In this day and age, it’s hard to find a smartphone that can’t record 1080p video, and all flagship phones have been able to capture 4K video for at least a year or two. While that gives us super high resolution files, it doesn’t necessarily mean your videos will look silky smooth. Phones like the LG G6 have optical image stabilization and others have digital stabilization, but that only helps so much when you’re walking around recording video.
If you want to step up your game, you’ll want to invest in something like the DJI Osmi Mobile. If you’re not familiar with a gimbal, a device like this uses multiple motors and internal sensors to keep a camera stable as the user moves around. In other words, it’s magic.
Setup is simple. You just mount the phone, adjust the arm to make sure it’s balanced, install the DJI Go app to make sure you have the software on your phone and then turn it on. All that’s left is hitting the record button.
The results are amazing. The video below gives you an idea of what types of shots you’ll be able to record while using the Osmo Mobile with your smartphone. To give you an idea of what the difference is between a shot stabilized with the Osmo and one that’s handheld, there’s a side-by-side comparison which shows video recorded with the LG G6 on the Osmo Mobile and the Huawei P10 which was held with one hand.
The gimbal basically does all the work for you, but there are a few manual controls. The trigger on the back has two purposes. If you hold it, the Osmo Mobile will keep your device pointing the same direction at the same horizontal axis. This is handy when you need to walk around obstacles or are trying to get a walking side shot while maintaining the camera’s position. You can also use it to keep the camera pointed at your subject while changing the elevation of the camera.
The trigger is also used for resetting the position of the camera. Just hold the gimbal how you want and then tap the trigger twice. This allows the Osmo Mobile to hold your smartphone in a variety of different angles. My favorite is flashlight mode, which gives you a lower angle since you hold the Osmo Mobile like you would hold a flashlight.
If you want, the gimbal can also hold your phone in portrait mode. I imagine this feature is for all those kids addicted to Snapchat and Instagram Stories.
The second manual control is the thumb joystick, which controls where the camera is pointing. The joystick is really meant for small refinements rather than following your subject since it’s really slow. If you’re using the DJI Go app to record, you can use the record and capture buttons on the Osmo Mobile.
That brings us to the DJI Go App. If you’re looking to record a motion time-lapse or use the app’s object tracking ability, the app works fine, but I recommend using your phone’s default camera app if you’re just using the Osmo Mobile to record video. For some reason, DJI’s app limits video recording to 1080p, so you won’t be able to capture 4K video if your device supports it.
The Motion Time-lapse feature that’s built into the DJI Go App is pretty amazing. If you’re a fan of time-lapse videos, you’ll love this feature. You can set different start and end points and the Osmo Mobile will pan between them while recording. The Osmo Mobile moves the camera perfectly, allowing you to follow a storm as it rolls through or follow the sun as it sets. The results are stunning. You can see a few examples in the “sample clips” video above.
The DJI Go App also has an Object Tracking feature which will move the camera around as it tried to keep a specific object centered in the frame. It works for the front and rear cameras, but it would be great if there was a way you could use it with the main camera for vlogging. You can also have someone else set it up for you, but at that point you might as well just have them hold the Osmo Mobile for you while you record.
There’s a lot to like about DJI’s Osmo Mobile. If you’re looking for a way to record better video from your smartphone, I highly recommend it. But at $300 or more, it’s not exactly cheap. That puts it into the “nice to have” rather than the “must have” category.
That being said, the Osmo Mobile will dramatically improve the videos you record with your smartphone. The score of this review could also improve in time if DJI updates the accompanying app so that it can capture 4K video.