Updated: Jun 3, 2019
So DJI jumped feet first into the action camera arena with the Osmo Action, but does it hold up against the reigning king: GoPro?
I spent some time comparing the new DJI Osmo Action to the GoPro Hero 7 Black and my personal favorite action camera the Sony FDR-X3000. This is DJI's first jump into the action camera sphere but far from their first camera system. Since this camera is directly competing with GoPro and the Sony FDR-X3000 I set them all up and ran around the beach in Seward Alaska to run them through some tests and see which ones comes out on top.
As expected there is no perfect action camera yet. The Osmo Action does somethings really really well and others not so much. The Osmo Action has the best stabilization very good on board de-warping and lots of tweak able settings. While the EIS (electronic image stabilization) is the best out of the three due to the amount of processing it needs there is noticeable lag on the screen. The colors are pretty good and maybe marginally better than GoPro. It suffers from the usually low light performance issues of action cameras. It has a bit more noise than GoPro and definitely more than Sony. Audio is ok onboard but has the usual lackluster performance. The good news is it only takes a usb-c to 3.5mm dongle unlike the GoPro brick dongle. Like GoPro the Action has built in time lapses and separates itself from GoPro by giving you the option to control the shutter settings as well as interval. It also allows you to set a specific amount of time you want the time-lapse to run for. Battery life I have found is best on the Osmo Action out of these three. Having the front screen is nice and a welcome edition but I haven't ever found it a necessity due to the very wide angle of lenses on action cameras.
GoPro pulls head in a few ways. GoPro has the timewarp/hyperlapse feature which is considerably better when it comes to speeding up motion than time lapses. The footage is much more stable than just a regular time-lapse. This is especially apparent when you are holding the camera in hand and walking toward an object. The Osmo Action is missing this feature completely. I imagine it could be added in future updates but we will have to wait and see. Battery life on GoPro is decent but the worst of these three cameras. GoPro also seems to freeze here and there and they only way to un freeze it is to pull the battery and put it back in. A feature missing in the action but a welcome edition here is the ability to control sharpness in the GoPro image. DJI is set on extremely sharp and with out anyway to adjust it ends up adding artifacts to the image. GoPro is clearly leading between these two for image quality overall.
The Sony FDR-X3000 while 3 years old still rules the world for the best most natural stabilization in an action camera that will work regardless of lighting conditions. It is an actual physical steady shot system and its great. The battery life is good coming in just behind the Osmo but ahead of the GoPro. The Sony also has the least amount of noise in low light. I prefer the colors on the FDR-X3000 as well. They continually come across as very natural. The best thing about the FDR X3000 is that it has a built in mic input and a 1/4 20 thread so it will mount to any camera gear and you can easily add a microphone! The biggest downside is that aside from some light weather resistance it is NOT waterproof without a case.
More thoughts and footage examples are in this video: