Action cameras represent a great gadget for bikers. In addition to being an easy, engaging way to record your epic routes and tours, their recordings can also come in handy in the unfortunate event of an accident.
GoPro may be the best-known brand in action cameras, but DJI has released the Osmo Action – and on paper, it’s a serious rival to anything GoPro has produced. But how does it hold up to the demands of an average biker? Read our review to find out.
Build quality and durability
At first glance, the Osmo Action looks a lot like any other action camera – but look closer and you’ll find an impressive level of build quality. DJI hasn’t scrimped on materials; the Osmo Action is reassuringly heavy and likely to survive several drops. But it’s not too heavy – we had no issues when using it with our adhesive-based helmet mount.
The DJI is waterproof to a depth of 11-metres, and our rides on chilly B-roads and near torrential rain didn’t cause it any problems. Sure, its touchscreen was a little harder to use – but no moisture made it to the battery compartment.
A removable lens cover has to be one of the DJI’s most useful features. Easily unscrewed, it’s easy and cheap to replace – good to know if you drop the camera or the bike. It also opens up the possibility of using third-party ND filters – if you’re more creatively minded.
Incorporating the Osmo Action into your biking gear is relatively simple because its harness is near identical to that of a GoPro’s. We used a 3M-based helmet mount with a GoPro attachment, but almost all GoPro harnesses and handlebar mounts will work just fine.
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Specs and performance
The Osmo Action has benefitted from several firmware updates since its release, but the top line figures remain impressive. There’s a comprehensive range of modes, but all the key ones are present. 4K, 60fps is the highest quality you can get on the Osmo Action – and while not as detailed as 5K, it’s more than enough for most of us.
4K (16:9) – 60, 50, 48, 30, 25, 24fps
4K (4:3) – 30, 25, 24fps
2.7K (4:3) – 30, 25, 24fps
2.7K (16:9) – 60, 50, 48, 30, 25, 24fps
1080p – 240, 200, 120, 100, 60, 50, 48, 30, 25, 24fps
720p – 240, 200fps
If you’re used to the super-saturated looks of GoPro footage you might be disappointed. In our tests, the Osmo delivered a sharp neutral picture both day and night. To our eyes, the less vibrant look of the DJI’s footage was actually better – though it can be jazzed up later.
The sound was okay on the whole, but get up to higher speeds and wind noise does become a factor. If you want to record your voice or pipe sounds while riding, it’s worth considering the £30 Cynova mic adaptor.
The Osmo Action’s most intriguing feature has to be its RockSteady stabilisation software. Switched-on, it keeps your footage smooth, and more like a Moto GP-game than a standard onboard. Even the roughest B-roads look billiard-table smooth, and it gave our videos a clean, professional look.
But there is one caveat – RockSteady achieves magical results by heavily cropping your footage. The software took a chunk from the edges of our recordings – more than a GoPro would – and it removed some of the context and atmosphere of our rides.
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The tighter field-of-view meant our helmet footage looked restricted; it was often impossible to see the clocks and the horizon simultaneously – or both ends of the handlebars. Not ideal if you want to get a real flavour of the road you’re on.
To get around it, we’d suggest mounting the Osmo Action at shoulder height, using a body mount rather than a helmet mount. The issue was also less noticeable when the Osmo Action was facing us and mounted to the handlebars.
After around 70-90 minutes of shooting – you’ll need extra batteries to record longer rides – we were able to check our footage using DJI’s Mimo app. It’s quick to set-up, but not super easy to use after that. Still, the important features are there – as is live streaming capability.
The Osmo Action is an impressive first attempt from DJI. It does everything you’d expect from an action camera and puts it all together in a relatively robust package. At just over £300, the DJI is about £100 less than a GoPro, but does come with one key disadvantage: RockSteady’s limitations mean you’ll need to think carefully about how and where you mount it.