DJI Osmo and Osmo RAW Review

A vast majority of the modern day video production equipment has high quality image stabilization as its integral feature. We are familiar with the fact that the DSLR cameras are integrated with optical image stabilization features. Video production teams, all over the world, are now shifting to stabilization rigs to introduce seamless movement in their video footage. These rigs are generally in the shape of triple axis stabilization handheld gimbals and take their inspiration from Garret Brown’s Tiffen Steadicam and bring high-end camera movement features within the grasp of operators. What makes them so handy is that the camera crew does not require any proper training or certification to be able to utilize them.

By 2016, DJI had already riveted the world of technology by introducing stunning camera movement innovation with its handheld gimbal, Ronin, and the 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) gimbal stabilized camera on its Inspire 1 drone system. Logically, it appeared that the next development would be a compact sized, high resolution camera blended with a compact sized gimbal system for single-person operation. This gave rise to Osmo!

The original DJI Osmo is a 4K, 12MP, 20mm camera mounted on top of a triple axis stabilization gimbal. Moreover, these tools can be attached on the top of a grip that is similar to an inverted pilot’s joystick. These gizmos are aimed to target both drone enthusiasts as well professional cinematographers who are looking for compact sized compatible alternatives to larger sized stabilization rigs.

Design

The design of the DJI Osmo is remarkably simple that includes four buttons for fundamental usage. There is an additional button to switch the device on and off. The remote viewing interface lets the user control the camera and other functions of the gimbal via smartphone or tablet. The pan and the tilt pad is placed right in the middle of the control handle and does not share functionality with the remote viewing interface. You can use the trigger button placed on the front of the frame to toggle horizon lock, re-center the camera and instruct the camera to swivel 180 degrees to face the operator and capture selfie in the selfie mode. The overall controls are quite simple and easy to maneuver.

Camera Test: Osmo 4k Raw Handheld Camera from Scheimpflüg on Vimeo.

DJI Osmo 4K Test in Hong Kong from Scheimpflüg on Vimeo.

and check latest DJI Osmo as below

Remote Control via WiFi

Similar to its drone systems, DJI Go app is also used here to enable operators control camera and gimbal functions via WiFi with the help of handheld mobile devices. The app also lets the users control Autofocus, exposure value, record start/stop, shutter speed, ISO and capture resolution with both Osmo and Osmo RAW. A smartphone holder accessory mount also comes with both the systems for live video footage viewing; thereby using the operator’s handheld mobile device as the monitor. Remarkably, Osmo body and remote control via WiFi share numerous functions; thereby opening up new vistas for video production crews. In case, cinematographers intend to capture remotely such as mounting the Osmo on a high perch or work in collaboration with another operator or detaching the phone from the Osmo and reviewing video footage while another person maneuvers the Osmo, the remote control WiFi is a handy tool and expands horizons of creativity for cinematographers.

Personal Experience

I visited the suburbs of Vermont with my uncompressed-capturing Osmo RAW. The leverage provided by RAW video format appeared to be a great opportunity to record some sensational snow-clad landscapes. As I was using this variant of Osmo for the first time, I immediately heard the spinning noise of the two cooling fans. I had planned to shoot MOS footage for a short video clip, so the sound was not going to be an issue in this case. Having said that, you should be ready for the fan noise in the video footage that makes use of the integrated microphone feature to capture audio.

Low Light

My Osmo video footage contained landscapes boasting bright snow-reflected highlights and low-light interiors lit by candlelight. In capturing both the situations, I reach the conclusion that the Osmo was at its best at an ISO of around 100, particularly in the low-light scenarios. The Osmo can certainly do a great job at higher ISO levels depending on the current light conditions. I believe, however, the sensor tends to capture the ideal video footage at 100 ISO, well before noise or scattered highlights creep in to destroy the image.

Operating Considerations

In addition to its tons of exquisite features and super-portable options, there are a few operating peculiarities that you should be aware of while using the Osmo. During my use of the Osmo RAW, camera’s functions of automatic focus and auto exposure suffered some latency. While this latency might not adversely affect too many of the shooting applications, operators strategizing to operate the camera on full-auto mode should be ready for lags of up to one second for remote autofocus and for almost two seconds for auto exposure when capturing videos in abruptly changing light conditions. For instance, while shooting an indoor scene with tungsten lights and moving the camera to show a snow-covered landscape in cloudy conditions.

While using the Osmo RAW, I found out that a certain working process was required to capture uncompressed footage. Both Osmo systems can use Micro SD cards to capture uncompressed video and proxies. However, Osmo RAW does not record footage in RAW format to the provided SSDs without the MicroSD card inserted as well. During my trial recordings, I almost thought of giving up on uncompressed recording since I was staying a far flung area. Fortunately enough, I was able to discover a computer store in the town. So, both types of storage media are required for recording footage in RAW format.

There is another peculiarity in terms of audio. As I listened to the scratch audio recorded via Osmo, I discovered that it could only be scratch audio for reference. As discussed, the RAW recorded captured fan noise while the integrated microphone was not able to capture anything beyond the fan noise. So, if you are a video production crew looking to utilize the Osmo for narrative or documentary configurations, that require clear audio, you might be in for some tough time. The original Osmo 4K boasts a feature in its sound options that stops the fan from running during video recording. The fan only gets triggered on when the system temperature rises during longer shoots or during higher resolution recording. It is extremely bewildering why no such fan mute option has been provided with Osmo RAW. So, for video footage in RAW format, you need high-end audio setups such as Zoom H4n or H6, and lavalier or boom microphones.

Post Production Workflow

DJI’s proprietary post-production software, DJI Cinelight for Mac users and DJI Camera Operator for Windows users is required if you are recording video in RAW format with DJI Osmo RAW. These software are used by DJI to review and export video footage from the Osmo RAW SSDs. When I attempted to access the RAW footage on the SSD for the first time, I could not find it anywhere until I downloaded and installed the applications. Using Cinelight or Camera Operator, you can adjust exposure, contrast, color space and carry out extensive post production work.

Conclusion

Video producers can use this magnificent image capturing tool to enhance their creativity. If you are able to cater for the certain peculiarities associated with it, you can use it as a secondary option to larger 4K cameras or even a primary device for shorter projects. It can become a great asset by using add-ons such as DJI Focus Handwheel or Revo extension pole for capturing cinema grade footage. Any production crew would greatly benefit from this rig with its small size and handheld triple axis stabilization gimbal.

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