DJI Osmo RAW Review – Zenmuse X5R – First Footage

I recently had a chance to try the Osmo RAW (Zenmuse X5R) at a friend’s wedding. I shot the beginning at 1080p and the ending in UHD, but I shot the whole video in RAW. I used a standard picture setting as they are RAW files anyway, and transcoded into ProRes 4444 to edit. I didn’t change the color in the edit at all, so feel free to download the 4K/UHD file from Vimeo to play with.

Screw-up

Let me get this out of the way: having never used an Osmo before, I screwed up a number of shots right at the beginning without realizing. We couldn’t find the venue, so we just arrived at the same time as the bride, which meant I just had to grab the Osmo and go for it. I must have been in some kind of auto-exposure mode, and I couldn’t recognize how crappy these adjustments looked on the iPhone screen until I reviewed the footage after the first bit of shooting. So please excuse these terribly stuttery shots that occurred as a result of automatic shutter speed adjustments.

This leads us to the first problem with the Osmo: it really needs an ND because shooting high shutter speeds means that movements look jumpy – you should adhere to the 180 degree shutter rule whenever possible when filming, no matter the camera, and you can only achieve this by taking light away from your sensor with filters, particularly in bright daylight.

Osmo Raw smartphone

Impressive Technology

But let me really start by saying what an amazing device the DJI Osmo is in general. It’s a lot of smart technology in a very small package that feels very well thought out. It has a great feel, with all its buttons just in the right place, and the DJI Go app to control the Osmo from your phone is absolutely mind-blowing.

The Osmo doesn’t have a built-in preview screen. You connect your phone to a hotspot that the Osmo generates, and start the app. Tap on “camera” and you should immediately see the preview image. Surprisingly, the lag is so short that it’s barely noticeable, despite the Wifi connection.

The interface controls of the DJI Go app are extremely comprehensive, although some things are not in the logical place. I found the autofocus quite poor and unfortunately it can’t seem to track the objects you tap on on the screen – it just focuses once but does not keep them in focus. Switch to manual focus and you get a virtual focus wheel on screen, which surprisingly works pretty well. Long focus ramps should be avoided though, because going from macro to infinity doesn’t work in one go. Further camera settings are buried in the menu but in general the entire app is way more intuitive than your average camera menu from any Japanese manufacturer.

Osmo raw

RAW recording

The new RAW version of the Osmo differs from the former X5 version by its raw recorder – a fan-cooled unit that records onto custom DJI SSDs that come at a steep price ($1800 for 512 GB). The quality of the raw footage is exceptional, and you can record half an hour of 4K or UHD footage onto a 512 GB card, or 4 hours of HD. I recorded the first part of my review in HD because I didn’t know how long the ceremony was going to last – I later changed to UHD recording.

Noise issues

There is one huge issue with the raw recorder: it’s extremely noisy. So much so, that it is impossible to record any usable sound with the device, and noisy enough to annoy the people you are filming. During the ceremony, I shot a few shots walking past the audience, adjusting the angle of the Osmo camera through the brilliant joystick so that it pointed sideways. I was about 2 meters away from the guests, and many heads turned because of the noise the device was producing. This can be a real deal-breaker for many shooters out there.

osmo raw iphone

Smartphone interface & preview – smart or not?

In theory, the idea of using your high-resolution smartphone as a preview touch screen for the Osmo is quite smart, but there are a bunch of problems: first of all, I would recommend that you get a dedicated phone / iPod touch for the Osmo, simply because if a phone call or notification comes in, it can ruin your shot. And there is no real way of preventing a phone call from coming in because you need the Wifi connection, which means you can’t switch to Airplane Mode. You might be able to use the Do Not Disturb mode on iPhones instead, but I did not test this.

UPDATE: I was wrong here – it is possible to enable the Airplane mode and then re-enable Wifi only. I was not aware that that is possible. This is also possible on Android, similarly. Very neat!

Secondly – and this might be an even bigger problem – is that of course your smartphone battery is drained quickly when using it as a preview and interface monitor. There is space to attach a charging cable, but you will have to connect it to an external battery pack, which you would have to somehow attach to Osmo in order to not be in the way.

