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HomeGADGETSPOCKET GADGETSDJI Osmo Action 3 review: Let's try that again

DJI Osmo Action 3 review: Let’s try that again

DJI’s latest action camera marks a return to its original GoPro-inspired form factor, and its original naming, too.

While 2021’s Action 2 impressed us with its modularity and unique design, the unusual camera brought with it some serious compromises. There were just too many workarounds required for the camera’s tiny chassis, and overheating issues were fairly common.

With the Osmo Action 3, DJI seems to have learned from its mistakes and has returned to a safer design that should be far more user-friendly and robust.

On paper, it seems like it could prove to be a real rival to GoPro’s market dominance, so let’s find out how it shapes up.

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Pocket-lint

DJI Osmo Action 3
Recommended

The Osmo Action 3 marks DJI’s return to the GoPro-style form factor, and with it comes massive improvements in usability and versatility.

Pros

  • Super-wide field of view
  • Awesome magnetic mounting system
  • Slightly smaller and lighter than a GoPro
  • Best-in-class waterproofing
  • Front touchscreen
Cons

  • The rubber lens protector feels like an afterthought
  • Vertical shooting requires a bracket
  • The Action 2 modular system is likely abandoned

  • Weight: 145 grams
  • Waterproof up to 16m (52.5ft) without housing
  • Front-facing touchscreen, magnetic mounting system

At first glance, the Osmo Action 3 looks almost exactly like the original Osmo Action – however, as you look closer, there are numerous changes to be found. One of the first things we noticed was that the Action 2’s awesome magnetic quick-release mounting system makes an appearance on the camera’s base. What’s more, it has been updated for this release, offering a more secure locking mechanism than before.

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Pocket-lint

On the original Osmo Action, you needed to put the camera in a frame to use it with any kind of mounting solution. This upgrade brings the camera more in-line with GoPro’s integrated mounting tabs. With that said, there is still a frame included in the box, and that’s used for mounting the camera in a vertical orientation. It’s a shame that the vertical mount couldn’t be integrated into the body, but given that it would interfere with the battery door, the decision makes sense.

The Action 3 features a touchscreen display on the front of the camera, so you can change settings without needing to access the rear. We could see this being useful when the camera is mounted in a hard-to-reach location, and it may also prove handy for vloggers wanting to switch settings on the fly.

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Pocket-lint

There’s a large side door that flips out in a similar fashion to the GoPro Hero 10 Black, and this hides the battery and microSD card slot. On the opposite side, there’s a door for the USB-C. The buttons have shifted to match GoPro’s configuration, too, whereas previously both the power/menu button and record button were on the top of the device.

We were very happy to see the return of the replaceable lens cover, which was absent on the Action 2. In our opinion, a replaceable lens cover is pretty much essential on any device that’s designed for action sports use. The shape makes the protector much easier to remove than on a GoPro, which can be comparatively quite difficult. There are some unusual things going on with its design, though.

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Pocket-lint

The lens protector itself is made from glass with an aluminium knurled ring around the edge. It comes fitted with a rubber bumper around the edge to protect the aluminium. It’s easy to see why the rubber ring would be necessary, but the fact that it’s a separate piece means you could easily lose it. To us, it seems like a bit of an afterthought, and it would make more sense for the lens protector to be made of a more durable material that doesn’t need a cover.

Another interesting aspect of the design is that DJI has used the “O” in the Action 3 logo to house a small colour temperature sensor. We thought this was a clever touch, and although we don’t recall seeing an external colour temperature sensor on an action camera before, it’ll be interesting to see what effect it has in use.

Features and battery

  • Swappable 1770mAh battery, 30W fast charging
  • Wi-Fi live streaming and webcam support
  • InvisiStick for Skiing feature

The battery is what DJI calls a 1770mAh Extreme Battery, and it’s essentially the brand’s answer to GoPro’s Enduro battery. Compared to GoPro’s solution, it offers an additional 50mAh of juice and can withstand temperatures down to -20 celsius (compared to -10 on the Enduro). In our experience, the battery performed superbly, frequently outlasting our Hero 11 Black.

