It’s not a drone, the latest tech from DJI is a camera that stays on the ground, mostly. The DJI Osmo Pocket is a three-axis gimbal with a permanently-attached camera sensor. When you connect the Osmo Pocket to your compatible smartphone, it becomes a fully-contained photography and filmmaking tool which literally fits in your pocket.
If you’re a pro photographer or filmmaker, the Osmo Pocket isn’t going to replace your professional DSLR when you need ultra-crisp shots or cinema-quality video. However, whether you’re a pro or an amateur, the Osmo Pocket could easily convince you to ditch your prosumer video equipment since it does so much so well – with no gear bag needed.
This is the DJI Osmo Pocket review.
Like an Osmo Mobile gimbal…but better
You might be familiar with the DJI Osmo Mobile line of smartphone gimbals. The Osmo Mobile line allows you to snap a smartphone onto the gimbal, connect the two devices wirelessly, and then get the smooth stabilization and tilt-and-pan techniques you need to create pro-quality video.
The Osmo Pocket is similar, except you’re not using your smartphone’s camera lens. In fact, you can utilize almost all the features of the Osmo Pocket without needing your smartphone on hand at all.
On top of the Osmo Pocket is a 12MP, 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor with a f/2.0 aperture capable of recording 4K video at a rate of 100Mbps. We’re not certain yet, but we’re pretty sure the camera is the same as what’s included with the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom drone. As such, you’re essentially getting a high-quality drone cam on a pocket-sized gimbal.
On the front of the Osmo Pocket is a tiny, full-color touchscreen display, measuring one inch diagonally. You use gestures to navigate through the gimbal’s different settings and features. While it’s a little clunky to use, almost every major feature of the device is available through these gestures, which is a real treat.
When you connect your smartphone to the Osmo Pocket using the swappable USB Type-C or Lightning connector (both included in the box), you get a much more easy-to-navigate interface through the DJI Mimo app. This not only makes changing settings and switching through the different modes much more intuitive, but it also opens up some additional features not possible with just the gimbal alone.
The DJI Mimo app was still in a beta mode while I was testing the Osmo Pocket. Therefore, there might be new features and better functionality by the time Mimo makes its way to the Google Play Store. Keep that in mind for the rest of the review.
On the side of the device is a slot for a microSD card (up to 256GB). You can shoot video using the gimbal without a microSD card inserted if you’ve connected your smartphone – the footage simply saves to your smartphone’s internal storage. However, for some reason you can’t do the same with photos – in order to shoot stills, you must have a microSD card inserted into the gimbal.
You charge the gimbal using the USB Type-C port on the bottom of the device. According to DJI, the gimbal should last about two hours on one charge of its non-removable 845mAh battery. This is assuming you’re shooting video in 4K at 30 frames-per-second. If you change to shooting 1080p at 30fps in the Super Fine mode, the battery life goes down quite a bit, but your videos will have less noise and grab better low-light footage.
I used the gimbal until it was fully drained of battery and then charged it to full using the same cable and wall adapter that came with my Google Pixel 2 XL (there is no wall adapter for the gimbal included in the box, but there is a very short USB cable). Using the Pixel 2 XL cable, I was able to charge the gimbal from zero to full in a little over an hour.
Drone legal and safety
If you use the Osmo Pocket to snap photos, your files will capture in JPEG or JPEG+RAW formats (however, you can only swap to RAW format using the Mimo app). The images come out very good, considering the limitations of the device itself. For example, there is no ability to zoom, no ability to manually focus, and no flash. Just point-and-shoot.
Other than those limitations, the Osmo Pocket has most of the photo capabilities you would expect from a smartphone or point-and-shoot device: countdown timer, selfie mode, the ability to shoot in 16:9 or 4:3, etc. There is HDR and a long-exposure mode called NightShot, but these are only accessible when you have a smartphone connected in Pro Mode.