Power drain

Despite this, I didn’t even run into this problem when reviewing the Osmo, simply because I was only supplied with one battery for the device. This meant that when it drained after 20-30 minutes of continuous use, I had to recharge it for 1-1.5 hours before I could use it again. DJI provided us with a larger Inspire battery which was supposed to last longer, as it can be connected running a cable from the battery in my pocket to the Osmo. This proved to be impractical as I also had to switch cameras because I was filming the wedding with a Sony a7S as well, so I decided no to go for the external battery most of the time.

Stabilisation

The stabilisation of the Osmo is quite good, and unlike with other gimbals which use third-party cameras, balancing is of course a non-issue for the Osmo. The joystick button control makes it a breeze to adjust the angle to your liking. Holding down the pistol trigger button below the grip, the direction of the camera temporarily stays put, and doesn’t follow your movements like normally.

Lenses

I used the Osmo with the supplied standard lens, the 1.7/15, which provided great shallow depth of field due to its wide aperture. Focusing with the virtual wheel isn’t easy though, and the autofocus isn’t great (and not continuous). I found this lens to be a good compromise between wide angle shots while not distorting too much, although in tighter spaces I often found it could have been wider. It’s the same old problem with the Micro Four Thirds sensor: it’s hard to find wide lenses because of the 2x crop sensor .

Footage

The X5R still holds a micro SD card slot in addition to the RAW recorder, which means you have easily playable proxies recorded simultanously. Even the DJI Go app records a preview image, which makes it even easier. Reviewing RAW footage has never been easier with any other camera I know.

Ingesting the DNG RAW sequences into your Mac works by using the included CineLight app, which also offers options to export those sequences. I then converted them into ProRes 4444 using Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 12.5 to make them more edit-friendly.

The look of the 4K RAW footage is nothing short of spectacular. As expected, the highlight retention is exceptional, as are the details in the shadows. A formal lab test and some aerial footage will follow in a separate post by Sebastian, and be warned that the aerials looks absolutely mind-blowing. DJI has managed to release a product whose image quality can compete with the highest-end multicopter setups with much heavier and expensive cameras, and you probably wouldn’t see the difference.

Post production of RAW footage is obviously time and storage consuming, so I wouldn’t use the Osmo RAW on every production. However, when high quality is needed and you have the time for post production, then it can really shine. It would have been nice to find a compromise between the lossless RAW footage and the heavily compressed footage that ends up on the micro SD card. Hopefully DJI can license ProRes in the future and add this kind of recording to the X5R in order to accommodate for more everyday productions.

Osmo raw manual focus

Conclusion

Using the Osmo RAW with the Zenmuse X5R makes you feel like you are using a gadget from the future. DJI seem to be far ahead of much of their competition in terms of interface and hardware. There are definitely interesting times ahead, and more and more established companies should brace themselves for DJI to disrupt their market.

This time, I see the market mostly in the multicopter / drone areas, considering the RAW quality of the X5R footage. I don’t see this disruption threatening other one-handed-gimbals or even their own original Osmo too much, simply because the noise of the unit will make it unusable for many practical applications which require original sound. For example, I don’t see a way of actually doing a walk-and-talk with the Osmo RAW due to its noise level.

Also, the amount of battery drain is troubling. About 20 minutes when shooting 4K or UHD RAW, maybe 30 or 35 when shooting 1080p. You will literally need 10-15 batteries to get through a day’s worth of shooting.

Despite its shortcomings, the DJI Osmo RAW X5R is a sign of what’s yet to come in the gimbal and stabilizer market. It will find its audience, and certainly also on higher-end productions because of its sheer RAW power and ease of use.

 
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John Sekhar Reply
John Sekhar June 7, 2016

Great review Nino – kind of wished I’ve saved a little more for the X5R than the X5. With respect to filters – did you try this and if so what effect did it have on the balancing?

Darren Streibig Reply
Darren Streibig June 7, 2016

Same here, the x5 isn’t terrible, but I think it’s largest downfall is the compressed format and grading, obviously where the raw is going to be the biggest use!

Nino Leitner Reply
Nino Leitner June 13, 2016

Hi John, thanks! Haven’t tried filters yet. Tried out-of-the box just by adjusting shutter, less than ideal. My colleague Sebastian is about to test them soon though, we are waiting for a loaner shipment of filters to be tested soon.

Alfonso Bùi Reply
Alfonso Bùi June 7, 2016

Unreal how far this technology has come in such a short time. Fantastic footage even despite you just winging it in the beginning.

