Hands on: DJI Osmo Action review

The GoPro innovation you've been waiting for

What is a hands on review?
DJI Omso Action

Early Verdict

The small, but feature-filled DJI Osmo Action is the only GoPro rival we recommend. It has a 1.4-inch front screen so you can better frame your 4K videos and three buttons instead of the usual two, making menu navigation a lot easier than on a GoPro. However, the actual video quality isn't quite as good if you're looking for the hands-down best performance.

For

  • Front screen helps frame video
  • HDR video color pops – if you're still
  • Easier navigation than a GoPro

Against

  • HDR video lacks stabilization
  • GoPro has a video quality edge

The DJI Osmo Action contains the one innovation we've been waiting for from the popular GoPro action cameras: a front-facing screen to better frame 4K video.

It has a small 1.4-inch front LCD that sits right next to the camera lens, and we found it to be helpful for casual references on lining up a better shot, not necessarily reviewing video in detail. That's where is rear 2.2-inch touchscreen comes into play.

There are also three physical buttons on the DJI Osmo Action instead of GoPro's two and, overall, we found it has an easier-to-navigate and informative menu system. That's extremely important for an action camera where shots are often from the hip.

Not everything is better on the Osmo Action compared to a GoPro Hero 7. The actual video quality is close, but DJI's camera doesn't always exhibit the strongest HDR and tends to be darker in shadows. There is a resourceful HDR video mode that amps up the dynamic range up to 4K at 30fps (normal video goes up to 4K at 60fps), but that mode lacks DJI's RockSteady video stabilization perk.

DJI Omso Action

(Image credit: Future)

GoPro has a slight video quality advantage and a wide SuperView field of view option – for now. DJI has been issuing firmware updates for the Osmo Action and there's a chance it could catch up, marrying its better features with a performance boost.

The recently launched DJI Osmo Pocket we tested offers better stabilization since it's a gimbal with a physically rotating camera head, but the Osmo Action's RockSteady software stabilization does smooth things out nearly as well. It also offers superior durability you just don't get from a delicate gimbal.

The DJI Osmo Action ends up being the best camera to get if you value ease of use, from better framing to easier system menu navigation. Its actual video quality and stabilization is a close second to what GoPro offers.

DJI Omso Action

(Image credit: Future)

DJI Osmo Action price and release date

The DJI Osmo Action first released in May, and it's seen worthwhile firmware updates that has improved the quality to close the quality gap between it and GoPro. That's important because the price is neck-and-neck.

The Osmo Action costs $349, which is the same price you'll find the GoPro Hero 7 at right now. The Hero 7 Black actually launched at $399, but it's since dropped in price in response to the Osmo Action and there's an ongoing Amazon Prime Day 2019 deal going on to make it even cheaper (although those deals are fleeting).

It also happens to be the same price as the Osmo Pocket. While the two DJI devices are different (a gimbal vs an action cam), they are out to achieve the same result: silky smooth 4K video. The Pocket is naturally steadier, but the Action is more durable, so you'll have to pick based on your needs.

DJI Omso Action

(Image credit: Future)

Early verdict

There have been several fly-by-night GoPro competitors, but the DJI Osmo Action is the one rival that we can recommend buying simply due to its strong features. Its dual-screen setup is the real selling point, with the 1.4-inch front display coming in handy. Switching between the two isn't always seamless, but it's a perk you won't find anywhere on a GoPro.

Moreover, we found it easier to navigate DJI's menu system and appreciated having more critical information present on the screen while things are recording. The problem comes when we look at the actual video quality on playback when content is shot at night. It's not as bright in the shadows, except in HDR video mode, which lacks DJI's RockSteady stabilization.

All of this makes the DJI Osmo Action the action camera to get when you care more about lining up the perfect action camera shot or have been intimidated by the fairly confusing GoPro menu system, and don't need the best in terms of video quality.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.