Like other stars of the 1980s, the camcorder has almost disappeared from circulation, retired by smartphones and action cameras. But the Chinese video specialist, DJI, does not solve it. And tries to revive this icon of the past in the form of a small camera that films extremely stable images, thanks to a sophisticated machinery with three small motorized arms.
The first product of this type, the Osmo, marketed in 2015, was too bulky to appeal to the general public, and too expensive (750 euros). The second attempt by DJI, the Osmo Pocket, launched in late November, measures the size of a bar of chocolate and costs 350 euros, which makes it much more attractive. Does it make better videos than a smartphone or a GoPro, which now represents a fierce competition?
Regarding stability, the Osmo Pocket succeeds in its bet and films even more stable images, as we can see in this comparison video:
The gap is not always spectacular, it is sometimes difficult to detect, when filming with great delicacy and without moving the legs. But as soon as you walk while filming, the Osmo Pocket films right in front of her when her competitors pitch on all axes.
Stabilizing the Osmo Pocket is more effective when you shoot without delicacy, hovering, or descending a staircase. And it's when you do exactly the opposite that the Osmo shines the most, when composing a neat plan. Sophisticated camera movements make it pretty bad if you shoot them on the smartphone or GoPro, but they're much more convincing with the Osmo Pocket.
We succeed in imitating certain shots that require film set material, but unfortunately we can not copy them impeccably, because the image often moves a little bit. But no matter: the quest is fun and the result flattering.
You do not have to be passionate about images to appreciate the Osmo Pocket. It significantly enhances holiday videos, birthday, evening, etc. But the stabilized plans of the Osmo will especially hit users who film a lot and edit their best videos, much less those who occasionally capture “souvenir” sequences of seconds.
Good image quality
If we put aside their stability, the images of the Osmo are pleasant. Their colors are rather fair and their finesse is good. Their main fault is to be sometimes a little dark, but they will light without problem in the assembly, because their compression is not too brutal.
The Osmo films finer images than those of the GoPro Hero 7 Black, whose videos lack sharpness when shooting in linear mode, to avoid a frame too wide. His images are also softer and more dreamy than the action camera, which is more like the aesthetics of an information channel.
The picture quality of the DJI camera has nothing to envy the best Android smartphones, but it is not as good as that of the latest generation of iPhone, which take clearer videos in more cheerful colors … but significantly less stable.
Is the DJI mini camera necessarily in competition with our smartphones? Not necessarily, because unlike them, she goes from hand to hand. And his battery, which allows him to film about thirty minutes, will save all that of your smartphone.
A habit to take
The Osmo Pocket can be used in two ways: alone or in tandem with a smartphone. It is when you use it alone that it is the most pleasant, it comes out of the pocket in two seconds, and it holds particularly well in hand. Its size is so discreet that it does not interfere with the person being filmed.
But its tiny screen prevents to compose well the images, especially as its square format hides the edges of the videos 16/9e. In addition, the Osmo is far from obeying the finger and the eye: his stabilized camera lives his life. When we turn it, the camera follows the movement, but late. When you lean it, the camera does not always go down as much as you want. It takes a few hours to relearn how to film.
Everything gets better when you connect the Osmo Pocket to a smartphone. The video stream, displayed in large and 16/9e, allows to better frame the image. And a small joystick appears on the screen, which allows to easily correct the orientation of the camera. In return, the Osmo becomes much less discreet and pleasant in hand. But DJI did it right: when you connect the camera to the smartphone, the DJI app opens in three seconds. And the camera is surprisingly well hooked on the phone.
Gifted for social networks, not for sports
The Osmo gives a more professional touch to videos, which will appeal to active users of Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and others. You can take the camera in selfie mode in two clicks, and ask the Osmo to follow our face, which never leaves the frame. You can even tilt the camera in vertical mode to effortlessly shoot images for smartphone screens.
On the sound side, as long as you stay indoors, the quality is excellent. At a meter from the speaker, there is no breath, the voice is clear, its bass is present. Audio quality degrades when you move away from the subject, then falls again in noisy environments, and becomes passable outdoors when the wind blows. An optional adapter, however, allows you to connect a micro minijack.
Note, the Osmo Pocket is not good for the sport. With its equivalent lens 26 mm, she films much narrower shots than a GoPro: it is difficult to follow the action or the athlete. The images are blurred slightly when you rush the camera. Neither waterproof nor shockproof, the slightest incident could be fatal. Fortunately, the Osmo Pocket comes with a small case that can carry it in the pocket safely.
In everyday life, this mini-camcorder is discreet and practical. It films pleasant images, and much more stable than the best smartphones or the latest GoPro. Its relatively reasonable price makes it an interesting product in more than one way.
The Osmo will keep memories lighter moments that matter. Image enthusiasts will be able to risk plans inspired by the feature films they enjoy. Active members of social networks will film more accomplished images with less effort. All will however have to provide a little time of adaptation to tame the beast.
The Osmo Pocket is rather for you if …
- Video holds an important place in your life
- You want to be able to film without cutting off the moment
- You share your gadgets with your loved ones
The Osmo Pocket is not for you if …
- You are allergic to video editing
- You want to film your sporting achievements
- You do not like movies, social networks or travel