DJI Osmo Action 3 Accessories I Actually Use For Biking
Accessories and mounting options are fundamental for any action camera like the DJI Osmo Action 3 in order to capture high-quality footage at interesting angles. The option to film hands-off is one of the unique characteristics. Especially for activities, where both hands are occupied like biking, the camera mounts can make or break your video.
For any form of two-wheeled sports like mountain biking, road cycling, motorcycles, motocross, etc. there is really no way around additional accessories above what’s in the box by default. And since the feet of the Osmo Action 3’s magnetic adapter fit all the usual action cam accessories out there, the possibilities are endless.
While the biggest draw for this action camera is its price, starting at just $329 for the standard combo of the Osmo Action 3 including one battery pack, it does not ship with any practical accessories for mountain biking in any of the bundles – which is actually not uncommon for the top action cams currently.
That’s why I’ve accumulated quite a collection of accessories for my DJI action cameras and drones (find the full DJI Action 2 review here. I still prefer it over Action 3 in some areas, mainly form factor). Some of those accessories are useful in more situations than others. Some are not as useful as I thought. So, here is what I regularly use when capturing bike rides and what has helped me improve my action cam footage and keep the camera safe at the same time.
Chest mounts for the DJI Osmo Action 3
Let’s be honest. Chest mounts are one of the most immersive points of view for the viewer, that hasn’t been there and hasn’t seen or felt what you have. It captures the intensity of the moment and the movement of limbs and bike gives perspective to what’s going on.
With the release of the Action 3, DJI now has its own chest rig, but is it any good? At first glance, it looks like the GoPro one with the padded centerpiece. But looking closer, it’s basically the same strap design as most third-party chest mounts out there: two separate straps for the shoulder and the side with each their own buckle.
There are countless chest mounts for action cameras out there, and none is particularly better or worse for the actual filming. One worth mentioning is the TELESIN Chest Strap Mount which has an additional rear mounting option.
But the greatest difference between all the chest mounts is in their ease of use and conform. All except the GoPro Chesty have two buckles, which are cumbersome to use and press into the rider’s sides.
This is what really separates GoPro’s chest mount from other manufacturers, which can be worn even when the single closure buckle is open. Additionally, it’s far easier to put on! For a visual representation of what I’m talking about, check out this video by TimFromWales:
As you can see in the picture of my GoPro Chesty V2.0, the center platform actually detaches into two parts, where each of the shoulder and torso straps attaches to one half and can be worn like a vest -open or closed.
It’s definitely comfortable to wear all day due to its padded chest platform. It also comes with the standard GoPro sliders with rubber grommets, that eliminate rattling sounds. On top of all that, it’s also one of the best-priced ones!
Helmet Visor: Adhesive Mounting Pads
The easiest, most reliable, proven way to mount an action cam to you as the rider has always been the good old adhesive mount. It sticks to helmets, bikes, and any other gear you might want to involve. Most of the time they’re used for helmet mounts, that withstand crashes, weather, and careless transport.
I got lucky that both my MTB helmet visors are flat in the middle so standard adhesive pads stick well to them. The DJI mount kit was the first one I got. I like their easy twisting mounting mechanism but I don’t even use it with the magnetic attachment system. And most importantly, they’re too tall for my taste!
So the “GoPro Grab Bag” of mounts has become my go-to. It’s above any other 3M adhesive slider mount for exactly two reasons:
Only GoPro has an extra flat slider that is my go-to for mounting under the visor. It keeps the height minimal and keeps the camera out of my vision. And the rubber grommets on each of the clips reduce noise and prevent unintentional dismounts. That’s why I went with the GoPro kit for adhesive mounts.
While it’s the most common and most practical method to stick a camera mount on top or below the helmet visor (or peak), it’s not always the best angle for the viewer, even though it’s close to the point of view of the rider’s actual eyes. It’s generally too high to be able to capture the handlebar or bike frame, which are important cues to what it feels like riding.
Helmet chin mounts
Chinbar mounts combine the best of both worlds from chest and helmet visor mounts: an angle to capture the bike and head movement that always looks towards the upcoming piece of trail.
They are also a great, universal method for any full-face helmet or if your helmet doesn’t provide a level, flat area in the middle of the visor. There are lots of branded chin mounts available, but actually few distinct manufacturers.
There are tons of chin mounts only differing in price. Almost all feature rubber pads and folding material to conform to different variations of full-face helmets – for mountain biking and motorcycles. I went with DJI’s new Helmet Chin Strap Mount to test it out for myself. The reputable accessory brand HSU also got a very similar one in price and quality (check it out here). Both are very competitively priced and provide an angle that’s extremely immersive.
Helmet vent strap
If none of the above helmet mounts work for you, there is still one last option: straps through the ventilation holes on top. I would not recommend this solution over the others as it doesn‘t sit as tightly and moves a little. But it allows for filming with a helmet cam even on half-shell helmets without a peak.
Below-visor action cam mounts
Another alternative for visors that are tilted or bent (i.e. not flat). This one sticks to the front of the helmet beneath the visor but provides the same angle. The only company making such things, that I could find, are Ninja Mounts. And sadly, these seem to be only available in Europe.
Storage expansion (SD Card)
Don’t overlook this tiny, but critical piece in your setup! The Osmo Action 3 does not have built-in storage. So storage capacity has to come from inserting a microSD card.
A compatible one has to have fast read and write speeds for 4K footage or high-framerate filming. There are many great brands like SanDisk, Kingston, Samsung etc. out there. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s big enough and fast enough. I went with a 128 Gigabyte card from SanDisk, which lasts about 4 days’ worth of filming for me.
Just FYI: 1 minute of 4K video at 30 FPS takes up about 375 megabytes of storage.
