When comparing action cameras, durability is key. Both the HERO 7 Black and Osmo Action cameras are fully waterproof without housings, but where the HERO goes down to 10, the Osmo goes to 11 m. While an extra 1m does not really make the Osmo that much better, it’s worth noting that the Osmo is the only other action camera that maintains audio capability while underwater. Other than GoPro and DJI, no other action cameras on the market can do this.
DJI tells us that the Osmo Action has a 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor, and although GoPro is not as forthcoming with its sensor information, we know that both action cameras offer 12MP image resolution, which you can easily print to A3 size.
Each camera has a built-in wide-angle lens with a bright f/2.8 aperture perfect for taking vibrant action shots. But, where the Osmo’s field of view (FOV) is fixed at a 145º angle, the HERO offers selectable FOV options that extend from Linear to Superview Mode for that ultra-wide fish-eye effect. This means that with the HERO, you can take in more of the scene which makes more sense for an action camera. To remove barrel distortion, both cameras have you covered. With the Osmo, it’s Dewarp and with HERO it’s Linear Mode, but what makes the Osmo’s better is that unlike the HERO, you can also apply it when shooting in 4K. With each camera, the replaceable lens protectors are useful should you break them, and can take filters.
Colouration wise, the HERO has richer sky blues and foliage greens that make the scenery pop, but the Osmo captures skin tone better which is useful for vlogging. Both cameras offer flat image profiles for colour grading, and although the Osmo has HDR Mode, it does not work with Rocksteady enabled.
When GoPro announced the HERO 7 Black with Hypersmooth it was all the range, but shooting smooth handheld video has since become the norm which is why the Osmo Action would not have been the same without its very own electronic stabilisation called RockSteady.
The Osmo Action claims to have better image stabilisation, and when looking at video reviews it does seem to do slightly better in low light stabilisation, but the cameras’ stabilisation is very much comparable. Both immediately upgrade shaky recording into silky smooth stabilised 4K60 and 1080p240 footage that’s ready to share. Both cameras can also shoot in 8x slow motion.
With the Osmo, the audio seems to go out of sync (as does the display) with RockSteady enabled; however, DJI may correct this with firmware updates. Note that when putting together long clips (divided into smaller 4GB chunks), the HERO does so seamlessly, whereas some Osmo users have reported noticing a split-second jump (solved by joining the frames up in post-processing).
Design wise, they look very much the same and although they do not fit into each other’s housings, you can mount the Osmo housing onto most GoPro mounts or gimbals. Still, GoPro has a wider, more accessible range of accessories (at least for now) that lets you play around with perspective.
The touchscreens on both cameras or easy to use and intuitive, but when looking at the cameras, you’ll notice that the Osmo has two screens: The front screen is useful for framing yourself in any setting, but it isn’t touch responsive so you still need to adjust any settings at the back. But note: you cannot flip the screen without stopping the recording first. Bummer! The HERO does not have a front screen in which you can see yourself, but it does have a status display to help you keep track of your recording time and quality, and battery life. Chances are that if you use your either as an action camera you won’t really look at the front of the camera, but the front screen remains useful for vlogging.
When it comes to audio, there’s no clear winner. Both operate via voice command and while the audio recording quality is similar, the sound on the GoPro feels slightly closer and the Osmo’s further away. You can operate either camera in Manual or Auto, but it’s good to know that when in Auto Mode, the HERO doesn’t let you change the setting for wind reduction while the Osmo does.
PS: Both have internal microphones; however, for vlogging, we recommend pairing your action camera with an external microphone. It would have been useful if either had a built-in audio jack, but since they don’t, you’ll have to purchase a 3.5mm microphone input separately.
A true rival?
The Osmo Action makes a great mini action vlogging camera with dual screens and good audio but for pure adrenaline seekers the HERO 7 Black stays on top with timely display, a wider FOV and a larger ecosystem of mounting accessories.
GoPro has had more feedback from action photographers in the field as such, has had time to work out the kinks, but DJI’s first action camera is definitely a strong competitor. In fact, it’s the only other action camera that is spec-wise up to par with the HERO, which begs the question: What will the HERO 8 be like?