It seems like the whole world (or at least the photographic world) is buzzing about the new Osmo Pocket 3 from drone maker DJI. It’s a portable, full featured kit for video makers, YouTube creatives, and even regular consumers who want to easily capture high quality 4K video with a gimbal mounted camera.
While it creates beautiful 4K videos, and even lovely slow-motion clips, it’s got other features that may have slipped by that are worth a look, and I think even photographers that concentrate more on stills than video will find some things they like.
First, still quality. Its 1″ sensor isn’t going to threaten landscape or portrait photographers with highly detailed images, as the Pocket 3 has a resolution of 3840×2160 at 16×9 and at 1:1 3072×3072. For stills it has an ISO range of 50-6400 at ƒ2.0. Not half bad, but not as detailed as the still camera you probably own now.
I took the camera out on a trail here in Southern Arizona and got a nice daylight shot.
I grabbed my iPhone 15 Pro Max and took the shot again, and got this:
Although the 2 cameras don’t match in focal length or resolution (the iPhone 15 Pro Max has more) but looking at the two files close up (both were originally shot RAW), I thought the Pocket 3 did just fine, and in fact the green vegetation was more accurate on the Pocket 3.
Panoramas and Low Light Images
The Pocket 3 also has a nice panorama feature that can take 9 images and put them into a square composite, or it can shoot a 180 degree image. With panoramas the Pocket 3 will shoot jpegs, or you can have it shoot jpeg+RAW. This is also true of stills.
I tried a 9 exposure pano after sunset with a few Christmas lights and I thought the result was good. It seemed to be as good as my iPhone, which is excellent in low light. It even picked up a bright star over the house.
Focus is certainly acceptable close up and in the distance. The scene as captured look brighter than it actually was. The camera was hand held with its built-in gimbal keeping things steady. The pocket 3 will automatically assemble your pano in jpeg format, but if you’ve asked for RAW files you can use whatever software you like to assemble them yourself. I tried Photoshop and Luminar Neo and got excellent results. There’s some spherical distortion which I could have edited, but thought I’d display the image as it came out of the camera.
Another feature that doesn’t get too much play is the time lapse feature. I took the Pocket 3 outside and got a time lapse of the nearby Catalina Mountains. The Pocket 3 has a feature that lets you set an automated pan, so I chose left to right, and in manual mode set a length for my little video and a frame rate. There are also presets for clouds and sunsets.
Here’s the result on the first try. Click on the link to see the video.
I uploaded the video at 1080p but could have shot that in 4K.
I could think of a lot of ways the time lapse feature would be worthwhile, and am now wondering if I could get a Milky Way time lapse? The equipment is so lightweight it’s really easier to use out in the field than my Sony mirrorless and lens. The final result will certainly not be as high quality, but I’m betting it will be pretty good based on what I’ve seen so far. and I love the size and ease of use of the Pocket 3
The Osmo Pocket 3 is already a hit with the video crowd, but I’ve seen that it is a pretty good tool for stills, panoramas, and time lapse work. I’m not saying it’s still image quality is going to beat my mirrorless camera, or your DSLR, but it’s capable and does some things easily that are more trouble on other cameras.
If you’re using the Pocket 3 for travel or internet videos, it’s worth exploring its other capabilities. If you’re thinking about a Pocket 3 but video would be a seldom used feature, I think there’s enough quality in terms of still photography, low light, panoramas and time lapse to give it a second look.
There’s also the DJI MINO app for iOS and Android that gives you remote control of the Pocket 3, and let’s you download images right away to your mobile device.
DJI has learned a lot about cameras and gimbals from their drone business, and their purchase of Hassleblad a few years ago. Much of that learning is wrapped into the Pocket 3.
While the camera has a digital zoom, I’d love to see a model with an optical zoom. And at some point a larger sensor.
The DJI Osmo Pocket 3 is available at the usual outlets, in camera only form at $519.00 or with a bunch of useful accessories (extra battery, tripod, wireless microphone) in their creator kit at $669.00. They’ve been hard to get, with many retailers back ordered, but wait times are now decreasing.