DJI Osmo Action vs GoPro HERO7 Black

The new DJI Osmo Action aims squarely at the GoPro HERO7 Black. They're remarkably similar, but there are also many differences when you drill down into the details. Here's how they compare.

In many ways, the new DJI Osmo Action is very similar to the GoPro HERO7 Black. But there are also many differences. Some are minor, but some will make the difference for users choosing between them.

You can find much more detail below, but to cut to the chase, here’s a quick summary of some of the key areas where each camera stands out compared with the other. I’m focusing here on issues that are more likely to factor in the decision on which to choose.

Strengths of the HERO7 Black:

  • Better video stabilization
  • Better range and availability of accessories
  • Better burst mode options
  • In-camera photo processing
  • H.265/HEVC video encoding
  • HDMI port
  • Better audio stream options
  • Longer intervals for time-lapse (in Night Lapse Photo mode)
  • Stabilized time-lapse (TimeWarp Video)
  • Better add-on (paid) subscription services

Strengths of the Osmo Action:

  • Front-facing live view screen
  • Higher bitrate video encoding
  • Better battery life
  • HDR Video mode
  • More compatible RAW image format
  • More granular and accessible manual controls and settings
  • More responsive controls
  • More customizable settings
DJI Osmo Action - 4K Action Cam 12MP Digital Camera with 2 Displays 36ft...
  • Dual Screens: Osmo Action’s dual screens allow you to capture it all with the touch of a button. A...
  • The RockSteady technology combines EIS with complex algorithms, delivering stable, shake-free footage no...
GoPro Hero7 Black — Waterproof Action Camera with Touch Screen 4K Ultra...
  • HyperSmooth: Get gimbal‑like stabilization—without the gimbal. HERO7 Black corrects for camera shake...
  • TimeWarp: Capture super stabilized time lapse videos while you move about a scene. Increase the speed up...

GoPro HERO7 Black vs DJI Osmo Black

There are a number of GoPro alternatives out there. Some are big-brand alternative visions that try to tackle things quite differently. Some are inexpensive knockoffs.

The DJI Osmo Action is something different. In many ways, it mimics the GoPro. But it’s from a company that comes to the party with the clout and market presence to be real competition. DJI is well-established as a leading player in the drone and gimbal markets and successfully saw off GoPro’s ill-fated attempt to elbow in on that market with its short-lived Karma drones. But DJI’s dominance of that market isn’t just about the parts that make it fly, the propellers and motors and controllers. Since GoPro and DJI went their separate ways a few years ago, DJI has dived deep into the technology that makes up the cameras mounted on those drones and gimbals. So if GoPro is going to get some real competition in the market they pioneered, it makes perfect sense that it comes from DJI.

It wasn’t long ago that DJI released their Osmo Pocket, a tiny camera hard-wired to a small hand-held gimbal. While it shares some capabilities with GoPros, the Osmo Pocket is still quite a different kind of camera and is more aimed at vloggers. The new Osmo Action, though, takes aim directly at the GoPro HERO7 Black, and there’s no question that it’s designed to go head to head.

There is a lot about these cameras that is very similar. But once you start digging down into the details, there are numerous differences, some big some small. And as you’ll see pretty quickly, there’s really no overarching theme of one being better than the other. Each of them stands out for some features, while the other camera stands out for others.

Having competition and choice is great for us as users, although it does make it more complicated in choosing between them. Which is where I’m hoping this post comes in useful. Rather than just embed a comparison table, I’m going to dig down into the details to compare how the GoPro HERO7 Black and DJI Osmo Action stand relative to each other based on having been shooting with both cameras side by side.1

Design and Build

In Brief: Both cameras have similar dimensions, weights, and layouts. Both are waterproof and rugged without the need for a separate housing. Both have large, crisp back screens for live view and for interacting with the cameras’ settings menus. The most compelling difference in terms of design and build is that the Osmo Action’s front screen offers a full-color live view, which is useful in situations where you’re filming with the camera facing you.

In Detail: They’re not exactly the same in overall build, but they are very similar. They’re similar sizes and weights, and they have strikingly similar layouts for the lens, screens, and buttons. And both are dark gray.

The highlight difference is that the Osmo Action has a small screen on the front that shows a live view. It’s really designed for vloggers and selfies. The HERO7 Black also has a small front screen, but it’s a simple monochrome one that only shows status information such as shooting mode, battery status, and memory card progress.

Not being a vlogger or into taking selfies, the front screen isn’t something that’s personally of much interest, and I rarely use it. And it actually took me a while to figure out how to turn it on. Well, I had to go to the manual, at least… To activate it, you double-tap with two fingers on the back screen (that is, with two fingers, tap quickly twice). That will switch between the back and front screens. And you have an option on the front screen to change the aspect ratio The screen itself is square, and the default display is a fill behavior that fills the entire frame with the center area of the actual viewport. You can change that to fit the entire viewport into that square on the back settings–swipe down to access the main settings menu, and then choose the bottom right option that looks like an image icon. That toggles the fit and fill behavior on the front screen.

The lens port cover on each is removable, although the cameras aren’t waterproof or dustproof with the port cover removed.

Size and Weight

There’s no much in it in terms of overall size. Looking from the front, the H7 Black is a little taller, while the Osmo Action is a little wider.

Viewed from the top, there’s only millimeters in it–they’re both around the same depth.

These are the dimensions provided by the manufacturers (W x H x D):

  • H7 Black: 62.3 x 44.9 x 33 mm / 2.45 x 1.77 x 1.3 inches
  • Osmo Action: 65 x 42 x 35 mm / 2.6 x 1.7 x 1.4 inches

On both, the lens port protrudes out a little from the main body and the main body is narrower. The measurements above include the lens port.

The Osmo Action is at left, with the HERO7 Black at right.

They’re also very similar in terms of weight, although the Osmo Action is slightly heavier. This is what I get for each on my digital scale, with a battery and memory card installed and without the frame.

  • H7 Black: 4.1 ounces / 115 grams
  • Osmo Action: 4.4 ounces / 125 grams

Waterproof and Rugged

Both models are waterproof out of the box without the need for an external housing. The Osmo Action is rated down to 11 meters (36 feet), whereas the HERO7 Black is rated down to 10 meters (33 feet).

In practice, that really makes no difference. These ratings aren’t strict hard-and-fast limits. They’re more suggestions. If you take a properly sealed HERO7 Black or Osmo Action down to 12 meters, the chances of it suddenly imploding are nonexistent. But the deeper you go–and the longer you stay there–the greater the risk that the pressure will force small amounts of water through the camera’s seals.

So both cameras are well-suited to water sports like surfing, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, or paddle boarding. Anything that doesn’t take you down below 11 meters, basically.

If you need to go deeper, such as with Scuba diving, you’ll have to get a more rugged waterproof dive housing that encases the camera. The one for the GoPro is called the Super Suit, and it’s rated for depths down to 60 meters (196 feet). DJI apparently has one in the pipeline that is rated for the same depth, but at the time of writing it’s not yet available.

Both cameras come with a frame. That doesn’t provide meaningful protection–it’s to provide a way to mount the camera, because there’s no attachment point built into the camera body itself.

