The smartphone is yours
Always there-Camera and – unlike professional devices – also fits in your pocket. Nevertheless, drone and camera gimbal expert DJI would like to challenge the smartphone for its place as a video camera.
With the third generation of the Osmo Pocket, the company improved many of the criticisms of its predecessor and wants to leave its niche existence behind. It is still aimed at hobby filmmakers and content creators in order to produce high-quality videos on their own.
The Osmo Pocket 3 is packed with useful features, smartphone connectivity and has practical accessories to put together a compact package for lone warriors.
Did the Chinese manufacturer succeed or do the engineers have to go back to the drawing board? Let's find out together.
What's new in the DJI Osmo Action 3?
The most noticeable innovation is probably the larger display. This now serves as an on/off switch by simply flipping it sideways to put it in landscape format and activate the camera gimbal.
If you flip it back to its original position, the device shuts down again. However, a countdown is started beforehand to cancel the process. The small camera then automatically switches to portrait mode, which is perfect for social media videos and opens up more possibilities.
Also new are the larger 1-inch image sensor, the 4K mode with up to 120 frames per second and the 10-bit D-Log-M formatwhich gives you significantly more options when reworking later.
There are also various improvements to the autofocus, which now works faster and more reliably, while the same also applies to the tracking mode, with which the Osmo Pocket 3 tracks previously selected objects and keeps them in the image section.
At first glance this all sounds pretty nice, but what does it mean in detail and what are the limits of the pocket camera?
Easy to use
Anyone who can operate a smartphone camera will immediately be able to use the DJI Osmo Pocket 3. If a microSD card is inserted, all you have to do is flip up the display and press the small red button. The camera can be moved using a joystick, while a tap on the display sets the focus and a double tap activates the follow mode.
The lion's share of the work is done by the three-axis gimbal, which keeps the image stable with every movement and also performs tracking movements very smoothly, so that nothing appears wobbly. Because something like this can happen quickly on a smartphone without an additional gimbal and sufficient routine.
However, the gimbal's range of motion is limited, so it can never fully rotate the camera around the three axes – an important thing to keep in mind when shooting and in follow mode.
You can easily switch from landscape to portrait format by rotating the display.
Unlike DJI drones, the camera is not rotated. Instead, only the image section is adjusted and the sides are cut off. This means that recording in portrait format is not possible in 4K, but is reduced to 3K.
You should also keep this in mind if you are aiming for high-resolution images or want to zoom in or reduce the image detail later.
Speaking of pictures: A new 1-inch sensor is responsible for this, which has a resolution of 9.4 megapixels and is therefore significantly larger than the 1/1.7-inch sensor of its predecessor. It is hidden behind a camera lens with a fixed focal length of 20 mm and an aperture of f/2.0.
From these values you can already see that the Osmo Pocket 3 is not exactly suitable for portrait shots and is more suitable for wide-angle shots. With its compact design, it can also reach places where neither a smartphone nor an action cam can reach and can still be guided precisely.
With the DJI Osmo Pocket 3, intuitive operation and certain inconsistencies are close together.
A menu can be accessed with a swipe from either edge of the screen to the center. In addition, you get different setting options from each edge, which are only marked by symbols or abbreviations and sometimes hardly indicate their function. If you are looking for certain settings, this is often not easy and takes time to find.
Things became easier when I connected the camera to my smartphone and the DJI Mimo app. You can not only view a live image there, but also make many settings. Even beauty adjustments are possible to make lips fuller, skin smoother and teeth whiter.
You can also start a live stream on Facebook or YouTube from here.
What I liked best, however, was the option of remote control. This meant I was able to optimally set up the camera from my smartphone and at the same time get a much larger preview screen to see the live recording even from a distance.
Image quality and possibilities
As mentioned at the beginning, the Osmo Pocket 3 supports 4K resolution with up to 120 frames per second to allow ultra-high-resolution slow-motion recordings. If the HD resolution is enough for you, then up to 240 images per second are possible.
10-bit recording with D-Log-M and HLG is also supported in both normal video mode and slow motion. D-Log-M gives you complete freedom when post-processing the colors, as a particularly large dynamic range is recorded here, which you want to discover. HLG is a good hybrid solution for recording HDR recordings without having to do much reworking at the same time.
However, the format requires a display with HLG capability (REC.2020 color space) for playback. The normal color mode is sufficient for beginners, but it's certainly good to know that there's still room for improvement.
The DJI Osmo Pocket 3 does a really solid job even in poor lighting. The large sensor can of course capture a lot of light. Nevertheless, DJI integrated a special low-light mode, which limits the frame rate to 30 frames per second in order to be able to expose the recordings for longer. In this mode the ISO value is increased up to 16,000, while in other modes it stops at ISO 3,200.
The autofocus has become faster in the new version and always does a good job. However, if you want to shift the focus from the foreground to the background, it sometimes stutters slightly and sometimes changes the image section.
If you use the tracking mode, this problem is not a problem because you always stay in focus and the camera tracks you reliably. It is activated by simply tapping twice on the object you want to track on the display. A green frame indicates what is being tracked. Optionally, you can also activate facial recognition so that a face is automatically tracked when it is in the image area.
Another feature comes into play, especially if you are using the Osmo Pocket 3 alone: focus frame. This gives you the opportunity to specify an area in which the tracked object should typically be held. So if you always want to have space to the right of you in the picture, this is easily possible.
The DJI Osmo Pocket 3 has taken a significant step forward, especially in the areas of image quality, autofocus and low-light recordings, making the compact device much more versatile.
The image quality is easily comparable to most smartphones and when it comes to video and image stabilization, DJI delivers the usual high quality.
If you are looking for a small, pocket-sized camera, you definitely won't go wrong with the Osmo Pocket 3 and you can quickly and easily create recordings for social media.
The only real criticism is the price. At 539 euros for the basic version, the Pocket 3 is not exactly cheap. However, it has a better price-performance ratio
Creative Combo for 140 euros more, which adds a battery grip, a DJI Mic 2 transmitter, a mini tripod and a bag to the camera.
Currently, it's hard to argue that the Osmo Pocket 3 is one of the best vlogging cameras on the market, offering a form factor that can't be found elsewhere. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a camera for adventures, you should use the DJI Osmo Action 4 or GoPro Hero 12, as water and dust do not cause any problems with them.
Notice: The device was provided to us for testing and will be returned to DJI. The manufacturer had no influence on the test. There was also no obligation to publish an article.
What do you think about the latest developments in compact video technology? The DJI Osmo Pocket 3 represents an exciting innovation and could change the way we create and share videos. In other words: Which recording device do you personally use – and why? Feel free to share your thoughts with us and the community in the comments.