The battle for the throne of “the action cam king” is now open. After years of solid dominance, GoPro has encountered a worthy opponent embodied in the DJI Osmo Action. Some say that the little detour that GoPro took in the skies with its drone, the GoPro Karma, has unleashed the vengeance of DJI.
That’s not something we’ll ever know for sure, and it’s not even important after all. What matters now is that we have a couple of new contenders – the latest iteration GoPro HERO8 Black that Jan Klaeui has been testing against the previous model, and the rival aiming for regency, the DJI Osmo Action.
In the video below, Klaeui has been trying to sum up the main differences as well as the pros and cons of each camera in a simple and effective way. So, keep reading after the video to find more about his conclusions.
The first test is about image stabilization. As you can imagine, this is a key feature and one of the most demanding ones from the perspective of an action camera buyer. After all, these cameras are used in rough situations, oftentimes while doing some kind of intense sports dangling by not so stable mount points.
The images we see are shot all at the same time with the three cameras mounted on a single rod. The difference between the older HERO7 and the newest two is astonishing. The DJI action is not close to GoPro’s algorithm, every step is visible, but not annoying.
The most impressive thing is that the HERO8 is not even at its full potential. It features a stabilization boost called HyperSmooth 2.0 that gives even better results but crops the image a bit.
Watching the two videos compared, you’d easily fall for the trick imagining there’s some kind of a gimbal or dolly track behind it. The narrow field of view and consequential absence of distortion can fool you giving the impression of a more conventional camera instead of an action cam shooting the sequence.
Even forcing the cameras to extremely unnatural and probably unreal shaking gives still a quite smooth result. It’s frankly amazing the amount of smoothness the onboard software can deliver.
All three cameras have different color profiles. A neutral “normal” color, called GoPro Color on the HEROs and normal on the Osmo Action that gives nice clear results. It’s what you’d expect a consumer camera to deliver – nice usable footage with a balanced exposure and white balance.
For more advanced content creators, instead, there are some log-like flat profiles aimed at those that will edit and grade the footage in post. The dynamic range in the log mode is decent, not as we could get with other cameras, but it’s an action cam we’re dealing with here, so that’s more than enough.
If you’re planning on recording audio, you should set your expectation bar quite low. Neither of the three candidates has a great built-in mic, and we would not expect them to have it after all. The good news is that with minor tweaking in post, you can get a nice result. Also on the photographic side of things, there is not much to say, except for the new function added on the HERO8 – the LiveBurst.
It’s similar to the live photos seen on iOS devices: when you take a photo, you’re actually taking a small (3s) video. It’s a nice tool, overall. It may not seem worth to many, but for some, it’s a very welcome addition. Keep in mind, though, that this function keeps pre-rolling waiting for the shot (as apparent from the audio) as the click sound is in the middle of the clip.
What so important about that? Well, the battery life is going to be heavily impacted by the feature, so don’t be surprised if you see the juice running too quickly.
So HERO7, HERO8 or DJI Osmo Action? It’s hard to say. Probably it’s still too early to take down the king, GoPro can continue its reign for another generation, but the presence of a competitor will surely bring more innovation and quality in the future releases, and that’s very good for all of us consumers.