DJI Action 2 review: Reinventing the action camera

DJI Action 2.

“The Action 2 breaks the mold that has dictated action camera design for decades with its unique modular design and easy to swap batteries.”

Execs

  • Versatile and distinctive modular design
  • Remarkably small and light-weight
  • Nice picture high quality
  • Gimble-like video stabilization
  • Incredible audio recording functionality

Cons

  • Picture high quality is not fairly as crisp as GoPro
  • Low gentle efficiency is not nice

When DJI launched the unique Osmo Motion, it confronted stiff competitors towards the GoPro Hero eight Black. Surprisingly, DJI succeeded the place so many different corporations had tried and didn’t carve out a bit of GoPro’s market, and the Osmo Motion has been my go-to motion digicam these previous two years. Nonetheless, it’s excessive time for an improve, and I’ve acquired my eye on the DJI Motion 2 — DJI determined to drop the “Osmo” identify. The brand new motion digicam represents a complete reinvention that goals to create its personal area of interest somewhat than struggle head-to-head with the formidable GoPro Hero 10 Black, which I lately reviewed.

The query, although, is whether or not or not the revolutionary modular strategy of the Motion 2 is sufficient to set it other than the competitors. Are its distinctive qualities the sting DJI wants to achieve the motion digicam area?

Design

There actually isn’t something fairly just like the DJI Motion 2. For a begin, it’s small — actually small: Simply 1.54 by 0.86 inches and a mere 56 grams in weight. For an concept of what which means in the actual world, you may stuff it in any pocket and even put on it comfortably on the magnetic pendant accent.

DJI Action 2 Lens.
Andy Zahn / Digital Tendencies

The second factor to notice is that this digicam isn’t only a single unit however is actually modular, with the entrance selfie display or battery separate from the digicam module. The modules join by way of a robust magnetic clamping system that’s completely rock strong. This enables the digicam module to be completely sealed with out even a charging port, granting it a waterproofing ranking of as much as 32 ft deep. It may possibly go all the way down to 196 ft with the help of the non-compulsory waterproof housing. Needless to say the entrance contact display and battery modules should not waterproof, so don’t dunk them with out first placing them within the waterproof housing.

DJI Action 2 waterproof housing.
Andy Zahn / Digital Tendencies

An additional benefit of this method is that it means no extra opening fiddly ports to swap batteries. A recent battery module may be snapped on in only a few seconds to start recharging the first battery. It’s even doable to hot-swap batteries whereas recording. In the long run, I do see a possible draw back to this strategy in that the first battery will degrade over time and can’t be changed, however this design supplies sufficient advantages that this looks as if a small tradeoff.

DJI Action 2 connection plate.
Andy Zahn / Digital Tendencies

The magnetic snap system additionally permits for the Motion 2 to be shortly moved between totally different equipment. You may have it on the Bluetooth distant management one second and effortlessly snap off and onto a magnetic mount connected to a scarf the subsequent. If there’s a steel object helpful, the Motion 2 can simply be caught onto it, doubtlessly permitting it to be mounted in places the place a tripod or different help wouldn’t work.

The 1.76-inch touchscreen on each the digicam and entrance display module is actually tiny, however I had no hassle working it or filming with it. A single button turns the digicam on/off and stops/begins recording; double faucet to modify modes.

DJI Action 2 Touchscreen.
Andy Zahn / Digital Tendencies

An additional intriguing design choice facilities across the utter lack of ports on the digicam module. The digicam module has 32GB of onboard storage. To develop this storage, the battery and entrance contact display modules each characteristic a microSD card slot. Which means when it’s separate from these modules, the digicam can solely document to the inner storage. Nonetheless, on the plus aspect, it implies that if in case you have a number of energy or entrance contact display modules every with an SD card, then these modules is not going to solely juice up the digicam but in addition present further storage whereas connected.

