DJI Osmo Action test: finally a serious competitor to GoPro

ByAdeline Kuang 2019-06-11 1173

That's it. DJI has released its first action camera. On the program, videos in 4K 60 fps, electronic stabilization, two screens, water resistance up to 11 meters, an 8x slow motion ... Let's see if Osmo Action keeps all its promises!

DJI announced last May 15 his first action camera . The latter is expanding the Osmo family and logically takes the nice name of Osmo Action. The leader of civilian drones offers for its latest camera a definition 4K 60 frames per second, an HDR mode, an EIS stabilization system and two LCD screens . On paper, the Osmo Action seems to have everything to become the action camera to buy.

Can we finally say that GoPro is in bad shape? What is the first DJI action camera worth? This is what we will see in this test, which we did in the country of origin of DJI, China.

This test was conducted with a model loaned by the brand.

Design and interface: two big yes

For his Osmo Action, DJI did not seek to make complicated and intelligently knew how to take the codes of the classic action cameras . So we end up with a form factor very similar to that of GoPro, which is not worse: the product is indeed light, small but still nice to hold in hand. In short, all that can be expected from a high-end action camera.

The Osmo Action comes with a protective mount (which allows it to be attached to various accessories) but the bare case is shock-resistant and can be immersed in water at a maximum depth of 11 meters . The USB-C (cable included) and microSD (card not included) are protected by a single removable hatch. Note the lack of an HDMI micro output. The battery is not protected by a hatch as it is sufficient to insert it by applying a little force so that its end comes to align with the outline of the product.

One can even make sure at a glance that the battery is nested by checking the color of the two latches, the presence of orange signifies a problem.

In addition to the two diodes and two microphones , there is a speaker and three buttons. The first two are pretty basic and serve respectively to turn on the camera and start a recording. The third is called "Quick Switch" and can quickly change the shooting mode. No need to use the screen to switch from photo mode to video for example. Nice initiative of DJI . When the camera is off, it is possible to directly click on the record button: it will turn on and automatically start a video, all in less than 5 seconds.

Let's stay on the design of the camera and more particularly on its lens: DJI has chosen to protect the latter by a filter cap. This protection does not change the video quality and is also supposed to remain screwed on the lens. It is obviously advisable not to remove it before immersing the camera. It is therefore possible to remove this cap by unscrewing and I find this system quite intelligent since it will be able to change the protection in case of scratches. Better still, this cap can be replaced by compatible ND filters (ND4, ND8, ND16 and ND32). A very good idea of ​​DJI.

It's not over: the manufacturer has managed to innovate by offering not one but two screens . The first is on the back of the camera, like most other action cameras, and the second is at the front, next to the lens. Some action cameras also have a small screen in the front, but it is only for displaying information about the battery or storage. Here, it is a real screen, in the sense that it transcribes in color what the sensor films .

The latter proved to be much more useful than I thought. This is indeed an undeniable asset when making vlogs . It must be understood that its size of 1.4 inches does not fit to the millimeter near his plan, but it helps at least to verify that our head is not out of field . It will also be very useful in situations where the rear screen is not accessible: when filming in the car or when the camera is placed against a wall.

Note that these two screens can not be used at the same time and there are three options available to switch screens: use the voice command, stay on the "QS" button or double-tap with two fingers on the back screen. The option of the button "QS" is unsurprisingly the one that works every time, and that's why I gradually abandoned the other two, although reactive in the vast majority of cases.

Two things caught my attention, and they relate precisely to the behavior of these screens: it is not possible to change screens during video recording (in this case the current video stops and another begins), but it's mostly impossible not to notice the small seconds of onscreen latency when recording video with RockSteady stabilization enabled. This latency is slightly disturbing and even if you get used after some uses, it is very annoying when you follow a subject that moves quickly: it will not rely on the screen to frame it. Quite paradoxical for an action camera . Note that this delay is due to stabilization processing and will therefore be absent if RockSteady is not enabled.

Know finally that only the back screen is touch , so it is with its 2.25 inches and brightness of 750 cd / m² that we navigate in the interface. The latter has been well thought out and its fluidity makes the user experience quite excellent.

Access to the different menus is done by swiping your finger to the four sides of the screen. We find at the top the main settings of the camera: voice control, brightness, spot metering or the rotation of the screen. It is in this section that you will be able to deactivate the disturbing annoyances specific to DJI, but it is also in this one that you will be able to manage your different profiles: it is about creating and having access in one click to your modes of favorite shots. For example, I chose the 4K 30 fps mode with RockSteady in profile 1 and the 1080p 120 fps mode without RockSteady in profile 2.

Better, once created, the different profiles can be added as quick change with the Quick Switch button . This function proved to be extremely convenient during my stay. It's wondering why I never thought about it.

