Price (RRP): $499
Action cameras and drones are a natural fit. So, a couple of years ago, what you might call the action cam company launched its own drone. And now DJI, what you might call the drone company has launched a full-blown action camera, the Osmo Action.
Ozmo Action size
Of course, DJI drones have had DJI cameras for years. And, of course, you can use the Osmo Action on a drone. But this one is really targeted at the traditional users of action cameras. DJI expects you to strap one on the front of your mountain bike or helmet, or take it along while you’re scuba diving or surfing or sailing. You know, all that strenuous stuff.
To that end, DJI has made the Osmo Action small, light and tough. The camera itself, including the screw-on lens protector, measures 65.5mm wide, 42.1mm tall and 35.2mm deep. With battery and a microSD card installed, it weighs 124.5 grams.
It feels very solid in the hand and inspires trust.
As you can see, those dimensions make it rectangular. Looking from the rear – that is, in the way you’ll most commonly interact with the Osmo Action, the lens as at the front left, near the top. At the back is the 57mm – 2.25 inch – main display. This is touch sensitive and, despite the small size, has a resolution of 640 by 360 pixels. That comes to 325ppi. DJI rates the brightness of this display at 750 nits.
At the front, next to the lens, is another monitor. This one isn’t touch sensitive but is very useful for selfie-style work. It’s only 36mm in size – 1.4 inches – and has the same brightness as the main monitor. DJI says that its resolution is 300ppi. In practice, that monitor is somewhat smaller than the size suggests. Whereas the rear monitor has a 16:9 aspect ratio, the front one is square. It’s 25mm on a side. (Incidentally, that suggests a resolution of 300 by 300 pixels.) When showing you the camera output in 16:9 mode, it’s heavily letterboxed.
The battery goes in a largish hole on the bottom of the Osmo Action. The back plate of the battery becomes the bottom of the camera. It’s secured by catches on both ends and a rubber seal should keep things watertight. The battery is rated at 1,300mA and takes 90 minutes to charge. DJI says that it will record 1080p30 video for up to 135 minutes without image stabilisation, or up 63 minutes at 4K/60p with RockSteady stabilisation on. In both cases, that’s with the screen going to sleep after a minute. If you’re actively framing things, expect a shorter life.
A door on the left side opens to reveal the slot for the microSD card and a USB Type-C connection. You can use the latter to copy files and to charge the battery in place. A USB Type-C cable is provided with the unit. When this door is in place, it presses a panel down over those connection points to seal them up.
The Osmo Action can support microSD cards up to 256GB in capacity in FAT or exFAT format. Of course, the cards should be U3 speed rated. The device can record video at up to 100Mbps, so that high speed is required for reliable operation.
Controls and accessories
There are three control buttons on the body of the unit – on/off, record and mode select/return – but a lot more control can be exercised using the touch sensitive display or the DJI Mimo app.
The above dimensions are for the camera alone. It comes with a hard plastic frame into which it locks very securely. One the bottom this has the industry-standard twin-lug attachment point. Apparently – there were none with the review unit – the Osmo Action is provided with two adhesive mounts, one curved and one straight, a quick release base and a locking screw.
Given the industry-standard lugs, you can use all manner of mounting devices, not necessarily DJI-branded.
Spare batteries are available for $29 each, or you can buy the Osmo Action Charging Kit for $109. This includes two additional batteries and a standalone charger (although you’ll need to provide the USB power adaptor). With the review unit was a neutral density lens filter. This can screw on over the lens instead of the supplied clear filter. I couldn’t see this on the DJI website. The filter was ND8, which stops the light down by 3. I suppose one might have circumstances where are slower shutter speed is required. Particularly at 24fps, there’s less likely to be motion judder.
The Ozmo Action has a 1/2.3” CMOS sensor with 12 megapixels of resolution. It can shoot stills of 4,000 by 3,000 pixels and it supports both JPEG and RAW. There are burst capabilities, exposure compensation and timer shots available.
In standard 16:9 video mode, the Ozmo Action can shoot at 4K or at 2.7K at 24, 25, 30, 48, 50 and 60 frames per second. At 1080p it adds 100, 120, 200 and 240fps. For 720p – if anyone cares – it’ll do 200 and 240fps only.
There’s also an HDR mode, for which the unit will do 24, 25 or 30fps at 1080p, 2.7K or 4K. Likewise, the camera can do 4:3 aspect at up to 30p in 2.7K and 4K modes.