Review: The DJI OM 5 smartphone gimbal gets more compact, still adds features
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Review: The DJI OM 5 smartphone gimbal gets more compact, still adds features

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If you’ve ever tried recording video or timelapse sequences with your smartphone, you know that footage can be shaky and unpolished, even with built-in image stabilization. Enter the DJI OM 5, a compact, 3-axis gimbal. In addition to gimbal stabilization, the OM 5 makes it easy to pan and zoom, track subjects, and create visual stories that can instantly be shared on social media.

Is it worth upgrading or investing in one? Let’s find out.


Key takeaways:

  • 3-axis stabilization
  • Magnetic phone mount for quick setup
  • Built-in extension rod allows creative shots and angles
  • ShotGuides feature recommends camera shots based on what you’re filming and creates clips for social media
  • ActiveTrack 4.0 subject tracking is very effective
  • Video modes like DynamicZoom and SpinShot can create cool effects
  • Companion Mimo app includes lots of tutorials
  • Six-hour battery life

Arriving a little over a year after its predecessor, the OM 4, the OM 5 is roughly one-third smaller when folded down and can fit in a pocket or small purse. Besides the physical changes, the OM 5 includes notable improvements and new features, particularly DJI’s Active Track 4.0 for subject tracking and a built-in extension rod.


The OM 5 gimbal

The OM 5 is very compact folded down. A built-in 215mm extension rod allows you to capture group shots or get more challenging angles. The ‘M’ button on the side powers up the device. Directly underneath is a slider that allows you to zoom in and out quickly.

A new 215mm built-in extension rod helps you get more challenging or unconventional shots. It’s much easier to shoot from a low angle with the rod extended.

A joystick on the device’s front allows you to tilt or pan the smartphone, and a record button captures photos or videos when pressed. Holding down the record button activates burst shooting. This button is especially useful when using the extension rod.

Beneath the record button is a ‘switch’ button. Pressed once, you can switch between the front and back cameras on your smartphone. Pressing the button twice will switch the orientation between landscape and portrait mode. A large trigger button on the back locks the gimbal when held down, activates Active Track 4.0 when pressed once, and re-centers the gimbal when pressed twice.

A strong magnetic clamp with rubberized grips is easy to mount even the largest smartphones.

A 1/4″-20 UNC port on the bottom attaches to the included tripod. DJI recommends using the tripod when recording timelapse or hyperlapse clips for the smoothest footage possible. An M3-0.5 screw hole on the top, where the phone goes, allows you to attach a microphone or other counterweight weighing less than 290g. A lanyard hole at the bottom, just above where the tripod connects, enables you to attach a wrist strap.

A magnetic smartphone mount, first introduced on the OM 4, makes mounting or unmounting the phone simple

A magnetic smartphone mount, first introduced on the OM 4, makes mounting or unmounting the phone simple. The magnet needs to be centered on the phone to avoid vibration due to uneven weight distribution, but once you have the magnet in place, mounting the phone is quick and easy.

The OM 5 takes a mere 1.5 hours to charge and yields up to six hours of battery life.


The DJI Mimo app

The OM 5 uses DJI’s Mimo smartphone app, which is filled with tutorials that explain how to use and get the most out of each feature.

On the right side of the app, you’ll find a new DJI feature called ShotGuides. It recognizes the environment you’re in and automatically recommends a shot sequence. Weddings, people, and pets are a few examples. (I tried it out when filming a tennis practice and the app marked it as ‘Leisure’.)

Once a series of clips are captured, the app will stitch together several predetermined shots at varying time lengths to create an instantly shareable clip that includes music and graphics.

ShotGuides recognizes the environment or activity you’re filming and recommends a shot sequence. You get the option to customize which way the gimbal will automatically move. It will record for a set amount of seconds before letting you choose the next angle for the next shot.

On the right-hand side of the app, or at the bottom, depending on the smartphone’s orientation, you’ll find the photography and videography shooting modes. They are:

  • Hyperlapse: shoot a hyperlapse sequence while moving the mobile phone.
  • Timelapse: there are four ways to record this: fixed, sequence, right to left or reverse. There’s also a custom motion to select up to four positions for the gimbal to maneuver.
  • DynamicZoom: simulates a dolly zoom effect.
  • Slow Motion: record video at either 4X or 8X slow motion.
  • Video: record regular video.
  • Photo: capture regular pictures. Holding down the button activates burst mode.
  • Pano: capture 3×3, 240°, or CloneMe. The latter creates an image in which the same subject appears in multiple places in the same photo. It counts down 5 seconds after each capture so your subject can move to the next position in the frame.
  • Story: provides a multitude of templates, guides, and automated angles. After each clip is recorded, it will be stitched together for an instantly shareable story.

This short video shows an example of DJI’s ShotGuides feature in action. It stitches together several clips, then adds some music and graphics for quick social media sharing.

DJI’s ActiveTrack 4.0 can be used if you want the gimbal to track a subject automatically and is activated when you draw a square around the head and shoulders of a subject. It will keep that subject centered in the frame and follow it, automatically panning and tilting the gimbal head to do so.

