DJI unleashed a slew of new drone and imaging goodness on the tech world at CES 2018 and smartphone cinematographers were treated to the arrival of the new Osmo Mobile 2; a revised version of the company’s handheld gimbal that boasts better battery life and a significantly smaller price tag.
We’ve tested it out and seen how it compares to the original, here’s our full review.
DJI Osmo Mobile 2 Review: Design
Side by side it’s easy to see the resemblance, save for a new grey paint job in place of black or white. The biggest shift with 2018’s model is a change in materials, with the Osmo Mobile 2 handle and gimbal both being made almost entirely out of plastic. As such, it is a few grams lighter than the original but not by enough to readily notice (485g vs 501g).
The front of the handle itself still features a textured area for added grip but as it’s plastic in place of rubber (as on its predecessor), it arguably offers less friction against your palm, so holding the whole thing tighter is a must.
DJI has simplified the control scheme, relegating most of the features to the mode button, which also doubles as the power button and performs a few other functions through a combination of various taps. Instead of a power toggle, there’s now a small zoom slider on the left side of the handle, which is a welcome addition, whilst the rosette of the original has been ditched for a new screw thread in the base of the handle.
The gimbal appears to be of a similar design to the original, however, the mount itself now has the ability to unlock and rotate 90-degrees on its own axis, allowing for portrait mode through the Mobile 2’s full range of movement. Previously, this was only possible by holding the whole thing at a right angle, which was both cumbersome and more limiting from a movement perspective. This seems like a smart inclusion based on the growing number of apps and live-streaming services that favour portrait video.
Despite the small learning curve for users of the original Osmo Mobile, the simplified control scheme makes for a tidier design and easier operation. The addition of a zoom slider and tripod thread in the handle are also appreciated.
The gimbal also accommodates phones in portrait orientation, which is a forward-thinking move on DJI’s part based on the number of live-streaming and video services that prefer portrait shooting.
Not everyone will appreciate the move to plastic and the handle’s resultant lack of grip is an unfortunate trade-off, but the sacrifices overall seem small.
DJI Osmo Mobile 2 Review: Pairing and Setup
The Osmo Mobile 2’s grip supports devices of the same dimensions as before (58.6 to 84.8 mm wide and up to 8.4 mm thick) but uses a spring-loaded mechanism that ensures a tighter grip on your phone. That said, it’s trickier to insert and remove your phone into (especially if you have a case on) when compared to the rack and pinion design of the original Mobile.
Once your phone is mounted in the gimbal, balancing it using the two metal knobs and adjustable arm is quick and simple. You’ll then need to download the latest DJI GO app and make sure your device’s Bluetooth is switched on (the Osmo Mobile 2 uses Bluetooth 4.0 LE).
The gimbal itself turns on in under three seconds and once you’ve opened the app and signed in or made your DJI account, you’ll be able to see the Osmo Mobile 2 on a list of available devices in app.
The whole pairing/setup process can be done in under five minutes, ensuring you can get to filming practically straight out of the box.
Simple installation of your phone into the gimbal, easy balancing and easy setup via the app makes getting to shooting a painless experience.
Swapping a rack and pinion for a spring-loaded grip design means a more secure fit but a tougher time mounting and unmounting your phone.
DJI Osmo Mobile 2 Review: Functionality
Whilst basic functionality can be obtained by simply relying on the hardware controls, like pan, tilt and recentring the gimbal, DJI’s GO app is the only way to access the Osmo Mobile 2’s full feature-set.
When capturing stills the app offers single-shot, panorama and long-exposure shooting modes paired with shutter timers and an HDR toggle, jump to video mode and these options are replaced with standard, slow-motion, timelapse, hyperlapse and Motionlapse (where the gimbal moves from start to end positions you set beforehand) recording options. You can also specify recording resolutions and frame rates too (720p at 30fps up to 4K at 60fps using an iPhone X).
