Whether you're a vlogger, journalist, budding cinematographer, or a parent who wants to post great videos on Facebook or Instagram, chances are that you're part of this growing trend toward personal video creation. And you're probably capturing a lot of the footage on your smartphones.
To get the best results, it still helps to use some third-party tools like the DJI Osmo Mobile 3 (MSRP $159), the third generation of DJI's gimbal stabilization system for smartphones. It can help take your production quality up a level (or two) - particularly if you're the kind of person who shoots while moving around. Let's take a look at it in more detail.
Emplying a foldable design, the Osmo Mobile 3 offers hyperlapse and timelapse functions, active tracking of your subject, and trigger control. Connecting to your device via Bluetooth, it can run for about 15 hours per charge of its battery.
The Osmo Mobile 3 is a drastic overhaul of the company's predecessor, the Osmo Mobile 2. It joins a lineup of increasingly sophisticated smartphone gimbals from competitors like Zhiyun, Gudsen, and many others. For this review, I compared it to the Zhiyun gimbal, which I also own.
The biggest design feature of the Osmo Mobile 3 is the overall physical layout. The first of these is that the Osmo Mobile 3 folds in on itself into a more compact, transportable size. It only uses one joint to achieve this, and all the gimbal's other axes remain in place. The folded gimbal is slightly larger than an average person's hand when detached from the tripod base that DJI ships with the gimbal's combo package. Once I unfolded the arm and figured out the orientation, I wasn't bothered by anything related to this design change. It's a update that makes the gimbal more compact.
The foldable design is made possible by the second feature to the design: the sideways orientation of the phone-holding arm. DJI has placed this arm to the right of the device rather than behind it, bucking the typical design shared by most other smartphone gimbals on the market.
The Osmo Mobile 3 also has a trigger to the back of the gimbal handle. This is a welcome addition. It allows access to useful functions in a place that makes ergonomic sense. Depending on whether it's clicked or held down, the trigger enables 'sport mode', a setting that makes the gimbal more responsive to your movements. It can also pause the gimbal's responsiveness entirely, helpful to maintain framing.
To experience the Osmo Mobile 3 you need to use its app, DJI Mimo. This app is also used on other DJI devices and it's intuitive - there's no manual reading necessary. It connects to a mobile device via Bluetooth, eliminating further cables. How this will work in RF-interference-filled areas like I will encounter during my upcoming trip to CES 2020, however, remains to be seen.
The Mimo app introduces manual camera controls to your phone, essential for creating more professional-looking content. It also allows for other creative camera modes which although fun to use, I don't really find too useful.
The Mimo app also offers panorama photo modes, including 180-degree mode and 3x3 mode, as shown in the photos below (pardon the mess!), gesture controls, timelapse modes, and an amazingly impressive hyperlapse feature. The combination of the Mimo app's software stabilization with the Osmo Mobile 3 gimbal stabilization resulted in the simple final video you can see here. Compared to my Zhiyun, the DJI is head and shoulders better in the video department. While the end result can be very similar, with the Zhiyun, I have to practice my way of walking while using it so there is less "bounce." By contrast, with the DJI, I can walk normally without any "bounce" in the video. This way, I can concentrate on creating the video content without thinking about how I should walk in order to create a smooth video.
This gimbal is great for those who want to up the quality of their vacation or family home videos without shelling out for a new camera (and possibly new camera gimbal). I just wish the gimbal could be halved in size so I can truly put it in my pocket.
But I'd still bring it along for special outings where I know for sure I'll be taking videos and panoramic photos, such as at the aforementioned CES 2020. One thing's for sure, however: my already-seldom-used (and similarly priced) Zhiyun Smooth 4 won't be used anymore as it has now been replaced by this handy, and more effective, device.