A Review of the Osmo Action Camera from DJI by Wayne Petherick, YHQLD

Lots of fishos have action cameras to capture those important moments on the water.  Whether it is a first of species, a personal best, or just an update for your social media profiles, action cameras make perfect sense for your fishing.  Mobile phone cameras are great but are not always suited well to fishing or kayaking because as a rule they aren't useful for underwater shots and may not be that waterpoof, not to mention the risk of dropping an expensive piece of tech overboard.  Not that you want to drop an action camera either, but as a rule they are cheaper than most mobiles.  Add to this the fact that they can be mounted in a variety of ways to change the angle of photos and vidoes, and they become a versatile addition to the kit bag.

I have been using action cameras for a while now, and have owned every GoPro from #3 onwards.  These were used mainly as saftey cameras while cycling, but I have also used some later model GoPro cameras for fishing.  Recently DJI who are known as being one of the biggest drone manufacturers in the world got into the business of action cameras, releasing the Osmo Action earlier in 2019.

Now I will admit that there is a tendency to review a product favourably if you own it.  You have spent your hard earned cash on it so you are invested in it either because you are happy with it, or because you have convinced yourself that you are.  The way I tend to look at a product in this regard is addressed by two simple questions.  If the product I own broke, would I replace it with the exact same product?  For this first question the answer is without a doubt.  If my Action died or I lost it I would be down my local retailer in a heart beat.  The second question is would I buy another one of the same product if I had a use for it?  The answer to this question is also yes.  In fact I bought a second one so I have one hat mounted and one rear mounted for better fish pics on the water.  I also use the second one for different shooting modes but more about this in the review.

On that note, onto the review!

The Osmo Action is priced on par with other similarly spec'd cameras, but is a bit more than your generics or lower specification action cams.  The normal retail price is $499 and for that you get a 4k 60FPS capable camera with DJI's own image stabilisation called RockSteady.  Of course you can drop the resolution and frame rate down for better battery life and smaller file sizes but this is what the camera is capable of.

A GoPro with the same capabilities will cost you $599 for the GP8 (admittedly this has their latest tech in it that the Osmo doesn't have so it does have some extra features but comes with a higher price tag).  The GP7 is $529 which is more expensive, though you can find bundles with extra batteries, memory cards, or a host of other accessories for the same price or cheaper than buying the camera and accessories separately.

Even the DJI website will run free postage or deals offering the camera with some accessories for the standard price of $499 or the camera itself for $399.  These same deals are available at many brick and mortar stores.

The Osmo Action is compatible with the full range of GoPro accessories and has the same mounting  bracket as the GoPro.  This means if you own a range of accessories you won't need to go and buy a whole bunch of new ones, or if you have bought some generic ones off eBay, these will work also.

The genuine accessories are not overly expensively comparatively speaking.  Spare batteries will cost you $29 each and come with a handy plastic case which will also store a memory card (see the video >>>).  If you want the charging hub, this comes with the hub, USB-C cable, and two extra batteries for a bit over one hundred bucks.

In the box you will get the jacket or housing for the camera, one battery, the camera, and some mounting brackets with 3M VHB tape for securing them to a variety of surfaces.  The default accessories are enough to get you on the water if you are looking to hat mount.

One thing to remember though is that you will need a Micro SD card for recording.  Unless you buy a bundle with this in it, you won't have any memory for storing shots or vids unless of course you already own one.  Something you need to check is whether the card is up for the job.  When recording in 4K @ 60fps the bandwidth needed is very high so make sure you have a card that can handle the data throughput.  Cards above Class 10 are usually needed for this type of recording.
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Like any newer product when the Osmo was released not only were the cameras hard to get, the accessories were non-existent.  When you bought an Osmo you got what was in the box.  Even ordering off the DJI website was met with a "we will notify you when they are available" message.

This no longer seems to be a problem though with the DJI website and many retailers now carrying the cameras and a full host of accessories.

But as above, the camera is compatible with the GoPro accessories so even if you could not find a DJI product, any branded GP or unbranded generic kit will fit.
Ease of Use

One of the criticism I have heard of the Osmo is that it is difficult to use or has confusing settings.  I will say that my experience has been the complete opposite of this.  Even the voice commands are limited to five commands so there aren't too many to remember.

Out of the box the camera comes pretty much ready to go for most of your basic shooting modes.  If you want to take a picture or video you won't find yourself needing to mess around with settings too much.  What I found was that I spent a few trips on the water finding out what I used most then tweaked that in the settings.  From there I went back on the water, played around with my new settings, and did some more tweaking if necessary.  I now have both cameras set up as I like them, with each having their own shooting modes for different purposes, and I no longer have to make any changes to how they run.

For quick shooting let's say you only want to use two modes: photo and video.  You can change this in the settings so that each press of the QS button on the side of the camera will simply swap between photo and video modes.  When you want to record the action, if you are in photo mode just press the shutter button to take a pic.  Put the camera in video mode and press the shutter button to start recording.  For video you will be greeted with a rising tone to tell you recording has started, and pressing the shutter again will stop recording with the matching falling tone to let you know what has happened.  If you are able to look at the camera screen while you are doing this you will be greeted with the text on screen to match your shooting mode.  This takes the mystery out of what mode you are in or what the camera is doing.

