DJI recently released the Action 2 camera which is a really interesting, really unique little camera system. DJI have created a magnetic, modular camera system that adapts to many possible use cases you may need an action camera to facilitate.
While DJI has launched with a range of accessories, clearly this is a platform that is ripe for 3rd party accessories makers to expand even further, making what is an already very capable camera, even more powerful.
The DJI Action 2 comes in two combos. The first is a DJI Power Combo that offers a camera module and a battery module, while the Dual-screen combo features a second display that faces forward, making it great for those who want to capture themselves in the environment and ensure they are framed correctly.
What’s great about Action 2 is the number of ways you can use the camera. You can hang it around your neck using the magnetic necklace, you can use it on a selfie stick, a desktop tripod or even get creative with the magnetic mount with a ball-joint head to position accurately. How creative you get is really up to you.
I’ve had a chance to take a look at the DJI Action 2 camera over the past few weeks and it’s time to detail my thoughts in a full review.
Compact in size, smart modular design
Measuring just 3.9cm x 3.9cm x 2.23cm, the small cubes are amazingly efficient in design and has taken some serious engineering to pack in some seriously impressive specs and features.
There’s plenty of other action cameras on the market, but none offer this unique magnetic connection system that means you can swap out modules, or attach it to a variety of mounting options and have confidence it’ll stay where you need it to.
There is no denying that GoPro mounting options are basically universal at this point, so if you’re going to make an action camera, it makes a lot of sense to create an adapter to support it. DJI have done exactly this, with one of their mounting options a magnetic top that clips to the bottom of the camera, then has the standard 2 prongs to support attaching it to a suction-cup mount, tripod and about a million other mounts.
Personally, I love the necklace mount, I think that works really well to capture the world close to how you see it. Obviously, this inverts the camera, but the software is smart enough to take care of that for you. This allows you to have 2 hands-free to interact with the world, while still capturing the action. From throwing a ball, playing tennis, kicking the footy, or just walking around your latest holiday destination, this works exceptionally well.
How does it perform ?
The DJI Action 2 includes a 1.76″ touchscreen on the rear which allows you to configure the camera and review your footage. The camera can record up to 4K video (4:3 – 4096×3072 @ 60fps or in 16:9 – 3840×2160 @ 120fps) and initiating the recording can be done in a number of ways. The most common and easiest way I found was the physical button on the device, while there’s also the option to enable voice commands to start recording from a distance.
I did find that during extended sessions of filming in 4K, that the camera did get hot and once saw a temperature warning. On the DJI website, it does have this listed in the FAQ section, which suggests you can back it down to 1080p to avoid this issue. That was a little disappointing, but given we’re really just using passive cooling here, it was probably always going to be pushing up against thermal envelopes.
At the highest quality, you can capture footage using the 1/1.7” CMOS sensor at a massive 130 Mbps bitrate which results in some seriously impressive footage. When it comes to capturing that footage, there is 32GB of storage built-in (22.4GB usable) so it’s likely you’ll want to BYO some high-speed microSD cards. The maximum supported size is 256GB.
DJI has packed in a 580 mAh battery behind the screen. While the spec sheet suggests that’ll last up to 70 minutes, that rating comes from recordings at 1080, so if you do leverage the best quality, that does come with the tradeoff of battery life.
Stand out features of this device.
One of the best features of this product is its magnetic design. This enables the modules in the camera system to snap together and thanks to the polarities at play, there is no way you can connect them incorrectly.
We’ve already talked a lot about the portability (light and small), and the wearability (necklace mount), but there’s also the option to use the GoPro adapter, to then get it on a helmet mount, or a surfboard, or suction cup to the car window or roof. Even for those vloggers who want to walk the street and hold the selfie stick out in front of them, it’s a very capable solution.
In terms of the quality that come from the camera, that’s really impressive, with a high bitrate and plenty of pixels (up to 4K/120fps). Perhaps the most important is the super-wide field-of-view captured with the massive lens which consumes almost the entire front face of the device. This wide FOV, means you capture more of the environment around the subjects, providing greater context to things moving in and out of the shot.
If you happen to be capturing an event (say a wedding), then you’ll be able to fit many more people in the shot than a regular camera and it does this without suffering from distortion around the edges.
Given we move up and down when we walk, we might be upside down on a motorbike, or just taking a corner fast, thanks to DJI’s HorizonSteady technology, the footage is stabilized which is seriously impressive. This clearly shows DJI playing to their strengths, leveraging their software smarts developed to service the needs of their drones, but also applicable here.
The camera is waterproof to 10m, so great if you are trying to capture content in wet environments, but don’t expect to fish it out from the bottom of the pool.
Not everything’s perfect
The overheating issue was somewhat of a surprise as I expected that to be fully tested before the camera shipped, but it is likely some will never see this, depending on their climate.
This is actually clear on the DJI website, so as long as people are aware, this is probably not a big issue.
When recording 4K/120fps, Action 2 will stop filming when the set Auto-Stop Rec Temp is reached. If set as Standard, 4K/120fps video can be recorded for around 3 minutes. If set to High, 4K/120fps video can be recorded for around 5 minutes.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
How much and when can you get one ?
The DJI Action 2 is available now at DJI.com and starts at A$609.00. The Dual-screen combo costs A$799.00 and the optional Osmo Action Mounting Kit A$35.00.
If we think about the Action 2 in comparison to GoPro Hero 10, it’s priced competitively, however, while there may be some crossover in potential use cases, the feature sets are slightly different and therefore the Action 2 offers some unique features.
There is also a long line of accessories available to expand the Action 2. There is a Macro Lens for A$89, a Waterproof case for A$79, an Extension rod with remote control for A$89.
What DJI has created here with Action 2 is really impressive. It’s a completely unique device that works incredibly well.
Firstly miniaturising this powerful camera technology is impressive enough, but to then wrap it in a module system that connects not just magnetically, but also then has a dual clip system, really gives you confidence that it will never fall off.
The 8-pin design between the modules is also really smart, allowing both power and data to transit between modules. I also think it’s great that DJI thought far enough forward to create and launch a front-facing screen option. Had they not, this would have likely been one of the first requested by the community.
Overall this platform has the potential to get crazy, with future versions potentially adding modules sideways as well as vertically, to add even more features to the camera. I think we could easily see LED flash and microphone modules as well.
This may sound like just a camera, but I really look at the Action 2 as a platform and one that gives content creators the ability to capture the world in new and exciting ways. I’m really happy this product exists in the world and can’t wait to see where it goes in the future.