The Osmo Action is a left, with the HERO7 Black at right. These are mounted in the frame mounts which come with the cameras.

A top view with the cutouts in the frame to allow access to the buttons, as well as the locking mechanism that holds the camera securely in place.

Back Screens

Both have a full-color touchscreen on the back that takes up most of the back panel. They’re very close to the same size vertically, but the Osmo Action’s screen is wider and in a 16:9 aspect ratio. So when you’re shooting in one of the 16:9 video modes, the image fills the entire screen area. It might not sound like much, but the practical effect is that the Osmo’s live view is significantly larger for those 16:9 aspect ratio modes. It loses that advantage in 4:3 video and photo modes.

Both have a touch screen that uses basic touch controls for navigating menus and settings, such as swiping and tapping. Neither of them supports more advanced gestures such as pinching. One exception is that with the Osmo Action, you can double-tap with two fingers to toggle between the back and front screens.

Both screens are bright and sharp. On both, there’s a very small lag in the display, but the lag is quite a lot longer and more noticeable on the Osmo Action. I haven’t measured it precisely, but it seems to be roughly half a second. That’s not much of an issue most of the time, but it can be an issue when trying to capture fast action.

Front Screens

Both cameras have a smaller screen on the front, but they’re quite different. On the GoPro, it’s a monochrome (ie. black and white (or dark gray on lighter gray)) that serves up status information such as shooting mode, battery status, and SD card storage. So it’s purely informational.

On the DJI, the front screen does have some of that information as well in the form of overlays, but its main purpose is to be a front-facing live view display. In other words, you can see what the camera sees while the lens if facing you. The most common places this comes in useful is for vlogging, taking selfies, or just any shot where the camera is facing you.

Neither of the front screens is a touch screen–they’re displays only.

On the HERO7 Black, the front screen is on by default, and you can’t turn it off. On the Osmo Action, the front screen is off by default. You can switch from the back to the front screen by double-tapping with two fingers on the back screen. You can also change the aspect ratio of the display to fill the square or fit the entire perspective within the display by going the main menu of options on the back screen and tapping on the icon at the bottom right that looks like a photo (square with mountain range and sun). That toggles the fit/fill behavior of the front screen.

Buttons and Compartments

On both, the battery compartment is on the bottom of the camera’s body. With the H7 Black, you open a door and slide the battery out. With the Osmo Action, the door and seal is integrated into the battery as a single piece.

The Osmo Action uses a pair of more traditional latch releases for the battery compartment, while the H7 Black uses a button that you push in and then slide the whole door.

The memory card slot on the GoPro is in that same bottom compartment, right next to the battery. On the Osmo Action, the memory card slot is in the side compartment.

Both have USB-C ports in the side compartment.

Shooting Video

In Brief: Both offer up to 4K60 and 1080p240 video modes. The Osmo Action has a higher maximum bitrate of 100 Mbps (compared to 78 Mbps). Both allow manual control of settings like white balance, ISO, and color. Both offer in-camera electronic stabilization to smooth out video footage; I’ve found the GoPro’s HyperSmooth to be better. But the DJI has an HDR video mode that evens out contrasty scenes for a more natural-looking result.

In Detail: I’ve previously posted separate rundowns of the video modes of the DJI Osmo Action and GoPro HERO7 Black. Overall, there’s a lot similar about them, so I’m focusing here on comparing them directly, with an emphasis on their main points of difference.

Resolutions, Framerates, and Bitrates

Video Resolutions

DJI Osmo Action Max. Resolution: 4K 4:3 (4000×3000)
GoPro HERO7 Black Max. Resolution: 4K 4:3 (4000×3000)

There’s a lot of overlap in terms of the video resolutions and framerates these cameras offer. The flagship resolution/framerate combination on both is 4K60. Both also offer a higher-resolution 4K 4:30 mode, but that’s limited to 30 fps. Both have lower-resolution, high-framerate modes with a maximum framerate of 240 fps that can be used to do 8x slow motion. And both have 2.7K, 2.7K 4:3, 1080p, and 720p resolutions.

The H7 Black also has a couple of extra 4:3 aspect ratio resolutions that the Osmo Action doesn’t have: 1440p and 960p. Of those, the 1440p is probably the most commonly used because it gives the width as 1080p but adds more leeway vertically–which can come in handy when filming fast-moving scenes–but neither 1440p nor 960p are what I’d consider essential.

And they use slightly different dimensions for the 2.7K resolution. For regular 2.7K, the GoPro uses 2704 x 1520, while the DJI uses 2720 x 1530. For 2.7K 4:3, the GoPro uses 2704 x 2028 while the DJI uses 2720×2040.

Overall, the H7 Black has more resolution-framerate combinations. But the Osmo Action covers most of the common ones, and for most users the differences aren’t going to be major factors in choosing which to use.

Video Framerates

DJI Osmo Action Max. Framerate: 240 fps (1080p)
GoPro HERO7 Black Max. Framerate: 240 fps (1080p)

Again, the framerate options are very similar. At 4K, the maximum framerate is 60 fps. At 1080p, it ramps up the cameras’ maximum framerate of 240 fps.

One minor area of difference is that the Osmo Action offers some modes at 48 fps; the H7 Black doesn’t have that framerate available at all. In reality, that’s not going to be a significant difference for most users, but there might be some that need 48 fps for some reason such as matching footage that has been previously shot at that framerate.

Video Encoding Bitrates

DJI Osmo Action Max. Bitrate: 100 Mbps
GoPro HERO7 Black Max. Bitrate: 78 Mbps

In terms of video bitrates, the Osmo Action’s are significantly higher. Its maximum bitrate is 100 Mbps, compared with 78 Mbps for the HERO7 Black.

That allows the Osmo Action to apply less compression and therefore opens the potential for higher-quality video. In practice, it’s something that only the most discerning users are likely to notice, and then mainly when they’re doing post-processing. But for those discerning users for whom maximum video quality is paramount, it’s an area where the Osmo Action has a significant edge.

There is a difference with how the bitrates are assigned. With the HERO7 Black, the highest frame rates come with the Protune mode engaged, which is a kind of expert mode. For example, at 4K60 the bitrate might be 60 Mbps or 78 Mbps depending on whether Protune is engaged or not.