A swipe to the right gives us access to the different photos and videos recorded on the microSD card. Again, the interface is responsive so nice . It is indeed very easy to launch a video, delete it or put it in the favorites. During the viewing, it is possible to manage the brightness by sliding the finger on the left part of the screen but also to raise or lower the sound of the video with the same gesture, but on the right part of the screen. The size of the latter and the fluidity of the interface made me forget that there was the application DJI Mimo to watch his videos on the phone.

The menu on the right allows you to manage the camera settings in a little more detail: it is possible to switch to manual mode to manage the ISO, shutter speed, white balance and exposure . It is in this menu that you will find the D-Cinelike mode, which allows more freedom of editing, as well as the "Dewarp" function which reduces the field of view by eliminating the very characteristic fisheye effect of the action cameras. This mode is available for all definitions and frame rates.

Precisely, here are all the options that DJI offers in the last menu, accessible with a swipe of finger up.

You will understand, the two bright screens and the interface make the use of the camera very nice: I have not noticed any bug or slowdown in three weeks of use . Everything is done so that the user does not have to enter sub-menus to find what he is looking for. The product also breathes quality and we appreciate the little details that improve the user experience: the protective mount is for example equipped with a small transparent element that allows the light emitted by the diode to pass through.

The screw that attaches the camera to various accessories is also easier to use than those of GoPro.

A 4K definition that does not disappoint

The 12 megapixel sensor of the Osmo Action (f / 2.8 lens) offers a 145-degree angle and can shoot up to 4K 60 FPS, with a write speed of 100 Mbit / s and an encoding in h.264 - when will the h.265 ?

So much for the theoretical part. In practice, the first action camera of DJI does not disappoint and unsurprisingly offers detailed images with a faithful rendering of colors . These last seem also slightly colder than those of the GoPro Hero 7 Black . In the presence of good light conditions, Osmo Action produces smooth videos with good management of strong dynamics. But see for yourself.

You will find at the end of the video some shots in "vlog" mode, enough to judge the quality of the two embedded microphones. I noticed that their locations allow better sound reproduction when behind the camera. In general, the sound is satisfactory, without more . Do not count on the Osmo Action to record a reasonable sound in the presence of wind or speed: nothing surprising for an action camera, especially when you know that the integration of the two microphones should not interfere with sealing of the product without box. However, be aware that an adapter for external microphone will soon be available for sale. Attention, the adapter of the Osmo Pocket is not compatible with the Osmo Action.

The Osmo Pocket and its external microphone adapter

Let's go back to the video quality for a few moments. We note with joy the absence of rolling shutter , this effect that curves lines when moving the camera from left to right for example. Also, there is often a small moment of overexposure during the passages of a dark scene to very bright or during the action scenes, with speed. Nothing alarming for a sensor of this size, especially as the manual mode can correct this kind of scenes. If the general public is certainly not very comfortable with these settings, professionals will appreciate their presence. Remember that as an action camera, the Osmo Action has no depth of field or optical zoom . It could however have proposed a digital zoom, like the GoPro Hero 7 Black .

Let's move on to video performance in difficult light conditions. Action camera and small sensor force, the Osmo Action does not escape a deterioration of the quality and the appearance of noise in low luminosity . You will find in this video different scenes with more or less difficult light conditions. The three small passages that follow from 46 seconds show the same plan but at different times of the evening, what judging the performance of the Osmo Action in low light.

RockSteady, DJI's response to GoPro's HyperSmooth

It is impossible for DJI not to offer stable images for its latest product: the Chinese brand is indeed known for its mastery of video stabilization , and it is not the new Osmo Action that will tarnish this image. Note, however, an important difference here: if the different drones and Osmo family (Osmo +, Mobile , Pocket) offer a mechanical stabilization on 3 axes, the Osmo Action is not equipped. This is quite logical since an action camera is made to be immersed, hung around or even abused: as many situations not compatible with the presence of a nacelle composed of three small engines.

All that to say that Osmo Action benefits from RockSteady , the term marketing invented by DJI to mean EIS - an electronic stabilization of the image. Let's see what RockSteady is worth.

The result is clear: the stabilization is excellent . Just look at the background of the videos to see the ability of Osmo Action to turn rather nasty plans into videos that are fun to watch. This is not a miracle, however, since RockSteady, like all other electronic stabilizations, trim the image. We lose about 15% of the image, which is reasonable in view of the basic field of view of the camera.

One question is sure to bug you: how does DJI RockSteady stabilize against the latest GoPro, named HyperSmooth? Comparative videos bloom on YouTube, and if HyperSmooth exceeds RockSteady in some types of movement and vibration, both typically offer a similar level of stabilization.

Keep in mind that DJI's electronic stabilization significantly reduces jolts and vibrations of all kinds , and that with it, you should not be afraid to leave handsome daddy and shaking hands behind the camera. Convenient for the holidays.

