Pairing the DJI Phantom 4 with the Osmo

Lake Willoughby panorama shot with the DJI Phantom 4 from around 200 feet up.
Lake Willoughby panorama shot with the DJI Phantom 4 from around 200 feet up.

With a baby on the way I have spent more time doing housing renovations than shooting.  I realized I have not taken a photo in 30 days when my little brother showed up from California wanting to spend a week shooting around Vermont.  Up until then I was doing a killer job on a “share a photo a day” project I was doing on Facebook.  Damn kids ruin your landscape photography!  But it is all worth it 😉

Since my little brother was also looking for photography lessons I decided to let him use my camera equipment while I shot video exclusively with the DJI Phantom 4 and DJI Osmo.  Here’s a little video we compiled:

The lifetime hours I’ve logged on video is pretty short, so it has been inspiring to use fun technology for adding more hours to my videography experience.  If one has an eye for what makes a good image it takes another dimension of vision to coordinate shots that smoothly transition within film.  Video is more forgiving than photography because the audience can figure more out within motion pictures versus still images, but intriguing video is far more difficult to produce.  One scene can be boring as a single video, but one scene is all one ever gets within a fantastic photo.

Take all the difficulties of planning and recognizing when/where to make great video and then add the dynamics of maintaining a smooth flow of video footage and things get way more challenging.  This is where DJI has done an excellent job in bringing smooth video to amateur videographers without cinema company budgets.  The most popular product for shooters like me is the Phantom drone.  The first two versions required sourcing a GoPro-like camera and expensive gimbal attachment along with limiting the pilot to line-of-sight flying.  This meant the pilot had to watch the drone at all times and could only adjust the camera when the drone was not flying.  With the Phantom 3 and 4 models DJI introduced Lightbridge technology that displays the current image being seen by the camera along with the ability to make manual adjustments to the camera while flying.  This is a game changer!

The Phantom 3 & 4 also have all the gear needed built-in and it works fairly seamlessly.  The Phantom 4 adds a number of improvements that mostly act like artificial intelligence.  Those include things like obstacle avoidance and automated tracking that are super helpful to the novice (me)!

DJI’s Osmo is a newer addition to their product line-up that I would consider a Version 1.  Each update makes it a little better, but it isn’t as seamless as the Phantom 4.  However, when it comes to inexpensive hand-held videography this is going to be the lightest and best working gimbal for making smooth video.  And the price is right!

I get around 40 minutes of continuous video off of a single Osmo battery and around 20 minutes on the Phantom’s.  The smoothness of the gimbals are pretty close on both.  The Osmo has two issues that need to be accounted for when filming:  you need to walk smoothly with long strides in order to decrease the bounce during walking footage and it is difficult to keep the camera level on the horizon if you aren’t just shooting a straight flow of motion.  I have found the “selfie stick” accessory helps in both instances because holding the camera close to your body shows just how off-tilt you are yourself…. or maybe that’s just me.

Other than that I highly recommend both devices and welcome any questions one may have about them.  Still images off the Phantom 4 are super cool and panoramas are AMAZING!  The Phantom 4 is absolutely a camera worth getting for a still photographer.  It also shoots in RAW!