The Osmo Action doesn’t segregate shooting options in that way, so its bitrates apply regardless of the settings that are active. At 4K60, the bitrate is always 100 Mbps.2

Video Modes Compared Table: HERO7 Black vs DJI Osmo Action

Here’s a master list of all the resolutions and framerate combinations each model offers:

ModeDimensionsFPSBitrates: H7 Black (-/+ Protune)Bitrate: Osmo Action
4K
3840x21606060 / 78100
5060 / 78100
48-100
3045 / 60100
2545 / 60100
2445 / 60100
4K 4:3
4000x30003060 / 78100
2560 / 78100
2460 / 78100
2.7K
2704x1520 (H7B)
2720x1530 (OA)
12060 / 78-
10060 / 78-
6045 / 60100
5045 / 60100
48-100
3045 / 6082
2545 / 6082
2445 / 6082
2.7K 4:32704x2028 (H7B)
2720x2040 (OA)
6060 / 78-
5060 / 78-
3045 / 6082
2545 / 6082
2445 / 6082
14401920x144012060 / 78-
10060 / 78-
6045 / 60-
5045 / 60-
3024 / 45-
2524 / 45-
2424 / 45-
10801920x108024060 / 78100
20060 / 78100
12045 / 60100
10045 / 60100
6024 / 4584
5024 / 4584
48-84
3024 / 4536
2524 / 4536
2424 / 4536
9601280x96024045 / 60-
20045 / 60-
12024 / 45-
10024 / 45-
7201280x72024045 / 60100
20045 / 60100
6024 / 45-
5024 / 45-

Video Stabilization: RockSteady vs HyperSmooth

DJI Osmo Action: RockSteady
GoPro HERO7 Black: HyperSmooth

GoPro has leaned very heavily on the impressive stabilization of the HERO7 Black in marketing that camera. They’ve called it HyperSmooth, and they’ve made some big claims in their marketing materials with phrases like “insanely smooth video” and “gimbal-like stabilization–without the gimbal.”

The DJI Osmo Action also has in-camera electronic stabilization. They call it RockSteady. DJI hasn’t gotten quite so pithy with the marketing-speak, but they’re also claiming that it “delivers stable, shake-free footage no matter how heavy the action gets.” While that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but it’s still a bold claim.

After shooting with them side-by-side, some differences have become clear in how effective their in-camera stabilization is. I’ve posted separately a more in-depth side-by-side comparison of RockSteady vs HyperSmooth, but the short version is that I’ve found both to work well in practice but that HyperSmooth works better.

I find the results out of HyperSmooth to be sharper and more detailed. And while the footage isn’t always smoother in a technical sense, the results of the stabilization tend to look more natural. RockSteady is sometimes smoother with vertical bumps and movement, but it struggles with sideways movement and you can get some strange wobbling and sideways jerking, both of which are pretty standard with electronic stabilization. In that respect, the Osmo Action is closer to the previous generation of EIS that’s found in the HERO6 Black.

That said, they both work quite well, and the results can be vastly smoother than the non-stabilized footage. While I’d prefer footage from using a good gimbal, it’s hard to beat the convenience of the in-camera electronic stabilization for many uses.

But rather than talking about it, here are a couple of examples to show what I mean (you can find more here). First, though, a baseline reference. This shows the effect that the stabilization is have compared to no stabilization. In this case, it’s with DJI’s RockSteady enabled on the left side and no stabilization on the right side:

Here’s the same piece of road at about the same speed but this time with both RockSteady and HyperSmooth turned on side-by-side.

Here’s another clip. This one has more sideways movement, which is an aspect that RockSteady struggles with.

Something worth knowing is that stabilization isn’t available in every shooting mode. That’s true with both cameras. For example, neither camera can apply stabilization in the 4K 4:3 mode or at 240 fps. But both do offer stabilization at 4K60, which is one of the key areas many users will care about.

Another thing worth knowing is that on both cameras, the stabilization cuts down slightly the fields of view. So you lose a little perspective from the edges of the frame.

Video Codecs, File Formats, & NTSC/PAL

DJI Osmo Action: H.264 / .mp4, .mov
GoPro HERO7 Black: H.265/HEVC and H.264 / .mp4

Codecs

The GoPro HERO7 Black uses two video codecs. The first is the older, widely compatible H.264. H.264 is about as close to a standard video codec as you can currently get; it’s analogous to the ubiquity of JPG. You have the option of using H.264 for most, but not all, video modes on the H7 Black.

The GoPro also uses a newer, more efficient codec known as H.265 or HEVC (high-efficiency video codec). Being more efficient, it creates files that are smaller while retaining matching quality. The catch is that you can run into compatibility issues as not all operating systems and video editing apps are compatible with it yet.

There are some quirks with how the HEVC is applied on the Black. You can set it to always use HEVC for all video modes or only use it when it absolutely has to (there are certain high-end video modes where it has to use HEVC; you can find more details here).

DJI have decided to play it safe here and only use the older, more-compatible, but less-efficient H.264 codec for all encoding on the Osmo Action. Sticking to H.264 keeps things simple and avoids the compatibility challenges that come with working with H.265 HEVC for now.

Filetypes

Both cameras save their video files in MP4 containers with an .mp4 file extension. Or at least they can. On the Osmo Action, you can also choose to use a .mov container that might improve compatibility with your editing app of choice. But whether you use .mp4 or .mov, they’re still using the same compression codec and result in the same quality.

NTSC / PAL

The NTSC/PAL distinction is less relevant for sharing video on the web, but it can still be relevant for some shooters–especially those shooting for broadcast, and those who need to match a specific framerate such as 25fps or 200fps.

Many cameras–probably even most of them–expect you to switch the region mode before making the frame rates applicable to that region available in the settings. That’s how the GoPro HERO7 Black approaches it. So, for instance, if you want to shoot at using a 50 fps option you’ll first have to change the region setting to PAL.

The Osmo Action doesn’t segregate the settings in that way; it just makes all of the frame rate options available in a single, flat list. So it’s up to you to select the one you want to use from a flat menu option.

Fields of View

The default field of view for both cameras is a super wide-angle that has a distorted fisheye look. On the GoPro, the view is slightly more distorted, which can you see in the horizontal planks in the example below.

This is how they compare side by side. These were taken without stabilization turned on (with both cameras, enabling the electronic stabilization reduces the field of view slightly). I’ve taken screen grabs from the video to better display the side-by-side here.

[before-after viewer_position=”center” orientation=”horizontal” label_position=”one” overlay_color=”#ffffff” label_color=”#000000″ label_one=”DJI Osmo Action” label_two=”GoPro HERO7 Black”]


[/before-after]

Linear FOV & Dewarp

That ultra-wide perspective isn’t well suited to everything. It bends horizons and straight lines and bulges subjects in the middle of the frame. So both cameras have a built-in antidote to the fisheye distortion. They call their versions different things–Linear FOV on the GoPro and Dewarp on the DJI–but they do the same thing. They apply software processing to correct for the distortion.

I’ve provided an example below of the effect in the photo mode. The video mode does the same thing.

Because it’s a computed correction and requires significant processing power, it’s not available with some of fastest framerate modes such as 240 fps or with some resolutions such as 4K 4:3.

Sound

Both have built-in microphones that can be used for onboard sound. The onboard sound from the HERO7 Black isn’t great, and while I have yet to properly investigate this further on the Osmo Action, my preliminary impression from the footage I’ve been shooting is that it’s not any better. Both do, however, off options for filtering out wind noise, features that work with varying degrees of effectiveness.

If audio quality is an important component of what you’re shooting, a much better option is to go with an external microphone.

But here’s an important wrinkle: you can get easily get the external mic adapter for the HERO7 Black, but the one for the Osmo Action still isn’t available (but is apparently in the pipeline, along with a bunch of other core accessories). And no, it’s not the same adapter as used with the Osmo Pocket–that would be too easy.

There are also some differences in terms of saving the audio stream. On the GoPro, you have some choices about quality, including saving it as a separate PCM WAV file. You don’t have those choices with the DJI camera.

