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Choosing a camera...


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Thought it was about time I got a camera now my old, previously faithful GoPro 4 has finally thrown in the towel with a duff sensor.

Making it down to the final 3 were the usual suspects:

  • GoPro 11
  • Insta360 X3
  • DJI Osmo 3

Previously I have been 'GoPro all the way' but their recent pricing changes, and subscription-based nonsense they have going on at the moment (and the giant price hikes in the cameras if you decline that) has ruled them out of the game this time round !

I was kind of keen on the X3, and really loved the idea of being able to look round your 360 shots after the fact, but it was very expensive, seemed 'delicate' to say the least, required lens protectors and hard case, and was a bit more faff than a conventional camera in that you have to shoot in much higher res to get decent res with selective framing, and I could do without the file size !

And so I am giving the Osmo 3 action camera a go, which, for just 399 of the pounds gets us the Adventure pack which includes selfie stick, a couple of mounts, 3 batteries and charging bank, though I did have to buy an SD card, which doesn't come with it. DJI sold me one for £12 (64 GB Kingston).


I have to say the unboxing experience was one of the best I have ever had (there has been quite a lot of cheapy old Chinese crap accessories lately, which come in a padded envelope if you're lucky ! ) - DJI really go out of their way to make this look sleek and sexy in the box - better even than Apple I have to say ! The stuff everything is wrapped up in is almost nicer to touch than cat fur and the presentation is immaculate !!

I will pop back to do a more comprehensive review when I've got it all set up and have time to play, but it looks exceptionally well designed and put together, rugged and robust, and with an endless array of small ingenious QoL features that make interacting with it a pleasure.

I particularly look forward to 2 touchscreens that work despite rain, multiple levels of stabilisation, eminently gradable 10-bit HDR footage and 120 FPS 4K !

More info on it here


Edited by Cerbera
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Quick little update to this, and I am 'none pleased '! For some absolutely mental reason I don't understand, I am now locked out of my camera after 5 power-ups because the stupid 'bloatware' app that is required to unlock / activate it doesn't work on latest OS for Android phones !

So now I have to find someone with an iphone or Android 12 and a compatible phone before I can use this camera, and that person has to download 300 MB and be in the same room as me.

Sure, not the hardest mission in the world, but why the fuckety fuck do they think it necessary to force you to activate it when you own the bloody hardware !! This is not some software thing where activation is necessary to avoid piracy, and I am suitably furious that I am denied access to or use of my 400 pound paperweight until I can persuade someone to spend an hour dicking about with their phone ! Minus 10 points to DJI, and this has absolutely ruined the previously heavenly unboxing experience I alluded to above ! The fact that the 5 goes I was allowed on it before it locked itself produced excellent results only makes the fact that it is locked now all the more annoying !! Goddammit...

Edited by Cerbera
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12 hours ago, Cerbera said:

they think it necessary to force you to activate it when you own the bloody hardware

Bummer, that kind of stuff is automatic DQ for me. Whole lotta products being made or planned with this kind of inconvenient "convenience" - forcing registration, link to survelliance*smartphone, always connected, must use app.. no thanks, you can keep it all!

Doesn't really help you now, but I think action cams are pretty good for finding deals used (offerup, fb marketplace, craigslist, etc). It's one of those things some people maybe get as gifts or buy and use once to eventually sell in like-new condition. Saved a good bit on a hero 9 that way while the 11 was the new hotness. Updated the firmware, no problems. I don't know why people are negative on the 9 in comments you see sometimes, just don't use it as a webcam and there shouldn't be any issues. Too many complainers out there.

Edited by Vanturion
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1 hour ago, Vanturion said:

always connected, must use app.. no thanks, you can keep it all!

Whilst I totally hate that it is required at all, I am told we don't actually have to use the app after that one time activation, even though it does have some rather helpful functions, such as remote control and viewing of the camera from your phone, which is often nearer you than it is ! I would actually quite like to use those aspects of the app, but the camera should work regardless, activation or not.

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The thing about many if not most phone apps, especially the free ones, is that they're fantastic at communicating vast amounts of your personal information / metadata despite whatever "permissions" status is configured.

Put a firewall like Rethink DNS (free) or NetGuard (have to donate for real-time connection logs) on your phone, and you might think twice after learning about all the unknown packages of data being harvested through an ongoing multitude of connections to various servers that have nothing to do with the functionality you are requesting from apps, if you even have them opened at the time. Not saying DJI does this as I don't have any experience with the company, but it wouldn't be surprising for them to harvest your "anonymized" personal information through the app as part of the terms of use.

Personally, I like to limit, avoid, and not reward this kind of thing as much as possible. Many corporations and governments have enough (way too much) power as it is. Inadvertently granting more of your PI to them just facilitates a worsening of this imbalance IMO. /soapbox

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  • 3 weeks later...

Ok, having activated the damn thing, life is looking a bit better, though the road-blocks continue. There are hundreds of reviews of the OA3, so I will restrict my 'review' to the specific parts relevant to EUCing, and leave out the general information found ubiquitously elsewhere.

1. Build quality

This is a very robust camera, and there is no need for any sort of lens cover or filter. ND filters wreak absolute havoc with stabilisation by limiting the amount of information the sensor has to work with. UV filters produce and identical output to the stock clear cover. Perhaps the only exception might be a polarizing filter for static shots where you need to reduce reflection or see the depth in water, but this also has an effect on stabilisation, though not as much as ND Filters.

