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DJI, the new GoPro

16 May 2019

GoPro changed the world of "action" photography and video forever when it introduced its first action camera some 15 years ago.

Until the company rolled out its small, rugged, high-definition camera and a raft of accessories, video cameras were bulky, expensive and fragile devices that were poorly suited to capturing first-person view footage of action sports.

Within a very short space of time, GoPro had created a whole new market and went on to dominate the action-camera space thanks to regular updates and new models.

Of course other Chinese manufacturers rolled out their own action-cameras but although many were quite good, GoPro was always one step ahead, adding further innovations such as colour LCD screens, 4K capabilities and image stabilization.

Then they made a painful mistake.

A few years go, GoPro decided to get into the drone market with the ill-fated Karma product.

As far as the fortunes of GoPro went, Karma was a bitch.

The company's reputation fell almost as quickly as the drones themselves did, thanks to a small but critical flaw in the engineering of the power system.

The Karma was quickly discontinued... but the damage to the company's reputation was done and competition was really heating up. Competitors were all but overtaking the company in terms of product performance and some really big players (such as Xiaomi, a huge Chinese company with a high profile in the cellphone market) were delivering the same features for less money.

Fortunately for GoPro, the clawed back market-share with their latest range of cameras, the GoPro Hero 7 range.

Offering arguably the best feature-set and quality ever seen in a small, robust action-camera, the 7 series still sets the benchmark for performance and has done fairly well in the market.

But now there's a new and far more formidable foe challenging GoPro's dominance and perhaps even their very existence.

Ironically, it's DJI, the world's leading drone manufacturer who, coincidentally, also makes the cameras found on those drones. This means that DJI is also a highly skilled and experienced camera manufacturer -- and that has to be a huge worry for GoPro.

The new DJI Osmo Action seems to tick all the boxes and even adds features above and beyond those found in the latest Hero 7.

Waterproof (without the need for a separate enclosure), 4K video at 60FPS, voice activation and control, electronic image stabilization that is reportedly even better than the GoPro's and colour LCD screens on both front and back -- making it perfect for vlogging.

The final kicker... it's cheaper than the Hero 7.

All of this is great news for consumers -- but bad news for GoPro.

I would expect to see some steep discounting or heavy bundling from GoPro since, in lieu of a new model to up the ante, this is probably all they'll be able to do as a countermeasure to stave off this new challenger.

DJI have clearly spent a lot of time designing their new camera to knock GoPro off its perch of market dominance. This can be seen in the cleverness of the specifications. For example, whereas the GoPro Hero 7 is rated as waterproof to 10m, the Osmo Action camera is rated as being waterproof to 11m. LOL.

I was almost thinking of buying a new camera solely for vlogging whilst "out and about" and had considered one of the new Sony RX0 II units but honestly... the Osmo Action will be little more than half the price of that Sony yet it offers a raft more features.

Major stuff-ups notwithstanding, I think this will be a very important product in the evolution of action cameras. Firstly, because it may be a very real blow to the current market-leader and secondly because it signifies that DJI is starting to diversify.

How many readers have action-cameras?

What do you use them for?

Did you buy "brand name" or simply on "value"?

Is the modern smartphone with its 4K camera an even bigger challenger to GoPro than the new DJI Osmo Action?

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