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DJI OSMO Action 3 Review

Review

Our Verdict

DJI has taken a risk by launching the DJI OSMO Action 3 on the same day as the all-new GoPro Hero11 Black. And from the outset, it feels like the company has primed itself for battle with the new OSMO Action 3, offering a power station-sized battery, vertical mounting for the social media savvy and unbelievable stabilisation options.

However, while there’s no doubting the quality of the camera and the exquisite video and image quality, one of the main features feels a little last minute. A cage is required to mount the camera vertically, making it feel like a last-minute addition with no other function.

Aside from the cage, the rest of the camera is outstanding. When you consider the extended battery life and the enhancements to Rocksteady and its two alternative stabilisation modes. You essentially have a camera that doesn’t just accel at action but brings the battle to GoPro’s door.

What is DJI OSMO Action 3?

The DJI OSMO Action 3 is the third generation of DJI’s action camera. DJI already dominate the drone and single-handed gimbal stabilisers market; however, when it comes to action cameras, the number one slot is still dominated by GoPro.

The release of the DJI OSMO Action 3 coincided with the release of the GoPro Hero11 Black. I’ve looked at the two cameras, and they are very similar when it comes to specifications and performance, but neither has taken the leap forward you’d expect when there’s so much to play for.

Here DJI has backtracked on the design from the Action 2, so the new camera is more akin to the original DJI OSMO Action. The new, as with the original OSMO action, is a similar shape and size to the GoPro, so it competes in the same market. Unlike a few years ago, when there were quite a few competitors to the top-ranking action cameras, today, there are only a few, and even these have, until recently, been split out into more specific design briefs and uses.

DJI’s decision to take on GoPro again head-on is interesting. We look forward to seeing what happens over the next few months as both companies draw huge interest and followings.

The DJI OSMO Action 3 is an action camera of the purest kind. It remodels the original DJI OSMO Action with a smoother exterior, enhanced features, better stabilisation and much-improved battery life. But more than this camera just being the successor to the two previous DJI Action cameras, this camera is a direct challenger to the GoPro Hero11 Black, and that’s where things get interesting.

Specification

  • Dimensions (L×W×H): 70×44×31.8 mm
  • Weight: 145g
  • Waterproof: 16m
  • Microphones : 3
  • Sensor: 1/1.7-inch
  • Lens: FOV 155º, F/2.8/ 12.7mm
  • Video resolutions and frame rates: 4K (4:3): 4096×3072@24/25/30/48/50/60fps 4K (16:9): 3840×2160@100/120fps 4K (16:9): 3840×2160@24/25/30/48/50/60fps 2.7K (4:3): 2688×2016@24/25/30/48/50/60fps 2.7K (16:9): 2688×1512@100/120fps 2.7K (16:9): 2688×1512@24/25/30/48/50/60fps 1080p (16:9): 1920×1080@100/120/200/240fps 1080p (16:9): 1920×1080@24/25/30/48/50/60fps
  • Stabalisation: RockSteady 3.0, HorizonBalancing and HorizonSteady
  • Max Bitrate: 130Mbps

Build and Handling

One of the key features of any action camera is that it has been built solidly to survive mud, dust, water and shock resistance. Checking over the OSMO Action 3, and it seems just about as robust as they come.

A few years ago, action cameras were generally small and lightweight; unfortunately, that also meant that despite the rough, tough exterior, they would often break if the worst happened. These days action cameras are a little larger and heavier, and it’s a sacrifice that, in the long term, has paid off with the cameras being far more durable.

The OSMO Action 3 is larger than the Action 2, which, to be honest, is a completely different camera in so many respects. Really to make a comparison, you need to leap back to the OSMO Action, a camera I liked except for the mud catcher design on the front. The design of the original OSMO Action featured detailing on the front that, while looking great, was an absolute bugger for collecting mud and crud. Thankfully, DJI has streamlined the outer casing design, and despite some detailing on the front with the logo alongside the lens and front screen, it’s otherwise clean lines.

Keeping the front of the camera clean is essential, and a flat, uncluttered front just makes cleaning the camera out on trial easier. Especially as we’re just entering action camera season here in the UK and the rain and mud has already arrived.

On the front is the small front-facing screen; this is ideal if you want to shoot selfies and also enables you to adjust settings. What’s quite amazing is that a screen of this size is touch-enabled and essentially gives you almost like for like mirror access to the same controls as the rear-facing screen.

Next to the screen is the lens, which features a screw-in lens protector that can be swapped and changed if required; it also means that adapters and filters can easily be mounted. DJI are excellent at supplying a good variety of accessories at launch, as well as many 3rd party companies creating a decent kit to accessorize your camera.

The power button and USB charging port are on one side of the camera, while the other side features the battery and MicroSD door that is secured by a two-part lock; push in and up to release the door.

On top is the shutter button, and finally the base features the magnetic clamp mount for attaching the camera. To mount the camera vertically, you need the cage that comes fitted to the camera and is best left in place. It feels a little old skool action camera but does help protect and enables quick change in orientation from horizontal to vertical.

Besides that, the camera is very simple, the touch screen is intuitive with a swipe up, down, left and right to access your settings. There is, of course, an app that goes with the camera, and as we’ve seen before, this is packed with auto-editing, live stream and standard preview record and control features that are now common with companion apps.

