Action cameras like the DJI Osmo Action 4 are notoriously difficult to shoot at night due to their small sensors. On top of that, electronic image stabilization often falls apart in low light. But with the right settings, you can solve both issues at the same time and turn your OA4 into a low-light beast!

As a new feature, the Osmo Action 4 does have a dedicated Low-Light mode now (discussed further down). Though for video editing, there’s a better way to get reliably good video footage at night.

And that’s done by slowing shutter speeds down to a specific limit. A slow shutter means that the sensor has more time to capture light for each frame. More light = brighter image. Our goal is to slow the shutter only so much that ISO can stay relatively low (reduce noise) and stabilization still works.

Recommended DJI Osmo Action 4 settings for low-light video:

  • Resolution: 4K
  • Framerate: 30 FPS
  • Stabilization: Rocksteady
  • Field of view (FOV): Wide or Ultrawide
  • Pro Settings: On
  • Exposure: Auto
  • EV: +0.0
  • Shutter speed: 1/120 – 1/8000
  • ISO: range from 100 – 3200
  • White Balance: Auto (or 3500K for a neon look)
  • Color: Normal (D-Log M for editing)
  • Sharpness: 0
  • Noise Reduction: +1
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Using these semi-manual settings, the camera will only adjust WB, shutter speed and ISO automatically. The shutter limit guarantees that stabilization still works. By setting boundaries, these settings will reliably lead to good video quality!

Night ride using these settings by my buddy Hugo

Feel free to change some things around to match your situation. Here are some pointers:

  • Shutter: This is the most important setting for low-light. By setting a minimum shutter speed, we prevent blurry, unstabilized results. This is basically our own version of Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) priority. Go up to 1/240 if you need more stabilization at the expense of brightness. Or down to 1/60 for no stabilization.
  • ISO: More is not better here, anything over 3200 will result in grainy footage. You may find that ISO 1600 also works in well-lit areas.
  • White Balance: Automatic works fine in most situations. If you notice a red or blue hue, try a fixed value like 4000 Kelvin or even 3500K for a cool, cyberpunk look.
  • Noise Reduction is a permanent processing effect so try out in advance if the High setting is okay for you.
  • Colors: Both Normal and D-Log M provide 10-bit color depth. Only use D-Log if you plan on color grading as it does look bland otherwise.

These recommended settings are very similar to the ones when using ND filters on the Osmo Action 4. Those filters are basically creating artificially darker exposure, just not as dark as full-on nighttime.

Don’t forget to save your favorite setting as a preset for easy “Quick Select” access through the power button!

For anyone not interested in playing around with manual exposure settings, editing, or color grading, there are some easy tweaks you can make and take advantage of some new low-light-specific settings.

No-Edit Automatic Low-Light Settings

  • Resolution: 4K
  • Framerate: 30 FPS
  • Stabilization: Rocksteady
  • Field of view (FOV): Wide
  • Pro Settings: Off
  • EIS Priority: On
  • Sharpness: Low
  • Denoise: Medium
  • Low-Light Image Enhance: Auto
dji osmo action 4 10

Note: EIS Priority will result in a dark image. So for very dark scenes like night-time shooting, you may have to turn it off at the expense of less stabilization.

These will work in most night-time conditions, provided there is at least one good light source available. Light street lights or a strong helmet lamp. The ISO range allows the exposure to adjust without creating excessive noise from high ISO. For daylight filming projects, use my other recommended Osmo Action 4 settings for mountain biking.

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To even get access to all of the settings necessary, you need to activate Pro Controls. On the Action 3 that’s deactivated by default. So here’s how you unlock the full power of your Osmo Action:

How to use the DJI Osmo Action 4’s PRO settings

Unlock PRO settings

In order to gain access to the full list of settings, you need to activate PRO settings.

  1. Simply access the camera setting menu on the right of the screen.
  2. And on the top right of that menu, you see the toggle for “PRO” settings.
  3. It’s activated when it’s yellow instead of black.

You immediately see additional settings added when it’s on. The detailed video settings are accessed through the menu on the right side. See the pictures below for reference.

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Access the recording setting menu from the right
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Activate PRO options at the top right.

How to set shutter speed range

Now in the exposure settings that are showing up in these PRO settings, you can choose between Manual and Auto exposure. Only in Auto you can select a shutter speed range.

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Simply open the menu and tap on the yellow Shutter option in the top left. Now you can set a limit to the slowest shutter the camera can fall back to when in low-light scenarios.

By setting the minimum to 1/120 or 1/240 you can make sure that the camera can still stabilize the footage, even in the dark. It will max out the ISO when the shutter can’t get any slower.

So, there you have it. That’s how you get settings that reliably record cinematic footage that looks more like what you experience through your own eyes. Read on for a deep dive into what each setting does.

The Most Important Osmo Action settings for night-time

White Balance (WB)

Recommended: 3500K – 4500K

Also referred to as color temperature, this is the red or blue tint. During daytime, a WB of 5500 Kelvin is best. That’s the color temp of the sun. Makes sense. When the sun is gone, however, a much lower WB is necessary as the temperature of artificial light or moonlight is much “cooler”.

The “correct” one depends on the temp of the artificial light you’re using. But it’s also an artistic choice, so feel free to play around. If you want to go for a cyberpunk-esque cool look, go as low as 3300K. Or 4000K for a more balanced look.

Shutter speed

Recommended: 1/120

On a normal hand-held camera, you’d pick a shutter speed of twice the frames per second for a cinematic look – 1/60 for 30fps and 1/48 for 24fps. Not so for action cams, which need to stabilize the footage.

Stabilization requires fast shutter speeds and no motion blur. I found that the Osmo Action 4 needs a minimum shutter of 4x the framerate to stabilize when riding a smooth mountain bike trail. That’s how I arrived at the 1/120 number. For any rougher activities requiring more stabilization, 1/240 is probably the sweet spot between brightness and blur.

A clip of my testing a shutter of 1/60 with 30fps. Result: maximum motion blur & maximum shakiness.

In daylight, you would use ND filters to slow down shutter speeds without overexposing the image. At night that effect happens by itself and the challenge becomes keeping the ISO as low as possible.

ISO

Recommended: 3200 max

ISO is the maximum light sensitivity of the camera, and the Osmo Action 4 lets you define a pretty large range it can work within. However, you don’t want to give it more than it really needs as more ISO means a more grainy image.

ISO is the main reason for grainy or noisy footage. If that’s something you’re struggling with, check out this resource on how to get rid of noise in your videos.

This is why to set the ISO as low as possible. 6400 should be the upper limit when using fast shutter speeds of 1/240. Try if you can get away with 1/120 shutter to lower ISO to 3200. You’ll notice the difference!

There’s a definite trade-off between stable or grainy (noisy) video.

Color Profile

Recommended: Normal

In low-light conditions, the “Normal” color profile may be your best friend for making an otherwise dull scenery pop. For color grading, the D-Log M profile is more usable. Whatever you pick is completely subjective.

Both feature 10-bit color depth, so you’re not limited either way.

That’s all you really need to know to go out and get a good-looking video at night! Have fun filming.

Forest Fade LUT by Suspension Traveler

Color Grading for Action Cam Videos

Make your POV footage pop with custom color grades!
Download my FREE LUT specifically for MTB videos:

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