Second opinion on DJI Osmo Action, the GoPro killer

Jefferson Graham

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. — Sometimes it pays to have longer than one day to do a full review of a camera. 

In my initial look at the DJI Osmo Action, designed as a GoPro killer, I had little time to work with it and spent much of it looking at back to back action footage that DJI, the maker of the popular Mavic drones, assured me would be steadier and smoother than that of the GoPro. 

It wasn't. In fact, some of the footage was dramatically inferior to the GoPro and so shaky, USA TODAY photographer Robert Hanashiro and I were pretty surprised.  

It turns out, the Osmo camera has several settings, and several of them don't offer the "Rock Steady" stabilization feature. In fiddling with the camera at the beach on a bright day, we put the settings on 1080p, 30 frames a second, but it slipped out and switched one notch below, to 720p, for which, you guessed it, doesn't support Rock Steady.

Much of the review was based on the good 1080p, 30 frames per second footage. 

Still, I spent the weekend shooting more test footage, walking and driving with the camera, and using the Selfie camera, a bonus feature of the Osmo that the GoPro doesn't have. I also shot in slow-motion modes, in 4x and 8x slo-mo, another perk that's missing on the GoPro, and time-lapse footage.

My bottom line isn't that far off from what I initially said. Despite DJI's promise that the camera is smoother and steadier than the GoPro and will be "delivering stable, shake-free footage no matter how heavy the action gets," that's not what I would say. 

I do think it's as smooth as the GoPro, most of the time, but not smoother. Take a look at the back to back footage and you decide.

As $349, the Osmo Action is a nice alternative to the GoPro on several levels. The front viewing screen is great for vloggers to compose their shots, and even better, the footage isn't as wild and potentially distorted as the GoPro.

The slo-mo modes are absolutely awesome, giving you the option of shooting at 4x or 8x slow, and timelapse is flawless with many options as well.

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The "RockSteady" advertised on the DJI website is not available in several shooting modes, including 720 at any frame rate, 1080p at 240, 200, 120 or, 100 frames per second, 4k at 4:3 resolution and with the HDR video option. 

And that's my major beef, and consumer alert: I'm all for manual controls, but this camera has too many options. I can only imagine how many shutterbugs will let the settings slip and wonder why their footage is shaky. 

Have you checked out the DJI Osmo Action camera yet? I'd love to hear your thoughts on Twitter, where I'm @jeffersongraham

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Second opinion on DJI Osmo Action, the GoPro killer