Aurèle Lavalle Reply
Aurèle Lavalle June 7, 2016

Strong walking effet…

Nino Leitner Reply
Nino Leitner June 13, 2016

That’s true … I am looking forward to testing their Z-axis accessory which should get rid of this. We reported about it from NAB: https://www.cinema5d.com/46115-2/

Christian Whitey Pokrywka Reply
Christian Whitey Pokrywka June 7, 2016

Look at that smile!

Khairul Shiplu Reply
Khairul Shiplu June 7, 2016

SS.m. Fazle Rabby

Luke Russe Reply
Luke Russe June 7, 2016

The Osmo is an incredible device, though it’s a shame the Zenmuse X3 version isn’t quite as up to scratch. I like using it at gigs because I can put the Osmo on stage and control it through an ipad but it never quite mixes with the DSLR footage.

Tristan Barrocks Reply
Tristan Barrocks June 7, 2016

It all depends on your lighting man. I have used the x3 in day light and it has looked and matched incredibly well with both my c100 and SRLs.

You have to have good light cause if you don’t thank the image takes a noise dive from there.

Also the way you correct your footage is very important as well.

Alexander James Brown Reply
Alexander James Brown June 7, 2016

Steven Zuber

Steven Zuber Reply
Steven Zuber June 7, 2016

picture quality is insane…sadly the fans are just fucking up the sound recording part

Reply
Connie Fowdder June 7, 2016

Just a note, you can turn on wifi while in airplane mode on the iPhones.

Nino Leitner Reply
Nino Leitner June 7, 2016

Good to know, I really wasn’t aware of that.

Ramon Solorio Reply
Ramon Solorio June 9, 2016

and you can leave wifi on and just turn off cellular. nice wedding shots!

Nino Leitner Reply
Nino Leitner June 13, 2016

Thank you!

Brian Godsey Reply
Brian Godsey June 7, 2016

Hoping they will come out with a more refined Osmo X5 Pro Edition.

Edouard Lichtenpak Reply
Edouard Lichtenpak June 7, 2016

444😳😳😳

Gerbert Floor Reply
Gerbert Floor June 7, 2016

Batteries, noise and price make this a no go for me. I found the footage also pretty bumpy.

But I think we are going to see better products in the future, and hopefully also a lot cheaper.

Nino Leitner Reply
Nino Leitner June 13, 2016

The bumpiness is a typical gimbal problem if the Z axis is not stabilized … they will have that fixed soon though, with that optional accessory: https://www.cinema5d.com/46115-2/

Matteo Bertoli Reply
Matteo Bertoli June 7, 2016

4.000 dollars tho… You can buy a real camera for that money.

Patrik FlameArt Pacher Reply
Patrik FlameArt Pacher June 7, 2016

BM isnt real serious camera, for 4k is not usable anyway (need accesories), you havent in brand easy stabilization like osmo with it, and try put BM it on small “cheap” drone.
And ill bet, x5r will not have so many bugs and “regret buing” videos like your real cam for 4k :D.

Patrik FlameArt Pacher Reply
Patrik FlameArt Pacher June 7, 2016

BM isnt real serious camera, for 4k bucks is not usable anyway (need accesories), you havent in brand easy stabilization like osmo with it, and try put BM on small “cheap” drone.
And i bet, x5r will not have so many bugs and “regret buing” videos like your real cam for 4k :D.

Tristan Barrocks Reply
Tristan Barrocks June 7, 2016

Not with 4k DMG lossless and 3 axis gimbal stabilizing.

Reply
Jamie LeJeune June 7, 2016

Thank you so much for this wonderfully detailed review. All the other reviews I’ve seen were drone only and never once mentioned the noise issue with the SSD recorder. I was looking at the X5r osmo setup for vérité shooting and the noise is a deal breaker. You’ve saved me a lot of hassle. Thanks!

Nino Leitner Reply
Nino Leitner June 13, 2016

Thanks Jamie!

Elahn Zetlin Reply
Elahn Zetlin June 7, 2016

Stuffed up review? So make a good one that’s not your fault. I’ve seen much better footage from this camera.

cinema5D Reply
cinema5D June 7, 2016

Please save your trolling smart ass comments for someone more eager to hear them. I couldn’t care less about your opinion – I never said this is a comprehensive review. Nino

Elahn Zetlin Reply
Elahn Zetlin June 7, 2016

Right back at ya buddy…

Reply
max moback June 7, 2016

Show your everyday work if you dare, instead of this nonsense, elahn:

Darren Streibig Reply
Darren Streibig June 7, 2016

Thanks Nino for this footage and the review!

