pretty extensive testing.
DJI Osmo Mobile Pros
- The Osmo Mobile stabilizes your videos. The effect can be quite dramatic. Used properly, the Osmo can add a level of professionalism to your home videos never before possible with a smartphone.
- The DJI gimbal works with any smartphone. However, it works better with some phones than with others (more on this later).
- It’s easy to use. Of course, it takes a little bit of work.
- It allows you to create striking time-lapses (including motion time-lapses; you can pick up to five points that the Osmo Mobile will cover).
- The Osmo has face tracking that works very well.
DJI Osmo Mobile Cons
- It’s $300 which is a bit much for a lot of folks.
- The DJI Go app has some significant limitations.
- A shuddering effect is present in a lot of footage. Like, most of the footage has this ugly shuddering unless you know what to avoid. This is a significant problem with iPhones utilizing optical image stabilization (like the iPhone 7 Plus).
- There is a yucky bobbing effect that occurs when walking (and when walking the shuddering effect is more prominent).
- You must remove your phone’s case before using the Osmo Mobile if you have a large phone (e.g., the iPhone 7 Plus).
- Some important hardware seems to be missing (you have to spend more money if you want to get the most out of this device).
- It regularly goes off-kilter for seemingly no reason (can be fixed by calibrating the gimbal).
So Why Do I Like the DJI Osmo Mobile?
I like this gimbal for a lot of reasons. Let’s get into them.
The Osmo Mobile’s Stabilization Effect Is Nothing Short of Amazing
Having never used a gimbal, and having taken thousands of videos with my smartphones, I’m just used to my videos being shaky. That’s all there is to it. With the Osmo Mobile, even with its weaknesses when paired with the iPhone 7 Plus, the footage that can be produced blows me away.
Check this video out for a comparison between typical handheld footage (with the iPhone 7 Plus) and footage stabilized with the Osmo Mobile.
And check this video out for an example of some of the amazing footage that can be produced with the Osmo Mobile and an iPhone (in this case an iPhone 7 Plus shooting 4k with the FiLMiC Pro app).
The Osmo Works With Any Smartphone
The Osmo Mobile gimbal works with any smartphone. You’re honestly better off with a phone other than an iPhone 7 that doesn’t have optical image stabilization. An older iPhone? Great! A Samsung? Good idea. A Google Pixel? I suppose so although the Pixel has some lens flare issues. Kinda weird for a phone that’s vaunted for having the best camera in any smartphone ever.
The point is, this gimbal will work with any smartphone. And it works better with smartphones that do not utilize optical image stabilization. Until there’s a way to turn off optical image stabilization in an iPhone this may continue to be a problem.
The Osmo Mobile Is Easy to Use
I don’t mind spending time figuring out how to use an advanced piece of technology, but I didn’t have to spend much time at all before I was making videos with the Osmo Mobile and my iPhone 7 Plus. After charging (about three hours), it took me about 10 minutes to get my phone attached to the device, get it leveled, figure out the functions of the trigger and buttons and start recording.
It took me a couple hours to get the feel of the gimbal, but overall, it was straightforward to set up and use.
More advanced functions of the app require some extra time to figure out, like using the motion time-lapse, calibrating the gimbal, locking focus and exposure and getting your videos out of the app.
My recommendation is simply to charge the Osmo Mobile, install the app and connect it to your phone (via bluetooth), open up the standard camera app on your phone, walk around with the gimbal and record! You’ll see how easy it is to acquire a feel for it.
Time-lapses Are Cool and Motion Time-lapses Are Even More Cool
When using the DJI Go app, the Osmo Mobile can be used to create stunning time lapses. You can set the interval between frames and the time required for the recording. You can then set the start and end point (you can actually set up to five points) for the Osmo Mobile and it will slowly cover that space over the specified period of time. It’s pretty effective and can create some powerful scenes. I’ll attach a video to this article soon with an example.
The Osmo Mobile Has Effective Face Tracking
The Osmo’s face tracking really works. I haven’t used it but I should. I’ve seen plenty of examples on YouTube.
