Last Updated on May 13, 2023 by Photography PX
Released in the fall of 2020, the OM 4 is the fourth generation gimbal from the Chinese tech giant DJI. And it comes to market only one year after the already class-leading Osmo Mobile 3 to improve on its strengths. Now, it debuts with a new magnetic mount, stronger motors, and a refined design that’s even more compact.
The Osmo Mobile range is known for its power as a gimbal stabilizer designed to complement a smartphone. And it allows smartphone users to enjoy the same outstanding stabilization as the company’s flagship Ronin series in a more compact and affordable package. Its predecessor was the first in the range to add a folding design to the mix, reducing its footprint. And it quickly rose to the editor’s choice amongst the industry.
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But, at first glance, this refresh looks mostly identical, and on paper, little changed. So were these changes enough? And how does it stack up to Feiyu Tech’s SPG2 and Zhiyun’s Smooth 4? Let’s find out.
What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the DJI OM 4?
Build Quality & Design
The OM 4 is a three-axis mechanical gimbal mounted to a pistol-grip handle. And the bulk of the device uses a sturdy polycarbonate construction but metal and rubber for the mount. At 422 grams with the holder, it’s slightly heavier than its predecessor. But, measuring 7 x 4 x 2.8-inches when folded, so it’s somewhat more compact overall.
The main design changes for this update is a new magnetic arm mount, more robust motors, a refreshed color scheme, and a refined button placement. And the updated connector noticeably slims the design and mount profile when folded. The gimbal also has an integrated sensor that recognizes when the phone is attached.
DJI includes two styles of magnetic mounts in the box. The first is a spring-loaded Magnetic Phone Clamp that snaps around the edges of the phone. And it supports phones up to 84mm wide and 10mm thick. This clamp is quite robust but will require removing the phone’s case first. The second connector is a Magnetic Ring Holder, which takes the connection a step further. This ring attaches to the smartphone directly with an adhesive, creating a permanent mount. And once it’s attached, you can connect it to the gimbal whenever without the need for the clamp. The Ring Holder also acts as a kickstand, a nice bonus. Plus, DJI provides cleaning wipes, protective stickers, and a guide to secure it properly. The caveat here, though, is that using this connector will damage glass-backed phones without using the supplied plastic disk. And without it, the glass will crack if you remove the connector.
Either way, both connectors snap quickly into place and easily snap off for simple yet hassle-free connections. And both are secure with little if any play or give. So it’s unlikely anyone would find them insecure or have apprehensions. Overall, they’re well designed and well-executed. As such, this design change becomes a key highlight and selling feature over its predecessor. And it ensures you don’t have to recalibrate the device when reattaching the phone too. Instead, your phone remains in the same position as before, so you only have to calibrate once per session, saving time for longer shoots.
DJI’s also upgraded the internal motors with this refresh. Doing so lets the gimbal support larger and heavier phones. Now, instead of a 230g maximum, it supports phones of 290g. So now it can handle even the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra with no problem.
Otherwise, the device maintains a largely familiar design as its predecessor. Though, they have redesigned the handle slightly by angling it to 15º for a more natural grip. Even so, on the front, you’ll find the joystick to control the pan and tilt. There’s also the M (multi-purpose) button, battery indicator, and shutter release. On the left side, there’s a zoom rocker to zoom compatible lenses. While the front houses a trigger used to switch camera positions or engage the Sport Mode. Lastly, you’ll find a USB-C port for charging the device and a USB-A to charge the connected phone. And there’s also an integrated 1/4-20-inch connector at the bottom to mount the included tripod legs or other accessories.
Overall, the design here is excellent. The gimbal is quite portable and folds up nicely for easy storing into a bag or large pocket. Folding it also doesn’t feel particularly unnatural either. And it’s apparent the construction here is sturdy enough to not loosen whatsoever with age, unlike some of the competition. The grip is also comfortable to hold for prolonged sessions, and everything generally feels well designed. Plus, the button placement is intuitive and provides valuable functionality, despite a minor learning curve.
