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This is hands down the most versatile action camera I've tested yet

There's an awful lot to like about the new DJI Osmo Action 4, and the spectacular battery life is just one of those things.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
DJI Osmo Action 4 action camera.

DJI Osmo Action 4.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

DJI might not be the first name on people's lips when it comes to action cameras, but the company that's better known for its drones also has a really solid line of action cameras. 

And its latest device, the Osmo Action 4 camera, has some very impressive tricks up its sleeve.

Also: The best drones: Which flying camera is right for you?

So, what sets this action camera apart from the competition? Let's take a look. 

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First off, this is not just an action camera -- it's a pro-grade action camera. 

From a hardware point of view, the Osmo Action 4 features a 1/1.3-inch image sensor that can record 4K at up to 120 frames per second (fps). This sensor is combined with a wide-angle f/2.8 aperture lens that provides up to 155° ultra-wide field of view. And that's wide.

Build quality and fit-and-finish are second to none.

Build quality and fit and finish are second to none.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

For when the going gets rough, the Osmo Action 4 offers 360° HorizonSteady stabilization modes, including RockSteady 3.0/3.0+ for first-person video footage and HorizonBalancing/HorizonSteady modes for horizontal shots. That's pro-grade hardware right there.

Also: This thumb-sized camera is my new 'must-have' for traveling

The Osmo Action 4 also features a 10-bit D-Log M color mode. This mode allows the sensor to record over one billion colors and offers a wider dynamic range, giving you a video that is more vivid, and that offers greater detail in the highlights and shadows. 

This mode, combined with an advanced color temperature sensor, means that it doesn't matter if you're shooting outdoors, indoors, or even underwater, the colors have a true-to life feel.

The DJI Osmo Action 4 ready for action!

The DJI Osmo Action 4 ready for action.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

I've added some video output from the Osmo Action 4 below. 

There are examples in both 1080p and 4K. To test the stabilization, I attached the camera to the truck, and took it on some roads, some of which are pretty rough. That terrain was no problem for the Osmo Action 4.

I also popped the camera into the sea, just because. And again, no problem.

I've also captured a few timelapses with the camera -- not because I like clouds (well, actually, I do like clouds), but pointing a camera at a sky can be a good test of how it handles changing light. 

Also: My go-to camera setting for the smoothest phone videos. Just don't abuse it

Timelapses with action cameras can suffer from unsightly exposure changes that cause the image to pulse, which is known as exposure pumping. This issue can also cause the white balance to change noticeably in a video. But the Osmo Action 4 handled this test well.

All the footage I've shot is what I've come to expect from a DJI camera, whether it's from an action camera or drone -- crisp, clear, vivid, and also nice and stable.

The Osmo Action 4 is packed with a variety of electronic image-stabilization (EIS) tech to make sure your footage is not only smooth, but also on the horizon level.

It's worth noting the limitations of EIS -- it's not supported in slow-motion and timelapse modes, and the HorizonSteady and HorizonBalancing features are only available for video recorded at 1080p (16:9) or 2.7K (16:9) with a frame rate of 60fps or below. 

On the durability front, I've no concerns. I've subjected the Osmo Action 4 to a hard few days of testing, and it's not let me down or complained once. It takes impacts like a champ, and being underwater or in dirt and sand is no problem at all. 

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You might be thinking that this heavy duty testing might be hard on the camera's tiny batteries, but you'd be wrong. Remember I said the Osmo Action 4 offered hours of battery life? Well, I wasn't kidding. 

DJI say that a single battery can deliver up to 160 minutes of 1080p/24fps video recording (at room temperature, with RockSteady on, Wi-Fi off, and screen off). That's over two and a half hours of recording time. 

In the real world, I was blown away by how much a single battery can deliver. I shot video and timelapse, messed around with a load of camera settings, and then transferred that footage to my iPhone, and still had 16% battery left.

No action camera has delivered so much for me on one battery.

The Osmo Action 4's ultra-long life batteries are incredible.

The Osmo Action 4's ultra-long life batteries are incredible. 

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

And when you're ready to recharge, a 30W USB-C charger can take a battery from zero to 80% in 18 minutes. That's also impressive.

What's more, the batteries are resistant to cold, offering up to 150 minutes of 1080p/24fps recording in temperatures as low as -20°C (-4°F). This resistance also blows the competition away.

The two extra batteries and the multifunction case that come as part of the Adventure Combo are themselves worth the extra $100.

The two extra batteries and the multifunction case that come as part of the Adventure Combo are worth the extra $100.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Even taking into account all these strong points, the Osmo Action 4 offers even more.

The camera has 2x digital zoom for better composition, Voice Prompts that let you know what the camera is doing without looking, and Voice Control that lets you operate the device without touching the screen or using the app. The Osmo Action 4 also digitally hides the selfie stick from a variety of different shots, and you can even connect the DJI Mic to the camera via the USB-C port for better audio capture.

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As for price, the Osmo Action 4 Standard Combo bundle comes in at $399, while the Osmo Action 4 Adventure Combo, which comes with two extra Osmo Action Extreme batteries, an additional mini Osmo Action quick-release adapter mount, a battery case that acts as a power bank, and a 1.5-meter selfie stick, is $499.

I'm in love with the Osmo Action 4. It's hands down the best, most versatile, most powerful action camera on the market today, offering pro-grade features at a price that definitely isn't pro-grade. 

Everything in the Action Combo bundle

Everything included in the Action Combo bundle.


DJI Osmo Action 4 tech specs

  • Dimensions: 70.5×44.2×32.8mm
  • Weight: 145g
  • Waterproof: 18m, up to 60m with the optional waterproof case
  • Microphones: 3
  • Sensor 1/1.3-inch CMOS
  • Lens: FOV 155°, aperture f/2.8, focus distance 0.4m to ∞
  • Max Photo Resolution: 3648×2736
  • Max Video Resolution: 4K (4:3): 3840×2880@24/25/30/48/50/60fps and 4K (16:9): 3840×2160@24/25/30/48/50/60/100/120fps
  • ISO Range: 100-12800
  • Front Screen: 1.4-inch, 323ppi, 320×320
  • Rear Screen: 2.25-inch, 326ppi, 360×640
  • Front/Rear Screen Brightness: 750±50 cd/m² 
  • Storage: microSD (up to 512GB)
  • Battery: 1770mAh, lab tested to offer up to 160 minutes of runtime (tested at room temperature - 25°C/77°F - and 1080p/24fps, with RockSteady on, Wi-Fi off, and screen off)
  • Operating Temperature: -20° to 45° C (-4° to 113° F)
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