There has been a huge growth in terms of the support for content creation over the past two years or so. The likes of new software, hardware and services offered to even the most average of users have made almost everyone move up a notch or two when it comes to taking better photos or recording videos. As much as I hate to admit it, the drive has been led more by social media apps such as Instagram, YouTube and the likes. Everyone is aiming to offer viewers something different from the standard stand and shoot photography.
DJI has been one of the leading companies pushing new technologies and enhancements across a range of products. The range spans across numerous categories including drones, action cameras, as well as ultimate mobility. The newest device we managed to get our hands on has been around for a while, now in its third iterations to deliver even more potential. The DJI OSMO Mobile 3 sees an upgrade on one of the most popular gimbles in the market. The Mobile 3 takes your smartphone camera and turns it into a more professional tool. The age-old question, however, still remains: Is there enough of a difference over the previous model to make the leap and forking out more of your hard-earned money?
DJI OSMO Mobile 3 Build and Design
When compared to the previous model, the Mobile 2, you’ll be forgiven for mistaking the two devices as being the same, right down to the same matte grey aesthetic. Side by side comparisons, however, reveals quite a number of small changes, mostly in terms of making the unit more functional and portal, as opposed to anything just for aesthetics. One of the biggest differences between the two iterations was the introduction of the folding points. This allows the DJI OSMO Mobile 3 to be folded in a way that’s not much larger than your smartphone. It takes up slightly more space than that due to the width and thickness, but that’s still very compact in terms of previous models, which meant you always had to have it in hand wherever you decided to record. It seems like something that should’ve been included in the first model and is definitely very useful.
Another of the changes, which is derived from the research behind the scenes, is the switch to a 15° grip, as well as a trigger button to easily focus and track any object you desire. For most, it seems like a trivial change on the former, but after a few hours of filming, the stress on your wrists isn’t a very enjoyable experience. The inclusion of the trigger button speeds up the whole process of tracking and releasing any subjects or objects in focus, which is great. Users can still use the screen to manually select a focus area when you require something more precise.
The inclusion of the trigger button speeds up the whole process of tracking and releasing any subjects or objects in focus, which is great.
While most of the other buttons remain the same, there’s a bit more accuracy in them, allowing you to slide, pan or zoom even more slightly than before. Switching between portrait and landscape orientation is a simple double-click of the “M” button (also the long press for power on/off and single press for switching between video and photo modes). Unlike the previous version, the switch between orientations doesn’t require you to change the device position. It even allows you to switch the orientations while filming. This saves a lot of time.
In terms of more technical specifications, the device measures 285×125×103mm and weighs 405g. The size doesn’t matter too much when unfolded, but it’s the change of dimensions to 157×130×46mm when folded that really makes the difference. In addition, the Mobile 3 shaves more than 80g from the overall weight, which may not seem like much, but is the weight of half a smartphone. That makes quite an impact over the course of the filming duration. It’s also great that the articulation from the foldable device didn’t add to the overall weight as a result.
Setup and Features
It’s clear that DJI has spent quite a bit of time in the research department. From the small changes in the design that has huge benefits, right down to the setup, which is now so much easier to get right. When placing the device in the adjustable grip, there is a clear direction for which the camera should be positioned. Simple enough. The second aspect to the setup is to adjust the position of the smartphone towards the centre and then adjusting the grip points on the back to also be more equal. It takes about 10-20s to get over this first hurdle. Once the device is in position, users then long-press the “M” button, which powers on the Mobile 3, as well as the stabilise the gimble. You’re now ready to launch the DJI Mimo app on your smartphone to begin pairing.
In order to pair with the Mobile 3, your Bluetooth has to be powered on. From within the app, you can select the blue button on the top right to begin pairing. The next phase is automatic. The DJI OSMO Mobile 3 pairs with your smartphone without needing to find or select it via the settings. You’re now ready to start filming and taking snaps to your leisure.
As already mentioned, you don’t need to readjust the position of your smartphone in the device whenever you switch between shooting orientation. Those adjustments made before powering on the device takes care of all the stabilisation you need.
It’s clear that DJI has spent quite a bit of time in the research department.
A few of the new features have already been discussed in the design section, including the new angled grip, the new buttons and features thereof, and other similar features. Another of the features as a result of the design is switching to standby mode by folding the unit. This will allow users to continue using their phone as per normal without having to take it out of the device and going through the process of setting it up again.
From within the Mimo app, users have access to a few new shooting modes, including the Story presets, which takes the device through a series of pans, rolls and the likes to get an automatically created clip without having to go through the legwork of planning each. The use of gesture controls also makes it easier to track an individual. The default here is to raise your hand (as if asking a question), which then triggers the tracking mode for that person. This feature makes use of DJI’s software known as ActiveTrack 3.0, which uses a series of algorithms to pick up and track the movement of any object. Other notable features added to the app include the Hyperlapse and Sport modes.
As with quite a few modern devices geared towards content creation, its performance and usefulness lives and dies with its tie-in software. The DJI OSMO Mobile 3 is no different. I’ve already discussed the new features added to the DJI Mimo app above, but there’s a whole lot more available and also not.
