Forget Sony, Canon and Fuji — the best video camera of the year is from DJI and will fit in your pocket

DJI Osmo Pocket 3 held in hand
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As the cameras editor here at Tom's Guide, it's my job (and privilege) to test some the best cameras around, and to edit reviews of the ones I can't test personally. Reflecting on all the new camera launches I've seen in 2023, it's fair to say there have been some absolute belters. 

We've continued to see traditional camera companies increase their focus on video, as social media and YouTube keep driving consumer appetite in that direction. Now more than ever, new mirrorless cameras are being designed as video-first tools, even at the cheaper end of the market. 

This year we saw the Canon EOS R50 launched — our favorite camera for beginners — with video specs clearly aimed at vloggers. Then there were the Sony a6700 and Fujifilm X-S20, two mid-range cameras that'll cater not only to vloggers but video enthusiasts, too. Plus the Panasonic LUMIX S5IIX: a full frame monster pitched squarely at professional filmmakers and high end content creators.

Panasonic LUMIX S5IIX attached to tripod

Now more than ever, new mirrorless cameras are being designed as video-first tools. Like this, the Panasonic LUMIX S5IIX. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

There were, of course, some fantastic cameras from typically video-focused manufacturers, too. GoPro released the Hero12 Black, which improved on the Hero11 for $100 less, while Insta360 released the awesome little Go 3, which is small enough to strap onto a cap peak.

However, my favorite camera of 2023 is none of these. Rather, it's the DJI Osmo Pocket 3, an odd-looking little gimbal camera which blew me away when I reviewed it back in October. Here's why.

Gimbal stabilization for the masses

The key selling point of the Osmo Pocket line are the gimbals. Your camera can have the best IBIS on the market, but it'll pale in comparison to the stabilization offered by a gyroscopic gimbal, especially when panning or deliberately moving the camera. That's why you see pro videographers still rigging up their in-body stabilized mirrorless cameras and mounting them on gimbals. Unfortunately, those gimbals are pricey — you're looking at several hundred dollars for a cheap one from a reputable brand.

Add to that the cost of a mirrorless camera with strong video specs and gimbal-stabilized pro video becomes priced out of reach for non-pros or those without deep pockets. 

DJI Osmo Pocket 3 held in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Enter the Osmo Pocket line. For a few hundred dollars, these pocket-sized devices give anyone access to both camera and gimbal, which is why I love it so much — it's egalitarian, bringing professional levels of stabilization to the masses.

If you're a beginner or on a budget, and want to start making great looking YouTube videos, vlogs, product demonstrations, the Pocket 3 is an affordable way into gimbal stabilized footage.

A deft evolution

There's more to it than that, though. The Pocket 2 also featured a gimbal, as did the Pocket 1, and I wouldn't buy either. Both had smaller sensors and, above all, tiny screens that made them a pain to use. Thankfully, with the Pocket 3, DJI has given a lot of thought to who this line suits best and what changes those customers needed.

As such, the Pocket 3 is not a revolution from previous models, but a deftly executed evolution. With its larger screen and larger sensor, it fixes the annoyances of its predecessors. But it goes further, adding in new features to suit the target market: a simplified interface which is better suited to newcomers and vertical shooting for social media shorts.

It delivers where it counts too. Neither gimbal nor interface would matter if the quality of video was poor. The 1-inch sensor delivers impressively clean images in low light. Optics are great, with the lens proving surprisingly sharp given its tiny physical size and sweeping field of view. Resolution-wise, there's 4K/60p in 16:9 and 3K/60p in 9:16 vertical, both of which look lovely.

The Pocket 3 Creator Combo also comes bundled with the epic DJI Mic 2. DJI hasn't made a huge deal about it this mic in marketing material for the Osmo Pocket 3, which is strange given how great it is. The mic delivers incredibly clean audio, cutting out wind noise and picking up even the faintest of background sounds.

A fantastic gift for aspiring vloggers

I have a real soft spot for people or things that do their job well. That job needn't be the sexiest or the widest in scope, but if it's expertly done, I'm a fan. That's why I love the Osmo Pocket 3.

In the Pocket 3, DJI has refined what was previously a great idea with middling execution, down to a great idea with impeccable execution. Targeted changes to the Pocket 2, which may not seem massive on paper, deliver just what they need to to make the Pocket 3 perfect for its target audience. 

This isn't the best camera for vlogging — right now that accolade goes to the Fujifilm X-S20, as an ILC offers many benefits including greater creative flexibility, better AF, and better stills performance. The kicker? The X-S20 with a lens costs just under $1,400, while Osmo Pocket 3 costs under $500.

As such, if you or someone in your family wants to make high quality video for vlogging or content creation, either on a budget or at least without dumping over $1,000, the Osmo Pocket 3 is really hard to beat. 

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Peter Wolinski
Editor, How To & Cameras

Peter is Editor of the How To and Camera sections at Tom's Guide. As a writer, he covers topics including tech, photography, gaming, hardware, motoring and food & drink. Outside of work, he's an avid photographer, specialising in architectural and portrait photography. When he's not snapping away on his beloved Fujifilm camera, he can usually be found telling everyone about his greyhounds, obsessively detailing his car, squeezing as many FPS as possible out of PC games, and perfecting his espresso shots.