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The X3 camera features very similar headline specifications to those of the GoPro Hero4 Black, with 4k video capture at 25fps compared with 30fps for the GoPro and full HD at 120fps on both. Settings all need to be selected through the DJI Go app interface on a mobile device and are all easy enough to select and navigate. There is even a manual mode so you can adjust the shutter speed and sensitivity, which is handy in low and harsh lighting conditions.
The camera itself does cope well with light changes; moving the camera from shade to light shows that the exposure adjusts smoothly without burning or blacking out through the transition. As the light falls, noise does become apparent in the footage, but for this sized sensor that is common and the noise reduction keeps the noise levels under control. There is some scope for the manual adjustment of the sensitivity for video from ISO 100-3200.
• This footage was shot directly into the sun. Here you can see how well the OSMO deals with the contrasts in exposure across the screen.
• The small motorised gimbal does a superb job at cutting out the usual wobble associated with handheld footage. The position of the Joystick just by the thumb enables you to easily point the camera in the direction you want.
• The design of the camera and gimbal make it incredibly easy to operate one handed with all basic controls reachable from the grip.
• The extended focus range of between 1.5m and infinity, compared with the X3 camera that features on the Inspire 1, means that you can shoot relatively close to your subject or capture these close-up panning shots.
• At a distance the panning shots are really impressive. A bit of concentration while shooting will also cut out the bobbing effect!
• This footage shows a mid distance panning shot.
• When challenged with contrasting exposures and different lighting temperatures the OSMO manages to keep a good balance across the frame.
• Simple raised panning shot showing how seamlessly the OSMO deals with slight exposure changes.
Colour and saturation are all fixed with no way to change any of the parameters, which is a shame. However, the auto white balance and saturation do a good job of balancing the colour and there's plenty of detail in the tones.
The X3 high video quality can be attributed to the maximum bit rate at which footage is recorded. In our test at 4K our clip showed an average bitrate of 60mb/s, while dropping the resolution to full HD at 60fps the bit rate showed at 40mb/s.
This bitrate is high when compared with many other cameras that feature a sensor of the same or similar size, and this means that motion looks incredibly smooth and rich during playback.
The design may look odd but it instantly makes sense when you use it, and any apprehension that the sphere camera, gimbal and handle construction might be delicate is instantly dismissed once you have it in your hands. The mechanics of the gimbal, camera operation and connection to the mobile app all work incredibly well. Most importantly the video quality is exceptional, and this lightweight device enables filmmakers to capture professional stabilized footage in a way that would have been difficult or impossible previously with this kind of budget.
Despite the well thought out button layout and design, there are a few issues. The construction is solid but this is not a device that can just be thrown into a bag so is best stored and carried in the semi hard case supplied. That's not saying it's delicate but is just seems best not to tempt fate. The only mount on the handle is used by the mobile phone holder, and even if this is removed the shape of the handle makes it impossible to mount a standard tripod base plate without the special adapter. A simple mount on the base of the handle would have been an ideal addition, but this would be tricky because this is where you access the battery. And although there is a socket for an external recorder, its positioning makes it difficult to utilize.
The DJI OSMO gives you the ability to film in a way and style that was only previously possible with professional kit. Setup and use straight from the box is incredibly easy and the unit is exceptionally well designed, with no additional wires bolts or screws that are so often found on the action camera equivalents. If you need to shoot free, handheld video then the smooth fluid motion you get here is really unrivaled at the price.
There are a few minor issues, such as the positioning of the audio in socket and the feeling that as yet the full potential of the device has yet to be fully realised, but compared with anything else on the market the OSMO is a videographers tool that enables you to quickly capture incredible shots that would otherwise not be possible.
Ali Jennings is the imaging lab manager for Future Publishing's Photography portfolio. Using Imatest Master and DxO Analyser he produces the image quality tests for all new cameras and lenses review in TechRadar's cameras channel. Ali has been shooting digital since the early nineties and joined Future's Photography portfolio back in 2003.