DJI Osmo Action: a word of warning on hatches
DJI is well known for its drones but when it comes to action cameras, the GoPro has been king. Until now, perhaps.
The DJI Osmo Action is a worthy rival to the market leader with some cool new features that will give GoPro a run for your money.
The first, and most obvious, is a 1.4 inch full colour front screen which makes it ideal for selfies in the surf and video bloggers.
The screen makes it easier to frame your shot, particularly if you're on a bike or just running through a rainforest.
Give it to teens and they'll also find it handy to adjust their hair to make sure they are Insta worthy.
We tested the Osmo Action walking through a rainforest in varying morning light, in the harsh sun at the beach, underwater in the surf and in still water. The video and image quality is superb, while the 'Rock Steady' stabilisation system is exceptional.
It's very similar in size, shape and usability to a Go Pro but has some extra benefits, including HDR video and a dewarping feature which removes the fisheye rounded look of your camera. We found this idea when shooting pictures near trees, for example, where with the normal camera they would look bent.
As you would expect, the Osmo Action is built for extreme conditions, being dustproof, waterproof and able to operate in sub-freezing condition.
A word of warning, though, is you really need to ensure your battery and side hatch compartments are firmly locked, otherwise you risk getting water into the camera.
The camera's controls are very easy to use with one of the best options being a side button which allows you to change modes from video to HDR video to time lapse, photo or slow motion video very quickly.
You can also hold the same button down to switch between the 2.25 inch rear screen to the front screen.
Using the shutter button, you can turn on and begin recording in under two seconds using the SnapShot feature.
Overall, I found the three button system, combined with the rear screen touch controls easier to use and lot more versatile than my GoPro.
The camera has a 1/2.3-inch sensor which records 12-megapixel photos and 4K video up to 60fps at 100Mbps.
DJI says its three-glass aspherical lens design aids in reducing warping. The lens cap is finished with two layers of anti-fingerprint coating to keep the shot clean during use, as well as an anti-reflective coating to reduce the unwanted effects of lens glare.
We put the camera to the test with a range of neutral density (ND) filters ranging from ND4 to ND32. They were particularly useful shooting water scenes in the rainforest.
One of my son's mates was particularly impressed by the electronic image stabilisation used by the Osmo Action. DJI has a decade of experience in creating three axis mechanical gimbals and the Rock Steady mode makes every use of this.
My son's friend said it was like having a gimbal, as he shook the camera from side to side, putting it to the test.
Osmo Action is capable of High Dynamic Range (HDR) video in 4K/30fps, adding three stops of dynamic range to the scene, natural transitions between light and dark areas, and richer details.
The removable battery promises a run time of 93 minutes recording at 4K/30fps with RockSteady enabled, and 135 minutes recording at 1080p/30fps without RockSteady.
The dual microphones pick up sound well, including underwater.
- Slo-mo: 8x slow motion in 1080p 240fps or 4x slow motion in 1080p 120fps
- Timelapse: We tested this to condense minutes of walking in the rainforest to a few seconds. The only glitch was with variations in light levels.
- Custom Exposure settings Manual and semi-automatic settings allow up to 120 seconds of exposure.
The DJI Osmo Action retails for $499. You can also buy DJI Care Refresh for $59 which provides up to two replacements units within a year for a small additional charge.