Features

Starting with the cameras form factor, as we’ve seen with action cameras through the past few generations, size and weight are on the increase. The new camera measures 70×44×31.8 mm and weighs 145g. That’s a little on the weighty side compared with the ultra-lightweight DJI Action 2 but still not bad.

As it stands, the DJI OSMO Action is waterproof to 16m and then with the waterproof housing 60m. The waterproof housing is different to the cage fitted to the OSMO Action 3 as standard.

Around the body are three small microphones, these have been designed to enhance vocals and cut down on wind noise.

Now on to the important stuff, which is the sensor and optics. Inside is a small 1/1.7-inch sensor, and a 155º f/2.8 12.7mm lens fronts this. The lens features a screw-in lens protector, which should also enable other filters and accessories to be screwed in.

The sensor enables the capture of a decent range of resolutions and frame rates; full details in the specs box above. While these specifications are good, they’re not a huge leap forward and are essentially almost identical bar the 5.4k as the GoPro. You have 4K at up to 120fps and 1080p at 240fps.

What is more impressive is the reworked RockSteady; this was already exceptionally good but takes another step forward with RockSteady 3.0. As well as the standard image stabilisation provided by RockSteady, there’s also HorizonBalancing and HorizonSteady. Both of these push what’s possible with electronic image stabilisation.

The footage is all captured on a MicroSD card with a maximum bitrate of 130Mbps.

Of course, there are then the two big features. The first is the battery, which might sound a bit dull, but that extended battery life is almost three times the duration of the DJI Action 2.

Finally, the big feature is you can mount the camera vertically; this is odd as you need the cage to do this. You would have thought, with all DJI’s design brilliance, they could have incorporated the clamp into the camera’s design as they have done with the base, but no, it requires another bit of kit; it feels like an afterthought!

Performance

It has to be said that from the outset, the DJI OSMO Action is a thoroughbred action camera. It looks great, feels and is tough; it does everything you could wish an action camera to do.

The only odd thing is the cage design; I can’t see why a company like DJI would go so far with the design and then add the cage because it enables you to use the camera vertically.

Also, the cage is a little fiddly, and if you run the battery down or need to extract it for charging, you have to remove the thing and then pop it back in place. For most of the test, I removed the cage using the OSMO Action 3 as a standard camera. There just wasn’t any need for the cage.

 

Only when it came to using the camera for a bit of vlogging did it come into use, and then you had to wonder why the brilliant clamp mechanism wasn’t incorporated into the sides and the base of the camera. To be honest removing and replacing the cage isn’t as greater issue as I might be making out, but I still don’t understand why it’s designed like this.

The cage aside, the rest of the camera is brilliant. It’s fast and responsive, and accessing the settings through the front or rear touch screen or the App couldn’t be easier. Compared with other action camera interfaces, DJI has nailed the ease and simplicity.

In every respect, out for a ride, the camera performed well, and the extended battery life does make this action camera a very worthwhile consideration and should make GoPro worried.

When it comes to video quality, again, the DJI OSMO Action 3 provides some of the highest-quality footage I have seen from an action camera. While it still struggles in lower light conditions, the footage is just about as good as it gets, with only the Insta360 1-inch producing a better image, no doubt, due to that larger sensor.

What makes the DJI OSMO Action 3, however, is the App that is once again crammed with extras that makes auto edits quick and easy to create.

Overall the camera and video quality is superb. Throughout the test, there were a couple of aspects that really stood out to me, and those were the clamp mount and battery life.

I can’t explain how good it is to have such a long-life battery, and then there’s the clamp. A similar clamp was used with the DJI Action 2, which impressed me, but here it’s refined and works incredibly well.

If I want to pop the camera onto my bike, then the quick-release design enables the switch from the Selfi stick to the bike in a matter of seconds, with no bolts to be undone or clips to battle with.

We may only be on the verge of the British Summer, so I may change my tune when the camera and myself are covered in mud and the clamp jams, but I don’t think I will have an issue. This mounting system is excellent and fully compatible with the traditional GoPro mount.

Final thoughts

I liked the original OSMO Action; I thought it was a great camera, and aside from the grill that filled with mud, it was, in every other respect, excellent. Then the DJI Action 2 arrived, an action camera that took a completely different approach. I have liked that camera, the only issue I have with it is the battery life, but in every other respect, it’s amazing.

Now the OSMO Action 3 is here, and again it’s a great camera, but it doesn’t generate the same excitement I gained from the original or the curiosity of the 2nd. It’s a more straight-laced action camera and an exceptional one at that. I am a little disappointed that the sensor isn’t larger to cope with the dull British autumn and winter days, and I’m also bemused by the cage, but still.

When it comes to the quality of the footage, the smaller issues are easily forgotten; who cares if you need to have the cage attached to use the camera in the vertical position? If you don’t want to shoot vertical, then leave the cage at home.

The features that stood out through the test were the battery life, which is spot on, and DJI provided three batteries, and so far, I haven’t used more than two in any single session. Then there’s RockSteady, already good but now better and joined by HorizonBalancing and HorizonSteady, both outstanding.

If you’re looking for an action camera that stands out for its exceptional video quality, battery life and ability to mount vertical, this is the camera to go for.

However as I mentioned at the start of the review there is the issue of the GoPro Hero11 Black and I’ll bring you the head to head soon.

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