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Pricey gimbal camera worth the splurge

Pair the DJI Osmo Pocket camera with a smartphone so that you have a bigger display as a viewfinder.
Pair the DJI Osmo Pocket camera with a smartphone so that you have a bigger display as a viewfinder.

The DJI Osmo Pocket camera, as its name implies, is meant to fit into your pocket.

It measures 121.9 x 28.6 x 36.9mm and looks more handle than camera. But its tiny camera, which sits on a mechanical gimbal at one end, is a capable unit that takes 12-megapixel photos and records 4K videos at up to 60 frames per second (fps).

DJI has also squeezed a 1-inch touchscreen display into the handle that you swipe up and down to control the gimbal.

Below the display are two buttons for power and shutter release, with the latter indicated by a red dot.

Between the display and the two buttons is a removable plastic tab that hides the Universal port. You can slide the included USB-C adaptor or Lightning adaptor into this Universal port to connect the Pocket to an Android smartphone or iPhone.

On one side of the handle is a microSD card slot. At the bottom is a USB-C port for charging. There is no tripod mount. You will need to fork out extra moolah to get the Pocket's extension rod, which comes with a tripod mount.

You might also want to get the Pocket's waterproof case, as the Pocket is not water-resistant. The case lets you use the camera underwater to a depth of 60m. But both accessories are not yet available.

You can use the Pocket without a smartphone, but it works best with one, using the DJI Mimo app. Not only do you have a bigger display as a viewfinder, but the app also has an intuitive interface that makes changing settings and switching through the different modes a breeze.

If not, you need to remember which way to swipe on its small display for the different functions. Swipe down for Settings and swipe up for functions such as Recentre, Selfie and Follow.

Swipe right to browse through recorded videos and still images. Swipe left to bring up the various modes available. There are times when I cannotremember which way to swipe to get the functions I want.

Like other Osmo models, the Pocket has the Panorama, Slow Motion, Time-lapse and Motion Time-lapse modes.

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $519

    IMAGE SENSOR: 12-megapixel 1/2.3-inch

    DISPLAY: 1-inch touchscreen

    LENS: 26mm f/2.0

    SENSITIVITY: ISO 100 to 3,200

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

    WEIGHT: 116g

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

My favourite mode is Motion Time-lapse, which lets one create beautifully panned time-lapse videos that look professionally done. You just need to select a scene, then move the camera to another scene - you can have up to four scenes - and start recording. Easy.

There are two other nifty features - ActiveTrack and FaceTrack.

With ActiveTrack, just drag a rectangle on the Mimo app to select the subject and the Pocket will track it accordingly. With FaceTrack, the camera will automatically recognise a human face and lock it in the centre of the frame. It works great in my selfie video tests, locking onto my face as I walk.

The 4K videos I record with the Pocket are sharp and detailed. Unless you are using the camera while running madly, the videos you shoot - whether you are walking or jogging - will look like they were shot using a camera dolly.

Even without an external microphone, the Pocket captures my voice clearly in breezy conditions.

Despite its small image sensor, the still images are surprisingly sharp. Even images that areshot at night do not exhibit too much noise artefacts.

On the downside, the camera has a fixed focal length of only 26mm, with 80 degrees field-of-view. It is not really wide enough for selfie videos. You need the extension rod to get a wider angle.

Battery life is rated 140 minutes for full HD video recording at 30fps. In my tests, the battery level dropped to 60 per cent with around 30 minutes of 4K video recording at 30fps.

•Verdict: The DJI Osmo Pocket might be a tad expensive at more than $500, but it is a fantastically portable gimbal camera that is capable of great steady videos and stills.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2019, with the headline 'Pricey gimbal camera worth the splurge'. Print Edition | Subscribe