DJI drone maker No stranger to cameras and lenses large and small. The company’s drones capture some of the best aerial shots, which is why DJI’s first stab at an action camera – the Osmo Action – was a success. It was somewhat of a GoPro clone, but it did add a full-color front screen, a feature that was copied from the GoPro later.
For its second take on the genre, DJI seems to have taken a fond look at another competitor – the Insta360, which pioneered the interchangeable-lens system on its action cam. DJI’s GoPro clones have been innovated in some really clever ways, but the new Action 2 is a lot less convincing.
On paper, its specs are solid. There’s 4K video recording at 120 frames per second (fps), improved motion stabilization, and a host of auto capture modes and features that have become standard on high-end action cameras. But after 2 weeks of working out, I wasn’t affected by that. I can only think of One Reason for choosing it over the GoPro Hero 10 or the Insta360 One R: weight.
very small camera
The Action 2 is not an Insta360 One R exclusive. Both are modular, but with the One R the modularity consists of swapping different combinations of lenses and sensors. DJI takes a different approach, with the main unit being a working camera. What you can add to that is either a battery pack or a dual screen unit; The latter allows you to see yourself when the camera is pointed at your face. (The magnetic sides can also be attached to various clips and clips so you never need to install anything.)
This modular approach is welcome, but when I first unpacked the Action2 it felt the same with the camera. If there’s one thing that’s not great about the GoPro Hero 10 Black, it’s the weight. Or at least, I suppose it’s annoying to have a 5.3 ounce weight on your head. I rarely associate any camera with myself – I don’t find the resulting shots particularly interesting – but I realize that many people do just that.
If the primary use case for the action cam is actually attaching it to the helmet while you’re doing, as my snowboard roommate used to say in all seriousness, “pounding the slopes,” the DJI Action 2 will probably outperform the GoPro and pretty much anything else on the market. It weighs only 2 ounces, which is hard to notice even when it’s on your helmet. DJI’s camera is also small, which means less wind and water resistance.
In addition to the featherweight design, you can turn it into a more traditional action cam by adding the battery and display units to the mix. Here, however, is where the quirks and drawbacks of Action 2 begin to show.
DJI’s magnetic linkage mechanism is genius from a purely engineering point of view. It is simple and reliable. I put the two cubes together and then screw them in place. It doesn’t get much easier than that. There are two clasps that secure the magnet further, but you can still separate it easily even with gloves on. But you probably shouldn’t try to take it apart with gloved hands, because if you’re wearing gloves, you’re probably in the snow, and only the lens part of the camera is completely waterproof.
Divers aren’t afraid, there’s a waterproof case you can buy for an extra $65 that makes the entire camera waterproof to 196 feet (60 meters). But then you lose the advantage of the quick-change magnetic clasp system. The lack of complete waterproofing is somewhat annoying, but it doesn’t spoil the deal unless you plan on using the action cam primarily in the water. If so, this is definitely not what you want.