The other modes and the application DJI Mimo

If DJI is known for the quality of its stabilized videos, the Osmo Action is nonetheless an action camera, and therefore naturally offers other modes, such as slow motion, photo, Time Lapse , burst and others. For example, it is possible to shoot in JPEG + RAW, shoot in Full HD at 240 frames per second , or leave the camera in Time Lapse mode until the battery runs out. If you choose the Time Lapse mode in the video menu, you will get a final video of the Time Lapse directly , no need to go through the edit step. Here are just a few examples of Time Laps e. You will also find a video shot in Slow Motion 8x.

A burst mode is also part but I think is incomplete: it is only possible to choose between 3, 5 and 7 photos per second. A HDR video mode is also available but it did not convince me : the difference with the classic video mode during scenes with strong contrasts is minimal. Beyond that, RockSteady stabilization is not available in the HDR video mode, and that's why I think it will not be used by the general public.

All these modes are easily accessible thanks to the thoughtful interface of the camera, and can be saved as profiles to be able to select them more quickly with the "Quick Switch" button.

The osmo Action is compatible with the DJI Mimo application , like the Osmo Pocket.

Available on iOS and Android, this application allows you to take control of the camera to enjoy a larger screen to frame your plans or change the settings of the Osmo Action. The different files are also available for reading, sharing and downloading.

Autonomy more than reasonable

Note the presence of a small ventilation grid, located in front of the lens, a nice idea to minimize overheating and unnecessary battery loss. Exactly, let's talk about the behavior of the latter, with a capacity of 1300 mAH .

DJI promises a 1 hour and a half in 4K 30fps mode with RockSteady enabled and 2h15 in 1080p at 30fps with RockSteady off. Let's see what is happening in practice:

4K 30 frames per second with RockSteady: 1 hour 30 minutes.

1080p 30 frames per second without RockSteady: 1 hour 56 minutes.

The promises are almost kept , which is rare enough to be underlined, but know that these tests of autonomy have been made with the screen in standby, and it will be difficult to reach these figures if you use without stops the screen, whether to frame a subject or to view videos recorded on the microSD card. The results are still more than satisfactory, and my three weeks of use confirm it: I often expected that the battery is dead at the end of the day while he still had a few minutes of life.

Now let's see how much time the camera has to recharge . I did 3 tests and the transition from 0% to 100% is between 1:25 and 1:35:

15 minutes: 23%

45 minutes: 76%

1 h 15: 93%

1 h 23: 100%

In comparison, the GoPro Hero 7 Black takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to fully recharge. If the autonomy of the Osmo Action is more than reasonable, I continue to give the same advice: buy one or two additional batteries, especially if you go in long sports session or vacation.

Coup de grace for GoPro?

GoPro is the undisputed leader of action cameras , it is he who is behind the success of the latter. We can not even talk about "Top of mind" because the term " GoPro "Has become a generic: it does not say" I bought a Chinese action camera at 40 euros on Amazon "but" I bought a GoPro ". Except that the place of leader is made to be stung.

It's since the failure of GoPro's Karma drone and the success of those of DJI that the articles began to announce DJI in "GoPro killer". The comparison between the two brands was not really relevant since we were not talking about the same type of products. Then came the DJI Osmo Pocket, a pocket camera, 4K and stabilized thanks to a mechanical 3-axis platform. With this product, DJI was getting closer and closer to GoPro's customer base, but it lacked the durable, waterproof look of an action camera.

So since the announcement of the Osmo Action that we can finally rightly say that DJI attacks GoPro on its own ground , and the firm of Shenzhen hit hard for its first action camera: the product is more than complete and reaches the height of the last GoPro. For example, DJI has the intelligence to offer the same mounting system as the GoPro : a brake to buy less.

So, what's left of Nick Woodman's brand? To start DJI is not really known to the general public , and it is thanks to its reputation that GoPro is not going to disappear. Then, if the Hero 7 Black does not have a real screen in the front, it does not have to envy the video quality and the electronic stabilization of the Osmo Action. Also, the latest GoPro has its advantages that the DJI action camera does not have : a micro HDMI output, a very wide angle "SuperView", a timed mode very effective timelapse "TimeWarp", a live mode and a chip Built-in GPS, very useful in post-production.

GoPro also has its famous promotional videos, which give some people a shudder - I plead guilty. By the way, guess who released a video of this type a few hours before the official release of Osmo Action?

Finally, let's not forget that the Hero 7 Black is released more than 7 months before the DJI Osmo Action, and especially that there will certainly be a GoPro Hero 8, with two screens that knows ...

A more aggressive price policy than GoPro

The DJI Osmo Action is available on the website builder at a price of 379 euros , 50 euros less than the GoPro Hero 7 Black at its release - now available for just under 400 euros. The Osmo Action is also on sale on Amazon , Fnac , Darty or Baker . Here is what you will get in the box.

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