How Does the Osmo RAW Compare to Professional Cinema Cameras?


The DJI Osmo RAW has finally arrived at the cinema5D office, as you may have seen in Nino’s Osmo review. But the focus of our attention is the DJI Zenmuse X5R Camera, which can be attached to the DJI Osmo with the Osmo X5 Adapter and produce powerful cinematic RAW footage in 4K with Osmo stabilization in an ultra-compact form factor.

[UPDATE]: We have now also compared the X5R to the X5 and X3: LINK

We were very curious to find out what the camera quality was really like. Here are our lab test results when compared to professional cinema cameras.


DJI Osmo RAW Compared to Professional Cinema Cameras

The DJI Osmo RAW version is quite a bold little camera. Very small, light and with a promise of 4K RAW that can also take to the skies when attached to the DJI Inspire 1. The integrated stabilizer makes this an extremely convenient tool, and the fact that there’s a potential for high quality footage with its RAW recording makes it compete with much more professional and expensive cameras. We’ve tested the ergonomics of the device, now let’s see how the little Osmo RAW compares in terms of image quality.

Dynamic Range

Dynamic range is difficult to measure properly, especially on a RAW camera where processing is done by the user and not by the camera. We’ve gone through DaVinci resolve to create a flat image of our recording and measured it with our software.

A good dynamic range rating allows us to capture more shadows and highlights in high-contrast scenes. The X3 camera on the original DJI Osmo suffers from a very poor dynamic range, which is especially problematic when capturing landscapes with the DJI Inspire 1 drone.

We’re testing usable dynamic range with a DSC labs XYLA-21 transmissive test chart. Unfortunately, our test lens, the Zeiss 50mm Cp2 macro, is not compatible with the Osmo, so we used the 15mm F/1.7 MFT lens that came with the Osmo X5R.

Our software measured about 12 stops of usable dynamic range on the DJI Osmo RAW (Zenmuse X5R camera). This is similar to the rating of the Sony a7S II, 3 stops more than the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4K and 2 stops less than the Arri ALEXA.


DJI advertises the dynamic range of the Zenmuse X5R camera at 12.8 stops. It is rare that manufacturers are upfront when it comes to usable dynamic range.

Note that a RAW camera doesn’t necessarily produce more dynamic range. Doing numerous comparisons with test charts, we have learned this over time. It is likely that the original Zenmuse X5 gives you more or less the same dynamic range. RAW on the other hand gives you finer gradations, more possibilities in post and an image that is more solid and can be graded further without destroying the image quality. When we pull up that information in the blacks there is noise, but a lot more steps are visible behind it, just like on the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4K that displays a lot of noise early on. 12 stops of usable dynamic range is a good rating for a cinema camera. It is also what the C300 mark II achieved. As always, the Arri ALEXA stays untouched with 14 stops of usable range.

The Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera 4K is also small and shoots RAW, but is not an alternative as this one was limited to about 5-6 stops of dynamic range in our tests.

Image Quality

We determine image quality by looking at sharpness (resolution) and aliasing with the help of stars and tubes. Usually they reveal where an image breaks down in terms of resolution.

The shots below were taken at the best ISO speed of each respective camera.

DJI Osmo RAW Image Quality - 100% crop of 4K image

DJI Osmo RAW Image Quality – 100% crop of 4K image.

As you can see, despite any lens cushioning and lens softness, the DJI Osmo RAW is quite close to the Canon C300 mark II and more or less on par with the Varicam 35 / LT. The Sony a6300 is the only camera that leaves the others behind in terms of resolution. Who would have thought.

Looking at the a6300, it has become clear that size is not the deciding factor when it comes to quality resolution. The Osmo DJI RAW proves that yet again, with an impressive image quality that comes close to the bigger cinema cameras. Here are a few more comparison shots of other objects on the test chart:






In summary, I would say that in terms of image quality the DJI Osmo RAW can hold up remarkably well in comparison to professional cinema cameras currently on the market.



The DJI Osmo RAW X5R camera shines at ISO 100, but it quickly loses its power when you crank up the ISO. For the shots above I used minimal post processing. You can see that at ISO 800 there is already a considerable amount of noise in comparison to ISO 100. That said, look at the shot of the cat earlier on where the blacks were pulled a little and some noise reduction was applied. This has to be kept in mind when shooting RAW. You can still treat the image much better than from cameras that use heavy compression.

It’s clear that the Zenmuse X5R is not a lowlight wonder and the DJI Osmo RAW should be used at low ISO speeds. I would recommend not to go beyond 800 for high quality shots. Ideally you should stay low, because the Osmo RAW records at ISO 100 at all times. Any other ISO speeds you set in the app are just a “preview” and have to be processed (pushed) in post production.

Rolling Shutter

The famous rolling shutter effect that haunts CMOS sensors can be especially troubling on shots where a lot of movement is involved. The Zenmuse X5R that rides the DJI Osmo RAW and flies on the DJI Inspire 1 is certainly meant to be involved in a lot of moving shots.