One of many extra intriguing equipment out there for the Motion 2 is a macro lens. As somebody who spends a variety of his free time photographing bugs, tree frogs, and flowers, this opens up some thrilling potentialities. It supplies respectable magnification, albeit with a wholesome dose of distortion across the fringe of the image.

Utilizing the Motion 2 over the previous few weeks, I’ve actually come to understand how a lot thought and engineering went into this digicam.

Efficiency

As intelligent because the design of the Motion 2 is, it has to have the ability to ship nice video footage as nicely. Fortunately, that is the case. The Motion 2 encompasses a 12MP 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor and f/2.eight aperture. These aren’t significantly spectacular specs, however in follow, they churn out some nice wanting video. The Motion 2 can shoot 4K footage at as much as 120fps for prime decision sluggish movement, or 240fps at 1080p for 8x sluggish movement.

It’s one thing of a pity, although, that it will possibly’t do 240fps at 2.7k decision, however in use, it didn’t trouble me an excessive amount of. I typically choose to shoot in 4K, and after I do need tremendous sluggish movement, the motion being captured typically eclipses the significance of decision.

It achieves that “gimbal-like” stability that makes it doable to get respectable footage whereas strolling and hand-holding the digicam.

Relating to picture high quality, I’m typically pleased with how the footage from the Motion 2 seems to be. It’s maybe a bit of strongly saturated and contrasty, however I personally actually prefer it, and extra importantly, it did an excellent job dealing with excessive distinction scenes equivalent to a dim forest with a shiny sky. The Motion 2 constantly managed to protect shadows in such conditions whereas not blowing out the highlights too badly.

As you’d count on from a small sensor digicam, low gentle efficiency is pretty poor — although not the worst I’ve seen. There’s solely a lot you are able to do to beat the physics of gathering gentle onto a small sensor via a small lens.

Maybe most significantly, DJI has massively up to date their Rocksteady picture stabilization to the purpose the place it’s nearly as good, if not a tad higher, than what GoPro has achieved with their newest digicam expertise. It achieves that “gimbal-like” stability that makes it doable to get respectable footage whereas strolling and hand-holding the digicam.

There’s additionally a brand new HorizonSteady characteristic that maintains a degree horizon no matter digicam orientation. Needless to say RockSteady 2.Zero solely features underneath 100fps, and HorizonSteady solely works at resolutions of two.7K or much less. Regardless of the decision limitation, I discovered HorizonSteady to be completely definitely worth the tradeoff after I needed to seize easy footage on tough, uneven terrain.

Moreover, the Motion 2 has the hyperlapse and timelapse functionality we’ve come to count on from motion cameras. That is actually necessary to me, because it’s considered one of my major makes use of for motion cameras. These modes work nicely, and I’m excited by the prospect of touring with the Motion 2 and using its magnet to seize timelapse video in distinctive places.

I used to be shocked at how good the audio recorded by the Motion 2 turned out to be. It’s very useable for vlogging functions — or simply video recording basically. It’s much better than I might count on from an motion digicam and is a severe improve over the earlier Osmo Motion, which had fairly respectable recording functionality.

It’s very useable for vlogging functions — or simply video recording basically.

The Motion 2 is able to taking nonetheless photographs, although in my expertise, this can be a hardly ever used operate of motion cameras. The 12MP sensor does an excellent job of rendering pleasing pictures, however in all honesty, I’m extra more likely to pull out my telephone to take a nonetheless photograph than trouble switching the Motion 2 into photograph mode. Nonetheless, the performance is there when you want it. One other characteristic that you simply is likely to be excited about is the QuickClip mode, which captures preset 15-second movies supposed for social media. It’s also possible to livestream with the Motion 2 at as much as 1080p 30fps or use the digicam as a webcam.

Battery life

On one hand, I used to be solely capable of document for about 12 minutes of 4K video earlier than the Motion 2 ran out of juice within the digicam module’s 580mAh battery. Nonetheless, each of the opposite modules are geared up with 1300mAh batteries, which is lots for a day of capturing. They cost from empty to full in about 90 minutes.