So if sounds quality is important to what you’re shooting (and you’re not using an external sound recorder), there are good reasons to go with the HERO7 Black.

Digital Zoom

The HERO7 Black also has a zoom feature. But it’s a digital zoom, not an optical zoom. So it’s basically a glorified crop, and the image quality isn’t as good as from an optical zoom. The Osmo Action doesn’t have a zoom. That’s not a big deal to me since I don’t find the digital zoom particularly useful, and if I do need it, I can get the same result in post-processing.

I have a more detailed post on GoPro zoom with examples here.

Slow Motion

Both cameras can shoot 1080p video at up to 240fps that can be used for slow motion.

On the HERO7 Black, you’ll need to convert that into footage that plays back in slow motion after the fact in an app or software.

The Osmo Action has a dedicated slow-motion shooting mode that saves the file as a slow-motion version. Put another way, it shoots at 240fps but saves the file for playback at 30fps. So you get the convenience of having the slow-motion footage coming straight out of the camera.

Manual Overrides and Manual Controls When Shooting Video

GoPro segregates out some of the more expert options into a separate section they call Protune. By enabling Protune, you can access settings like white balance and ISO. On some video modes, it also turns on higher bitrate video encoding, which translates to higher-quality.

DJI has opted for a more traditional, flat approach. The Osmo Action still has many of the same kinds of controls, but they’re not separated out into a separate section.

There are similar kinds of controls for shooting photos and videos. They including things like exposure compensation, spot metering, manual white balance, and color processing. Rather than repeating these in each of the above sections, I’m going to deal with them together here.

White Balance. On both cameras, you can also override the automatic white balance and assign a manual setting. White balance values are expressed in temperature measured in degrees Kelvin.

The HERO7 Black has a series of preset steps: 2300K, 2800K, 3200K, 4000K, 4500K, 5500K, 6000K, 6500K, and Native.

The Osmo Action lets you choose anything from 2000K to 10,000K in 100K increments. So it gives you finer-grained control.

Both give you a live view of the effect even as you’re scrolling through the options so that you can eyeball the results before shooting.

ISO Range. The Osmo Action has an ISO range of ISO 100 through ISO 3200. The HERO7 Black has an ISO range of ISO 100 through ISO 6400. On both, as you get to the top of that range, the sensor is much more sensitive to light, but the visual quality also drops off. That’s true of any sensor, but neither of these cameras has what I’d call stellar low-light performance.

On both, you can assign the ISO manually as well as set a maximum ISO ceiling when using automatic exposure. On the HERO7 Black, you can also assign a minimum ISO that acts as a floor; you can’t do that on the Osmo Action.

Color Mode. The normal color mode that is enabled by default is bright and contrasty. The videos look bright and punchy right out of the camera, making it a good option if you plan to share the videos without any further post-processing.

Both cameras have a flatter, minimally processed color version. With a lower contrast, the footage will look flat and washed out when viewed as is, but it is better suited to color grading in post-processing. On the HERO7 Black, it’s simply called Flat. And it’s named appropriately–the result is indeed very flat. The Osmo Action has a variant called D-Cinelike that is flatter than the fully automatic normal mode and retains more details in highlights and shadows, but it’s not a true linear flat and still looks quite good out of the camera. I’ll try to put together some more directly comparison examples of this, but I don’t have them ready yet.

Spot Metering. By default, the exposure is calculated automatically from across the screen. If you’d rather that it use a specific point in the scene you can switch to spot metering and select which small point in the scene you want it to use. Both cameras have spot metering available.

Exposure Compensation. The exposure compensation option is a way of affecting the overall exposure relative to the automatic calculation used by the camera. So rather than taking full manual control over the exposure, you can tell it to still use automatic exposure but to underexpose by a stop or overexpose by 1/3 of a stop, for instance.

The Osmo Action makes available up to 3 stops each way in 1/3-stop increments, while there’s up to 2 stops each way in 1/2-stop increments on the HERO7 Black.

Shooting HDR Video

In Brief: The Osmo Action has an HDR Video shooting mode. The HERO7 Black doesn’t have it.

In Detail: The Osmo Action has a shooting mode called HDR Video. This mode evens out lighting between highlights and shadows to create a more balanced result. It’s something you’re seeing on more and more TVs that are hitting the market, and it can be quite effective for a more natural and pleasing look in contrasty scenes.

It’s important to note that HDR Video is treated as a separate shooting mode–it’s not just a setting for the regular video shooting. A consequence of that is that it has a more limited set of options. For instance, you can shoot at the 4K, 2.7L, and 1080p resolutions, but for each, the only available framerates are 30 fps, 25 fps, and 24 fps. And the RockSteady stabilization is not available in this mode, but you can use it in tandem with the Dewarp function (but not with the Color setting).

The HERO7 Black doesn’t have HDR Video, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it’s a feature that shows up in the HERO8 Black, or whatever it’s going to be called.

Shooting Photos

In Brief: Both have functionally the same resolution (12 MP) and allow you to shoot in RAW as well as JPG. In that, the Osmo Action has a slight advantage simply because its DNG file format is more widely compatible with more image editing software. But the H7 Black has an HDR photo mode that evens out highlights and shadows in high-contrast scenes.

In Detail: Action cams like the DJI Osmo Action and GoPro HERO7 Black are best known for shooting video. But for many of the same reasons that they lend themselves to shooting unique and unusual video in places that cameras can’t usually go, they can also be fun and interesting cameras to use for capturing still photos.

Both of these cameras have capable still photo features, although neither of them is going to seriously challenge a more stills-oriented camera or something like the Sony RX0 II.

Resolutions and Modes

Both cameras have 12 megapixel (12MP) sensor that produces images that measure 4000 by 3000 pixels. That’s a pretty standard photo aspect ratio of 4:3.

Somewhat confusingly, the Osmo Action’s photo aspect ratio is set by default to a 16:9 option. It’s the same width (4000 pixels) but is narrower (2250 pixels). It’s a common aspect ratio for video, but it’s much less common for still photos (although can be useful for sharing to mobile screens), and it leaves some of the sensor unused. You can get exactly the same result with a simple crop of the 4:3 version. I suspect that having it as default has more to do with showing off the camera’s back screen, which also happens to be in 16:9, than in any photographic reason.

The HERO7 Black doesn’t have a 16:9 option, but to me that hardly matters. If I’m ever likely to need a 16:9 still photo, I’ll just crop the larger 4:3 version.

File Formats

Osmo Action: .jpg + .dng (RAW)
HERO7 Black: .jpg + .gpr (RAW)

Both cameras shoot in JPG, and both have the option to also shoot in RAW mode. GoPro RAW files use a .gpr extension, but they’re based on Adobe’s DNG format. The Osmo Action’s raw format keeps things simple and just sticks with the .dng extension.

File extensions don’t sound like they’d matter much, but there is one very important implication. By coming up with a proprietary system, GoPro has severely limited the compatibility of their RAW files with image editing apps. Even though the format has now been out for a while, it’s really only Lightroom and GoPro’s own mobile app that supports it. By contrast, the DNG files from the DJI Osmo Action are much more widely compatible. While I’ve not tested with every RAW processing app, I’ve had no trouble opening them with some of the more common apps like Luminar, ON1, PhotoMechanic, and Lightroom. By contrast, of that list, only Lightroom will open the RAW files that come out of the GoPro.

