DJI Osmo Pocket 3 Review: Compact, Capable, Powerful

DJI Osmo Pocket 3

The DJI Osmo Pocket 3 skips the smartphone as a capture device and uses an integrated camera, essentially taking the front of a DJI drone and mounting it to a control stick. It is also one of the few creator gimbals I like and love using.

For creators, a compact gimbal is meant to provide go-anywhere video or photo capture that benefits from image stabilization and can be set up and used very quickly. This is a simple goal that most gimbals fail to accomplish. By using a smartphone for image capture, compact gimbals tend to be not-so-compact. Top-heavy and awkward, most systems are cumbersome to use.

The Osmo Pocket lineup flips the gimbal design on its head, figuratively speaking, and puts all the controls and features into a device with a built-in camera, eliminating the biggest drawback of other tools.

To know why I like the Osmo Pocket 3 so much, let’s step back and talk about the problems inherent in most creator-focused gimbals and how DJI approaches the same challenges.

The Gimbal Conundrum

Most gimbal systems for creators are designed to use a smartphone as the primary recording device since everyone always has an iPhone or Android phone with them. This reliance on the smartphone as the recording and control device has some benefits, mainly from an optics standpoint, but that design choice also has many limitations.

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When placed on a small gimbal, the large screen of a smartphone makes the whole package top-heavy. This image-capture choice necessitates a beefy design to handle the weight and overcome the cantilever effect of the phone. If the design focuses instead on lightweight portability, the gimbal feels flimsy and is prone to falling over when used on a tripod.

A gimbal based on a smartphone forces the use of a lower-quality front-facing camera when doing selfie footage or requires a higher-quality back-facing camera. Using the back-facing camera makes checking footage and settings during recording more difficult.

Using a smartphone also necessitates utilizing the phone’s built-in audio — likely using Bluetooth — or requires a wireless adapter connected to the bottom of the phone which throws off the balance of most gimbals. With smartphones having improved built-in stabilization modes, it is sometimes easier to use the phone at arm’s length than a gimbal.

An Integrated Solution

I reviewed the DJI Osmo Pocket 3 Creator Combo, priced at $670. If you just spring for the Osmo Pocket 3 by itself, that costs $520. While the Pocket 3 is a suitable creator device, the Creator Combo allows this tool to reach its potential, and I argue the Creator Combo is necessary.


The Osmo Pocket 3 has a Type 1 CMOS sensor and a built-in two-inch LCD screen that rotates and whose orientation is used to switch between vertical and horizontal shooting. It features a 3-axis gimbal, ActiveTrack 6, and stereo audio recording.

Able to record up to 4K at 120 frames per second (fps), the Osmo Pocket 3 can even record in DJI’s D-Log format in 10-bit, the same log and color reproduction space of its drones, enabling the Osmo Pocket 3 to capture footage that matches the company’s aerial solutions.

The Osmo Pocket 3 can live stream, capture timelapses, hyperlapses, and even “motionlapse,” which captures images when motion is detected in the frame. The company’s ActiveTrack is the same used on their drones and is excellent, and their companion phone app follows the company’s history of making well-designed UI interfaces.

The creator kit includes a clip-on wireless mic plus a magnet to hold it to clothing if there isn’t any easy place to use the clip. It also adds a battery grip to supplement the internal battery and that battery add-on has a tripod mount point. There’s an additional smaller handle adapter with a tripod mount, and using that handle instead of the battery handle makes the package smaller and lighter. The kit also has a magnetic wide-angle lens, and in an intelligent bit of industrial design, many of these items fit into the plastic carrying case.

Image Formats

The DJI Osmo Pocket 3 can record 4K in up to 60fps and 2.7K and 1080p in the 16:9 or 19:6 format. It can also record 3k in the 1:1 crop and slow motion footage up to 4K 120fps and 1080p 240fps. Video is recorded at 130Mbps and in 10-bit and D-Log for color grading and matching to other DJI devices.

The camera captures 3,840 x 1,600-pixel resolution images (around 9.4 megapixels) on the still image front. Still, photography is neither the design nor the strength of the Pocket 3; honestly, this isn’t a device I would turn to for still images. While not “potato” quality, the still images produced by the Pocket 3 are much lower than those taken with a recent iPhone.

Strangely, panoramic modes are limited to a 180-degree panorama or a 3×3 stitched capture. It’s unclear why the 180-degree field of view can’t comprise multiple stitched images as with competing systems.


I went into testing the DJI Osmo Pocket 3 more than a little skeptical but was quickly converted despite having some issues setting up the pre-release beta version I was sent. There won’t be configuration problems for the new user now that the Osmo Pocket 3 has been announced, but this did bring up the first—and only—issue I have with the device, which I will get to in the “Issues” section.

The Pocket 3 is smartly designed. The two-inch screen is bright and easy to see even in direct sunlight. While the nature of the tiny touchscreen cramps the interface, it’s easy to operate, and the companion, the DJI Mimo app, provides complete control over the Pocket 3 with much easier-to-operate controls.

The Pocket 3 can be activated by long-pressing the power switch or by rotating the screen from the vertical to the horizontal position.