App Design, Features & User Interface
You’ll control this gimbal with DJI’s Mimo app, available for both Android and iOS. This app unlocks its full capabilities by using its built-in camera. And the device connects wirelessly using Bluetooth 5.0 LE (Low Energy). The Mimo app has many advanced functions to help simplify the process for creators. But, much of the core functionality is carried over from its predecessor. Let’s cover these features below.
First off, the app offers all the standard photo and video shooting modes. But it also has enhanced Panorama, Slow-Motion, the Sport Mode, Time-lapse, and the new Dynamic Zoom.
It also has gesture control, letting you control the gimbal at a distance with hand gestures. There you can have the gimbal track your movements without manually initiating ActiveTrack, take a selfie, or start/stop videos.
Like its predecessor, it supports both portrait and landscape orientations. And you can change directions by double-tapping the Multi-Purpose Button.
The Mimo app has a built-in AI-based video editor called Story Mode. And this lets you edit the recorded footage on the fly using one-tap creative templates to create professional-looking results, complete with a soundtrack. There’s also a host of tutorials to provide guidance and insight on the process. So it’s an excellent tool for newcomers to video editing.
The Dynamic Zoom mode is new for this release and a feature taken from DJI’s Mavic drone range. It simulates a cinematic effect where you zoom simultaneously when moving the camera, called a Dolly Zoom. It’s a classic move found in many Hollywood movies that’s both flashy but disorienting to viewers. And the app achieves this by activating a digital zoom matched with your physical movement. It’s a unique and impressive feature, given the difficulty of capturing this handheld.
It also obtains the new Clone Me Panorama mode, which lets your subject appear in three areas of a single panoramic photo. But it maintains the 240º Panorama Mode for a wider view and the 3 x 3 mode for super-wide-angle shots. And it automatically combines all of these images in-camera after moving the gimbal throughout the various points.
It features ActiveTrack 3.0, a subject tracking mode that uses object recognition to follow moving subjects throughout the frame. This version also recognizes both adults and children and even pets with higher accuracy.
It features SpinShot Mode, which rotates the phone for an impressive effect.
It has 8x Slow Motion.
It has several time-lapse modes. Firstly, standard Time-Lapse, which takes still images between 0.5-60 seconds stitched into a 4K video. Hyperlapse and Motion-Lapse let you add flair by moving within the timelapse by setting various waypoints or moving freely. And you can record at 1080p resolution with 5-30x speeds.
It has a Flashlight Mode, making low-angle shots easier.
Overall, the app provides plenty of useful creative tools and brings several new novel features. The app itself is also well-designed, and changing settings is pretty intuitive. So newcomers to the range shouldn’t find it particularly challenging to master.
Video Quality & Performance
Be it indoors or outdoors, this gimbal performs admirably. At no point will the magnetic connections give way, and the bond is strong enough to support even heavy phones like the Galaxy Note 20. Yet, it’s also easy to detach whenever needed, even if it does take some force to do so. So expect peace of mind regarding the connection.
Once connected, the gimbal remains steady, consistent, and responsive. And the entire setup process is seamless and easy, without any real need for balancing. Plus, no more wedging the handset into the included clunky phone clamp. Instead, place the desired connector in the center of the device roughly, and the gimbal adjusts accordingly. As such, this design is well-executed. And it’s a change that simplifies the process. But it also makes it easier to fold and carry around when not in use. So it fixes a key turn-off for many users about phone gimbals. The upgraded motors also provide more torque and power than before. And the gimbal provides a notable improvement when using heavier devices without causing overheating or strain.
Overall, the stabilization it provides coupled with the ergonomics, handling, and design here are excellent. Sure, it’s not substantially improved in performance over the already excellent Osmo Mobile 3. But DJI’s refined the platform.