This verges on a big deal. If you prefer shooting in RAW but don’t use Lightroom, the Osmo Action’s files are much more user-friendly.

A related point worth mentioning is that even if you choose the RAW photo option, both cameras will actually save both a RAW version and a JPG as separate files (I’m not referring here to an embedded JPG prefer in the RAW file but rather a separate standalone image file). So it’s actually a RAW+JPG mode. That gives a good safety net as well as adding convenience for any times you might find it easier to use a processed JPG version while out and about.

Fields of View

Some other models of GoPros have had several different fields of view to choose from. The HERO7 Black has just two: Wide and Linear. Wide is the standard ultra-wide look that GoPros are known for. The Linear mode is for when that bulging fisheye look of the wide FOV doesn’t suit–especially for drone footage.

The Osmo Action has basically the same fields of view. Its wide mode is slightly less distorted, and it calls the corrected version Dewarp.

Here’s an example of the DJI’s Dewarp mode (you can find more details on the H7 Black’s Linear mode here).

[before-after viewer_position=”center” orientation=”horizontal” label_position=”one” overlay_color=”#ffffff” label_color=”#000000″ label_one=”Normal” label_two=”Dewarp”]


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With both cameras, the non-distorted versions are generated from software processing rather than optically with the lens. And because they’re generated products, the images shot with Linear or Dewarp aren’t compatible with shooting RAW; it’s a JPG-only feature.

Manual Controls and Overrides when Shooting Photos

The cameras are set up for automatic exposures out of the box, but there are several ways you can take control over the exposure. On the HERO7 Black, these are generally only available once you enable Protune first. On the Osmo Action, they’re either in a flatter menu system or a more traditional toggle between automatic and manual.

Aperture. Both cameras have a fixed ƒ/2.8 lens. You can’t change the aperture setting on either of them.

ISO Speed. Both use automatic ISO by default and let you assign a maximum ceiling. The H7 Black also lets you assign a minimum ISO to be used with Auto ISO. Both have ISO ranges from 100 through 3200 for still photos.3

Shutter Speed. On both cameras, you can override the automatic exposure to assign a specific shutter speed. But the Osmo Action gives you quite a lot more control. The H7 Black lets you choose a shutter speed from 1/125 to 1/2000 second. The Osmo Action lets you choose from 1/120 to 1/8000 second. And for fast action, those higher-end shutter speeds can make a practical difference for freezing the action.

Metering. Both cameras use automatic wide-area metering by default, and both allow you to switch to designated spot metering if you prefer.

Exposure Compensation. The Osmo Action gives you a larger range of 3 stops above and below the automatic exposure, in 1/3-stop increments. The HERO7 Black gives you 2 stops in both directions, in 1/2-stop increments.

Face-Oriented Exposure. This prioritizes any faces that are detected in the scene when it comes to calculating the exposure. Most of the time, it means that it will lighten the exposure so that peoples’ faces don’t end up being far too dark in shadow. The Osmo Action has this feature; the HERO7 Black doesn’t. But I’ve not yet found it to be particularly effective in this particular implementation.

Color Mode. The normal, processed color mode with both cameras is bright and contrasty. The images look good right off the bat, making it well suited to sharing the images without any further processing (unless you’re shooting RAW).

Both also have a less-processed color mode that allows for more control in post-processing. On the HERO7 Black, it’s called Flat. on the Osmo Action, it’s called D-Cinelike.

In-Camera Image Processing

The HERO7 Black has a suite of processing tools that fall under its SuperPhoto features. It includes HDR (high-dynamic range) processing, local tone mapping, and multi-frame noise reduction. The camera is in control of which tools are used for each image–it doesn’t give you much control over them aside from turning it on or off–but the results are often an improvement over the unprocessed version. And while those results aren’t really something you can’t replicate or even improve on in a good post-processing app like Lightroom, you can get them without the post-processing step. There are some considerations in using SuperPhoto, though: it’s slow, and you can’t use it with RAW.

The Osmo Action doesn’t have any of these advanced processing options for still images (but it does have HDR video; see above).

Side-by-Side Examples

Here are some side-by-side examples of photos shot with a HERO7 Black and an Osmo Action mounted alongside each other in a dual frame. I’ll try to add some more soon. These are using the camera’s automatic exposure settings. In general, I’ve so found that I prefer the quality of the photos that come out of the Osmo Action. But there’s not much in it. Neither of them wows with dynamic range or low-light performance.

[before-after viewer_position=”center” orientation=”horizontal” label_position=”one” overlay_color=”#ffffff”  label_color=”#000000″ label_one=”DJI Osmo Action” label_two=”GoPro HERO7 Black”]


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[before-after viewer_position=”center” orientation=”horizontal” label_position=”one” overlay_color=”#ffffff”  label_color=”#000000″ label_one=”DJI Osmo Action” label_two=”GoPro HERO7 Black”]


[/before-after]

[before-after viewer_position=”center” orientation=”horizontal” label_position=”one” overlay_color=”#ffffff”  label_color=”#000000″ label_one=”DJI Osmo Action” label_two=”GoPro HERO7 Black”]


[/before-after]

[before-after viewer_position=”center” orientation=”horizontal” label_position=”one” overlay_color=”#ffffff”  label_color=”#000000″ label_one=”DJI Osmo Action” label_two=”GoPro HERO7 Black”]

This isa JPG straight out of camera without any further processing.

GoPro HERO7 Black


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Shooting Rapid Photo Sequences

In Brief: Both offer high-speed burst modes to take series of JPG photos of fast-moving action. The H7 Black’s burst capabilities are much better and more extensive, with the Osmo Action having only very limited capabilities in this area.

In Detail: Burst modes take a rapid sequence of photos in series. They’re especially useful for fast-moving action. Even if you don’t end up keeping all the shots in the series, it’s a very good way to get just the moment in time you want. That fraction of the second when the splash is the most dramatic. Or the moment of impact. And it’s doubly useful when both of these cameras suffer from sluggish shutter response.

Back when cameras were limited to mechanical shutters that had to physically move, a framerate of 6 frames per second was impressive. Really impressive were cameras that could shoot at, say, 10 frames per second. But electronic shutters have reshaped the game, and many can now shoot full-resolution images at 30 frames per second without breaking a sweat–for a brief period, anyway.

Burst Modes

The HERO7 Black has an extensive selection of frame rates available in burst mode: Auto, 30/1, 30/2, 30/3, 30/6, 10/1, 10/2, 10/3, 5/1, and 3/1.

These refer to the number of photos in a duration of seconds. So 30/3, for example, means a series of 30 photos in a duration of 3 seconds. The Auto setting is a little harder to explain briefly, but the gist is that it prioritizes correct exposure and overall duration rather than the number of photos. So in low-light conditions, it will take fewer photos but ensure correct exposure. I have a more detailed explanation with examples separately.