Cons of the Osmo Mobile
My DJI Osmo Mobile review wouldn’t be complete without some honest criticism. I don’t mean to be negative, but I’m not a fanboy of any company or any product. I’ve had some major frustrations with the Osmo Mobile. Here they are.
$300 Kinda Hurts
Yes, $300 is a lot, but considering that the DJI Osmo Mobile allows you to produce pseudo-professional results on a mobile phone, it lessens the sting. If you have a smartphone that records in high definition (especially if it’s not an iPhone with optical image stabilization), you really should spend the money and buy this gimbal. You’ll be very pleased with the results.
The DJI App Sorta Sucks
I hate to say it but but DJI Go app that must be used in conjunction with the Osmo Mobile has some problems.
There is no option for 60 frames per second in the DJI Go app. In order to use higher frame rates (or any other frame rate other than 30 frames per second) you must use another app. I recommend FiLMic Pro.
Using the DJI Go app, I get a lot of dropped frames and ugly, shuddering footage. I get much better results using the standard Apple camera app or a third party video app like FiLMiC Pro. Results are also significantly better on devices without optical image stabilization (like the iPhone 7 Plus).
The buttons on the Osmo Mobile work with the DJI app, but not with most other apps. Fortunately, FiLMiC Pro does work in conjunction with the Osmo Mobile; you simply have to turn on the Osmo hardware option within the FiLMic app.
The app crashes often on my iPad.
The app’s documentation seems somewhat poor.
On an Android device there is no option for 4K video. So while the videos may look better overall due to a lack of optical image stabilization interference, you can’t shoot in 4K! That’s a major oversight.
If using an iPhone, it’s difficult to save your files (pictures or videos) to your camera roll. You have to do it one file at a time. And then the files are saved both in your camera roll and in the DJI Go app.
Not being able to save images to the camera roll seems a bit of an oversight. It’s cumbersome if you want to quickly view the images, edit the photos or create movies in Apple’s iMovie. DJI seems interested in keeping customers locked within the DJI app or perhaps they’re trying to encourage people to use their SkyPixel service (online storage).
The easiest way to get your files out of the DJI Go App is to use the workflow hell called iTunes. It’s actually not that bad in this case.
First, just click on the little smart phone icon in iTunes (it’s really little, near the top).
Then click on “Apps” (on the left) and scroll down the page until you see “File Sharing.” In that section, you’ll see your apps that can share files. Click on the DJI Go app and the DJI documents will open on the right. Click on “videoCache” and then click on “Save to…” and save the folder to your computer.
Once you have the files on your computer you can edit them in a third-party editor like Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro.
The app has other issues but the ones above bothered me the most.
I do like the DJI Osmo Go app for two reasons: the motion time-lapse feature which is ultra cool (I’ll have an example video posted to this article soon) and the face tracking function which works surprisingly well.
The Nasty Juddering Effect
As I mentioned, there’s a horrid shuddering effect that’s produced as a result of the optical image stabilization built into the iPhone 7 Plus. It seems to fight the Osmo Mobile’s system, creating a juddering effect that’s quite nasty. This video gives several examples of this problem (see the video’s description for a table of contents with clickable links). However, there are workarounds.
One workaround is to use a phone that doesn’t have optical image stabilization. Problem fixed. Another solution is to use a phone other than an iPhone with its current optical image stabilization system. Yet another solution is to use the 2X lens on the iPhone 7 Plus which does not utilize optical image stabilization. Staying away from the DJI Go app also helps matters (use a different video app like the standard Apple camera app or FiLMiC Pro). Shooting close-ups with the DJI Osmo Mobile also seems to eliminate some of the judder.
Lastly, the slower and smoother your movements are, the less the problem presents itself. I realize the gimbal is supposed to stabilize the footage for you, but moving slowly and smoothly can’t help but improve matters. Using the above techniques allows me to capture very high quality footage with the Osmo Mobile and my iPhone 7 Plus. Yes, there are weaknesses, but without the gimbal, I simply cannot produce the same quality of video that I can with it.
The Crummy Bobbing Effect
The bobbing effect is completely different from the juddering effect. I don’t know anything about z-axes but I do know the Osmo Mobile lacks one so there is a bothersome up-and-down bobbing effect produced when walking or jogging. Annoying. DJI produces a z-axis for the regular Osmo but since the Osmo Mobile gimbal is all one piece, the z-axis accessory is not compatible.
So learn to perfect your ninja walk and go slow because this gimbal does not work very well when you’re walking or jogging. Check out this video at the 5:04 mark to see the problem. If you watch the entire video you’ll see lots of spots where the bobbing effect is occurring. Also, if you check out Osmo Mobile videos across YouTube you’ll find the same thing.
Remove Your Case!
When using the iPhone 7 Plus with the Osmo Mobile, you must remove your phone’s case before it will fit into the gimbal. It doesn’t bother me, but it’s a bit inconvenient.
You Must Buy Additional Accessories To Fully Utilize The Osmo Mobile’s Capabilities
So you want to make a really sweet motion time-lapse, do you? And you have the new Osmo Mobile? Wait a minute. You can’t do it. Why? Because the Osmo Mobile, even at $299, doesn’t come with the accessories necessary to make a time-lapse. Sure, you can try hand-holding the gimbal and see how your recording comes out, but if you’re trying to make a 30 minute time-lapse, your arm is going to get pretty tired.
What do you need to make a motion time-lapse with the Osmo Mobile? You need a base (at the least). Or some may spring for the tripod, which costs $55. But wait. The tripod needs the extension rod, another $55. Now (after buying this stuff) you can make a motion time-lapse and you’ve spent $110 more than you originally thought you were going to spend. Crazy. And you can’t even adjust the tripod to make up for uneven ground. You’d be a lot better off using your own tripod.
I have a workaround that will cost you less than $10 at the hardware store and you can put it together in about three minutes and it’ll work fine with your existing tripod. In fact, why not just watch the video?
Of course, you can also buy the DJI universal mount, and the DJI 1/4 inch and 3/4 inch mounting adapter and that’ll set you back just $32 (plus shipping). The beauty of doing it this way is that you’ll look legit and you’ll be able to mount an LED lamp and a microphone to your setup as well. But it costs more than my ugly solution.
Another option is to buy the DJI articulating arm. This little gizmo will set you back $39 (plus shipping) but it’s a one-piece solution that rotates any which way. Cool. Keep in mind that you cannot connect a microphone or LED light if you use this solution.
But no matter how you slice it, you’re going to have to buy additional accessories for the Osmo Mobile if you want to create motion time-lapses.
Why Does The DJI Osmo Mobile Go Off-Kilter?
This is one of the great mysteries of our time. Occasionally when using the Osmo Mobile, it won’t be level. That’s right — it’ll randomly lean a bit left or a bit right. It can be re-calibrated from within the DJI Go app, but again, without the base or the tripod and extension rod, it’s hard to set the Osmo on a flat surface. You’ll have to hold it with your hand. But it can be done. There is a full re-calibration option, or you can simply adjust the gimbal slightly left or slightly right.
But sometimes it doesn’t matter if you re-calibrate the gimbal. If you’re using a heavy phone (like the iPhone 7 Plus), you’re simply going to have leveling problems. It just happens. Over and over.
If you’re in a vehicle, you’re going to have leveling problems. When turning left or right or speeding up or slowing down, the gimbal reacts to the motion of the vehicle and goes off-kilter.
If you’re in a windy situation (like a windy day at the beach), you’re going to have leveling problems. Just today I tried using the Osmo Mobile with my iPhone 7 Plus at Lincoln City on the Oregon Coast. The wind kept knocking the gimbal this way and that, rending the majority of my beach footage useless.
Real-World Use of the DJI Osmo Mobile
I went downtown Portland to record some of the city the other day. This was my first real trip out with the DJI Osmo Mobile and my iPhone 7 Plus.
I charged both my phone and the Osmo Mobile fully before recording. I used the FiLMiC Pro app, an absolute must for anyone trying to get the most out of their iPhone (or non-Apple smartphone).
