Basic but hardy and sharp camera

The DJI Osmo Action Camera feels solid and sturdy with its metallic frame and rubberised top and sides.
The DJI Osmo Action Camera feels solid and sturdy with its metallic frame and rubberised top and sides. PHOTO: DJI

The DJI Osmo Action looks like a GoPro Hero7. But sharp-eyed ones will be able to tell them apart from the front display.

While the Hero7's front display is used only for displaying information, the Osmo Action's display works as a real-time viewfinder, which makes it easy to take selfie photos or videos. This makes it ideal for video bloggers.

Its 2.25-inch rear touchscreen display lets users easily swipe through the menu interface to change settings, even when the display or your hands are wet.

The Osmo Action can also be activated by voice control. For example, say "start recording" and it will begin to record a video. To stop, say "stop recording". But I found that I have to say the voice commands quite loudly for them to register.

The camera has only three physical buttons - the power and recording buttons at the top, and the Quick Switch (QS) button at the left side for toggling through the normal, high dynamic range (HDR) and slow-motion video modes.

The QS button is also used to switch between the front and rear screens as only one screen can be used at any time. Just press and hold the button to switch.

Below the QS button is a compartment door that opens to reveal a USB-C port - for charging and file transfer - and a microSD card slot. There is no HDMI port to let you connect the camera to a monitor or TV to view footage.

Build-wise, the Osmo Action feels solid and sturdy with its metallic frame and rubberised top and sides.

  • FOR

    • Superb video quality

    • Sturdy and rugged build

    • Intuitive rear touchscreen display

    • Front-facing display great for video bloggers


    • Voice control iffy at times

    • Image stabilisation not available in HDR mode

    • Does not connect to app most of the time


    PRICE: $519

    IMAGE SENSOR: 12-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS

    LENS: 15mm (145 degrees field of view), f2.8

    DISPLAY: 2.25-inch rear touchscreen, 1.4-inch front display

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

    WEIGHT: 124g


    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5




    OVERALL: 4/5

It is said to be water resistant to a depth of 11m, drop-resistant from a height of 1.5m and resistant to temperatures as low as minus 10 deg C.

On the downside, it does not come with many accessories. Out of the box, there is only a camera housing and an adhesive mount. But it is compatible with many third-party accessories using GoPro mounts.

In terms of video quality, the Osmo Action is right up there with the Hero7. It is capable of shooting 4K videos at 60 frames per second (fps) with its image stabilisation (IS) technology RockSteady enabled.

Video footage looks sharp, detailed and just gorgeous.

With IS turned on, videos shot while walking look like they were shot on a gimbal, while videos shot while running do not have a shaky look.

HDR videos (up to 4K 30fps quality) look stunning too, especially those with landscape scenes. But the HDR videos lack image stabilisation. So, if you intend to shoot HDR videos, you might want to pan only from a fixed position.

Using only the built-in microphones to record the audio during video shoots, I can hear myself clearly in the footage with most of the wind noise being filtered out.

At $519, the Osmo Action is slightly cheaper than the GoPro Hero7 ($595).

However, it lacks the intuitiveness of the app that GoPro has.

In fact, I failed to connect the Osmo Action to the DJI Mimo app (available on Android and iOS) on my smartphone more times than I succeeded. It is much easier to remove the microSD card and use a laptop to edit the videos.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2019, with the headline 'Basic but hardy and sharp camera'. Subscribe