The Osmo Action has a much more limited selection of burst modes, and I don’t find it especially intuitive in choosing which to use. It refers to it as 3p, 5p, and 7p. These denote rapid sequences of 3, 5, or 7 photos in one second. So it’s much slower and there are far fewer options.

Overall, the burst mode (or drive mode) options on the Osmo Action are surprisingly limited, especially considering that fast-moving action is such a common thing to use an action camera like this for.

Continuous Photo

Continuous Photo is a type of burst mode where it takes a series of photos while you have the shutter down. It’s different in that with regular burst mode it will take a preset number of images for the preset duration as soon as you press the shutter. With continuous shooting, you can take fewer photos. And it’s also quicker to access because you can use it without shifting out of the regular photo mode (burst mode is a separate sub-mode).

On the HERO7 Black, it switches automatically between 30 frames per second or 3 frames per second depending on lighting conditions to try to ensure correct exposure. The maximum number of photos in each sequence is 30, but you can release the shutter before reaching that to shorten the sequence.

Continuous shooting is a feature that the GoPro has but is not available on the DJI camera.

Automatic Exposure Bracketing

The Osmo Action does have a related kind of quick-sequence shooting that the HERO7 Black doesn’t have. Auto Exposure bracketing, or AEB, feature takes a rapid series of images at different exposure settings. It’s useful when you want to maximize your chances that will have the right exposure but still need some trial and error to get there. The options for this setting refer to the size of the exposure steps and how many shots are taken in the sequence. So, for example, 1/3EVx3 refers to a sequence of 3 photos with a 1/3 of a stop exposure step between them. And 1EVx5 refers to a sequence of 5 shots with a full stop of exposure step between them. The available options for the AEB drive mode are: 1/3EV×3, 2/3EV×3, 1EV×3, 1/3EV×5, 2/3EV×5, and 1EVx5. Something worth knowing is that the sequence is just that–a rapid series of photos taken very quickly one after the other. So it’s not precisely the same image with different exposures, which might make a difference when shooting fast-moving action. But it’s also not suited to using as a traditional burst mode for fast-moving action because some of the photos will likely be less-than-ideal exposure.

Things Worth Knowing

With both of these cameras, it will only shoot in JPG in the burst modes, not RAW.

Shooting Time-lapse

In Brief: The Osmo Action gives you more granular manual control and lets you save video and still images simultaneously. The HERO7 Black has a Night Lapse photo mode that allows for much longer intervals (up to 60 minutes) as well as TimeWarp Video mode that adds stabilization for smoother footage.

In Detail: Both of these cameras offer two different approaches to shooting time-lapse. One saves the results as a compiled video. Because you get the results right out of the camera, it’s very convenient. The other saves the individual image files and lets you compile them in your computer’s software. That gives you maximum flexibility and, potentially, much higher quality results, but it requires the post-processing and compiling step.

The Osmo Action also offers a combination approach that saves both the compiled video and the individual JPG images. You can find that option under the Video > Timelapse > Shooting settings (swipe from right to left) > Video options (camera icon) > Format > JPEG+Video. While that’s obviously going to use up more storage space on your memory card, it gives you the best of both worlds and is a feature I like.

Time-lapse Video

Both cameras have a time-lapse video mode that compiles the footage in the camera and saves it as a ready-to-go video file.

These are the intervals available on each camera in the timelapse video modes. Note that these are not all the same as with the time-lapse photo modes.

Osmo Action: 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 13, 15, 20, or 30 seconds
HERO7 Black: 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, or 60 seconds

The Osmo Action has resolutions of 4K, 2.7K, and 1080p. The HERO7 Black can save the videos at 4K, 2.7K, 1080, and 1440.

The Osmo Action makes available the Dewarp corrected perspective for the timelapse videos. The HERO7 Black doesn’t let you use the Linear FOV–just the regular wide.

One small thing I like about how the Osmo Action approaches it is that in selecting the interval it presents you with the option to assign an even duration and also tells you how long the resulting video will run. Obviously, if you’re running a 5-hour shoot you’re going to need external power, but I like that they’ve included that option in here.

Time-Lapse Photos

Both cameras have a time-lapse photo mode that saves the results as a sequence of still images.

These are the interval options for each camera:

HERO7 Black: 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, or 60 seconds
Osmo Action: 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 15, 20, 35, 45, 65, or 125 seconds

The Osmo Action lets you assign a specific shutter speed. That’s something I like to be able to do to drag the shutter a little and create smoother motion. You can kind of sort of do this in a workaround way on the GoPro using the night lapse feature, but you’re pretty limited in what you can do with that. On the DJI cameras, you can also choose between the 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios, although much like with the regular still photos, I’d always shoot in 4:3 and crop later. The images come out at full size (ie. 4000 x 3000 pixels).

The default file format is JPG, and that’s available with all of the interval options. You can also choose to save RAW files (or, more precisely JPG+RAW), but that’s only available when the interval is longer. On the Osmo Action, that threshold is 2 seconds or above; on the HERO7 Black, it’s 5 seconds or above.

Night Lapse Photo

The HERO7 Black has a slight variation of the normal time-lapse photo mode called Night Lapse Photo. It enables longer shutter speeds (between 2 and 30 seconds) and intervals (1 minute to 60 minutes) that are better suited to low-light shooting.

The Osmo Action doesn’t have a separate, dedicated night time-lapse mode, but its normal time-lapse photo mode does allow intervals up to 125 seconds and shutter speeds up to 120 seconds, so it overlaps somewhat.

TimeWarp Video

The HERO7 Black also has a variant of a time-lapse video called TimeWarp. With normal time-lapse, it generally works much better if the camera stays put and the scene moves. TimeWarp adds stabilization into the equation, which makes it well-suited to shooting time-lapse when the camera is in motion. You still end up with the speeded up result, but the stabilization makes the video smoother.

The Osmo Action doesn’t have this feature.

Shooting Helpers & Guides

The Osmo Action has some extra tools to help with composing and exposing the shot. These are on-screen displays that you can turn on (they’re off by default). They don’t show up on the saved photo–just in the live view screen. They’re the types of things that commonly turn up on larger cameras, but the HERO7 Black doesn’t have them.

Grid. The grid is a screen overlay that gives you vertical and horizontal lines that divide the screen into thirds. It’s particularly useful as a guide to try to get horizons level (although it’s not a true level indicator as some other cameras have) and if you’re trying to apply the rule of thirds when composing your shot. You can set this in the main camera settings menu.

Overexposure Alert. This is an onscreen helper that highlights the parts of the scene that are being overexposed and that will come out as washed out highlights in the resulting footage. This is a feature only available when using the mobile app–it doesn’t show up on the camera’s screen, and you can’t access the option using the onboard settings menu.

Histogram. A histogram is a visual graph of the light intensity of the scene at given frequencies. Typically, the brighter areas are at the right of the graph, with darker areas at the left. This onscreen helper is only available when using the mobile app–it doesn’t show up on the camera’s screen, and you can’t access the option using the onboard settings menu.

Battery Life and Power

In Brief: I’ve been consistently getting better battery life out of the Osmo Action.

In Detail: While the battery life of these cameras won’t blow you away, I have found that the Osmo Action has consistently been giving me better results.