I recorded all clips in 4K at 100Mbps. I used FiLMiC Pro to boost the bitrate. If you’re trying to get the best possible quality out of your iPhone video, always use the highest bitrate possible. If you’re using the standard camera app, you cannot choose your bitrate. I read somewhere that the iPhone 7 Plus records at about 47mbps when shooting in 4K (but don’t quote me on that).
I also did not have FiLMiC Pro save the files to my phone’s camera roll. I read (somewhere else) that if you have FiLMiC Pro save your video clips to the camera roll that it slightly degrades quality as there is a compression. I’m not sure I believe it (because compressing a video typically takes time and it takes no time at all to save clips to the camera roll) but I save my clips in the FiLMiC library just in case.
I spent about three hours in Portland recording clips. My iPhone was at about 50% when I was finished. I didn’t record for the entire time and always shut the phone off as soon as I finished recording a clip. My Osmo Mobile was at about 40%.
I tried using the physical buttons on the gimbal as FiLMiC Pro works in conjunction with the Osmo. The buttons allow you to start and stop recording, lock focus and exposure, pull focus, adjust exposure, etc. However, the Osmo continually disconnects from the FiLMiC Pro app, in which case I’d have to shut the app off, re-open it, re-enable the Osmo Mobile in the app settings and then start using it again. Whenever I shut the phone off, it would disconnect again.
I spent quite a bit of time during the first half-hour fiddling with the app and trying to get it to work with the Osmo. After a while I gave up and locked focus, exposure and white balance by tapping the screen.
I had to re-calibrate the Osmo Mobile at least seven or eight times during the course of my filming. It wasn’t a big deal . . . just something I had to do once in a while.
I wanted to try recording a motion time-lapse but I didn’t have a way to set the Osmo on a flat surface and leave it for a while. I’ll try again in the near future now that I’ve figured out a few ways to connect the Osmo Mobile to my tripod.
A lot of people stopped me as I was walking around Portland and asked me, “What is that thing?” And I’d have to stop and explain it to them. This actually made my day as I met a lot of interesting individuals. Being post-election (and Veteran’s Day) in Portland, I’m happy to say I met only nice people. Not even one protestor tried to beat me up or anything.
I spent the entire time shooting with the iPhone 7 Plus’s 2x lens, as I was worried about the juddering problem with the wide-angle lens. This was a bit frustrating in the middle of a major downtown metropolitan area as I wanted a wider view to capture the architecture around me.
My Osmo Mobile Videos
This first video is me trying out the Osmo Mobile with my iPhone 7 Plus. I spent quite a bit of time trying multiple configurations on my iPhone, trying to find the best combination of app, resolution, framerate, image stabilization, etc., in order to eliminate the juddering problem that I was experiencing. I have some good results here and some not-so-good results. Check it out.
This next video is me driving around in a neighborhood comparing handheld video shot with my iPhone 7 Plus to Osmo-stabilized video (using the standard camera app) to Osmo-stabilized video (using FiLMiC Pro and only the 2x lens on the iPhone 7 Plus – the lens without optical image stabilization). The results are pretty telling (I’d say).
The next video is the video I shot in downtown Portland with the Osmo Mobile and my iPhone 7 Plus. As I said above, I used only the 2x lens on the iPhone 7 Plus and I was pretty pleased with the results.
I thought I’d add this new video I shot at the Oregon Coast with the iPhone 7 Plus and the DJI Osmo Mobile. I shot the entire thing with FiLMiC Pro at 100mbps. Some of the footage was with the 2x lens (most of the beach footage) and some was with the 28mm lens (zoo lights).
My Current Favorite Osmo Mobile Video
I found this video today browsing around YouTube. This is an amazing example of what the Osmo Mobile is capable of (caveat: great editing skills required).
There you have it — my DJI Osmo Mobile review. This gimbal is amazing. Buy it. It’s not perfect, but what is? If you have the iPhone 7, expect some additional struggles. But even with the iPhone 7, it’s worth it.