THE recently-held IFA trade show didn’t really wow me that much. New phones, new smartwatches, virtual reality goggles, smart washing machines; I’ve seen them all before, and there was nothing that really caught my attention.
Well, except for one from DJI. The drone maker just released a new electronic handheld stabiliser for smartphones. What’s that you ask? Well, to put it simply,
this device helps eliminate shaky footage when you’re recording video on your smartphone.
Camera stabilisation tech isn’t anything new. In fact, the new breed of robotic handheld three-axis gimbals have been around designed specifically for DSLRs and action cameras.
And seeing that smartphone cameras have significantly improved in recent years, electronic handheld stabilisers with a smartphone mount have also been cropping up.
The problem is, no one actually notices them, except maybe for an avid mobile filmmaker. They’re mainly manufactured by lesser known brand names, such as Zhiyun, Feiyu and Red Fox.
DJI, best known for its Phantom quadcopter drones and Ronin DSLR stabilisers, is hoping to bring these handheld steady grips into the mainstream. It certainly helps that the company launched its latest product at IFA to get more buzz.
DJI is calling its new handheld stabiliser the Osmo Mobile. That name should easily stick in everyone’s minds.
This isn’t DJI’s first electronic three-axis handheld stabiliser though. Last year, the company released its first Osmo, which has a built-in camera capable of shooting 4K resolution video, the same camera module used in its Phantom quadcopter drones.
The Osmo Mobile swaps the camera module with a smartphone mount. It can fit nearly any smartphones, even phablets with displays of up to six inches.
The three-axis gimbal uses its motors to counteract any shake or movement to keep all your shots steady, whether you’re walking or in a moving vehicle. Once your phone is mounted on the Osmo, you can create those smooth pan and moving shots that you normally see in movies.
The Osmo Mobile has physical controls, which work like a joystick for tilting and panning the camera. Pressing and holding the trigger on the front of the stick locks the phone’s position even when you raise or lower your hand.
The Osmo can also be mounted to a tripod so you can operate it hands free, though this requires DJI’s proprietary extension rod as there is no tripod mount built into the Osmo’s grip. That rod connects to an accessory mount on the left side of the grip. DJI also sells bike and vehicle mounts to go with the Osmo.
What really sets the Osmo Mobile apart from the rest is the mobile app DJI makes to work seamlessly with its gimbal (via Bluetooth), which brings some of the tricks borrowed from its drones, such as facial recognition and tracking.
Now this is impressive. With the DJI Go mobile app, you can select a person or object on the phone screen by drawing a square around it with your finger. Once it locks on, the gimbal will automatically pan and tilt to keep the subject in your shot.
Another great feature of the Osmo Mobile is the Motion Timelapse, which lets you capture the passing of time while the camera slowly tilts and pans through a scene.
The Osmo Mobile is also a great accessory for your smartphone for taking high-resolution panoramas. The Osmo smoothly pans across the scene as your phone snaps several photos before it stitches the shots together. You can also use the Osmo to take long ex- posure shots.
As it is an electronic device, the Osmo runs on a rechargeable battery. At full charge, the device operates for a good four hours.
DJI priced the Osmo Mobile at US$299 (around $400). It’s a little pricey for a smartphone accessory, but still far more affordable than the many camera stabilisers in the market right now.
Stabilisers aren’t really a must have accessory for a lot of people, but having one with you is really handy, especially if you do a lot of video shooting on your phone.
And at this price range, I can vouch that handheld steady grips for smartphones are really going to take off in the coming months.
And it’s perfect timing too, as smartphone cameras continue to improve over time, there is really no need to buy professional camera gear anymore. Just chuck your phone onto one of these handheld stabilisers and you’re already making movie magic.