Kris Kane is a native of Washington, DC with over 15+ years of experience as a writer and editor. He has a BA in English Literature and a BA in Psychology, both from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. He has written about many different subjects for a wide array of clients, including NBC/Universal and Time-Warner.
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DJI Osmo Pocket vs the GoPro Hero 7 Black: How Do They Compare?
With the recent release of the much anticipated DJI Osmo Pocket, we finally have a definitive list of the new camera's technical specifications. DJI, now perhaps best known for their camera-equipped drones, is clearly intending to compete with the more established GoPro Hero 7 Black, as both cameras have similar specs and similar price points. So, regarding DJI vs GoPro, who comes out on top?
DJI vs GoPro
It's an interesting question, and at first glance the Osmo Pocket and the Hero 7 Black are very similar devices, despite major differences in their design. The GoPro's by now familiar Hero design hasn't changed much since the Hero 6. The design isn't the only difference, of course, despite the similarity in specs and function.
Design and Durability
With only two control buttons on the Hero 7 Black (the power button low on the right side and the record button up top), the design is simplicity itself. If you want to change any settings or access the camera's menu, you'll be relying on the generous rear touchscreen or using the mobile app on your smartphone.
The Hero 7 Black, like the Hero models before it, is waterproof to 10 meters, as solid and sturdy as GoPro users are by now used to, with fairly impressive durability even out of its protective case. That said, it's a good idea to keep the case on the GoPro Hero 7 Black, as the back LCD screen takes up nearly the entire rear side of the device and if dropped, would probably not fare as well as the rest of the camera's rubber exterior.
If you haven't seen the Osmo Pocket, its design might strike you as a bit odd at first. It's a three-axis gimbaled device with a comparatively tiny LCD touch screen on the back. The lens of the camera is like a horizontal cylinder on a deceptively thin, rigid gooseneck that connects it to the body of the Pocket. Despite its somewhat fragile appearance, the Osmo is well-constructed, with an all-metal gimbal housing and durable, high-impact plastic body that promises long life—as long as you don't drop it, as I wouldn't expect it to hold up as well as the Hero 7 Black. DJI vs GoPro round one goes to GoPro for its arguably more durable and rugged design.
Connectivity and Interface
The Osmo Pocket's touch screen allows you to change critical settings, from framerate to how the gimbal operates. The screen is so small that it isn't all that great for previewing video, but you can connect your smartphone with the included adapters to solve that problem—and is the only way to access certain features, which we consider a bit of a design flaw. Attaching a smartphone, while easy enough, makes the Pocket a little unwieldy.
The Osmo Pocket surprisingly doesn't come with Wifi, unlike the GoPro Hero 7 Black. Though physically attaching a smartphone to the Pocket provides an interface that is lighting quick compared to the Wifi connection of the Hero 7 Black, you’ll need to purchase a separate accessory that fits in a USB C port on the bottom of the Pocket. With your smartphone connected, the similarity in features becomes more apparent, as you'll be able to access just as many settings and tweaks as you would on the Hero 7 Black. You can change settings and disconnect your smartphone without losing any of your manual tweaks, but we found this to be a little fussy. It is not hard to imagine dropping both the Osmo Pocket and your smartphone due to this unwieldy design.
The interface on the Hero 7 Black is simple, straightforward, and elegant, without a lot of extraneous menus or steps to change what are likely to be frequently accessed settings. With the larger LCD touchscreen of the Hero 7 Black, there's no need to rely on your smartphone to tweak and tune to your heart's content, but the Hero 7 Black is lacking some of the setting features of the Osmo Pocket, most notably shutter speed and ISO, which we imagine the Hero 7 Black's user base is going to wish they had when shooting in varying light conditions.
The Hero 7 Black, with its built-in Wifi, connected effortlessly to a Samsung smartphone running Android Oreo, though it wasn't tested with the newer "Pie" version of the OS. There were some hiccups when trying to get the Hero 7 Black to connect to an iPhone, but we did eventually manage to accomplish it. If you're an iOS user, you may want to keep that in mind, as it could speak to limitations of the Hero 7 Black's current firmware. Updating the firmware should be easy enough, given the built-in Wifi, but some users have reported difficulty getting the update process to complete on the first—or even third—try.
Round two in the DJI vs GoPro faceoff looks a lot like a tie.