Reply
Tristan Barrocks June 7, 2016

Not sure if anyone mentioned this but there is an adaptor that allows for phantom and inspire 1 battery use on the osmo. This turns it into an all day option without additional batteries.

Nino Leitner Reply
Nino Leitner June 13, 2016

Thanks Tristan – I have heard about this. Wasn’t aware it really lasts all day though. Having a wire run from the gimbal to your pocket is kind of a dealbreaker though and severely limits its use.

Reply
Yves Soglo June 8, 2016

Hi Nino,

Thanks for the quick review. Do you know if you can shoot in 2.7k just like on the X3?
Thanks.

Reply
Tristan Barrocks June 8, 2016

Yes you can shoot 1080, 2.7k, and 4k on the x3.

 Mathias Häcki Reply
Mathias Häcki June 8, 2016

I’ve shot a few aerial projects with the x5r yet.
But I’m still not a real fan of it and often use the X5
Instead.
Here are my 2cents:

– The file handling is still very announg and unsafe. The ssd’s must be read out with either DJI’s Cinelight on Mac or a simple DJI file copy tool on PC. These programms convert the files to cinema dng. None of the two options uses a checksum process. So you’ll never know if the files are being copied faultless.
This results in a bigger need of ssd’s as you’ll have to keep all files until you checked them manual frame by frame.
– SSD’s are still overpriced. There are standard Samsung EVO 640 cards build in a custom case and some custome firmware. You can get these ssd cards for about $250. saddly rhe firmware blocks not unlocked ssd’s. At least there’s now a 3 for 2 deal from DJI. But its still hard to get hands on spare cards or spare readers.
– You can’t delete single files. The only option is formating the while card
– The histogram is still adjusted to the X5 h264 file. So it gives you a false reading regarding the raw footage. This can lead to underexposing the shot.
– The created dng files are not premiere compatible, but they work in AfterEffects. Adobe might solve this one soon. Converting with a tool called slim raw does the job to get you files that run in premiere.
– The X5r is almost to heavy for DJI Inspire 1 drone. The drone has a hard time to climb for altitude fast. This can be a real problem for certsin shots. Flightime goes down about 2 min compared to the X5. Its still around 10 min, which is more than ok with me.
– Photo wise its still the same as the X5 delivers.
– The supplied 15mm lense is ok for starters. Just make sure you stay between f5.6 and f11 to get decent sharpness. The 12 and 25mm Olympus lenses are a much better choice.
– Using ND’s is a must. But as you can’t adjust the gimbal you’ll need a few tricks. I use couns and tape to manage a decent balance depending on the setup.
– If you change lenses you’ll need to calibrate lenses everytime. Why can’t they integrade profiles in the firmware?
– You’ll loose a lot of settings every time you turn the camera off. Sadly the same with the X5

The X5r delivers nice footage. But its still 200-250MB every second. RED manages to workt with almost the half of that rate.
Also many jobs do not really require raw as a need.
Netflix shoots some series with the older X5. DJI shoots s lot of their own projects with the X5, even they could just grab some X5r when ever the want.
Why? Because often the 60Mbps of the h264 delivers what they need, if the cameraman configures for a correct image.
There are still a lot of things for DJI to sort out to make this camera as good as it could be.
Until than I’ll only use it as a tool for projects that absolutly requires raw becsuse of stuff like heavy planed grading.

Nino Leitner Reply
Nino Leitner June 13, 2016

Thanks for these very cool insights Mathias, do you feel like sharing your experiences in a full guest post?

Reply
David Thomas August 3, 2016

Regarding the fan noise, why doesn’t DJI automatically turn off the fans while recording as they now do with the their X3 camera on the Osmo?

FYI, Adobe Premier now imports the raw files directly.

Reply
Nelson Tan June 10, 2016

Thanks for the review, I guess for everyday shoots X5 is more practical, for controlled or aerial the X5R shines

Reply
Paolo Rudelli June 23, 2016

Nice review, what i see is a very specific camera wend you need small, lightweight, discrete solution because for that combined price to make work good maybe is better go for othet solutions that are also less limited on creativity.

Reply
m.panneer selvam July 4, 2016

have any one tested filiming in indoors with artificial light source..since im planning for my movie which has major portion of interiors..