2. Adventure Pack 'Selfie Stick'

This is surprisingly long, but you don't want to use it at full extension because of a) the bend in the pole and b) the rather huge effort required to hold it level at a suitable angle - there will be quite some counter-weighting involved at the handle end in getting a balanced pole if you want to run it past 4 segments out. And you probably will want to run it to 5 or 6 segments so that you see the whole rider and wheel, even in the Ultra-wide aspect ratio, which also has the most edge distortion, though I don't mind that look.

3. Low light performance.

Like all action-cams, it's pretty terrible. ISO ramps hard as soon as light starts to fail so the graininess kicks in early. Still better than GoPro 11 though in that respect.

4. Extreme temperatures

So far (and it has not been long) the camera has been capable of recording during rather hot conditions. In ambient temps of 26 degrees C it is able to record 4K for the full capacity of the battery and has not overheated or stopped recording for me yet. Likewise, I have seen many tests at minus temperatures where it also does well. Big advantages both over the GoPros, which can go flaky at both high and low temps.

UPDATE: When left in full sun (pointing at sky in 27 degrees C temps) doing a timelapse it did turn itself off before the specified duration, and produced only a 25 second video instead of the 2 minute one I was expecting. At least it finalised that video for export before it shutdown !

5. Wind Noise rejection

The Osmo Action 3 has 3 mics, 2 front mounted, and one at the back, which can be disabled or prioritised on a front / back basis. There is also a wind reduction function which works very well sometimes and awfully / not at all at others, and I have not yet worked out what makes the difference ! When in motion and wearing a helmet and with the stick at medium extension the front mics struggle to get above ambient noise as expected. I am not a fan of the wireless mic options either, as most are held into the camera via the USB C socket alone, which is not very secure. I honestly think the best bet for talking to this camera as you ride is to get a chest mount or helmet mount for it - then you can mount it close enough to you for it to be able to record decent commentary, and don't have any extra weight or wobbliness at the camera end of the pole.

6. HEVC video

A potentially huge road-block if you are still on Win10 and want to edit video. No video editor will mount any media recorded with H.265 compression (HEVC container)

You need to buy and install the codec from Microsoft, which is only 79p, but that's not the point ! I did that, for without it there is a huge list of quality features I can't use ! Using compatibility mode (H.264), you can't have D-Cinelike color profile, you can't have HDR video (10 bit) or record anything over 30 FPS or hyperlapses, which is a serious limitation if it can't be circumvented. I believe it's OK in Win 11.

7. Voice Commands

There are 4, and they work quite well if you speak clearly and there isn't too much ambient noise: Start recording, Stop Recording, Take photo, and Shut Down. We can disable them if not needed.

8. Operation with gloves

The magnetic mounts for this camera work like a dream if you are not wearing gloves, but can be awkward if you are. Even my thin Summer cycling gloves makes removing the cam from the pole or the mount on the wheel quite tricky - the problem is that you can't quite get your fingers in between the surrounding hardware to release the clips with gloves on. Both touch screens do work with gloves on so far.

9. One-touch recording

In the Power Off state, we can get the camera on and recording video with a single touch of the record button, and this happens within 3 seconds. Pressing again will terminate recording and power down, with a passing option to remain on if you get to the screen in time. There never is time ;)

10. Waterproofing / Recovery

You can just drop this in a lake or river (up to 16 m deep), and it will not break, but it also won't float unless you have a flotation device attached, so bear that in mind !

Also make extra double sure the lens cover is on VERY tightly - the waterproofing depends on that being the case.

11. Incredible recharge time !

Can go from essentially zero charge to 85% in just 18 minutes - no other action camera comes close to that !

I will update this with more relevant info as it emerges !


Edited by Cerbera
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Found some DIY mounting options for the camera now.

1. Velcro mounted to front of Master


Advantages: Good ride path view, don't have to hold selfie stick / wind etc, still picks up voice from rider OK

Disadvantages: Probably isn't going to do so well in a crash / eminently steal-able, so no leaving wheel unattended !

I would like to do some live ride commentary, but I'm damned if I am spending another £300 on the DJI wireless mic, and I'd have to shout to be heard over wind if the camera is at the end of a pole, so I am also looking for a way to mount the camera closer to me. I tried an improvised helmet mount, but on a Scorpion ADX-2 it's too much weight at the front, and as I am always raising the front riser, that would be no good.

And here I find myself very grateful that DJI made its mounts mostly compatible with the GoPro double prong ones - I have tons of those mounts lying about, which gave me ideas... and so I have made myself a chest cam, utilising the pop up neck brace plate on my Leatt 5.5 bodysuit...


This places the rear mic right under my mouth, and gives me very clear audio while I am walking around, and I'll see how it does against wind noise on a ride later.

So that is just the flat base that has come with GoPro Mounts for years, backed with a stiff bit of foam padding (so I don't get a camera shaped bruise in my chest if we fall) and retained by a little hooky elastic strap. I'll be quite pleased with that if I can get the view right, and avoid wind noise enough to make it viable...

Additionally this sort of setup should it make it quite easy to move the cam between pole and chest mount as I ride, once I get the hang of releasing those fiddly little tabs with gloves on !

Edited by Cerbera
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