DJI Osmo for Hot, Handheld Action


Last fall we picked up a couple of DJI Osmo cameras. They've been incredibly handy for grabbing stable, handheld shots without a ton of gear. It's basically a drone camera on a gimbal that you hold in your hand. We find a use for it on just about every shoot these days, and after working with it for a few months I thought I'd share our findings and post some samples.


DJI ( Known primarily for drones, but they also make the amazing Ronin gimbals, and a growing line of other filmmaking products.


OSMO ( An all in one handheld 4k camera and gimbal system. Specifically we have the Zenmuse X3 version, which is the entry level camera. They also offer an X5 which has a micro 4/3 sensor (as compared to the 1/2.3 sensor in the X3), and presumably even better image quality. Control and playback runs through the DJI Go app on your phone, which mounts to the grey outrigger on the handle. Just connect to the OSMO's wifi and you're ready to roll.


Because movement! Fluid movement. I can follow someone walking though a factory to show the scale of the place, walk around a sculpture or piece of machinery to get a sense of the dimensionality, or grab shots of a building exterior and walk around a little to get a more dynamic shot. Yes you can do all that with your DSLR or whatever, but not with the fluid movement you get from a gimbal system.

These are great cameras for b-roll of course, but we've also used one as a b camera on a tour, following a tour guide around and syncing up the footage with the C100 in post. It's a discreet option that allows you access, gives you a nice image, and doesn't require a lot of setup time. It also doesn't draw a lot of attention like a shoulder rig or a Ronin. If you're shooting a crowd and trying to avoid having people look into the lens, the smaller your rig the more luck you're going to have.

Lots of reviews talk about poor performance indoors and in other low-light situations. Grainy low-light shots can be an issue, but if you are delivering 1080P, and you shoot in 4K on the Osmo, you can crush it down and get pretty good results in most indoor situations. If you are outdoors between breakfast and happy hour, or if your indoor scene is well lit, you have nothing to worry about.


Whenever I want! One of the great things about these cameras is how little setup time there is, compared to stabilizing your primary camera. I can pick it up and roll off a few shots when things are happening, not 10 minutes later. There is of course a trade off in image quality, but for the productions I'm normally working on this camera is a great balance. It's nimble, discreet, and provides more than acceptable image quality. 

The Osmo comes with a little violin case that you could keep over your shoulder all day. I have just enough room in my camera bag to just shove mine in there and forget about it until I need it.


I think the price on these has come down a bit recently. I'll link to B&H below, but you may find a better price elsewhere. There are a bunch of accessories and even a version with a zoom lens. The only accessories I picked up were an ND filter and some extra batteries. Both worth the money if you can swing it.

DJI Osmo at B&H


OSMO Samples


- JM