DJI OSMO Mobile, not ready for prime time

Discussion in 'The Photography Lounge' started by CJ, Dec 9, 2016.

  1. CJ

    CJ Bronze Member Admin War Zone Member

    Top Poster Of Month

    Seriously, I can't even right now. Hopefully Amazon's return policy will save the day here and not cause me any issues as I did open the product and use it.

    I'll caveat all this by saying I am running the most recent version of DJI GO app and updated the firmware on the gimbal to the latest version.

    In a prime example of first world problems, my wife and I are so difficult to buy for that for the last couple years we've bought our own Christmas presents from each other. As you might have read in another thread I was heavily researching 3D printers but ultimately decided they weren't ready for the use cases that I was most interested in. A coworker inadvertently turned me on to the DJI Osmo line and after a little research I decided to purchase the DJI OSMO Mobile.

    DJI is probably THE brand in consumer / prosumer grade video drones. To get there, they had to figure out how to stabilize video shot from TV tray sized quadrocoptors. Enter the motorized gimbal. A motorized gimbal uses gyroscopic sensors and feedback to keep a platform (usually with a camera attached) level and still while at rest and to "buffer" movements to minimize or eliminate shake from motion or simply the shaking and micro-movements that occur when hand holding a camera.

    Recently DJI decided to export this technology into a selfie-stick and produced the DJI OSMO, a 12MP micro four thirds, fixed lens "action cam" attached to a single-hand-holdable motorized gimbal. Subsequently, they had the brilliant idea of instead of said camera, what if they just put a smartphone mount on the gimbal. And thus the DJI OSMO Mobile was born.

    This product is (IMO) a prime example of a colossal failure in both hardware and software design but also their integration.

    From a software perspective, the app sucks. There are so many problems with it. I got the phone to sync up to the gimbal but I couldn't get some basic functionality to work after multiple attempts including being unable to switch the camera from front to rear facing while recording (this should work) but only while recording was stopped. In addition, in a move that has angered many on DJI's own forum, a recent software upgrade has made it nearly impossible to get video out of the app itself. Finally, higher resolution (e.g. 4k) video skips and is jittery when filmed in the DJI app even though its typically fine in the native camera app and even some 3rd party apps. Of course if you use other apps you lose all of the functionality of the gimbal beyond basic stabilization.

    Regarding the hardware, I unfortunately only found some negative reviews AFTER I purchased the product. It seems from the best guesses of some fairly experienced video shooters that the OSMO mobile's gimbal motors are barely powerful enough to stabilize heavier phones such as the iPhone Plus series. In addition, cell phones with built in OPTICAL image stabilization seem to perform WORSE on the OSMO Mobile. This may be due to the same factors that cause camera manufacturers to recommend disabling in-lens stabilization when using a tripod. DJI is unable to turn off this physical stabilization in-app but seem to have failed to account for it in their product design. It seems if you use some non-flagship phone, you're OK but if you're the kind of person who has a very high end smart phone you might also be the kind of person to drop $300 fucking dollars on a fucking gimbal and they're going to be incompatible.

    I shot a video of me trying to use this product... if you watch it, you're a saint.

    Before the video here's my summary.

    • The app sucks in general
    • I couldn't get some of the basic app functionality like object tracking to work well
    • Its a massive pain to get videos out of the app for editing in almost any app that is going to be a better video editor
    • High res video judders and skips in the DJI app even when it works fine in the native camera app or 3rd party video apps
    • The device/app integration sucks. I couldn't get the phone to switch between front and rear facing cameras while recording even though that should work (I've seen it in youtube videos)
    • The device may not be robust enough to support the weight of literally the most popular smart phones on the planet (aka those smartphones most likely to be owned by people who would spend $300 on this product)
    • DJI apparently didn't account for optical image stabilization which while not ubiquitis, is most certainly a "must have" feature in the aforementioned flagship smartphones. Use of a small non-stabilized phone seems to be pretty much setup and shoot. If you have a high end phone you may need to jump through hoops to get the gimbal to stabilize it at all and while moving, may have to execute something call the "ninja walk" if you don't want your videos to be more shaky than a non-stabilized phone.
    • DJI's messaging about the issues is mixed. I found several responses to negative youtube videos from DJI appearing to admit that both the weight of larger phones and the optical image stabilization may be issues however on the DJI forum they are in full Steve Jobs denial mode and telling customers they're doing it wrong.

    Here's the video I shot. Its pretty much 15 minutes of me panning around my home theater, losing my train of thought, and trying to figure out why the gimbal is so poorly implimented. I think DJI could go a long way by addressing the most common software complaints but to make this a viable product, they need to address hardware compatibility issues with the best smartphone that doesn't burn your house down, which will probably require more than a firmware update. Maybe I'll keep my eyes open for reviews of the DJI OSMO Mobile 2.

    Final thought, I wanted to like this product very badly. I'm actually very bummed to be returning it. I was excited to get into some video editing, doing some mannequin challenges with my kids before that trend dies, etc. The product just isn't ready.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 10, 2016

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