Tips for Filming with a DJI Osmo

July 9, 2016 ยท 4 minute read

Recently, I helped make a video, where we drove around the six boroughs of Toronto, eating at a restaurant in each one.

Now, at this point in the game, it had been years since I sat down and planned, shot, and edited a video in its entirety, but I wanted to run the DJI Osmo through its paces as a primary camera. Especially since I wrote glowing praise about it on my review of the DJI Osmo for the Staples Canada Tech Hub.

Thanks to this video, I've come away with a few helpful hints and tips for filming with the DJI Osmo, and I hope you find them helpful!

Trust the Gimbal

The DJI Osmo has a terrific, auto-stabilizing gimbal, that you have a great deal of control over. You can lock it on a specific point, you can have it roll along with your motion, or you can control it directly using the joystick.

Once calibrated, the gimbal does a great job of keeping your footage steady, and you can really just let the machine do the worrying for you, so you can focus on getting the perfect shot.

Don't Always Trust the Gimbal

While the DJI Osmo is really great at stabilizing your shot, you also have to remember that it's not perfect.

There were a few shots where I was trying to get footage inside of the car, but because we were driving on a bumpy highway (Gardiner Expressway, what up?) I was getting rocked pretty hard myself. The result of this was that the shot itself was steady, but the hands holding the camera were getting jerked around, so the end result was jarring and discombobulated.

In addition, hanging the DJI Osmo out the window for certain drive-by shots was a bit of a challenge: the high speed of the car caused the gimbal to get pushed around by the wind buffeting it. Not a huge dealbreaker, but the gimbal being relatively frail is definitely something to be aware of.

Keep Yourself or Vehicle Out of Frame

I'd suggest this is a general tip, as you may want this effect, but having any of my body inside of the shot (as the one holding the Osmo) or the vehicle we're filming from caused an interesting effect: the body or vehicle in-frame would bob and weave, while the rest of the shot remained very stable.

My shots of the city as we drove by look really great, in my opinion. However, certain shots didn't make the final cut because of a visual effect where myself or the car was in the shot and was jumping around in the frame, jarring the viewer out of the sweet scenery that was being shown.

However, if you're looking for a similar effect, it's definitely something fun to experiment with.

Beware of the Minimum Focus Distance

Since I was shooting food, I was trying to capture footage of the food, up close and personal. Now, this is a personal style choice, since that's how I tend to take food photos in general, but it was not something that was possible with the DJI Osmo.

Given the DJI Osmo's 1.5m minimum focus distance (I was getting decent results at around 0.75m, just not great detailing on the food), you may not be able get up-close and personal shots if that's what you're aiming for.

In general, the focus control of the DJI Osmo is not great, and you will probably want to relegate it to action shots, or b-roll type footage. Trying to achieve DLSR level shots with focus being pulled onto specific distances just isn't possible with the DJI Osmo. (Yet?)

Pack Extra Batteries

The shoot spread out over 6 hours, but actual shoot time was probably under an hour in total. That said, the DJI Osmo shooting at 4K while using a phone connected via wi-fi was having trouble getting past the 45 minute mark.

Luckily, I had a place to charge at the halfway point, albeit for a very short time, but it was enough to get us through the rest of the day.

If you're going to be doing any extensive shooting with the DJI Osmo, I highly recommend you bring a battery for every 30 minutes of footage (or 60 minutes of standby time) that you'd like to capture.

In Conclusion

My first official video shoot with the DJI Osmo was a great learning experience. I came away with a good set of tips that I've shared above, and an excitement about creating more videos with it.

Have any other tips you'd like to share for using a DJI Osmo? Share them with me on Twitter, @jonlim!