DJI OSMO Action 3 review in a sentence: It might not be the perfect action cam, but the OSMO Action 3 offers a lot of bang for your buck, such as long battery life, wide field-of-view, compact camera body and more.
DJI is trying to find their feet in the action camera market. It must be strange for the best drone manufacturer to be bested by another company in a different category; admittedly, GoPro is considered the best action camera producer these days. However, I appreciate that DJI don't shy away from innovation and try to learn from their mistakes.
Look at the evolution of the DJI action cameras. We gave the original DJI Osmo Action five stars in our review and praised its superb image quality. However, it looked very much like a GoPro, so for the second iteration, DJI came out with a modular concept, the DJI Action 2. It was a cool concept, but just like in the case of the Insta360 GO 2, the ultra-compact body meant that the cam did tend to overheat after a while.
With the OSMO Action 3, DJI went back to using a more GoPro-esque body and added some extra features while undercutting the price of the GoPro HERO 11 Black, making the OSMO Action 3 one of the best value-for-money premium action cams in the market.
And while it can't take on the best GoPro in terms of video performance and quality, it offers an excellent, somewhat cheaper alternative for those who like not to compromise too much on quality but don't have all the money in the world to spend on rugged video gear.
DJI OSMO Action 3 review: price and availability
The DJI OSMO Action 3 was released in September 2022 and is available to buy directly from DJI UK, DJI US and DJI AU for a recommended retail price of £309//$329/AU$519. The camera is available in a variety of bundles, such as the Adventure Combo (2x batteries, extension rod), Biking Combo (chest strap, handlebar mount) etc.
DJI OSMO Action 3 review: specs
- Weight: 145g/5.1oz
- Dimensions: 70.5×44.2×32.8 mm
- Video: up to 3840×2160 @100/120fps (in 4K/16:9)
- Photo: up to 12 MP
- Screens: Front – 1.4-inch, 326 pp,i 320×320, Rear – 2.25-inch, 326 ppi, 360×640
- FOV: 155°
- Battery and operating time: 1770 mAh, up to 160 mins
- Image stabilisation: Yes (RockSteady 3.0, RockSteady+, HorizonBalancing, HorizonSteady)
- GNSS: N/A
DJI OSMO Action 3 review: design and build quality
The DJI OSMO Action 3 is a compact action cam, although maybe not as compact as the GoPro HERO 11 Black Mini, but more compact than the HERO 11 Black. Despite the smaller body (70.5 x 44.2 x 32.8 mm), the OSMO Action 3 has two decent size LCDs: a front-facing 1.4-inch panel with 326 ppi and 320×320 resolution and a larger, rear-facing 2.25-inch screen with 326 ppi and 360×640 resolution.
The unit weighs only 145 grams (5.1oz) and is waterproof to 16 metres depth without the waterproof case and 60 metres with the waterproof housing (an additional extra). This is better than the GoPro HERO 11 Black's water rating, enabling you to use the OSMO Action 3 underwater for longer without worrying about breaking it.
The DJI OSMO Action 3 has a 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor with a max photo resolution of 4000 x 3000 and a max video resolution of 4096 x 3072 (60fps). The attached lens has a field-of-view of 155° (wider than the HERO 11 Black), an aperture of f/2.8 and a focus range of 0.3 m to infinity. The aperture is pretty wide, but it could be wider to allow the came to produce better footage at low-light conditions (more on this below).
Probably the coolest feature of DJI's system is the quick-release design that allows you to switch to vertical shooting almost instantly. Normally, you'd have to unscrew the camera and re-screw it in a different position, but with the OSMO Action 3, it only takes a second or two to reorient the camera, which is super convenient.
DJI OSMO Action 3 review: sample gallery
DJI OSMO Action 3 review: performance
I enjoyed using the DJI OSMO Action 3. To be 100 per cent honest, I usually prefer shooting action videos using 360° cameras such as the Insta360 X3 because I don't have to shoot footage twice in different orientations, but thanks to the magnetic mounting of the OSMO Action 3, it was less effort to switch from horizontal to vertical shooting than using a GoPro.
As you can see from the image gallery above, the DJI OSMO Action 3 takes decent photos, although due to the wide-angle lens mounted on the action cam, up-close images can be distorted. Not sure if anyone would use the OSMO Action 3 to shoot portrait photos, but I'm telling you, it's not suitable for that kind of work.
Under normal lighting conditions, colours are rendered nicely, not too oversaturated and maybe only just a hair underexposed. The dynamic range is good, and the action cam does an admirable job of not overdoing the HDR effect on images. The f/2.8 lens allows helps snap those images quicker without any blur. It would be better if it could go a bit wider to help shoot better low-light photos; but hey, what can you do?
[TRIGGER WARNING: The below footage contains flashing lights and spinning images, so please be careful if you're sensitive to these kinds of effects.]
I went the extra mile and sat on the waltzer to test the image stabilisation of the DJI OSMO Action 3. And although spinning around the darn thing for over six minutes knocked me out for the rest of the day, I was impressed with the performance of the action cam. I shot the whole video holding the OSMO Action 3 in my hand, yet you can't see any shaking (you can see plenty of spinning, though).
The above video hasn't been edited in the DJI Mimo app, but you can edit footage there if you wish. I found the app's editing suite adequate; it does the basics well, but I wouldn't mind some more editing options. There is an AI editor that, in theory, could help you create social media-worthy clips of multiple videos, but in my experience, it struggles a bit to make sense of what's happening in the footage.
The editor you want to use is the 'Pro Editor', which allows you to cut and rearrange footage as you wish. You can also tweak speed and volume here. However, it's not on par with the standalone video editing software available online. You're better off using different shooting modes to create effects than trying to mimic that effect in the app if that makes sense.
A good example is the above timelapse video created using the Timelapse mode on the DJI OSMO Action 3. As you can see, the exposure and image stabilisation is on point, and the mode helped turn an otherwise mundane activity (i.e. walking on the beach) into something more exciting. Better still, I could've shot this video in vertical orientation just as easily, thanks to the magnetic mount.
DJI OSMO Action 3 review: verdict
The DJI OSMO Action 3 is an excellent action camera that offers plenty of features and rugged build quality for less money than its main rival, which, admittedly, makes it more appealing in the eyes of many. Better still, most of the shortcomings are not significant and will only affect a small number of shooting modes/people.
Sure, the OSMO Action 3 isn't as good in low-light conditions as the GoPro HERO 11 Black, but how often will you use it in the dark? Not often, and it's not like you'll do cool tricks on your MTB/skateboard at night, risking injury. The main features this action camera has to offer will provide enough functionality for most users – again, at a much wallet-friendly price point. That's a win in my books.
DJI OSMO Action 3 review also consider
For those of you with tons of extra cash in hand, the DJI Osmo Action 4 might be a viable alternative. With excellent image stabilisation, ease of use and a brilliant magnetic mounting system for accessories, the DJI Osmo Action 4 is an excellent rugged action camera that loses out to GoPro Hero 11 Black only in its lack of 5.7K video resolution. If that's not important to you, then be my guest. Read Jamie's full DJI Osmo Action 4 review.