Switching from horizontal to vertical or vice versa changes the orientation of the captured footage and only requires turning the screen. With most gimbals, switching orientations requires several buttons or switch presses or physically turning the phone to the desired orientation.

The battery life in the Pocket 3 can run down quickly, which makes the accessory battery particularly desirable. The added length of the battery also makes the Osmo Pocket 3 more comfortable when shooting selfies, and the extra reach results in a bit more background in the shot.

The creator kit also includes DJI’s excellent wireless microphone, which justifies the upgrade to the Creator Combo. The Pocket 3 has front-facing and rear-facing microphones (and can record audio from one or both mics simultaneously), but the wireless mic helps improve audio quality.

The accessory handle in the kit also provides a tripod mount (and a set of tiny tripod feet), and I used the Pocket 3 on a tripod for a lot of hands-on tutorial video footage.

An accessory “wide angle lens” is provided, although this is simply a magnetic clip-on piece of glass that only minimally changes the focal length. The wide-angle lens reduces the need for an extended selfie-stick grip, though it would be better to hold the camera at a greater distance and still have control.

Gestures and Angles

With smartphone-based capture devices, there is an inherent tradeoff between image quality and functionality. To capture the best footage, the rear-facing cameras should be used, yet to monitor footage when capturing a selfie, the front-facing camera has to be used.

Most gimbal software attempts to remedy this by using hand gestures or speech recognition to activate recording. However, anyone who has used these systems is familiar with them not activating correctly. As a single-creator channel, I don’t have anyone to monitor my footage, so I often stop and start recording to ensure I get the previous footage.

Still image quality is not the strong suit of the Osmo.

This isn’t a problem with the Pocket 3 because the head rotates to face the user during selfie capture. Monitoring a shot, even on the small screen, is a lifesaver. A few times during testing, a person wandered behind me into my shot, and I would not have known without a way to see what I was recording.

The Pocket 3 doesn’t have the angular range of some traditional gimbals so that it could be better for really low subjects, but it does pivot up quite far for an excellent range if the unit is placed below them on a table or other surface.

Automatic Framing

DJI is known to have excellent software for its drones and the DJI Mimo software has many of those same features. It’s easy to set the video resolution and formats, control the various specialty shooting modes (panorama, timelapse, hyperlapse, etc.), and activate subject tracking.

Recording with the DJI Mimo app makes composition and control even easier than using the built-in screen.

Subject tracking, inherited from their drone software, works exceptionally well, and face-detection tracking is excellent. It’s on par with many higher-end vlogging cameras. Being both a camera and a gimbal means the Pocket 3 can pivot to follow a subject, which allowed me to walk around a frame during video shooting. Even if I didn’t need to move through the frame, I found that doing so made my production look like I had a camera operator following me around.

Streaming and Webcam

In addition to being a capable creator camera, the DJI Osmo Pocket 3 functions as a zero-configuration streaming camera and webcam.

While I don’t have much occasion to live stream, I set up the Pocket 3 easily as it requires nothing more than plugging in the USB-C cable, selecting webcam, and streaming from the touch screen. The quality of footage is superior to the camera built into my MacBook Pro or phone.


The Mimo app enables live streaming and connects to all the primary services, enabling quick streaming launches. In contrast, the separate app and camera allow the stream to be monitored using Osmo’s high-resolution camera.


The DJI Osmo Pocket 3 needs to be connected to the mobile app before it can be used, and the app needs to be connected to the internet via WiFi or cell. The Pocket 3 can be used several times before activating, but the device locks the user out after those attempts.

Frankly, this is unacceptable. The DJI Osmo Pocket 3 is a $700 camera system (if you include the Creator Combo) and it does not require an app to function. The app is needed to transfer images wirelessly and update the firmware, but neither is strictly necessary to use the device.

A manufacturer bricking a device without logging into a service should never happen and I’m surprised it’s legal. This behavior also does nothing to help the perception that the Chinese-based DJI is trying to harvest user information, whether it’s what DJI is doing or not.

Compact, Capable, Powerful

Despite being (so obviously) upset about the app login requirements, I found the DJI Osmo Pocket 3 to be a compact, capable, and powerful video capture tool. It is one of the few devices I have pre-ordered and it was one I could use for video production from day one.

The video quality is top-notch (while still images are not), the design is innovative, and the accessories make the DJI Osmo Pocket 3 an even more advanced tool.

Are There Alternatives?

There are too many compact gimbals even to begin to list the alternatives. Online marketplaces are flooded with phone-based gimbals that function with varying levels of success and at a dizzying array of prices.

The closest stand-alone devices are action cameras, but they’re not designed for all the use cases of the Osmo Pocket 3, and they don’t have the physical gimbal to stabilize handheld footage. The Insta360 Flow is one of the smallest smartphone-using gimbals but is considerably larger even without the phone attached.

The lack of similar options puts the DJI Osmo Pocket 3 in a category with other options, but none have the same flexibility and features.

ShouldYou Buy It?

Yes. If you are a solo creator looking for a great solution in an image-stabilized do-anything,-go-anywhere package, then DJI Osmo Pocket 3 is the right choice.