DJI Osmo Pocket Review // Hyperlapses, Vertical Options, Flaws

The DJI Osmo Pocket it a teeny tiny, affordable, stabilised camera. It is small, but is it mighty? I’ve had my Osmo Pocket for a few weeks now, and I’m ready to share my thoughts.

I bought the Osmo Pocket primarily to see if I could make hyperlapses and motion timelapses more quickly and easily. I’ve made some cracking timelapses in the past, but let’s be honest, using and balancing a huge gimbal takes a lot of time and it’s a lot to carry about with you.

Enter: the DJI Osmo Pocket. Theoretically, I should be able to whip it out of my pocket, and capture a hyperlapse or timelapse with very little effort at all.

So was that the reality? Read on to find out ;)

 
 

DJI Osmo Pocket for hyperlapses


I’m very happy to say, absolutely HELL YES you can record brilliant hyperlapses with very little effort. Using the active track feature, it is super simple to record for a few minutes, moving slow and steady, and create a hyperlapse by speeding up the footage.

If you want to create more hyperlapses in your day-to-day life, then I have to say the Osmo Pocket might be the best thing on the market right now. Seriously. Get your gimbal and big camera out, and I’ll race you. We can compare results at the end. There won’t be much in it, and I’ll have already found the nearest bar and put my feet up while you’re doing your back in half way through your recording.

 
 

DJI Osmo Pocket for motion timelapses

Motion timelapses are easy to set up — you can do this without even using the mobile phone app, which is wonderful — but the lack of a few features hasn’t made it quite as impressive as the hyperlapses for me.

For one, you can’t save the timelapse photos in raw format, which is a shame. It gives you a bit less wiggle room in editing, but you could argue that these really are “run and gun”, “quick and dirty” timelapses anyway. If you wanted more polished results you’d have your gimbal and main camera at the ready.

I reckon they’re more than usable though. Especially for vlogs and sharing on social media.

The lack of tripod mount on the Osmo Pocket means you need to buy a (thankfully cheap!) accessory in order to mount the Pocket to a tripod or Gorillapod. This makes the “instant” aspect slightly slower that I would have liked. But it’s still pretty cool.

 
 

Osmo Pocket Build Quality


I was a bit wary when I saw the Osmo Pocket the first time. I thought, that tiny-ass gimbal is going to snap off as soon as I knock it on something. 

Thankfully, I was dead wrong.

While I wouldn’t like to have it fall from a great height, obviously, there isn’t anything flimsy about the build quality at all. The buttons are robust, and the gimbal moving parts all seem strong and tuck away safely in the, frankly, brilliant case that you get with it. Thanks DJI!

You have the rather unorthodox USB adapter that sticks out in order for you to connect the Pocket to your phone. You can take this on and off every time, but I guarentee you, you’d lose the bloody thing in minutes. You can also flip it around so it doesn’t stick out, but hey, we want everything to be quick and easy, don’t we? So I choose to leave it sticking out. 

The great thing is DJI have anticipated this and left a little hole in the case to accommodate it. Seriously well thought out.

 
 

DJI Osmo Pocket Boasts Instant On… Is it?

I’d say about as close to “instant on” as we can get. I’ve recorded and timed both turning the device on and attaching it to the phone in my video review at the bottom of this article, and the instant on really is around 5 seconds. Getting the app up and working is a very impressive 15 seconds. I have to say it is the most seamless and glitch-free app experience I think I’ve ever had with this sort of portable device. There’s almost always something delayed, disconnecting, or generally being a pain. 

Not so here. The app — touch wood! — Has been working just as intended and — even better — you don’t need to use the app for very much in the first place due to the cute little screen on the Osmo Pocket. Some people with larger hands might find it a pain, but I have no issues at all.

The Virtual joystick


This was another element that I was wary of. You can tilt the gimbal up and down by using a virtual joystick on the screen display. I thought… disaster. Unusable. Tacky. Jittery. But, wow was I wrong. The speed is sensible, it is very responsive, and I get it right pretty much every time. 

Would a physical dial have been nice? Sure, and you can get one as an accessory through DJI if you so desire. But I want to keep my setup as stripped back as possible and it’s more than usable for my needs.

 
 

Vertical video and online sharing with the Osmo Pocket


This was a biggie for me. I wanted something to up my Instagram stories game, because I’m quite honestly just a mess on there. I love sharing things but most of the time I really can’t be bothered filming something sideways and awkward with my normal cameras, editing them, sticking them on my phone, then pretending the whole thing was spontaneous. 

I was hoping I could film stuff, connect the Pocket to my phone, and share stuff that looked stabilised and decent and vertical. As much as I hate vertical video. But if you can’t beat them, join them, and all that.

So, Vertical Video?

Yes. The DJI Osmo Pocket is a dream for vertical video. Twist the device sideways and it gets the point straight away. The virtual joystick sort of changes with the mode, in the sense that in vertical mode it does make the gimbal move up and down… but you have to move it left and right on the screen, which confuses my stupid brain.

I wish that the virtual joystick would switch so the movement you make with your thumb actually mimics the gimbal movement. Maybe this will come with firmware updates. Fingers crossed. Here is my first dissapointment:

Vertical motion timelapses? Not a thing.

To add insult to injury you can even set them up, but when you press record, it tells you to turn the gimbal back to horizontal mode.

I mean, I know it’s a bit niche, but how cool would it be to be able to film a vertical motion timelapse while you’re having lunch on holiday, or maybe have your Osmo Pocket do the vertical version while your main camera does a standard one? It’s something that I really wanted, dammit! Maybe it will come with firmware updates if I keep banging on about it enough.

Vertical hyperlapses? Yes and no.

