It’s been a little while since I’ve used an action cam, and boy have they come a long way. Less than a year after the DJI Osmo Action 3 dropped, DJI is dropping the Action 4. I’ve been using it for the last month or so, and whilst I’m not the biggest action-junkie, I was surprised with how useful it was just in every day life for vlogging and general content creating.
Speaking about the overall package, there’s not any revolutionary improvements model to model, but a lot of minor improvements that help keep the Action 4 ahead of the game.
Unlike other action cams, the Action 4 has dual colour touch screens, a 1.4-inch 320×320 screen on the front, and a 2.25-inch 360×630 screen on the back, both similar in functionality, but allow for that flexibility for when you’re vlogging, or want to be able to make quick adjustments on the fly whilst viewing footage in real-time on that front screen. You’ll still be wanting to use that larger back screen where possible, but it’s nice to have the option.
Another big win here is the magnetic quick release system in which easily allows the Action 4 to go into vertical mode without needing to detach anything or change settings. The UI just flips, and recording resumes as though noting has changed, but any modern content creator will know just how important (if not more so) vertical recording is in this day and age.
If there was one weakness with the Action 3, it was its low light performance and that’s probably the biggest jump here. The move to a 1/1.3-inch sensor has allowed for much better night-time shooting, which is good for when the sun might be going down, or casually shooting some night-time content.
The other functionality improvement that keeps the Action 4 ahead of the competition is its ability to go 18 metres deep whilst maintaining its IP68 waterproof rating without any external casing. This is a 2 metre improvement over the Action 3, and well ahead of what GoPro offers.
I shoot a lot of my day-to-day content on an iPhone, but some time with the Action 4 has really made me realise how much of a world there is out there in terms of videography. I knew the stabilisation in an iPhone wasn’t the best in the market, but I was truly blown away by what’s on offer in the DJI Action 4.
Rocksteady 3/3+ stabilise the footage in a similar manner to what you’d find on a smart phone, but when you go to Horizon Balancing and Horizon Steady, it’s a totally different ball game. When I got out and about on a trail with my two crazy sausage dogs, it was near impossible to get footage that wasn’t stable.
It didn’t matter if I totally tilted the camera, held it in the hand I was carrying the dog leads, or even put the extended action rod to its full length in some gusty conditions, the Horizon Balancing feature fully kept the footage at a perfect horizontal plane, and just made the footage look that much better.
There’s a plethora of shooting options available with up to 4K/120FPS as well a wide and 155 degree FOV ultrawide setting as well, that is really useful for when you want to capture as much of your surroundings as possible. I was really impressed with the audio quality that came out of the device as well given it was a really windy few days when I was primarily testing.
DJI says that battery life performance will be marginally better with the Action 4 due to less power consumption when shooting, but honestly for the most part with fast-charging, you won’t be worrying about battery life. You can fast-charge to 80% in just 18 minutes with a compatible 30w PD USB-C charger.
I recommend going the extra step though, and getting the battery case which cleverly houses three batteries and keeps them charged, cleverly starting with the one that needs it most. You can get all three batteries to 80% in 46 minutes and even use the very clever brick to charge other devices.
To use the DJI Osmo Action 4, you’ll need to connect it to an iOS or Android device and the DJI Mimo app which is required during setup. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it actually is a really useful app allowing you to connect directly to your device to access the footage/photos or just use the larger phone screen to change settings or use it as a viewfinder.
All-in-all, the DJI Action 4 might not seem like a revolutionary jump from last year’s already fantastic Action 3, but it does keep DJI in the lead in terms of performance and features across the board, particularly against its main competitor, Go-Pro.
More importantly though, it goes beyond being an action cam for me, and is actually a really important tool in the arsenal of any content creator, and its flexibility really lends well to that.
The DJI Osmo Action 4 keeps DJI ahead of the pack with modest improvements across the board such as better low light performance and an even bigger lead on waterproof depths all whilst maintaining fantastic stabilisation and image quality.