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Pocket-lint

When it does run out, you’ll be back up and running in no time thanks to its fast charging support that gives you an 80 per cent charge in just 18 minutes. Flat-to-full takes around 50 minutes with DJI’s 30W USB-C charger, which is sold separately – only a USB-C cable is supplied in the box.

The bundle that we’re testing came with a three-bay battery charging case, which is a neat little solution for fast-charging multiple batteries at once. We love that the case has a couple of microSD card slots on the lid for keeping your storage handy, too. It also functions as a power bank, so you can top up your phone if you have an appropriate cable.

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Pocket-lint

The Osmo Action 3 can be used as a USB webcam and also supports live streaming over Wi-Fi, which is pretty much expected of a high-end action cam in 2022. It’s nice to have the webcam functionality but the extremely wide field of view means that it won’t look like a normal webcam, even in the Dewarp setting. Depending on your use case, this could be a positive or a negative, but it’s probably the widest, most distorted webcam you can get your hands on.

A more unique feature is something called InvisiStick for Skiing. This masks over a selfie stick, creating an invisible stick effect that’s normally only achievable with a 360 camera. DJI says this only works with snow sports, and unfortunately, snow is quite hard to come by at this moment, but it could be very useful if it works as advertised.

Video and photo capture

  • Video resolution: 4K/120fps, 2.7K/120fps, 1080p/240fps
  • Photo resolution: 12MP
  • RockSteady 3.0, HorizonBalancing, HorizonSteady

The obvious comparison when it comes to photo and video performance is the GoPro Hero 11 Black, and just by looking at the specifications, we can see that DJI can’t match the top dog when it comes to resolution and frame rates. However, the Osmo Action 3 comes at a significantly lower price point, so it doesn’t really need to match the GoPro to be a compelling option.

Video captured by the Action 3 is sharp and detailed while the colours appear natural and accurate. It’s on the contrasty side, and if you compare it side-by-side with the Hero 11, it doesn’t have quite as much dynamic range, but it’s still a very pleasing image straight from the camera. If you’re judging the image on its own merits, without the comparison, we doubt you’d find much to complain about.

During our testing, the Action 3 lacked 10-bit colour capture but DJI has added this via firmware update in the time since. Videos shot in the D-Cinelike profile are now 10-bit and allow for more flexibility in colour grading.

One of the things we immediately noticed is that the DJI Osmo Action 3 offers an extremely wide field of view, similar to that of the Action 2. The extremely wide lens was one of our favourite things about last year’s camera, so we’re very happy to see it make its way here, too.

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Pocket-lint

Compared to GoPro’s new HyperView mode, DJI’s Ultra Wide offers a similar horizontal width, but HyperView gives a little more on the vertical axis thanks to the camera’s 8:7 sensor. Either way, if you’re looking for that distorted extra-wide FOV, both cameras deliver the goods.

As with previous DJI cameras, the motion is super smooth thanks to the excellent onboard RockSteady stabilisation. The camera can do full 360 horizon locking, too, but only at up to 2.7K resolution, whereas the GoPro offers it all the way up to 5.3k.

Vertical shooting support is new in this model, and given how important the format has become, with the popularity of TikTok, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts, we’re pleased to see it included.

Verdict

The Osmo Action 3 is a serious GoPro competitor, with an appealing price point and plenty of features.

It may not be a huge leap forward in image quality, but it’s an extremely capable action camera that can produce stunning results. This is something that’s only improved since 10-bit colour has been added.

The Action 3 is a delight to use, with an intuitive menu, responsive dual touch screens, fast charging and a speed mounting solution.

If you want the best image, GoPro is still the way to go, but this camera proves that DJI isn’t far behind – and with a price like this, it might just be the better purchase.

 

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