Upgrades and Accessories
The Hero 7 Black's simplicity means it's not terribly versatile when it comes to adding accessories. Most examples we've seen are simply various types of camera mounts. This is where the Osmo Pocket outdoes the Hero 7 Black—at least theoretically. The accessory port on the Pocket isn't solely for connecting a smartphone, and DJI promises they'll release accessories for the Pocket to enhance the camera's functionality.
Speaking of upgrades, those who opt for the Pocket will want to be well aware that this interesting little camera is entirely without waterproofing out of the box. Again, DJI promises a waterproof case for it sometime in the near future, which will enable the Osmo Pocket to again match specs with the encased Hero 7 Black. Though the Hero 7 Black is waterproof to ten meters out of the box, the (not included, but already released) GoPro housing allows it to attain depths of up to 60 meters.
DJI vs GoPro, round three goes to GoPro again, as we have a healthy amount of skepticism regarding unreleased accessories, and feel that requiring an additional purchase to waterproof the Pocket is a bit of a failing—and there is currently no way at all to waterproof this camera. Anyone who wants to shoot on or near water or in inclement weather will want to opt for the Hero 7 Black for this reason alone, at least until DJI releases the promised case.
Shoot Out: Video Specifications and Details
For testing purposes, we set both cameras to 4k at 60 frames per second, with every other setting left on automatic. The Osmo Pocket automatic exposure (or AE) is clearly center-weighted, with the white balance and exposure set by whatever appears in the center of the frame. The Hero 7 Black adjusts exposure based on the entire field of what's being recorded. There's no clear winner here, as it's really a matter of personal taste and either camera can have the exposure set manually.
It's hard to judge things like depth of field and image clarity, as the two cameras differ significantly in field of view (or FOV). The Hero 7 Black has a variable FOV based on resolution—an impressive 240 degrees in 1080p and any resolution under that, and a more than reasonable 120 degrees for anything higher than 1080p. The Osmo Pocket shoots at a fixed FOV of 80 degrees, which is reasonable enough in a gimbaled camera as the operator can rapidly pan or track to keep a subject in the frame. This is a bit of a toss-up, and again probably comes down to a matter of personal taste or what you expect to be filming. Footage shot with the Hero 7 Black is more dynamic and sportier, but perspective is limited by the Hero 7 Black's fixed focus. With the Pocket, which has a large aperture lens at F2.0, you'll see bokeh, which is that sort of dreamy visual quality of the out-of-focus background. Though the Hero 7 Black's fixed focus rules out that sort of effect, the Osmo Pocket loses points here for a rather slow autofocus that left the subject we were recording blurry on several occasions. Round four, DJI vs GoPro is close to a tie, but because of the slow autofocus and comparatively narrow field of view, the Hero 7 Black just edges out the Pocket.
The strong point of the Osmo Pocket is its mechanical gimbal stabilization. By not relying on digital stabilization, the Pocket produces silky smooth footage no matter how quickly or harshly the camera is moved. That's the point of a gimbal, and the Pocket's three-axis stabilization does not disappoint.
The GoPro Hero 7 Black just can't match the Pocket's image stabilization. The digital stabilization that the Hero 7 Black relies on cuts off a bit of the image, but because of the wide angle FOV, it isn't terribly noticeable. What is noticeable is some jitter and blur in the image if the Hero 7 Black is moved or jerked abruptly, especially under darker shooting conditions. With less contrast in the shot, the Hero 7 Black just can't pull enough data from the image being recorded to accurately and instantly stabilize the footage.
No contest here—DJI vs GoPro round five goes to the Osmo Pocket.
We didn't find the microphone or audio quality on either camera to be all that good, so if audio is a prime concern for you, you'll want to find another solution, like an external microphone, but we have a tie again as both the Hero 7 Black and the Pocket require you to purchase an adapter. The Hero 7 Black falls short here due to reported problems with either the adapter or the camera itself. Some people have reported no audio when using an external mic or a faint electronic hum, and the only fix to date (which may not work for everyone) involves buying a TRS (tip-ring-sleeve) adapter to sit between the Hero 7 Black and the adapter purchased from GoPro. There are no reports of problems with the Osmo Pocket … but that's because there is currently no external microphone adapter available for it. DJI has, you guessed it, promised to release one sometime in the future.