Software program and connectivity

I’ve no complaints relating to the software program on the digicam itself. It’s extremely responsive, and altering settings is fast and straightforward. The DJI Mimo companion app is a useful gizmo as nicely, because it permits for distant management of the Motion 2 and an modifying workflow to your footage. There’s additionally an AI editor that may routinely edit your movies with music and applicable transitions in order that they will simply be shared straight from the app.

The Motion 2 options Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for connection to the app and to non-compulsory equipment such because the Bluetooth distant. I had no points with the digicam on this regard; it’s a well-developed and streamlined system.

Value and availability

The Motion 2 is available in two totally different bundles: The facility combo prices $399 and contains the primary digicam, energy module, magnetic collar, and magnetic adapter holder, whereas the dual-screen combo prices $519 and comes with every part included within the energy combo, bar a swap of the facility module for a entrance touchscreen module and a magnetic ball head adapter holder.

The nice factor right here is that, whether or not you go for the budget-friendly energy combo or pony as much as get the entrance contact display, you’re getting the identical digicam capabilities. I wouldn’t say both combo is an actual cut price, but it surely’s about what you’d count on to pay for a digicam with the capabilities of the Motion 2.

The Motion 2 can be out there beginning November 2nd for the entrance contact display combo. The facility combo and most further equipment needs to be out there someday in mid-November, excluding the DJI MIC — which can be out there in December — and the magnetic headband — the supply of which has but to be determined as of this writing.

DJI Action 2 Unboxing 3.
Andy Zahn / Digital Tendencies

Our take

The DJI Motion 2 is a genuinely revolutionary motion digicam, and its novel strategy makes it actually stand out from the competitors. It does just about every part you’d need an motion digicam to do and does it very nicely. It’s an motion digicam that, when diminished to the naked minimal digicam module, is so small and lightweight that you simply actually haven’t any excuse to not take it with you. By going out of their option to rethink motion cameras from the bottom up, DJI has hit a real house run with the Motion 2.

Is there a greater various?

GoPro is at all times the elephant within the room when speaking about motion cameras, and the Hero 10 Black was a simple decide for Editors’ Selection after I reviewed it final month. They’re so intently matched that, if compelled to select a winner, I’d most likely declare a tie.

They’re roughly in the identical ballpark worth vary if you take their totally different pricing fashions under consideration, and each supply excellent picture stabilization. The GoPro can document 5.3K footage, its 4K footage seems to be marginally extra detailed, and it will possibly shoot 240fps sluggish movement at 2.7K, whereas the Motion 2 can solely hit that framerate at 1080p. Nonetheless, the Motion 2 digicam module is simply about one-third the scale of the Hero 10 Black, and its modular magnetic system presents really distinctive benefits over the GoPro.

I may travel for hours evaluating these two cameras, however ultimately, the conclusion I’ve come to right here is that they’re a good match.

Its modular magnetic system presents really distinctive benefits over the  GoPro

How lengthy will it final?

In contrast to GoPro, DJI doesn’t comply with a yearly launch schedule for its merchandise, so I can’t say when it will likely be changed. Regardless of its age, my authentic Osmo Motion remains to be a really succesful digicam, and I count on the Motion 2 will stay related for even longer. It’s fairly rugged, so that ought to assist it survive an excellent lengthy whereas — relying on simply how a lot punishment it receives, in fact, DJI presents a customary restricted guarantee for its units.

The caveat right here is the beforehand talked about non-replaceable batteries, significantly these within the digicam module. Ultimately, the battery life in that module will degrade to some extent the place you’ll have to preserve a battery or entrance contact display module connected for it to operate for an honest size of time. That may take a few years of frequent use, although, so it’s not one thing that ought to deter you from shopping for the digicam.

Do you have to purchase it?

Sure. The DJI Motion 2 is a extremely compelling motion digicam, significantly if in case you have a selected use case in thoughts that may profit from its small dimension, gentle weight, and distinctive modular design.

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