While they’re very similar sizes physically–if you ignore the door hatch that’s attached to the Osmo Action’s battery–the DJI’s battery is rated for a slightly higher capacity than the GoPro’s: 1300 mAh vs 1220 mAh. That helps with the better battery life, but there are presumably other efficiencies in the Osmo Action and more processing overhead in the overclocked GP1 processor in the HERO7 Black with things like HyperSmooth that help explain the significant difference in them.

The GoPro’s battery is at left, with DJI’s at right.

Battery Life Side-by-Side Tests

I have done a small set of side-by-side tests. While this doesn’t amount to rigorous scientific testing by any means, I do think it’s useful for some rough ideas of how they perform.

With fully charged batteries, I got both recording side-by-side facing a clock. Both were using original manufacturer-branded and healthy batteries. Both were in the same conditions and temperature (around 72°F). The recording was non-stop, which isn’t really a typical way to record–that would be in shorter bursts–but is still useful for a side-by-side comparison. Both had the back screens set to 100% and to turn off at 1 minute. Wireless connections, GPS, and Voice Control was turned off on the HERO7 Black. Voice Control was off on the Osmo Action (it doesn’t have GPS and you can’t turn off the wireless). And I tested at one of the most power-intensive resolution/framerates combinations (4K60) and one of the least power-intensive combinations (1080p30).

I consistently found I got longer record times Osmo Action. They were still a little lower than the figures DJI claims, but they were relatively close, and there are a bunch of factors that can influence the precise recording times you can get.4

Recording Mode Camera Time (mins)
4K60 Stabilization ON OA 53
H7B 38
4K60 Stabilization OFF OA 67
H7B 44
1080p30 Stabilization ON OA 106
H7B 102
1080p30 Stabilization OFF OA 121
H7B 97

Charging and External Power

Both cameras charge via USB-C, which opens up the possibility of using external power sources like AC wall adapters, USB hubs, USB power bricks, DC car chargers, or even solar. For the most part, those kinds of power sources are agnostic about the kind of camera. So you don’t need to pair a specific kind of USB power brick with the HERO7 Black and a different one with the Osmo action for example–the same one will work on both.

But one area where you do need to match specifically to the camera model is with external battery chargers. When the Osmo Action initially hit the shelves, I wasn’t able to find spare batteries or battery chargers for them to buy separately. Since then, some have been announced (such as battery and charger kit and individual batteries, but still, at the time of writing, you can’t actually buy them–just preorder them.

By contrast, batteries and chargers for the HERO7 Black are readily available, both original GoPro-branded ones as well as third-party aftermarket alternatives. You can also get extended batteries for when you need to extend the shooting time. I haven’t yet seen any extended batteries hit the market for the Osmo Action.

Accessories

In Brief:There is a vast universe of GoPro accessories already on the market. The Osmo Action can use some of those, but not all of them. And DJI has been slow to bring camera-specific accessories like spare batteries and housings to market.

In Detail: One of the strengths of GoPros is the universe of accessories for them. DJI has been smart in that they’re piggybacking on that existing system for at least some of the camera’s accessories, although they’ve hobbled themselves quite a bit by not having the accessories ready in time for the launch of the camera.

But accessories that make use of the three-tongued mounting attachment are a different story. The frame that comes with the DJI Osmo Action uses the same familiar GoPro connection system, a simple but effective approach. That means that most existing GoPro mounting accessories will also work with the DJI Osmo Action. Some examples are bike mounts, bobbers and handles, selfie sticks, etc.

But there are also some areas that don’t cross over. An important one relates to the batteries. The batteries for the two systems look quite similar, but they’re not the same. And this is where DJI has dropped the ball so far. As I write this, you still can’t actually buy spare batteries or a waterproof housing for the Osmo Action, for example.

Another area where they’re not directly compatible is housings. The body of the Osmo Action is very similar to the HERO7 Black, as is the frame, but they’re not exactly the same. So you can’t use the Osmo Action in a GoPro Super Suit dive housing, for instance. DJI is coming out with their own dedicated dive housing, but it’s not currently available as I write this.

For now, this is a pretty big issue. The huge range of accessories for GoPro cameras includes GoPro-branded ones and aftermarket products. They make the cameras much more useful, functional, and fun. Assuming the Osmo Action proves popular–and it should–the accessory market should catch up, and probably sooner rather than later. But in the short-term, not being able to get spare batteries or housings or other dedicated accessories for the Osmo Action is a pretty compelling reason for second thoughts.

Both cameras come with a frame mount, battery, and a couple of adhesive attachment plates. But neither comes with a memory card. In general, there’s overlap between the cards that work well in each, but I’ve put together some specific recommendations for the DJI Osmo Action and HERO7 Black.

Ports, Connections, and Interfaces

In Brief: Both have advanced mobile apps for wireless control, touchscreen controls, and voice controls. Both have USB-C ports. The HERO7 Black has an HDMI-out port; the Osmo Action doesn’t.

In Detail: Both cameras have two screens–one on the front and another on the back. The back screens are generally similar–the one of the DJI is wider and narrower. They’re touch screens that show a live view as well as the menus.

The front screens are quite different and serve different purposes. On the HERO7 Black, the front screen is a small black and white screen that is basically a status screen. It shows you things like shooting mode, battery charge level, and memory card status. It’s not a touch screen and it doesn’t show menus.

On the Osmo Action, the front screen is a full color mini live view screen. It’s designed for selfie shooting, whether still photos or video, so you can make sure that you’re framing the shot.

The menu systems on both cameras are conceptually similar. There are some differences in where you swipe and where setting options are located, but the gist is the similar–if you’re used to one you’ll pick up the other in no time.

But there are two areas where I think the Osmo Action has the edge. The first is that the settings are often quicker to access. Some of that is because they tend to be in flatter menu systems rather than being behind extra layers like enabling Protune first or switching between NTSC and PAL. Overall, the core settings are often closer to the surface and require fewer steps to get to.

The second feature where I prefer the Osmo Action’s approach is in switching shooting modes. What I mean by that is between, say, shooting still photos and video, or video and HDR video. Both cameras have a way to switch between shooting modes quickly. On the HERO7 Black, you can hit the power/mode button on the side or swipe sideways on the screen to scroll through the modes. But the Osmo Action has taken this further with a dedicated QuickSwitch button on the side that serves that purpose. But the nice touch is that you can customize which modes appear as options for quick switching. So if you’re only ever toggling between the video and HDR video modes, for example, you can limit it to those, which both speeds up the switching and reduces the risk of starting in the wrong mode. It’s a relatively small thing, but it’s something I’ve found very useful and like quite a lot since there are some specific modes that I tend to shoot in more than others.

Mobile Apps

Both have mature mobile apps, and both are quite slick and share similar functionality. I’m not going to go in-depth here with a side-by-side comparison of the apps, but I might try to put together a separate post comparing them.

In short, while they do some things slightly differently, they’re both conceptually similar and quite intuitive. If you’re used to one, you’ll pick up the other pretty quickly. For now, I haven’t found one to have a clear edge over the other, although there are inevitably some differences that will become more apparent as I use them more.