Pro Mode in the Mimo app allows you to have more control of your photos, including settings like ISO, white balance, shutter speed, auto-focus, etc. However, even in Pro Mode there’s still no zoom and no flash. The latter limitation is a bit weird, considering it seems simple enough to use your smartphone’s flash while the two devices are connected. Maybe this will be added in a future update to the Mimo app.
There’s a panorama mode included with the Osmo Pocket, too. Just like with smartphone panoramas, the device takes multiple pics and then stitches them together.
I found that the images the camera captured in its automatic mode were as good or sometimes better than what I get with most smartphones. As long as you don’t need zoom, a flash, or manual focus, you’ll be good. Check out the gallery below.
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While the Osmo Pocket takes some decent photos, it’s very clear that DJI wasn’t focused on photography when designing the device. What the Osmo Pocket is really designed to do is shoot video, and there are tons of features geared to creating some really neat footage.
The two flagship features of the Osmo Pocket are FaceTrack (along with the more general ActiveTrack) and Story Mode. Let’s start with FaceTrack/ActiveTrack.
FaceTrack uses software to identify and track a person’s face or head-to-shoulder profile. If you’re using the gimbal without a smartphone, turning the device into selfie mode automatically activates FaceTrack. However, if it doesn’t work instantly for you, all you need to do is double-tap on your face as shown in the 1-inch display – the gimbal will instantly center on your face and track it.
I found FaceTrack to work pretty well. However, as you would expect, using FaceTrack with a smartphone attached was much more accurate than with the gimbal alone.
Whether you’re in selfie mode or normal, and whether you have a smartphone attached or not, you can also use ActiveTrack. This feature does the same thing as FaceTrack, except you manually select what you want to track, such as a pet, a stationary object, or your kid while he plays football. If you’re using the gimbal alone, you simply double-tap on what you want to track. If you’re using the Mimo app, you can draw a rectangle around what you want to track. Either way, when you move the gimbal around, it will stay focused on whatever you’ve told it to track.
I found FaceTrack was great in selfie mode but not so much when trying to track people who were further away. In those situations, ActiveTrack was better. Either way, it’s incredibly easy to lock on to a subject and then let the gimbal do the work keeping it in focus, regardless of which setting you use.
Story Mode is the other flagship feature of the Osmo Pocket. Using a predefined set of editing techniques, you can use the gimbal to create short video compilations perfect for sharing to your Instagram.
DJI showed us how Story Mode works at the launch event for the Osmo Pocket. However, the Android app provided to us for this review did not have Story Mode (the iPhone app did). Since I don’t own an iPhone, I wasn’t able to test out this function.
Hopefully, Story Mode will be live for Android when the app officially launches. DJI doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to keeping its Android apps up-to-date, but if the company really wants this gimbal to succeed with the Android audience, it needs to give Android the same priority it does the iPhone.
Anyway, in Story Mode, the device walks you through recording tiny bursts of footage. When you’ve recorded all the bursts, it automatically creates a 10- to 20-seconds-long montage of the footage, complete with cool editing techniques. You can even beautify the footage during the original shoot or after it’s all put together, then immediately share it to your social accounts right from the Mimo app.
It’s unfortunate that I wasn’t able to try Story Mode out, as it will certainly be one of the big reasons people choose to buy the Osmo Pocket.
Aside from FaceTrack and Story Mode, there are a few other video features with the Osmo Pocket. One of the cooler features is a surprisingly good slow-motion setting, which shoots video at 120 frames per second. Unlike most smartphones with slow-motion features, the Osmo Pocket will shoot slow-motion footage for as long as you like.
Finally, there are also two timelapse features to the Osmo Pocket: regular Timelapse and then Motionlapse. Timelapse keeps the camera stationary as it snaps a photo periodically over a long period of time, then brings all the photos together into a video. Motionlapse does the same, but pans the camera while recording, creating a moving Timelapse.
Check out the Motionlapse I shot below:
Everything I’ve described in the review thus far can be done with just the gimbal and a smartphone. However, there are a slew of accessories that will be available to augment the Osmo Pocket and make it much more powerful.
The Wireless Module for Osmo Pocket pr