It obtains the same built-in 2,450 mAh battery as its predecessor, and runtime remains essentially unchanged. DJI rates the gimbal at 15 hours of continuous use. So it’s unlikely you’ll run out of power during even extensive use.
DJI includes a storage pouch and wrist strap with purchase.
DJI also includes a tabletop tripod, helpful in recording Time-Lapses.
The gimbal features a motor protection feature limiting its range and places it on standby temporarily to protect it from damage. It’s a valuable addition that prevents you from moving it strangely to cause enough damage needing a repair.
The Dynamic Zoom feature is more of a party trick than a dependable feature. The results vary too much between phones. And for most phones, it’ll depend on digital zoom rather than optical to create the effect, reducing quality. So expect grainy video. Plus, it only works in a limited subset of conditions, where you need the right background, good subject separation, and bright daylight.
ActiveTrack tends to lose the subject if they’re too far away or move sporadically. It’s generally good, but in some scenes, it falls short quite quickly.
You cannot replace the battery, so expect some degradation over time.
The spring-loaded grip is problematic if you have a phone with center-mounted buttons like the Google Pixel range. Also, if you leave the grip on, it’ll cause your phone to wobble on a flat surface. So in these cases, you’ll have to use the Magnetic Ring Holder instead. But, this connector has to be attached to the phone itself, not the case. So you’ll lose protection for your phone permanently. Not ideal there. So essentially the Ring Holder is only helpful for dedicated gimbal users who have a dedicated smartphone for video. Otherwise, most are better off using the Magnetic Clamp and battling having it off-center.
The gimbals software functions through the Mimo app will vary based on the smartphone you have. And most of the advanced features are rather hit or miss on Android, and some entirely unavailable. So, in some cases, you may have to forgo the app altogether and use your phone’s built-in one instead. For iOS, all of the functions are fully available and generally work. But it’ll be a frustrating experience for most Android users. Expect missing frame rates, particularly for recording Slow Motion, even if your phone can record over 60 FPS. Also, expect the Panorama modes to have wrapping and distortion. And expect issues with the zoom functionality.
The app lacks both the Night and Portrait Modes. As such, for taking photos alone, the built-in camera is likely better.
While the zoom slider generally works excellent, the amount of zoom available varies based on the device. Even if the device can capture a 100x zoom, the app will limit it to 8x.
The included tripod is nice, but the build quality is lacking. It feels somewhat fragile and easy to break if the gimbal has too much weight attached.
Is this a good gimbal for you?
But, current Osmo Mobile 3 owners shouldn’t upgrade unless they want the magnetic mounting connectors and stronger motors. If these are worthwhile updates to you, then it’s worth considering an upgrade, since they make it more stable and save time recalibrating. But otherwise, there’s no need to upgrade. And for casual videographers who rarely use a gimbal, its predecessor represents better value for money. The Osmo Mobile 3 is equally capable regarding stabilization and offers largely the same software functionality. So save the money, and get it instead.
Otherwise, the DJI OM 4 represents an excellent all-rounder. It takes all of the already successful elements of the Osmo Mobile line and evolves the platform. The improvements made here are meaningful. And the new magnetic mount caters directly to serious creators who rely on a gimbal daily for content. But most creators will find the already excellent Osmo Mobile 3 plenty sufficient, especially if you are not too fussy about the magnetic connectors. Even so, it offers stabilization that surpasses even the best optical lenses of today’s smartphones. And its results are smooth and stable enough to rival the Steadicams of years prior.
Yet it also does so, offering advanced software-based features to make creating content that much easier. So if you can look past some of the minor inconsistencies with the Mimo app, it’s quite a powerful tool indeed. And it remains class-leading given its performance and small footprint.
DJI’s OM 4 is a solid release that refines this already excellent lineup of three-axis gimbals. But, the Mimo app is inconsistent and isn’t guaranteed to work with every device. Even so, the magnetic connector and refined motors continue its class-leading title in this space.