When you think about action cameras, there has really only been one name that consumers have reached for – GoPro. Vying for their crown though is DJI, which has a storied history in the drone space, but more recently has looked to other content creation devices like the Osmo Pocket.
Here enters the DJI Osmo Action, which is the Chinese firm’s alternative to the GoPro Hero range.
Having gone unchallenged for many years now, we recently got the chance to review the DJI Osmo Action to find out if GoPro should be worried. After two weeks with the device, we think they certainly should be.
Here’s why you’re probably going to want to add the Osmo Action to your arsenal of photography tools.
A familiar look
When other manufacturers have tried to go up against the GoPro with their own device, they’ve often shied away from the rectangular, boxy form factor of the Hero action cameras. DJI however, has shown no qualms in mimicking the look of the GoPro for its Osmo Action.
Regardless of what your thoughts are on the tactic, the form factor of the DJI offering is now far easier to spot from the crowd of action cameras out there.
As action cameras go, the dimensions of the Osmo Action are about industry standard, being 65mm wide and 42mm tall. It’s also insanely compact, but not too small to handle when doing something action-related.
Added to this is a nice density at 124g, making the Osmo Action feel sturdy in hand. Often when working with a photography tool this size, there is a fear of it being too fragile, but the Osmo Action suffers from none of that.
It’s also a fairly important quality for an action camera to have. As such when it comes to build quality, the Osmo Action does not fall short in our opinion.
Setup and shoot
Moving onto the the specifications and features of this action camera, one of the first things you notice is the lens. Here a 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor is present, delivering 12 million effective pixels while shooting.
The lens adapter on our review model was fisheye-esque in nature, but can be easily unscrewed for a more traditional shooting mode. The fisheye is not overly warped though, which at the very least provides an interesting perspective should you be looking to change things up.
Shifting back to the lens, the immediate thing that struck us while recording was the clarity and raw look of the footage. This is especially good should you wish to do any post-editing yourself.
In terms of setting up the DJI Osmo Action, the process is dead simple. In the left hand side a slot houses the ports for a USB Type-C cable to take of charging and a microSD slot handling the memory. The latter can handle a maximum size of 256GB which is important to consider given how much shooting you plan to do, as well as being an additional purchase to factor in if needed.
The power and record buttons are both located on the top of the Osmo Action, with a quick press of the former turning the device on and off fairly quickly. A three-second press shuts the entire system, so think of the quick press like engaging a sleep mode for the action camera. This is something worth noting if you want to conserve battery life, but we’ll get to that shortly.
All in all the setup and time it takes to get accustom to the Osmo Action is minimal at best, which is all the more important considering this will likely not be your primary shooting device, as time wasted can often be a killer for photographers and videographers.
Twice as Nice
One of the significant elements to the Osmo Action that DJI is talking up is the dual screen design. The front facing screen is a 1.4″ affair with 300ppi (pixels per inch) and designed for users to see what is being recorded should they be holding the Osmo Action in a selfie or vlogger orientation.
Speaking of vlogging, we don’t think the Osmo Action will ever replace your mirrorless camera or DSLR anytime soon, but is rather intended as a complimentary tool to what you already have in your recording repertoire.
This mainly as the audio recording is not the quality that most vloggers will be wanting, especially when wind and external noise is a factor. If you are looking for a device like that, the aforementioned Osmo Pocket is perhaps better suited to the job.
Back to the screens, and on the rear is a 2.25″ display with a 325ppi. This screen will be used in a number of ways, with it first and foremost being utilised to establish shots. Next is cycling through different shooting options and settings.
To that end the Osmo Action video recording qualities, as well as HDR, with it topping out 4K (16:9) at 60fps. Most of the time though you’ll be sticking to 1080p to take care of moist requirements.
Sticking to the rear display, it’s touch enabled with swipes from different sides of the screen bringing up different options. There is also some virtual buttons on the screen, but those proved a little more difficult for our pork sausage fingers to press now and then.
Circling back to battery life and the DJI Osmo Action features a 1 300mAh offering. When fully charged the manufacturer says you can record for up to 135 minutes at 1080p (30fps). This does take quite a drop to 63 minutes while recording 4K (60fps), but compared to some mid-range and mirrorless cameras out there, is well above average.
In our testing the numbers listed by DJI are fairly spot on, with it taking just about two hours of total recording for the battery to run out over several days of shooting.
The difference between the DJI Osmo Action and GoPro Hero 7 (the latest model) is fairly difficult to split, so most consumers are likely going to reach for the brand they trust.
If you opt for the Osmo Action though, your decision will not have been in vain. Its compact yet sturdy design lends well to taking some knocks here and there. The recording quality and battery life too were impressive given the diminutive dimensions of this action camera. It may not have as many accessories as the GoPro has, given that brands time in the action camera market, but that will change in coming years.
The same goes for the price, with the DJI Osmo Action costing roughly R6 995 depending on the retailer, which is about R1k more than the Hero 7, but that offering has been available for longer.
As such the DJI Osmo Action will be a welcome addition to your camera bag.