Finally, gesture control lets you tell the gimbal to track you when you’re in front of the camera. Hold your palm up to the camera, or make a ‘V’ shape with your fingers for two seconds to activate subject tracking.


What’s it like to use

The OM 5 is lightweight, agile, and impressive for the most part. What was awkward for me was the process of unfolding the gimbal. While designed to be folded down to the smallest dimensions possible, I found it a bit confusing to unfold and almost thought it would break it at one point. That said, the plastic is sturdy and durable – not flimsy like some competing products.

One thing to keep in mind is that the joystick, which pans and tilts the gimbal, along with the zoom switch, doesn’t respond based on the pressure applied to them. You’ll need to go into the app’s settings to adjust how fast or slow you want these transitions to take place. It’s a bit of a nuisance, as it would be less work to apply that pressure from your finger to achieve the speed of panning or zooming desired.

Hyperlapse sequence captured with the OM 5.

The magnetic OM 5 phone mount, with its rubberized sides, was able to hold my iPhone 12 Pro Max with ease, and I didn’t worry about it falling off the gimbal. Once the phone is clamped in, and the device is turned on, the Mimo app connects everything almost instantly. This is a refreshing departure from sometimes waiting a few minutes for a DJI drone to connect to the remote.

Getting accustomed to the shooting modes takes some trial and error. For example, I wanted to record a timelapse with two-second intervals. Instead, I discovered that I recorded two total seconds of timelapse. Conversely, DynamicZoom, which imitates the dolly zoom effect made famous by filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock is pretty straightforward. Then there’s ShotGuides, a new feature DJI is touting with this release.

While the tutorial videos provided for ShotGuides show users how to capture different angles, I found it hard to replicate those shots in real life.

While the tutorial videos provided for ShotGuides are meant to show users how to capture different angles, I found it hard to replicate those same shots in real life. The whole setup feels a bit overwhelming, especially when a video pops up every time you select a new shot to record. The final video, stitched together, has animations throughout that look dated and, quite frankly, cheesy. Each clip is saved on your phone, though, in case you do feel like editing them together for something that looks more organic.

DJI’s ActiveTrack 4.0 had no problem tracking my dog and panning to follow her as she chased a treat. It’s very effective, probably because DJI has been perfecting the technology on drones for years.

Using ActiveTrack 4.0, I was able to track and follow my dog as she fetched a treat. It works remarkably well and keeps the subject centered in the frame. Another unique feature I enjoyed was Spin Shot. Activated in the app’s settings, it steadily rotated my phone 270º and created a neat video clip when filming at a skate park.

DJI also included Glamour Effects. The good news is the built-in filters don’t mirror some of the effects a Snapchat filter gives you. I was surprised to discover that it won’t grossly accentuate your features to the point where you may look cartoonish or artificial. When the front-facing camera is activated, you can adjust a slider to make your face look slimmer, your eyes larger, and your cheeks rosier. The final results are subtle and can be flattering.

To the left: me without Glamour Effects applied. To the right, you can adjust how big your eyes are or how rosy your cheeks get.

I mentioned this before, but it’s crucial to make sure your smartphone is as centered as possible. Even when I thought I mastered this, the footage I shot didn’t always turn out as expected. When researching this, I found an OM 4 video on YouTube called ‘Expectation vs. Reality.’ The takeaway is that you need to spend time with this device to perfect your shots; nothing is really instant.

If you buy an OM 5 for a vacation, for example, and break it out of the box expecting to get your intended shot on the first try, you will likely be disappointed. While it’s easy to set up, you do need to practice. Many features are built into the Mimo app, and certain adjustments can only be made in the settings. However, when you figure out the modes and proper ways to shoot, you can produce polished and professional-looking content.


Who’s it for?

Every photographer has heard the phrase, ‘the best camera is the one you have with you.’ Most photos are captured on smartphones. It’s easy and convenient. The camera technology has vastly improved in recent years, and those featured on my iPhone 12 Pro Max, for example, yield incredible results.

‘Clone Me’ panorama is a unique creative feature on the OM 5. It can create a photo where the same person or subject appears in up to three places within the frame. This was cropped to two since the horse didn’t move into the third frame quickly enough.

Professional photographers using larger cameras will likely stick to the DJI Ronin series. Content creators and vloggers, especially those regularly uploading clips to TikTok and Instagram Stories, who are looking to transcend typical or pedestrian-looking photos and videos, would benefit from some of the newer features offered with the OM 5. Overall, it’s sturdy and provides stable footage. The tripod also holds up exceptionally well, even when it’s windy.

Conclusion

Getting accustomed to the OM 5 requires a bit of a learning curve. However, the results you can get from using this 3-axis gimbal to record video, hyperlapses, and timelapses, or to get photos at difficult angles, make it worth the investment in time and money. This is something smartphone users, or those looking to share creative content on the go, can benefit from using.

What we like:

– Compact and lightweight
– Tripod makes smooth and stable footage easy to capture
– The Stories feature and tutorials make creating compelling content accessible
– Up to six hours of battery life

What we don’t:

– Design is a bit clunky; unfolding can be a challenge
– Gimbal movements can be a bit jerky at times

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