Camera stabilisers are hardly mainstream, but that may change with the Osmo Mobile 2. Like the original it’s a superb gimbal for smartphones, enabling smoother tracking and camera movement. But it’s lighter, cheaper and even better than before. This may well be the stabiliser that goes mainstream.
The previous Osmo Mobile was made of plastic and magnesium. This time out it’s high-strength nylon, which is much lighter.
The handle is more comfortable than before, and there’s a standard 1/4-inch thread for tripods and other accessories: you can add a base, tripod or extension rod among other available peripherals. It’s as flexible as a GoPro Hero 6.
Version 2 has been built with social media in mind, so you can lock it in portrait mode as well as the more cinematic landscape. You can’t flip between orientations mid-record, and the process is both manual and fiddly.
The controls have been simplified and rethought, with a new physical zoom switch and dedicated record button.
Best of all there’s a new spring-loaded clamp that grips every phone we tested – iPhone X and 8, Pixel 2 and Galaxy Note 8 – incredibly well.
Our only real niggle is that there’s nowhere to have a cold-shoe mount for a mic. That means you can get video stabilisation, but not clean audio too. That’s a shame.
Features and usability
For best results you need to install the Go camera app on either Android or iOS: this pairs with the device to enable the zoom control and to adjust settings and change modes.
It takes time to learn – don’t expect to make Goodfellas out of the gate – and it’s not as simple as the experts make it look.
Walking around is easy enough, but learning to point the camera where you want it to point is considerably trickier. The thumb pad in particular takes a bit of getting used to. We found it took around an hour to become confident in using the Osmo Mobile 2.
One of the key features here is Artificial Intelligence. Here it’s called Active Track, with three settings (low, middle and high) to automatically track a subject.
The inability to flip the camera mid-record is a shame when you consider that even Facebook Live offers that facility.
It makes vlogging more of a pain as you need to stop and manually flip the camera before restarting the recording.
The Osmo Mobile 2 works very well but sometimes has a surprising enemy: the phone you’re using. That’s because sometimes the phone’s own stabilisation battles the gimbal’s stabilisation, and while you can avoid that by turning the phone’s stabilisation off that isn’t always possible: you can’t do it in the iPhone, for example. It doesn’t happen a lot but it happened enough to annoy us.
It’s quick to start up and very responsive, and the battery is three times better than before: that’s 15 hours of steady shooting.
The battery monitor gives you plenty of advance notice when it’s nearly time for a recharge, and it charges via micro-USB.
It also has its own USB port that you can use if it’s your phone rather than the gimbal that’s running out of energy.
The Osmo Mobile 2 improves on its predecessor in every way. It’s more affordable, weighs less, does more and lasts longer.
It’s so good we’d recommend upgrading from the previous one, and if you haven’t previously considered investing in such a device because of the high price then this is the bargain you’ve been waiting for.