Yes, you can film something in vertical mode and edit it on your computer, and then share it, but it’s hardly instant, is it? The instant way would be to record a vertical timelapse as you move. That would have been brilliant. But as the timelapses don’t work in vertical mode we’re currently outa luck.

Anyway. Enough with the vertical stuff! What about…

DJI Osmo Pocket Audio Quality

Now, I think some existing reviews have been a bit harsh here. Is the quality as good as a shotgun microphone? Nah. But is it better than most portable devices? Absolutely. It sounds tons better than my phone for instance, and my GoPro Hero 5. It sounds a damn sight better than my Lumix GX80 camera, if I’m being honest, but the audio on that camera is notoriously terrible.

You have two microphones on the DJI Osmo Pocket. You have the front facing mic for sound, and one on the bottom which is for noise cancelation. If you block either of them — which is relatively easy to do, given how small the device is! — The audio quality suffers significantly. But if you hold it right and let both microphones do their job, I’ve had decent results, even in the wind. (There are some windy test shots in the video at the bottom of this article if you want to have a listen.)

 
 

DJI Osmo Pocket: is there 24p?

This little guy gave me a heart attack when I first turned it on and saw that 24p was not an option in the menu. I conform all my video projects to 24p, so not having this would be a nightmare.

Luckily, 24p is available, but only in Pro mode for some unknown reason?! So I had to figure out how to get it into Pro mode — you can do this in the menu on the device, or via the app — and… taa-daa! There is 24p, in HD as well as 4K. Phew. 

So yeah. Just a head’s up. This option may be hidden as standard.

Active Tracking — Let Me Wax Lyrical Some More

There are some devices that I’ve used *cough* Anything made by Zhiyun *cough* that have really put me off Active Tracking. Usually, it is unreliable, a pain to set up, and makes me cry.

The Osmo Pocket active tracking makes me cry. Tears of JOY. It. Is. Brilliant. Bloody brilliant. Like. It locks on and doesn’t let go. Rejoice!

This makes hyperlapses and tracking shots so much easier. You can get it to lock on to your subject and walk, and watch as the little gimbal dutifully follows the object. 

 
 

DJI Osmo Pocket Battery Life. A Concern?

Obviously, the Osmo Pocket is small. Which means that even if it is 80% battery (which, apparently, it is, according to some crazy people who have dismantled one) it’s still a small battery. And an irreplaceable battery.

Now, aside from “no flip-out screen”, is there a single sentence that can strike terror into a camera nerd quite as deeply as “non-removable battery”? I think not.

But… there is a silver lining. You can operate the Osmo Pocket while it is charging. You can charge it from any of these handy tiny power banks. In some ways that makes it more convenient than a camera. Theoretically, you could leave the Osmo Pocket time-lapsing for 20 hours without missing a frame. You couldn’t do that with a normal camera unless you had a dummy battery that converts the power to mains power.

Front-facing auto focus

I have — like other users — had one or two selfie-filmed shots have my face out of focus and the background lovely and crispy. Not good. There was a big jump in auto-focus after the first firmware update, so hopefully it will get better over time. Forward facing focus has been fine.

DJI Osmo Pocket: Fixed Aperture

You can’t change the aperture like you can on a normal camera. The lens is fast, and good-ish in low light, considering the sensor size and all. Where this actually bites you in the butt is in bright settings. Unlike the GoPro, where a fast shutter speed and bright light can make the footage look hyper-real and clear, with the Osmo Pocket you want it to look more like a “real” camera and gimbal combo.

Basically? A fast shutter speed is the exact opposite of what we want.

You’ve probably heard this before if you’ve done your research on this product so I’m just going to come out and say it: If you want “cinematic” — or decent! — Footage from the DJI Osmo Pocket, you’re going to need to spring for some decent ND filters. 

I know I know. More things to buy. You’ll need a tripod mount as well while I’m talking about accessories. But back to the NDs. Really. I hate them as much as the next person, but they’re the only way to drive down the shutter speed and get that lovely motion blur we all know and love.

I use the Freewell filters. They come in a sexy case, and they cover everything from ND 4 to ND 64, so you’re going to be fine no matter the weather. And, honestly, even on a cloudy as all hell sort of day, I still need the ND4 or ND8, so you really will need to use NDs almost the entire time if you want to get stuff looking sexy.

The Freewell ND filters also have some CPL/ND combined filters in their packs, which I love. The circular polarising element will give you rich blue skies and cut any harsh reflections.

The 4 pack is (of course!) cheaper and has all the basics. If you want to get super fancy, spring for the 8 pack.

Conclusion - So What do I think, and just WHO is the DJI Osmo Pocket For?

The Osmo Pocket would make a great addition to your line up if you want something you can properly keep with you always. If you want to dabble with stabilised footage, but don’t want the expense or weight of a gimbal, then this is a great alternative. Personally, when I’m travelling light, I’m going to leave my gimbals at home and just take this on holiday with me.

I think it could be a great way to level-up your B-roll footage if you’re a youtuber. It’s also a brilliant way to improve your content on Instagram with the vertical features.

It is NOT, in my opinion, is a first or only camera. The menus are a bit small and I imagine they’d be frustrating if you didn’t understand what was what already. I think the focal length of the lens is quite limiting, and while it can certainly get some brilliant footage, I’d always want to have a “proper” camera with me in the wings.

For the price, I think it has exceeded my expectations by miles. If I’d have shown this device to a 20 year old Emily, she’d have lost her damn mind. Seriously, how far has this technology come?! Now, with a bit of skill, we can replicate a £3000 camera and a £1000 gimbal with a cheap device that can fit into your pocket, has zero setup time, and generally kicks ass.

What a time to be alive.

Check out the video below for more thoughts, nit-picking, and a ton of test footage! And if you have any questions at all, let me know in the comments.