DJI Osmo Mobile 3 Review: Top-Notch, Affordable Phone Gimbal
DJI Osmo Mobile 3: Setup, Mimo App, Controls And Sample Footage
The Osmo Mobile 3’s setup is a breeze. We start with the gimbal folded up. Without a phone, the cradle’s rotation locks in place. This action combined with a few other locking points along the arm of the gimbal prevents it from flapping about when folded up. We do not recommend trying to cradle the phone with the gimbal arm extended.
As the phone is placed in the cradle, its rotation unlocks. This gives us a chance to slide the phone left and right until it balances horizontally. We can also eyeball if the cradle’s grip is centered, which is a little more forgiving for balance. If you balance the phone now, the gimbal will use less power to correct when it is in use.
Now we can extend the gimbal arm. The phone will roll around loosely but orients itself once we power on the gimbal by holding the M button for a moment.
All that’s left is to open the DJI Mimo app, establish a connection, and start recording.
When your session is done, teardown is even easier. Simply power off the gimbal by holding the power button. The phone rotates itself up. From here, we can retract the arm, remove the phone, and all parts of the gimbal neatly lock into place.
DJI Mimo App - Powerful, Capable SoftwareThe Mimo app is straightforward enough. The homepage of the app lists several overview videos for DJI Osmo products. The app also contains a user guide for each of their compatible products for easy reference. When the app detects the gimbal, it will offer to connect. The connection uses Bluetooth, and establishing it is as simple as pressing the Connect button when it appears. If you want to forget the connection, you can either remove it from your phone’s bluetooth menu or else press and hold the trigger, M and record buttons simultaneously while the gimbal is connected.
The gimbal can operate on a basic level without the app, but a few controls do not work without it. Standalone, the gimbal will still balance itself and follow movement and thumbstick based controls. The M button can be double tapped to automatically switch orientations. Holding the trigger will lock its orientation and the trigger tap followed by a hold will still activate sport mode. However, the record button will not stop and start recording, the thumb slider will not zoom the camera, and the trigger cannot be triple tapped to switch between front and rear cameras with any other camera apps. Users also cannot cycle between control modes: Follow, Tilt-Lock, and FPV - but it will retain whatever was last set in the Mimo.
Regardless, the Osmo Mobile 3 offers enough control to be perfectly usable with your preferred camera app. This can be very useful as the Mimo app has limited compatibility at best with most Android phones. For instance, we were able to shoot 4K30 video using Mimo with our Google Pixel 3 and Samsung Galaxy S8, but our LG G8 ThinQ was limited to 1080p30 despite also being 4K capable. We were able to use the default camera app instead to shoot at 4K and even vary the frame rate from 30 fps to 24 or 60 fps while still benefiting from the Osmo’s stabilization. iPhone users enjoy the fullest compatibility with Mimo, though we do not have a unit on hand to test with.
Here are some results from our efforts with Mimo and the LG G8 ThinQ,with Smooth Motion, Follow Tilt Lock and Dolly Zoom modes...
Osmo Mobile 3 ControlsThe Osmo Mobile 3’s controls are very intuitive. The default control mode is “Follow” which allows the Osmo Mobile 3 to “follow” our hand movements. We can twist our wrist and the camera will follow left and right. Similarly, we can tilt the handle forward or back to move the view up and down. This is the most fluid control mode.
If you prefer, you can use the on-screen menu to change the control mode from Follow to Tilt-Lock. As the name implies, Tilt-Lock makes the gimbal more resistant to tilting up and down, but still allows rotation left and right. We prefer using Tilt-Lock for most shots because camera tilts can be jarring.
The third control mode is FPV. In this setting, the Osmo Mobile 3 will follow your movements more aggressively and is the only mode of the three to not maintain a level frame. FPV can be useful for action shots to emphasize motion or to give a handheld feel without the handheld shakes. FPV mode also allows you to perform camera rolls by rotating the handle completely over the phone.
The Osmo Mobile 3 has two more temporary control modes – Axis Lock and Sports Mode. Both are activated using the trigger. Press and hold the trigger to engage the Axis Lock or else tap and then hold the trigger to utilize Sports Mode.
Axis Lock builds on the Tilt-Lock mode by also restricting the pan axis. The gimbal will still pan and tilt when its range of motion is exceeded, but the deadzone is rather large.
With Sports Mode activated, the gimbal becomes far more responsive. This allows the Osmo Mobile 3 to keep pace with close-ups and fast action. Unfortunately, most smartphones suffer from rolling shutter. This can make your panning shot look like jello, so we would advise using Sports Mode sparingly.
The camera can also be moved using the thumbstick. These movements are not as well controlled as the grip movements, but they will always work regardless of the current control mode. They are useful when the gimbal is on a tripod or in tandem with the grip movements when you need a more advanced maneuver.
Many of the Osmo Mobile 3’s functions are activated by pressing the trigger or M button once, twice, or three times. For the trigger, this toggles Active Track 3.0, recenters the gimbal, and switches between front and rear cameras respectively. The M button toggles between Photo and Video modes, switches between portrait and landscape orientations, and enters or leaves Standby Mode for its three combos.
If we dive into the on-screen menu, we can change a single press of the M button to a Quick Menu function in place of the Photo/Video mode toggle. With Quick Menu enabled, tapping M brings up a menu we can navigate using the thumbstick. The Quick Menu can switch between any of the capture modes, change the control mode, or play back recent captures.
The two remaining physical controls are more straightforward. The record button starts and stops a recording or takes a photo. Holding down the record button in photo mode will capture a burst of multiple photos.
The thumb slider controls the phone’s digital zoom. DJI advertises the ability to capture a Dolly Zoom effect using the gimbal. A Dolly Zoom is a shot where the camera zooms in while moving away from a subject. This results in the background appearing to expand, an effect credited to Hitchcock’s iconic film, Vertigo. This zoom control can be jumpy and irregular for some phones, which makes this application difficult. We would avoid zooming in or out at all during regular shots as well. You can see our attempts to Dolly Zoom with the Osmo Mobile 3 in the video embedded above.
Let's look at some additional features and capabilities of the DJI Osmo Mobile 3 gimbal...