DJI Osmo Action 3
“The DJI Osmo Action 3 is an excellent action camera that stands out for its unique magnetic clip system and exceptionally robust design.”
Excellent image quality and video stabilization
Very robust and waterproof design
The unique magnetic clip system is very versatile
Not as compact and lightweight as the Action 2
Magnetic locking system prone to clogging in sandy conditions
When I reviewed the DJI Action 2 last year, I applauded its innovative design, which sets it apart from all other action cameras on the market. The DJI Osmo Action 3 takes a 180-degree return to basics with a more traditional design and the resuscitation of the Osmo name. Although this move intrigued me at first, now that I’ve had time to test the Action 3, I’ve come to understand why DJI made the switch. This tough new camera is built to survive anything you can throw at it, but does it do enough to stand out from the competition?
Design DJI Osmo Action 3
The Action 3 looks remarkably similar to the original DJI Action camera, which was a great camera but perhaps looked a bit too much like GoPro. The Action 3 may still have that typical action camera look, but it’s unique in some ways. Chief among them is the magnetic quick release system, inherited from the Action 2, which has been significantly improved to be stronger and more reliable.
This magnetic clip system allows you to attach and detach the camera from various mounts, or even just stick the camera to a metal surface. While such a system may seem concerning in terms of stability, I can vouch for the reliability of the magnetic clip, as it remained locked and secure on an extension rod through a car window while traveling at 40 mph, and I piloted the Action 2 atop a drone at speeds even greater than that. The only thing to keep in mind is that the magnetic clip sometimes doesn’t click into place perfectly the first time, so it’s a good idea to double-check this connection.
The Action 3 is unique in that its front screen is now touch-enabled, allowing you to adjust settings when the camera is facing you, such as when taking vlog-style videos. Since I frequently shoot vlog-style YouTube videos myself, I really appreciate this feature. I’m also a fan of the battery door on the Action 2, which is easy to use while still being secure and waterproof.
DJI Action 3 Image Quality
If you liked the look of the footage captured with the Action 2, you’ll also like the Osmo Action 3. In my eyes, the difference is virtually non-existent. That’s not a bad thing, though, as the Action 2 captures great video. Details are crisp and clear, and Rocksteady and Horizonsteady image stabilization are very effective. The standard color mode might be a bit oversaturated, but personally I like the way it looks, and the D-cinelike color profile is available if you prefer to have more editing latitude and create your own look in post-processing .
The Action 3 can shoot 4k at up to 120 fps and up to 240 fps at 1080p. Shooting at 1080p 240fps is as limp and ugly as you’d expect, but 4k 120fps looks pretty good. It’s limited to 4k resolution, which is fine if you just want to post direct camera footage without too much editing. But that’s not up to par The GoPro Hero 11 Black’s 5.3k maximum resolution and larger sensor provide additional post-processing versatility.
I found the Action 3 slightly outperforms the Hero 11 in terms of video stabilization, while the Hero 11 is slightly sharper. The end result is that in terms of pure video quality, the two cameras are perfectly matched.
One thing I really like about the video produced by the Action 3 is that it matches very well with other DJI products. This means that if you’re flying a Mini 3 Pro, for example, to capture aerial footage, it will pair well with the look of footage captured with the Action 3.
If you’re flying a DJI Mini 3 Pro to capture aerial footage, it will match the look of footage captured with the Action 3 perfectly.
The Action 3 puts more emphasis on color accuracy, with a dedicated large sensor to detect the correct white balance for a given scene. While it didn’t seem to make a huge difference in the rather tame conditions I filmed with the camera in, it would probably be more useful for scuba diving.
DJI Action 3 Screen
The Action 3’s front and rear screens are bright with good colors. The larger rear touchscreen is certainly much easier to use than the smaller screen on the Action 2 and the integrated front screen means you don’t need a separate module to have a front-facing screen.
DJI Action 3 durability and waterproofing
The Osmo Action 3 is remarkable in that it can be dropped and submerged. It withstands drops up to five feet and is waterproof up to 52 feet underwater. Plus, it’s rated for use between minus four and 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Those are seriously impressive numbers, and they’re reflected in the camera’s particularly rugged feel. I really like the rubber ring around the lens, which adds protection to the most vulnerable part of the Action 3, although I would prefer it to lock securely in place as it can be accidentally pushed off the edge of the lens.
Although I didn’t throw the camera away like a hacky sack, and unfortunately didn’t have time to take scuba diving lessons, I took the Action 3 on a hike and I dipped it in a lake. This admittedly minor punishment didn’t even faze the Action 3. If you want extra drop protection, DJI sells a case, which is included with the Adventure combo.
There is one major flaw when it comes to using the camera in the real world, however, and that is that the magnetic plates in its unique mounting system have an annoying tendency to pick up magnetic sand particles. It doesn’t hurt the camera, but it may interfere with the locking mechanism and require frequent cleaning if you take it to the beach.
The Action 3 offers similar battery life to competing action cameras, although it is capable of operating in more extreme temperatures. I was able to get through a typical day of hiking and recording without having to change the battery. Still, if you plan on doing longer shots rather than brief highlights like I prefer, you’ll definitely want to have spares. The camera also charges very quickly, taking just 18 minutes to charge a battery to 80% charge.
I tested the Action 3 with the optional multifunctional battery case, which not only acts as a charger and carrying case for up to three batteries at once, but you can also charge your smartphone or other USB-C devices from your Action 3 batteries by plugging them into the case. It also has extra space to store two additional microSD cards.
I didn’t experience any overheating issues or other performance-related issues when shooting with the Action 3. The DJI Mimo companion app is also functional for controlling the camera, as well as uploading and editing images. sequences.
Audio recording is very good and I would feel comfortable using the Action 3 to shoot vlog-style videos on its own. If you want even better sound, you can plug the DJI Mic into the Action 3 and record through this excellent wireless microphone. When I tried this, it was a straightforward plug-and-play experience, with the only setup issue being unclipping the Action 3’s USB-C port door to make way for the DJI Mic.
The Action 3 is available now, starting at a price of $330. You might also consider upgrading to the $440 Adventure Combo, which includes three batteries, the excellent multifunctional battery case, two extra Action 3 lens protectors, two adhesive base kits, a protective frame, and a extension rod kit. Although it adds $110 to the base price, the Adventure Kit adds a lot of value with some really useful accessories at a discount to their individual MSRP.
Although the innovative design of the Action 2, the DJI Osmo Action 3 is an excellent action camera that stacks up well against the fierce competition from GoPro and Insta360. While ultimately I don’t find it outperforms other cameras of its kind overall, it does have some significant advantages.
If you need a heavy duty camera this is the one for you, especially with the optional protective frame fitted. And if you plan on diving, the Action 3 can go down to 52 feet underwater without an additional dive case. The other big selling point is the magnetic quick release system, which is definitely beneficial if you need to swap mounts quickly. However, as I discovered, sandy beaches are the Achilles heel of this mechanism.
The Action 3 will also appeal to DJI drone pilots looking for a rugged camera that will easily match the aesthetics of footage captured using popular drones such as the DJI Mini 3 Pro, Mavic 3 or Avata.