Another minor failing of the Hero 7 Black is the wind reduction setting, which results in a muffled, muddy tone that we can't recommend—it's better to keep the Hero 7 Black in Stereo mode. The Pocket doesn't have dedicated wind noise reduction, just general noise reduction, which didn't work all that well to cancel out that buffeting wind sound you're no doubt familiar with. The Osmo Pocket pulls ahead here, but in determining which camera has better onboard audio out of the box, the Hero 7 Black wins again due to the noise reduction and compression artifacts on the Pocket producing a tinny, canned sound.
Again, we'll call this one a tie, as neither camera had sound that wowed us. The Pocket did seem better for picking up nearby sounds, like speech, but failed to record much of the ambient background noise at all, which actually could be thought of as a useful feature. The Hero 7 Black didn't provide great quality for nearby sound—speech sounded a little muffled—but did a much better job of picking up ambient noise. Again, probably a matter of personal preference. DJI vs GoPro round six is a tie.
The Power Question
Battery endurance is important for both of these action cameras, as they're intended to be used away from power sources (though both cameras charge via USB C, so they can be connected to power banks while on the go). Of course, battery life will depend on many factors, including the resolution you film at, fps, etc.
The Pocket boasts battery life of 140 minutes in its official specs, which we found it to be a bit shorter by about ten to fifteen minutes, but that could be because we tested the image stabilization rather aggressively, trying to see if we could force blur or image degradation in the Pocket (we couldn't). The Pocket will charge to full in about an hour and fifteen minutes.
The Hero 7 Black doesn't list battery life in any official documentation we could find, but because of its size (both of these cameras are tiny), the battery is a little on the small size, but unlike the Pocket, it can be swapped out with a fully charged spare. We found that the Hero 7 Black will shoot for about an hour and forty-five minutes at 1080p before needing a charge, and only about forty-five minutes in 4k at 60fps though there's a different problem with shooting that long in 4k: the Hero 7 Black overheats after about thirty minutes.
For round seven of our DJI vs GoPro tests, we decided the Osmo Pocket has a slight lead on the Hero 7 Black.
Bells and Whistles
While these features aren't strictly necessary, they are pretty cool. The Hero 7 Black has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, along with GPS, which is impressive in a camera this diminutive. You can couple the GPS with third party applications to overlay data like location, altitude above sea level, and of course speed. The other innovative little feature for a camera this size is voice control. There are twelve total commands that are about what you'd think they are (start recording, stop recording, take a photo, etc.) with one notable exception. If you say "that was sick," the Hero 7 Black will drop a HiLight tag at that location in the recording that you can revisit later. You can even turn the camera on and off with your voice, which is an outstanding feature given that this little wonder will probably spend most of its life strapped or bolted to something like handlebars or the front of a surfboard, so being able to control the camera while it's out of reach is a really nice touch.
The Osmo Pocket isn't without its special features. DJI is known for its camera drones, and they've ported a feature of their drones over to the Pocket: Active Track. Anyone familiar with this function on a DJI drone knows how easy it is to engage: you simply tap a location on the screen (which may be challenging, given its size) or draw a box around an object or person on the smartphone app, and the Pocket will start tracking it. It also has a face tracking feature which works in much the same way.
DJI vs GoPro, final round: we're calling it a tie. The voice commands are really impressive, but Active Track is such a useful addition to the Pocket that we can't choose between them.
It’s really hard to pick a winner, because both of these tiny cameras are packed with exciting features and functions that were a lot of fun to use, and both cameras are fundamentally very different from each other. The Osmo Pocket has much better, jitter-free stabilization (mechanical stabilization is always going to be better than digital), a more dramatic field of view complete with some really nice bokeh, and it is slightly less expensive than the Hero 7 Black. The GoPro has that wide FOV which captures a lot of real estate, great video quality, and the legendary GoPro durability—and it's waterproof to 10 meters out of the box.
Ideally, since both cameras have unique functionality and a specific "feel" to recorded footage, it would be nice to own both. But there can't be two winners, and if hard pressed, we feel like the GoPro Hero Black 7 takes the prize, but just barely. Ultimately, the decision should be dictated by what you plan on recording. The best advice we could give here would be to get your hands on both devices before you decide, as these two cameras are so evenly matched that it ultimately comes down to a matter of preference.