DJI Osmo + Edutige External Mics
Mechanical image stabilising systems have been around since 1978 when cinematographer Dean Cundey and director John Carpenter first unveiled their sequence of super smooth and undeniably scary POV tracking shots for the film ‘Halloween’. They were using what was to become known as the Steadicam , a system that allowed filmmakers to shoot fluidly smooth handheld footage while walking or running. But that was then… Today there are quite a few consumer-based stabilising systems on the market but few hold a candle to DJI’s startlingly efficient Osmo. Some call it a glorified selfie stick but the Osmo is so much more than that. The handheld Osmo is equipped with a three axis motorised gimbal and the same 4K camera as featured on DJI’s Inspire 1 UAV. However, do bear in mind that, like pretty much every other gimbal, the Osmo doesn’t have a fourth vertical axis so walking or running with it will create a gentle up/down motion, at least until you master the art of the ‘duck walk’ – bent knees and hands as steady as humanly possible.
The Osmo is comprised of a cylindrical grip, an egg-shaped 4k/1080p camera up top and a very cool smartphone holder. To use, simply attach a phone, log on to the Osmo’s own wifi circuit, launch the DJI Go app and you’re ready to start shooting. Pans are super smooth and you can also move the camera using the little thumb-operated joystick or by pressing your finger on the phone’s screen and dragging it across the image. And if you’re a selfie fan, simply tap the front button three times and the camera swivels 180˚ to face the user. All camera settings are performed via the app and footage is saved to a Micro SD card situated in the camera itself.
Now, it must be said that the Osmo isn’t without fault. Occasionally the horizon goes a bit squiffy (a gimbal calibration usually rectifies this) and the battery only lasts 60 minutes. But these anomalies pale into insignificance when compared to the onboard microphone. It really is awful to the point of being unusable. DJI is clearly aware of this and has posted a list of recommended external mics. We've looked at a couple of simple plug-in models from Edutige (www.edutige.net) and they both make a huge difference. The omnidirectional ETM-001 is probably the better model to go for since it picks up everything in a wide arc. The unidirectional ETM-008, on the other hand, picks up sound from the front only. However, it’s not as sensitive as the ETM-001 so you may need to ramp up the volume in post production. We think the best solution would be to use the omnidirectional ETM-001 with an extension cord (supplied as standard with the ETM-008 and also available separately) so you can either clip the mic to your lapel or fit it somewhere on the phone holder away from the camera section.
The Osmo is incredibly well built and is pretty easy to set up but it’s not a camera you just whip out when you see something going down. It takes at least three minutes to get it out of its superbly designed case, fit the phone, unlock the motors and log on to the wifi. But it’s well worth the hassle when you see the magnificent cinematic results it produces.