I don’t often write about technical stuff here on my blog, certainly not about equipment. It’s just that I don’t think equipment is important for how we perform as photographers or creatively—with the exception of highly technical depended photography that is. Nevertheless, we cannot shoot without any equipment at all. As a minimum, we at least need to have a cell phone to be able to capture any kind of imagery. Thus, equipment or gear isn’t completely irrelevant.
Every so often some gear comes out that can actually make a difference. Not because it will make us better photographers, but it may make the shooting easier or even make us shoot something we otherwise may not have been able to. Such equipment may be worth a word or two, even on my blog.
Some time ago, I bought a gimbal that fit into this category of gear. It’s the DJI Osmo Pocket gimbal, and it’s its size combined with the capturing quality that makes the difference. The Osmo Pocket is not a camera for stills, although it does offer that option too, but it’s for video shooting, and more specifically for panning or moving the camera while shooting. A gimbal is like a steadycam that absorbs abrupt or shaky movements and make it into a smooth and gliding footage. It can be described as a pivoted point that allows you to rotate the lens along a three axis. With a gimbal, you can make steady movement shots that would otherwise require massive large camera rigs. It ads shake free motion to your camera.
The Osmo Pocket, not only does that, but it is so small, not much bigger than my finger, that it can easily be taken along anywhere you want to go. Combine that we 4K capturing quality and you have an amazing piece of equipment. I hardly produce video at a higher resolution than HD, but the image quality is equally impressive at that lower resolution. It’s also easy to use. After having signed in via the special DJI Mimo App, it’s ready to be used with the tapping of two buttons, one to ignite the gimbal and one to start video recording. And then you can run around and still get smooth footage. And if you need to, you can also dig deeper and do more advanced settings.
So what are the negatives about this gimbal (and of course it’s never all rosy)? Well, its biggest advantage is also its biggest disadvantage. We such a small device you will necessarily have to accept a small built in touchscreen, for instance. I have seen other reviewers complaining about this, but in the end that’s just how it’s going to be, no way around it. It can be bypassed by for instance using the screen on your cell phone instead (more about this a little further down). For me the biggest drawback was that I could not access any advances settings other than by using the cell phone. In particular, I need to be able to control white balance and adjust exposure settings manually. Which I couldn’t do when I first got the Osmo Pocket. But then Osmo released a firmware update, and alas, suddenly it was all available directly on the gimbal itself. It’s still more fiddly and cumbersome because you have to dig into the menu and don’t have dedicated buttons on the camera, but most importantly is still the possibility to be able to make necessary adjustments without having to use the cell phone.
I would also say that the image quality isn’t as high end as video I shoot with my big camera. But compare to the big gimbal rig I need to attach to this camera for steady shooting, the Osmo Pocket is so much more convenient. Other less impressive feature: The Osmo offers timelaps (along with photo, pano and slowmotion) mode, but this is significantly inferior to what for instance GoPro offers.
As mentioned already, the Osmo Pocket can be connect to the cell phone, either by Bluetooth or Wi-Fi or directly by a smartphone adapter that fits into the phone’s Lightning or USB-C connector. I prefer the latter, it makes it into one unit, although the connection between the gimbal and the cell phone feels a little wobbly. So far, though, it has been working just fine for me. In fact, whenever possible, I prefer to use the gimbal connected to the cell phone. It gives me a bigger screen where I can actually see what I am shooting. In addition, all settings are much more easily accessible by the app’s interface. Particularly a little handle or virtual joystick right over my right thumb makes it much easier manually turning the lens head smoothly in any direction I want to. It takes a little practise and a light thumb, though. In the beginning, I quickly and unintentionally ended up with the lens pointing up in the air or down to the ground.
Overall, I think the Osmo Pocket is a valuable piece of equipment for video photographers. It’s small and the price is reasonable, around 350 dollars.
For a demonstration, take a look at the video underneath I have created about and with the Osmo gimbal.
Available on Amazon:
DJI Osmo Pocket
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