I have been eyeing out a new camera for some time. I already own DJI Osmo Mobile 2 which I avidly use to shoot b-roll with Xiaomi Mi9 (review) for my YouTube channel. It keeps the hand steady, but it’s not perfect. I needed something smaller. Something I can control from a distance. Something I can take with me anywhere I go. The choice was between DJI Osmo Pocket and Xiaomi Palm. I decided in favour of… you probably know which one! This is Xiaomi Palm review!
Incredibly steady, impressively small
If you never used physically stabilized camera, you are missing out. Digital stabilization distorts the video creating warped frames, while optical stabilisation introduces a very unpleasant lag. Xiaomi Palm uses 3 brushless motors to create an incredibly steady image without distorting the footage. I was already impressed with what DJI Osmo Mobile 2 could achieve, but it’s bulky and forces the user to be a camera operator most of the time.
Xiaomi Palm changes this with WiFi connectivity. It’s possible to stream the video to a mobile phone and control the frame as long as the phone is within WiFi range. The phone isn’t even required as tiny 1.22″ (240x240px) screen helps to keep what’s important in the frame. What’s truly astonishing is the level of stabilisation and the overall size of the device. Xiaomi Palm fits in the palm. Comfortably.
Xiaomi Palm review
It’s feature-packed. Shooting the videos is not the only option available. You can get more creative with photos, panoramas, time-lapses and slow-motion. Xiaomi Palm packs a number of modes available at the slide of your thumb. I was confused at first with its interface, but with a bit of practice, I discovered where to swipe to access all modes and change the options to my liking.
There is more than one gimbal behavior to pick from:
- FPV– 3 axis will follow your movement
- Follow – roll axis is locked
- Pitch Lock – roll and pitch are locked
- Gimbal Lock – all axis are locked
For the most part, I used Follow and Pitch Lock mode to get the best effects. Gimbal Lock helps to orient the camera in the right position and FPV mode is best with all follow sensitivity set to low.
The options don’t stop there – each shooting mode (photo, video, timelapse, slo-mo, panorama) comes with additional settings to control image quality, shutter, ISO and white balance. I would strongly recommend you to download the official manual, as the one included is rubbish.
The video quality of the Xiaomi Palm is alright. It looks far better thanks to the great stabilization and it feels best at 1080p /50|60 FPS. You can up the resolution further but the image quality won’t improve as much. There is an option to keep the colour profile in check in case you don’t like the saturation.
The quality of the video degrades with the availability of the light. Despite the ISO spanning from 100-3200, footage gets considerably more grain in indoor areas. This sensor likes light. That’s for sure. From other options, there are 3 artificial crops (wide to cinematic crop) and lens correction setting that will trim the wide-angle and help with the fisheye effect associated with wide lenses.
Face tracking is very responsive and despite sudden movements the camera had no problem keeping my face in the frame. I only regret there is no way to extract the video feed to a PC and use the Xiaomi Palm as a video input device.
Snap a selfie, create a panorama, or play with a long exposure, HDR and the night mode. There is more than one setting to pick from and fine control over shutter speed, ISO and white balance will help you to refine the shots. Xiaomi is capable of producing 3×3 panoramas and long exposure shots up to 30 seconds.
From slow motion to hypermotion, Xiaomi Palm can record as long as it has the battery and storage. You could leave it in the timelapse mode overnight as long as it’s plugged and you have a micro SD card to store all that. These experiments are very rewarding and can lead to amazing shots showcasing your holidays.
In motionlapse mode you an select from 2-9 points that gimbal will point the camera at in smooth transitions. Slomotions are limited to 4x and 8x modes.
FIMI Play app
The app connects via 2.4/5.0GHz WiFi and mirrors all the options available on the gimbal. To my knowledge there are no special settings that take advantage of the screen and extra processing power. The app turns your phone into a remote screen for Xiaomi Palm and that’s it.
It’s easier to use the camera this way especially if the gimbal is placed on the tripod or attached to a mount on your shoulder/chest/whatever. It’s great to have a bigger screen especially if you are not able to see tiny one featured on the gimbal.
Where it excels
The level of stabilization is simply incredible. Considering how small the Xiaomi Palm is, I’d be hard-pressed to find a better option. If you match the perfect accessory mount with the video style you want to achieve with a matching stabilization mode – the results will be mesmerizing to watch. Even during my torture tests like running with a chest strap, cycling of the saddle, or speeding downhill with the gimbal attaches to a long selfie stick, the video was simply a joy to watch. No motion-induced headaches and dizzy feeling from looking at the shakey content.
I tested the gimbal in high-speed downhills (70km/h) and the camera pointed where it suppose to (unlike DJI Osmo Mobile 2 which isn’t strong enough to combat wind resistance) and was not defeated by the air resistance.
Face tracking is very well implemented. The lag is minimal and the camera has no problems finding faces and keeping the track of it. Double tap on the screen to activate the setting and tap on the face to track.
Where it comes short
Despite all that marketing, Xiaomi Palm can’t record videos in native 4K resolution. The 1080p footage is up-scaled to 4K and the end result lacks details and looks bad. It doesn’t bother me personally, but if you are hoping for epic 4K rock solid vistas, you will be disappointed.
It comes without any accessories. Not even a dock, or proper storage case. It’s especially annoying when I try to download the content via USB-C port. I have to turn on the gimbal to access the micro SD card – and there is no way to put the gimbal down without exerting pressure on moving elements. A charging dock with USB-C and the audio jack will be the 1st accessory you will buy. And it’s very expensive!
Xiaomi Palm has a standard 1/4″ tripod mount, which is placed in a probably most awkward position. All my stands were interfering with the gimbal’s arm. I don’t understand why the mount isn’t at the bottom.
I was excited about automatic face tracking option. Sadly, I made the mistake and assumed I could track any point in a similar way to DJI Osmo Mobile 2. This feature is not available. I hope it’s something that could be implemented via software patch.
Touch screen controls can be finicky. Settings for ISO, exposure, white balance are hard to access at times due to how small the screen is. It’s only an issue if you set these via Xiaomi Palm rather than the app.
It’s not an action cam. The gimbal would not survive a crash. It’s well made, and it may forgive you a drop or two, but it’s not made to withstand any abuse. If you are a pro at something, you could be ok. But if your hobby gives you bruises and scratches every week, you should consider another option.
Buy Xiaomi Palm
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Despite the shortcomings, the stabilized footage of Xiaomi Palm at 1080p and 60fps is worth it. It may not be an action cam you are looking for, but if you want your videos to never shake again, this pocket-sized gadget is worth your consideration. Especially, that you can grab it for about $160-180! Thanks to the affordable price, size and ease of use, I will be taking Xiaomi Palm wherever I go. It won’t replace a brilliant camera on my Xiaomi Mi9 but it will compliment videos made by it well. You will see more videos made by this gadget soon on my channel. What are your thoughts? Let me know in this Reddit thread.