Should you hat mount the camera and not want to take it off every time you change modes, especially if you want the full range of shooting options (so video, time lapse, hyperlapse etc) you will need to remember which "beep" you are on.  So if photo mode is five beeps in then you need to count the number of beeps from when the camera turns on.  This can get a little painful but I will admit this isn't DJI's fault.  This is simply how I like to use my cameras and it is why I bought two.  I can have one as a basic photo/video device, and the other in a Railblaza mount with the full range of shooting options.  This gives me a lot of versatility for recording the action.

Downloading media from the camera is done via the phone app DJI Mimo.  This is available in both Android and Apple flavours and is simple to use.  When you open the app and turn a camera on, the app will tell you it has found a camera.  From there, simply click the connect button and you will be asked if you want to join the camera's WiFi network.  Click join and the camera's view should be mirrored on the phone screen.  I connect every time before I head out so I can check where exactly the hat mounted camera is aiming.  No point trying to capture that epic catch if your camera is pointed at your feet or the sky.  A quick calibration through the app to make sure the camera is looking where I am and I am ready to go.

When you want to download media to the app you simply click the play icon on screen and it will load your pictures and videos to your phone.  From there you can leave them on the camera or hit the delete button to free up card space.  A blue tick will show you what you have already downloaded.  One small issue with this is that it can take a while to download larger videos over thie connection.  Worst case scenario is you pop the card out and plug it directly into your computer.  Problem solved.
Voice Control

Like similar cameras, the Osmo has voice control, albeit it with more limited options than some other cameras.

The options available adequately cover the most common or popular options needed to voice control the camera and include Take Photo, Start Recording, Stop Recording, Screen Switch, Shut Down.

I have found these to work the vast majority of the time, with a few exceptions.  These exceptions aren't random misfires though and I have identified some more common times during which the voice control will not work.  I find that in a strong wind the voice controls don't work as well as the wind will distort your speech perhaps causing the camera to not pick up what you are saying.  Face buffs, necessary for sun protection, will also cause the voice control to not work as well.  However, I find that it works well more often than not, so this is a minor inconvenience (to me anyway).

On the plus side, activating the voice control does not require you to "wake" the device by saying something like "hey GoPro".  You just state the voice control command.
Ease of Set Up

As with ease of use I have heard a few say the settings are confusing.  Again, my experience could not be further from this.  I have found that the camera has some really good features for the advanced user without these being overly cumbersome for the user who just wants to shoot some pretty basic footage.  The layers of settings are not too cumbersome and the sections are fairly intuitive (full settings menu are listed to the right).

I have found with some of the cameras I have used, you are required to dig down through multiple layers to find a basic setting like turning the camera sounds up or down.  Not with the Osmo, with most menus having just one layer of settings with each being fairly intuitively labelled.  For the vast majority of these I have found myself using the default setting without any further tweaking necessary.  Most of my set up was figuring out which shooting modes I was using and assigning these to the respective camera, then just mounting the two-option Osmo to the hat with the other mounted on the yak itself.

Familiarinsg myself with and setting up the options took a matter of minutes.  But honestly if you are happy with the options as they come there is really very little else that need to be done with the camera.

Setting Options

* User Configurations:  Here you can create your own shootings modes including ISO, shooting mode etc
* Brightness:  As the name implies, this is the brightness of your screen
* Lock Screen:  This locks the touch screen to prevent accidental presses
* Settings:  This is where you can dig a little deeper into voice controls etc
- Voice Control
- SnapShot
- QuickSwitch
- Wireless Connection
- Wind Noise Reduction
- Sounds
- Face Oriented Exposure
- Grid
- Anti-Flicker
- Screen Auto Sleep
- Rec. Screen Off
- Auto Power Off
- Language
- Date/Time
- Format SD Card
- Factory Reset
* Screen Orientation
* Spot Metering
* Voice Control
* Full Front Screen

The camers is a little heavier than some of its counterparts but this gives it a solid, rugged feel.  I don't believe the outside casing of the camera is rubber but it has a rubbery feel meaning that the camera is less likely to slip through your hands because it gives you a good grip on the case.  

I am not one of these people who will drop a device and blame the device for breaking and will take full responsibility if I do so.  Having said that I will admit to having dropped the camera twice without breakage or any visible signs of damage to the unit.  It seems to work just fine.  You will note that this is an action camera and as such it is designed and built with bumps and knocks in mind.  I cannot say what the limit of force required to render the camera inoperative is though.
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I love my Osmo Actions.  They are exactly the camera I wanted, with the settings I find useful and are not too cumbersome, while still offering a good range of usability options.  

They do exactly what I want on the water, when I want them too with a very few smal number of exceptions as discussed above (for example, voice control).

Two of the greatest features they have for use are the battery life and the incredible front screen.  To me, those alone are worth the price of admission!
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