Beauty effects and a gamut of manual controls (covering ISO, white balance and shutter speed), plus gimbal controls such as pitch lock and mode selection (walk or sport) persist over both still and video shooting.
So too does ActiveTrack, which lets you draw a box around a subject on-screen that the gimbal will then automatically follow. It’s an incredibly powerful and convenient talent within the Osmo Mobile 2’s wheelhouse (powered by the same computer vision and autonomous tracking smarts found in the company’s drones). It’s worth noting that the zoom slider doesn’t work when using ActiveTrack or your phone’s front-facing camera, most likely in the pursuit of preserving quality.
The DJI GO app has also embraced live-streaming services too, with native support for Facebook Live, YouTube Live, WeiBo, Tencent’s QQLive platform and custom streams via RTMP.
Some third-party apps like Filmic Pro and MAVIS – Pro Camera do support aspects of the Osmo Mobile 2’s hardware but complete functionality isn’t guaranteed across every smartphone and there are known discrepancies between iOS and Android versions too.
The DJI GO app is packed with functionality, offering amateur filmmakers plenty of control when shooting stills and video. Features like ActiveTrack are impressively powerful too and improved native live-streaming support is a nice bonus.
Whilst third-party app support does exist, the consistency and reliability of the experience on offer can vary significantly.
DJI Osmo Mobile 2 Review: Performance and Battery
Whilst DJI’s spec sheets cite the same 120-degrees-per-second maximum rotational speed, in testing the original Osmo Mobile actually turns markedly faster than the 2018 model (both were tested in Walk mode). Despite this, we prefer the more subtle motion of the Mobile 2, plus there’s always Sport mode should you need a little extra oomph.
Speaking of oomph, one of the biggest disparities between these two gimbals is battery life. The original Osmo Mobile features a 980mAh cell that DJI promises delivers up to 4.5 hours of use per charge. Depending on how you intend to use your Osmo Mobile, one charge won’t get you through a full day’s shooting.
One solution is to buy a second battery as the cells are removable, slotting in and out of the base of the handle, but each additional battery costs £28 a piece. The Osmo Mobile 2’s solution to this problem is to do away with a removable cell altogether and install a fixed 2600mAh battery that promises up to 15-hours of use per charge.
You can check the Osmo Mobile 2’s battery level via the four LED power indicators above the controls on the handle or through the DJI GO app, which offers a more accurate percentage readout. DJI’s also traded the 3.5mm power jack for a more conventional micro USB charging port on the right side of the handle. It’s a far more convenient charging method, not least because most people already have plenty of micro USB cables knocking around.
Charging the Osmo Mobile 2 back up from empty can be done in under two hours and if you need to keep your phone alive whilst out on a shoot, DJI has also included a USB out on the front so that you can power your device directly from the new gimbal’s more capacious cell.
A slower-turning gimbal compared to the original just makes for smoother footage in our tests and switching to a larger battery and a micro USB connection up the convenience factor to no end.
Not everyone will like the gimbal’s slight speed reduction and those already in possession of DJI’s intelligent removable batteries might feel a bit miffed by their incompatibility with the Osmo Mobile 2.
DJI Osmo Mobile 2 Review: Verdict
As with its predecessor, the Osmo Mobile 2 is for those creators who want to elevate the quality of videos shot on their smartphones and thanks to the DJI GO app, live-streaming is a viable option when using this gimbal too.
Whilst, for the most part, the Osmo Mobile 2 is a more refined and focused iteration of the original, some changes, like a non-removable battery and the relocation of the tripod mount will suit some users more than others.
Something every potential Osmo Mobile 2 owner will appreciate though is the price. At launch the original Osmo Mobile cost close to £300 and whilst it’s now hovering at around £220, the new Osmo Mobile 2 starts at a comparatively paultry £129. Not bad for a longer-lasting, more versatile gimbal from a brand that guarantees higher quality over much of the competition.
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