Unfortunately, the Zenmuse X5R doesn’t shine here. With 25ms of readout time it is at the worse side of the spectrum, and most proper cinema cameras have much lower rolling shutter ratings.


DJI Osmo RAW Conclusion


Look at that tiny 4K camera and stabilizer. The DJI Osmo RAW certainly has a niche of its own. A small, stabilized camera that delivers 4K RAW images at 24p. There’s nothing like it right now that delivers RAW, is so easy to use and can be mounted onto an affordable and powerful drone. The question is whether or not the RAW can keep up with cinema standards and truly deliver high quality footage.

It is quite difficult to draw a definitive conclusion from what I’ve seen. On the one hand, the footage we get is really powerful, has beautiful deep gradations, a high resolution, organic look and can really be played with in post production. If you’re used to Inspire 1 drone footage, this upgrade will simply blow you away and the difference to a professional cinema camera like a VariCam, Alexa or C300 mark II will be hard to spot when properly post processed. Of course the Zenmuse X5R wouldn’t simply replace a cinema camera, as such a camera is about more than the final end result of a picture you can achieve. An Arri ALEXA is certainly still in a different class altogether, but I think the Osmo RAW will become relevant in the cinema sector for certain applications.


There are also a few shortcomings you should consider. In terms of a “true cinema camera”, rolling shutter is absolutely terrible. The Canon 1D C from Canon’s cinema line rightfully has a place in the same ranks here. But especially because the DJI Osmo RAW is used in situations with a lot of motion, the strong rolling shutter can be a problem that might put many professionals off. Another downside is the mediocre lowlight performance. If you’re coming from DSLR’s this will be limiting, but if you’re used to Blackmagic or film cameras you probably won’t notice it.


All in all, the DJI Osmo RAW is a remarkable piece of gear. In the right hands, when the RAW is exploited with some time in post production, this can be an extremely powerful tool. The fact that this is not just a camera, but a solution as a miniature gimbal camera for on the go or in the air is intriguing. Is the price of $4000 a lot? Yes. Is it worth it? You decide. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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DJI Inspire 2 - 5K RAW & the Best Camera Drone We've Ever Seen - Artificial Intelligence Online Kevin AlmodovarPaolo RudelliSebastian Wöber Recent comment authors
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 Mathias Häcki

I’ve shot a few aerial projects with the x5r yet.
But I’m still not a real fan of it for many jobs and often use the X5 instead.

Here are my 2cents:

– The file handling is still very annoing 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 custom DJI firmware. You can get these ssd cards for about $250. Sadly the firmware blocks non 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 out in the market as DJI seems not to have big enough stock.
– You can’t delete single files. The only option is formating the whole card
– The histogram is still adjusted to the X5 h264 file. So it gives you a false reading regarding the x5r 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 and even shrinks the file a bit.
– 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 certain 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 and way sharper choice.
– Using ND’s is a must. But as you can’t adjust the gimbal you’ll need a few tricks. I use coins and tape to manage a decent balance, depending on the setup. Otherwise you risk burning the motors due of overload.
– If you change lenses, you’ll need to calibrate lenses everytime. Why can’t they integrade lense 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 work with almost the half of that rate. Hopefully DJI adds some compression option as a update, if its posdible with the current hardware. But my guess is we’ll see it in the next generation camera.
Also many jobs do not really require raw as a need.
Netflix shoots some series with the older X5 and 60 Mbps h264. DJI shoots a lot of their own projects with the X5, even they could just grab some X5r of the shelf when ever they want.
Why? Because often the 60Mbps h264 delivers what they need, if the cameraman configures for a correct image and safes a lot of addtional work in the post.
There are still a lot of things for DJI to sort out to make this camera as good as it could be.
Until then I’ll only use it as a tool for projects that absolutly requires raw becsuse of stuff like heavy planed grading.

How about a comparisson with the URSA Mini 4.6k instead of the 4k? We all know the 4k sucks ;)

AlexAdrian Adrian
AlexAdrian Adrian

I’m like you, also waiting on the URSA Mini 4.6k dynamic range comparison. But I’ve yet to find a scientific test on its dynamic range on it. Hopefully Cinema5d can do one.

Mironi Ghebregergis

Too expensive even it has a big features. …I think when it comes to filmmakers they would love it but will not be able to use it due to the price

Josh Miller

you sir have absolutely no idea… look at a steadycamsuite and a red camera how expensive they are and u realize that this is absolutely a best price deal..

Mironi Ghebregergis

To pay for osmo above 3k $ is maybe OK for u…. but some filmmakers won’t be able to pay this….everybody ain’t have money ……gear lover

Tristan Barrocks

I have to agree with Josh. Like if your looking at this saying this is too much money than you may not be at the level where your productions can have this as an option. No disrespect, but you’re getting RAW lossless 4K on a 3 axis gimbal for $4000, pretty good to me.

 Mathias Häcki

Its not lossless raw. It records cinema dng.
Still a great option/value for its askng price.


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