The full list of shooting modes within the Android app includes Photo, Video, Pano, Story, Timelapse and Hyperlapse. One of the most common questions would be what the differences are between the Timelapse and Hyperlapse modes. The answer is fairly straight-forward. For the Timelapse option, users can set a specified amount of time, a path to follow and how frequently each image should be taken during the shoot. This allows you to set the record function and turn off at a specified period. In terms of the Hyperlapse, users have the option to track a single object over an unspecified amount of time. As a result, you don’t have the option to set a path. What’s curious, however, is not being able to set the delay between each of the shots.
The full list of shooting modes within the Android app includes Photo, Video, Pano, Story, Timelapse and Hyperlapse.
In the Story mode, there are more than 10 pre-sets to choose from. The Mobile 3 switches to landscape mode and then perform a series of rolls and pans depending on your choice. Users can also setup a few of their own. My biggest gripe here is that there isn’t much in the way of support for portrait shots, especially since the term “story” would have you believe these would be for the shares on Instagram and Facebook. A very strange decision. I often found myself simply using the device at an angle to get the shot I wanted and turned it 90° during editing.
The biggest issue I had with the Mimo app is that it isn’t very sensitive to lighting and doesn’t do a great job at filming specific scenarios that aren’t pre-planned. For example, I attempted to film a game of football to test out the tracking abilities, but given the distance away from the ball it needed to be to be able to track across the entire field, it easily lost track of the ball after just a few seconds. Also, it wasn’t easy to detect the ball to start with while in motion. I kept having to ask to allow for a few seconds between plays to stop and select the tracking to start filming again. This wasn’t ideal. Another of the issues with tracking is the lighting conditions. Yes, I wouldn’t expect it to work in the darkest of lighting, but with sufficient light, the contrasting between the light background and a moving object also wasn’t defined enough. I couldn’t sufficiently adjust the ISO and exposure settings (the latter available on iOS), so overcome such instances. This makes tracking real-world situations as they happen quite a bit trickier to capture, instead of having to rely on good old coordination to achieve the best results. Another iOS-only feature is that 60fps shooting option.
Being limited to using the Mimo app is also a bit frustrating given the numerous camera options available on my native app. Apart from using the panning controls, none of the other features could be integrated at a usable level. I would have loved to see some of the native camera features incorporated into the Mimo app, or having the Mimo features available on the native camera app. But that may be a dream too far off at the moment.
DJI OSMO Mobile 3 Performance and Battery Life
When I first received the DJI OSMO Mobile 3 for review, having been through the tutorials at the launch, I didn’t think much of it in the way that it would change my life. I thought those features were cool and nifty for content creation, but nothing that could make any major difference to my usual habits to warrant the change. In short, I was wrong. After experimenting with some features, I spent quite a few evenings testing new ideas for creating clips and stories. I’ve posted some of these already within my storyboard on Instagram. My favourite of the features is the Timelapse and Hyperlapse modes. Typically such filming requires additional hardware to create at a usable level, but the only addition to the Mobile 3 was the use of a tripod.
I loved working with the two features because of the flexibility to set the paths, focus areas and the likes between the two with varying results. Irrespective of which modes you choose, it’s easy to setup beforehand and use without having to manually operate it.
My favourite of the features is the Timelapse and Hyperlapse modes.
The Mobile 3 has a built-in, li-ion battery with a 2450mAh capacity. During constant use, the battery lasts up to 15 hours, which means it could easily last the night without any worries if you wish to film the stars at night as it spans the sky. The biggest worry for most users is that your camera won’t last the entire shoot, but DJI has added a nifty feature that takes some of the stress out. The unit includes a USB-A port on the side, which allows you to charge your smartphone while you film. Obviously, then, you won’t reach the same 15-hour benchmark, but you will get a lot more footage out in the end. A small irritation I had during filming is that there’s no option to turn off the screen without impacting the recording. Turning off the screen turns off the connection between the smartphone and the Mobile 3, leaving your footage useless. It would have been a great option to turn off the screen or fade into standby to save some battery life.
I went into the review of the DJI OSMO Mobile 3 with quite a few doubts on whether I would find myself wanting one at the end of the day. Having spent quite some time with it over the past few weeks, I’ve grown to appreciate the usefulness of the device, especially when it comes to mobile content creation. While I still have some difficulty filming specific shots out in public, with the fear of looking like another social media wannabe, there’s a place for the Mobile 3 across a wide variety of situations. There’s some work to be done in terms of the software development around the Mimo app, but from the perspective of the hardware, the device is near-perfect.
If you’re still wondering whether the DJI OSMO Mobile 3 is a worthwhile replacement of the Mobile 2 if you already own one, the answer is undoubtedly, yes. The changes may seem small and insignificant, but they all add up to a greatly improved device, making it a must-have for all prospective mobile creators. You don’t need to shoot a lot of video on your mobile, the device will entice you to do just that.
DJI OSMO Mobile 3
With an RRP of R1,899, the DJI OSMO Mobile 3 doesn't price itself out of the market, making it an attainable accessory for mobile content creators.