I have had some issues with the DJI Mimo app crashing out and closing unexpectedly on an iPhone 7. I can’t say for sure where the problem is–whether it’s bugs in the app or something to do with the phone–but it’s an annoyance when it happens.

Remote Controls

Aside from remotely controlling the camera from a mobile device via the app, the GoPro also has some standalone, dedicated remote controls. The two latest models are waterproof and have longer ranges than the smartphone connection, characteristics that open up all sorts of shooting possibilities.

For now, at least, there aren’t any standalone remotes available for the Osmo Action, although I would expect and hope that some will become available over time.

Voice Control

Both cameras have voice control functionality for basic functions like switching modes and start and stopping recording. For more details instructions, such as changing settings, you’ll need to use the on-screen menu or the mobile app.

Ports

Both cameras have a USB-C port.

The HERO7 Black has a micro-HDMI port, so you can stream to an external display/TV or recorder. The Osmo Action doesn’t have HDMI out. This could be a deciding factor for some users.

Cloud and Warranty Services

In Brief: GoPro offers a much more attractive add-on paid subscription product.

In Detail: Both companies offer paid subscriptions that offer subscriber benefits, but they’re quite different. GoPro’s is far more comprehensive and, arguably, much more generous.

GoPro offers its subscription plan under the name GoPro PLUS. The benefits are tweaked from time to time, but as of writing, this is the latest list of benefits offered with the GoPro PLUS subscription (at $4.99/month, with first 30 days free trial):

  • Damaged Camera Replacement – No questions asked, period.
  • Unlimited Cloud Storage – Unlimited backup of videos and photos at original quality. Your GoPro footage automatically transfers from your camera to your phone to the cloud.
  • 50% off Mounts and Accessories – Save 50% on most mounts and accessories at GoPro.com.
  • VIP Support – Jump to the front of the queue for phone and chat support.

DJI has a different suite of plans, but they’re more geared towards warranty-type products than services. The DJI Care Refresh plan is the most basic that’s relevant to the Osmo Action and costs $29/year. For that, you get access to two replacement units per year, but it’s important to note that those replacements don’t come free–you’ll be charged $29 for the first and $39 for the second. (With GoPro Plus there’s also a replacement fee for each camera.)

Misc

Here are some other issues I’ve come across that don’t really fit in the sections above.

Responsiveness. One of my pet peeves with GoPros is how sluggish they are. They’re slow to turn on. They’re slow to take the shot. The Osmo Action is a little better in this respect–it’s just quicker to respond to controls–although there’s still plenty of room for improvement, and it strangely has a longer lag in its live view display.

Reliability. I’ve had both cameras lock up from time to time. The HERO7 Black just freezes sometimes, and splashes of water on the back screen can cause some strange behavior. The Osmo Action has overheated a few times for me and bugged out. Its mobile app has also locked up on me a couple of times. So I’ve found neither of these cameras to be immune to glitches.

Which Would I Choose for . . .

**. . . video stabilization.** The HERO7 Black. The Osmo Action’s stabilization is pretty good, but the GoPro’s is better.

**. . . taking photos.** Either. I think it’s pretty much a wash for still images. I like the more granular settings, more responsive controls, and more compatible RAW format of the Osmo Action. The JPGs that come out of the HERO7 Black tend to look a bit more dramatic, and GoPro’s SuperPhoto feature can create better-looking images in some scenes and situations.

**. . . when audio quality is important.** The HERO7 Black. You can use external microphones with it, and it has much better options for higher-quality audio streams.

**. . . shooting time-lapse.** The Osmo Action. The end result from each is fundamentally the same, but I prefer the more granular and simpler controls of the DJI.

An exception is if shooting time-lapse when the camera is in motion. The GoPro has a special mode that stabilizes that footage known as HyperSmooth; the Osmo Action doesn’t have an equivalent feature.

**. . . shooting photos of fast action.** The HERO7 Black. It has much better burst mode features.

**. . . accessory compatibility.** The HERO7 Black. For now, at least, there are many more GoPro-compatible accessories. There is, however, a lot of overlap in some types of accessories such as mount accessories.

Wrap Up

So, after all that, which one is better? As you’ve probably figured out well before getting to this part, there’s no simple to answer to that. Each has strengths in particular areas.

I would love to see one or both of these companies do a real professional-grade camera. Something that really takes the sensor, image quality, responsiveness, and reliability to the next level. Something that combines the best of these cameras with something like the Sony RX0 II. (And yes, I realize that’s going to be a higher-priced camera.) DJI is probably more naturally positioned to take up that challenge because they already have a dedicated pro division and already have cameras with the kind of sensor and imaging specs to make a real difference, but GoPro could also make a very interesting camera in that space (so long as they wouldn’t decide to develop another new in-house chip that would presumably take quite some time and cost quite a bit in terms of R&D investment).

For now, the HERO7 Black and the Osmo Action are the flagship models from the respective brands (I’m not including GoPro’s Fusion because it’s a quite different beast). And both area excellent cameras that can be used to capture really fun and impressive photos and videos.

So is the Osmo Action a GoPro killer? No, it’s not. It doesn’t render the HERO7 Black obsolete. But it does amount to legitimate competition. There are some things it does better. And there are some things that the HERO7 Black does better. But the fact that DJI has managed to put out a legitimate competitor for the HERO7 Black in their first-generation action camera is impressive itself. And that competition is great news for us as users as we look ahead to future models from both companies.

Where to Find Them

DJI Osmo Action: B&H Photo | Amazon

GoPro HERO7 Black: GoPro.com | Amazon | B&H Photo

DJI Osmo Action - 4K Action Cam 12MP Digital Camera with 2 Displays 36ft...
  • Dual Screens: Osmo Action’s dual screens allow you to capture it all with the touch of a button. A...
  • The RockSteady technology combines EIS with complex algorithms, delivering stable, shake-free footage no...
GoPro Hero7 Black — Waterproof Action Camera with Touch Screen 4K Ultra...
  • HyperSmooth: Get gimbal‑like stabilization—without the gimbal. HERO7 Black corrects for camera shake...
  • TimeWarp: Capture super stabilized time lapse videos while you move about a scene. Increase the speed up...

  1. It’s possible that the manufacturers might tweak the cameras’ features and specs through firmware updates. As a point of reference, I’ve been using firmware v01.02.00.10 and v01.03.00.10 on the Osmo Action and v1.70 on the HERO7 Black.
  2. Or close to it. Both cameras use variable bitrate encoding, so while they can aim for a target bitrate, the actual final bitrate can vary slightly depending on how effectively the codec can compress the scenes in the clip. As an example, 4K60 footage from the Osmo Action can end up at, say, 103 Mbps once audio streams and the compression is factored in.
  3. The H7 Black’s ISO for video goes up to ISO 6400, but it’s capped at ISO 3200 for still images.
  4. DJI’s documentation says: “A fully charged battery can support video recording at 1080P/30fps for up to 135 minutes (with RockSteady turned off), and 4K/60fps for up to 63 minutes (with RockSteady turned on).”

Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2020-11-13 at 20:08. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon Site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

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This post was last modified on July 2, 2020 11:47 am

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