In addition to its successful consumer drones, DJI has established itself in the smartphone gimbal business. Its portable stabilisers, termed ‘Osmo’ earlier, have permitted some rather advanced capabilities throughout the years.
But, with smartphones’ built-in stabilisation getting so good, do we really need an extra gimbal? If you’re a YouTuber, the DJI OM 5 has enough smart features to make it useful.
Yes, it’s an extender!
- Built-in selfie stick extends
- 1/4-inch screw for tripod mounting
- Magnetic phone mount
- Optional fill light accessory
DJI has taken some of the fantastic concepts from the previous OM 4 and took some of the heft away from the OM 5, before burying a party trick inside: a selfie stick. They were all the rage a few years ago, and DJI has opted to incorporate one into its latest smartphone gimbal.
Unfortunately (but logically), it is not a powered function. So you can’t just click a button and have it instantly expand out. Instead, you must physically pull it until it reaches the appropriate length. We don’t think the extra motors and complexity required for a motored version are worth the extra weight and expense.
The extension extends around 25cm to the distance between you and the camera, allowing you to shoot wider pictures with the front-facing camera for shooting vlog-style videos for social media or simply taking selfies.
The previous models’ angular appearance has been lost in the design of the stabiliser. Instead, the OM 5’s handle is a nearly perfect cylinder with a dip on the back grip that is perfectly formed for tucking in the mount and arm when folded away for storage. The arm has also been made thinner, and the hinge has been relocated up the arm.
This change in shape is purely cosmetic, as the OM 5 retains all of the usual buttons and controls around the top: the directional joystick, record/shutter button, index finger trigger, and directional switcher button on the front; the zoom slider and power button on the left; and the Type-C port for charging on the right.
While the shrinking makes sense in terms of mobility and the extending arm offers adaptability, there is a strong impression that it has come at the expense of durability. The new gimbal feels less strong and substantial than its predecessors, and the hinges and moving bits on the buttons feel a little flimsier as well. It doesn’t have the same polished appearance.
Despite this, the manufacturer kept the OM 4’s main feature: the magnetic phone attachment method. Instead of wrestling with grips that are permanently attached to the arm, there is a magnetic technology that allows the phone clamp to release. That way, you can fit it onto your phone and then snap it into place when you’re ready.
It also implies that DJI will be able to release a new extra clamp with built-in LED strip lights on the grips. It’s known as a Fill Light, and it allows you to photograph yourself in the dark by lighting your face with light. It is an optional accessory, but it comes with its own built-in battery and USB-C charging port.
How should the controls be used?
- Bluetooth connection
- Control through Mimo app
When you initially turn on the OM 5, you must hold down the power button for many seconds. It’s a method DJI has employed for years on its products, and it prevents you from accidentally turning your drone or gimbal on or off.
Then you download the DJI Mimo app and follow the setup instructions within it. It connects to your Bluetooth connection to pair with the OM 5, and then the phone and grip communicate wirelessly.
Some of the physical buttons just regulate the movement of the OM 5’s arm, while others control the phone’s recording. The zoom slider on the left, for example, allows you to seamlessly zoom in and out. If your phone has multiple cameras on the back, it will swap between them.
For example, if you drag downwards on an iPhone 12 to take a wider image, it will switch to the ultra-wide lens. On the iPhone, this process isn’t fully smooth; there’s a slight lag while switching to the other lens, and it takes around a second to load the view from the secondary camera.
You can start and stop recording (or snap a photo) by pressing the red shutter/capture button on the front of the grip, or you may use the red button on your phone screen. To frame your shot, use the joystick to move the arm left and right or up and down manually and smoothly.
It has a wide range of motion from left to right, allowing you to pan very far. Unfortunately, the up and down motion isn’t as far-reaching. It can point directly upwards, but only a few degrees downwards when the handle is erect. That means that if you want to acquire a top-down view, you must either hold it and point it downwards yourself, or mount it to a frame or arm.
The little trigger on the front of the OM 5 is the other physical control. With a subject in view, pushing this once activates the ActiveTrack feature (which tracks subjects within a frame regardless of their or the camera’s movement), while pressing it fast twice re-centres the camera so it’s facing forwards. When manually moving the camera, you can also push and hold it to switch to a faster response from the arm.
- Easy to use automation for motion timelapse
- ActiveTrack 4.0
As with every DJI product, automation and tracking are what make it so appealing. Much of this is similar to what you’d see in prior generations. In fact, the OM 4 shares the majority of the features of the OM 5.
The motion time-lapse feature is the one automatic programme that has likely the most visual impact, and it’s something you can’t simply perform with just a phone. You place the OM 5 on its supplied attachable feet or mount it to a tripod, then launch the Timelapse option in the app.
Then, at the top of the screen, you may specify how long you want to record for and at what intervals each frame should be taken. It then tells you how long the resulting video recording will be, allowing you to adjust it to the appropriate length.
You can select whether the timelapse is a simple fixed shot, a straight pan left to right, or a straight pan right to left at the very bottom of this menu. However, there is also a custom path mode, which allows you to specify the start and endpoints, as well as any additional specified spots in between (up to four in total). When you press the record button, it will automatically follow the path you created. All you have to do now is wait for it to be done.
ActiveTrack, on the other hand, has improved this year. It is compatible with a wider range of resolutions and frame rates. It’s also more responsive, so it can handle topics that move at a somewhat faster pace.
It works fine for the most part. When you use the selfie camera, it detects and tracks your face automatically. As a result, if you move, the camera’s arm moves to keep your face in the centre. That is, whether you are moving or the camera is moving. It’s the same method as shooting another subject, however you have to manually tag a person, pet, or item to keep track of it.
This is simple enough; simply draw a square around the subject with your finger on your phone’s touchscreen. It performs admirably even in low-light situations. The only time it struggled was when the object was blocked from view or moved too quickly for it to keep up. Alternatively, if the subject moves too close to the camera and occupies too much of the available frame area.
- ActiveTrack works well in the following face
- Fill light makes shooting at night worthwhile
- Much more pocket-friendly than its predecessor
- Doesn’t feel all that sturdy
- Limited up/down motion
With its built-in selfie stick and automatic face-tracking when utilising the selfie camera, it’s evident that the OM 5 model is primarily aimed at vloggers.
It allows you to hold your phone in front of you – fairly far away if necessary – while maintaining your face in the centre of the frame, so you don’t have to focus too hard on making sure you’re correctly framed. It certainly makes filming yourself lot easier, and with the optional Fill Light, you can also shoot it at night.
For those looking to shoot moving objects and other topics, the OM 5 doesn’t offer much more than the preceding OM 4. That means there’s no reason to upgrade unless you’re filming a lot of yourself. Furthermore, with the addition of moving parts, hinges, and an extended arm, the current model has lost some of its stability and durability.
Finally, if you want a smart selfie stick with fascinating automatic capabilities, the OM 5 is for you. However, if all you want is a smart portable smartphone gimbal, you may still go for the OM 4 from 2020 and get something a little more sturdy as a consequence.