A gimbal in my pocket

The DJI Osmo Pocket is a neat little gimbal-mounted camera that (literally) fits in your pocket.

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Well, isn't this a lovely little thing? And potentially handy for video journalism, too:

A pocket-sized three axis gimbal that shoots 4k video? Tempting. Very temping.

Oh, OK, I succumbed:

It's quite hard to articulate how tiny this thing is. It is quite genuinely pocket-sized — I was looking for it earlier, having forgotten it was in… my pocket — yet surprisingly powerful. This might give you an idea of its scale:

This is a 4k camera and a gimbal in less than the size of the Flip cameras I was using a decade ago. That's astonishing progress in video tech.

And the footage I've shot with it so far — mainly of my daughters — has been pretty impressive. That said, it handles quite oddly, and really wants to be attached to a phone for the best results. I don't have quite the immediate enthusiasm I thought I would have for it. I'll give it a more serious test over the holidays, and post the results here when I'm done.

Gimbals for the people

This really is a golden age for handheld stabilization, isn't it? The GoPro Hero Black 7 came out a few months ago, with some pretty impressive in-camera stabilization at work with its Hypersmooth feature. That's computational stabilization rather than optical, but it still works really well:

(Apologies for the unbearable levels of cute in the video)

The Osmo Pocket has a more natural lens length, though, so you avoid the "fish eye" effect that's so common to GoPro footage, which has me wondering if it's just a more versatile tool. Sure, I'm not going swimming with it like I do with the GoPro, but out of those situations?

I actually began to wonder if I should have held on and not bought the GoPro when I did. Just look at the relative sizes:

However, that thought quickly evaporated at the weekend. We went to visit the extended family, took a bevy of cousins to a Christmas trail at Sayers Croft, and it was absolutely throwing it down. The GoPro is waterproof. The Osmo Pocket is not. Without the GoPro I might not have got any footage at all that day.

So, there's probably room for both in my video armory. if I can get used to the Osmo Pocket's quirks.

I am beginning to develop a bit of a gimbal problem, though…

Still, it's work, isn't it?

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.