Spare battery packs
As the bigger bundle including three batteries and a charging case, the DJI Osmo Action 3 Adventure Combo is priced about $110 higher at $440. It also comes with a selfie pole, not that useful on a bike unless you plan on a lot of one-handed riding.
That charging case works like the ones for their drones and – let me tell you from experience – it’s an extremely convenient game changer! It charges the battery closest to full charge so there’s always one ready to go. Operating on only one battery all day is such a hassle and not an option for me as I’d have to pick and choose what to record, instead of picking what to keep at the end of the day.
With that being said, the price for the full setup may be enough to deter some. Luckily there are separate “Extreme Batteries” also for sale. One extra of those is likely more than enough for most recreational riders.
Buying a lens protector may even save you more money. While thankfully the camera lens is replacable again, the screen is not on the DJI Osmo Action 3. Either way, it costs money if either gets damaged (which I may or may not have done).
That’s why I like to protect the lens and screen surfaces.
Simple solutions like the official Action 3 lens protective cover – or even simpler: sticky protectors like on a phone screen – for a couple of bucks are a simple insurance policy. Additionally, there is also real insurance in the form of the official “DJI Care”, which I didn’t go with since I never managed to wreck an action cam until now. Preventative measures are where my attention is.
Optional: Wind noise reduction
A step up from the predecessor, the Action 2, are the three directional microphones. There’s even a mode for wind noise reduction, which is a good idea to use pretty much in most scenarios on a bike, where wind is a constant factor.
Fortunately, there are windscreens available like for the GoPro cameras. My go-to brand for either GoPro and DJI Osmo wind noise covers is HSU. There are many branded “windslayers” out there, but HSU got one of the densest foams at half the price. Since they sell a dual-pack at the same price.
And that’s how you make the sound of tires, hubs and suspension working even more immersive to listen to. That being said, it will cover the sensor for automatic White Balance located in the logo! So be sure to use manual WB, which is highly recommended anyways.
Optional: Carry case
With additional accessories and mounts comes the need to keep all of it organized, in one place and ready to go at any time. And that doesn’t have to be a pain either. A small simple case keeps all that stuff organized in one place and is easy to throw in your backpack or car.
I got the compact, waterproof case from Skyreat, which I’m happy with so far. It’s also one of the most well-priced ones and for the price, I didn’t expect such good quality. The leather-like texture outside and the exact slots inside surprised me. It stays in my gear bag and the camera and batteries go in there every night after use.
Different cases may suit different needs. Depending on what protective frame, how many batteries and which spare parts you bring, there is a case best suited for you.
Optional: Additional magnetic mounts
The magnetic attachment system on the new DJI Action cameras lifts them above every other action cam in my book. Utilize their full capability by sticking a magnet on every one of your camera mounts and leaving it there. This way you’ll never have to search for that perfect camera angle regain! It’s always where you left it last time.
This is so powerful and critical for quality videos that I got a total of three of them. One for the helmet visor, one for the chin, and one for the chest rig.
These things aren’t exactly cheap tho, even from third-party vendors. The official DJI magnetic mount is certainly one of the strongest. There are also ones with a port for the charger cable and foldable feet like from SmallRig, which I got, but can’t recommend. Since I never take it off, the folding feet are useless to me. Even worse: They allow the mount to tilt, resulting in wonky films.
Optional: Handlebar mount
It’s an unusual, interesting camera perspective, but probably won’t be your primary angle. That’s why this one is optional. Mounting it forward misses one important point of reference for your viewer: the handlebar or cockpit. A helmet or chest mount is more immersive in my opinion.
But only handlebar-mounted cameras can show off you, the rider. Mounting a handlebar mount backward is the only method, that sits securely and doesn’t require wearing a long, clumsy pole on your helmet. Again, there are lots of vendors out there, but very few got rubber inserts between the clamp and the handlebar, like the GoPro clamp and the DJI mount have, to prevent rattling, damage and ensure a stable fit.
While the camera can keep the image dead-pan leveled by itself, the HorizonLevel feature only works in the Normal lens mode – which is mostly useless for MTB. HorizonLevel is only recommended for follow-cam shots where the rider in front is the main subject. Not for filming your POV as this FOV crops in too much and not only looks unrelatable but also slow.
Here’s a video I filmed while following another rider using Horizon level in Dewarp FOV mode.
In order to have the best of both worlds – wide FOV and leveled footage – a gimbal is the only option. While there are amazing 3-axis gimbals out there, a simpler 1-axis one (like the Quark 2 by Noir Matter) is the better choice. It will only level the horizontal plane (the effect you’re after) but not lag behind in corners like 3-axis ones, which compensate for horizontal and tilt planes.
This is how it works and how the resulting footage looks:
Optional: ND Filter
ND filters reduce the overall exposure, which results in longer shutter speeds and in the end more motion blur. As I explain in my guide to the best camera settings for getting pro-level videos out of the Action 3, ND filters can result in amazing, cinematic footage. But only in very specific circumstances and at a compromise.
First, the lighting has to be bright enough. ND filters are like sunglasses for your camera, reducing the exposure of the camera lens. In cloudy weather or in a shaded forest, that is often too dark as it is to reduce exposure even more.
And secondly, video stabilization works best with high frame rates or fast shutter speeds.
Can you see the problem? You either get an amazing-looking cinematic video with strong motion blur (which looks fast) or actually get to make out detailed trail features with the more crisp, stabilized option. If the first sounds like your thing, there are actually custom ND filter sets specifically for the Action 3, mostly including ND32 and a CPL, which are unnecessary.
If you can, get the versions that actually make sense for MTB like ND4, ND8 and maybe ND16.