DJI has made a name for itself with the release of the DJI-Phantom 4 Pro. Their newest update, the DJI Action 2, is their latest release to fly on the market. This article will provide an introduction to Action 2 to help clarify the pros and cons of this camera drone.
DJI Action 2 Reviews
- The small, portable form factor that can be used anywhere
- Magnetic mounts and snap-on accessories
- Effective digital stabilization
- Video up to 4K120
- 12MP photos
- Waterproof up to 33 feet
- Uses a webcam
- The front screen option pushes price high
- Overheating is a problem
- There is no charging port or card slot on the main camera module.
- The front screen and the battery are not waterproof
Action 2 ($399+) is DJI’s second attempt at the action camera market. It follows the Osmo Action (2019). The Osmo was a GoPro clone. Action 2 is a complete redesign of Osmo’s form factor. The camera is square with a front lens and a back screen. It uses magnets to attach accessories and mounts. Although it is an interesting camera, it has some limitations. It produces enough heat to limit long-form recording and can easily be lost track of small parts. The GoPro Hero10 Black is still our Editors’ Choice winner. However, Action 2 is a unique, versatile alternative.
Is it an action camera if it’s not a GoPro? DJI has put this question to rest with the 2019 launch of the DJI Osmo Action. This action camera took GoPro’s winning formula and added a display for YouTubers to the front.
We had concluded that the Osmo Action was the last-ever drone-gimbal combination and that action cams may have been a one-and-done effort. We can now confirm that DJI was not rushing to make a move. This is the mini, modular, metal Action 2 and all its accessories.
The DJI Action is not a cheap, cheerful action cam. It starts at $399 / PlayStation349 / AU$609, which makes it more expensive than a GoPro Hero 10 Black (399 / P379 / AU$599.95) and a GoPro Subscription in certain markets.
One of the two options for the DJI Action 2 is a front-facing display with a battery or just the battery. The camera also has 32GB of storage. You’ll need to connect it to a module that accepts microSD cards up to 256GB to increase the storage.
The DJI Action is capable of shooting video at 4K but can’t reach the same resolution as the GoPro Hero 10 Black. It makes up for what it lacks with pixels by providing horizon leveling, or Horizon Steady, as DJI calls them. RockSteady’s upgrade allows DJI to offer image stabilization that surpasses GoPro’s 45-degree leveling. It allows for 180-degree tilts without changing the image orientation. Although it only works at 1080p or 2.7k, it is still a useful party trick that anyone can use to tilt their boat from one side to the other.
Bright environments are fine for video quality. The footage from the Action 2 rarely took our breath away. However, it is versatile with a variety of shooting modes as well as an official macro lens accessory. Low light can cause muddy footage due to the camera’s tendency to down-play saturation. This can be corrected by editing.
While the Action 2’s battery lasts a good while paired with a power module and can withstand clip shooting for up to half a day, it’s not as durable as a standalone cube. It also overheated quite a bit. The recording was capped at five minutes at high resolutions.
The Action 2 delivers a smart and wide-angle design. The Hero 10 Black is only a fraction of its size, making it ideal for those who want the smallest action camera. This camera is not for everyone. Especially for vloggers, GoPro is the safer option. The modular DJI Action 2 camera is the ideal choice for gadget enthusiasts who are looking for the most striking, innovative, and premium-feeling action cameras.
Design And Screen
The Action 2 is modular and wearable, according to DJI. Wearable might have seemed a little too ambitious for a GoPro-sized camera. However, Action 2 is much smaller than Hero 10 Black.
The core module measures 39x39mm square and has a depth of 22.3mm. It is very lightweight at 56g. The Action 2 comes with a neck strap that magnetically attaches to the camera. This makes it easy to wear out of the box.
The design of Action 2 by DJI is simple. The front features a bold lens and a few words: 155-degree field, f/2.8, 1/1.7in. These specs are very comparable to GoPro’s Hero 10 Black.
The Action 2 has a single button at its top, and the Pogo connector points are located at its base. The back has a 1.76-inch screen. This is smaller than a GoPro but sharp nonetheless. It has a pixel density (350 pixels per inch) and a resolution (445 x 424).
The OLED screen on the Action 2 has another advantage: it delivers deeper colors and more saturation than the Hero 10 Black’s comparatively pale display. The Action 2’s touch-optimized menu made it easy to interact with, although we found it a bit fiddly for previewing and playing back our videos.
The main module of the Action 2 is waterproofed up to 10 feet. This is approximately the same 33 meters as the Hero 10 Black. You will need to place the case separately to get down to 60 feet. Unfortunately, this is also required to waterproof its Power Module or Front Touchscreen Module. These modules are not water-resistant.
Modular Mounting: How It Works
You may be curious about how the Action 2 attaches with its modular mates. It uses magnets and clamps. Strong magnets keep the Action 2’s base, and top plate attracted to each other.
They become closer together as they get closer. The two metal spring-loaded clamps attach to the Action 2 base. As if by magic, you can’t separate them except if you carefully pinch each side and then pull the pieces apart.
Only the Action 2’s neck strap relies on magnets and not the clamp. We had no accidents with it, but we wouldn’t use it to mount up for rollercoaster recording or speeding down rapids.
We love Action 2’s ease of mounting and dismounting. It’s easy to attach and remove a GoPro mount without any fiddly screws. We recommend that you also purchase as many magnetic adapter mountings as you need to mount your Action 2 – if the price is right ($25 / PS19 / AU$29 each).
Are You Looking For A Power Or Dual-Screen Module?
Do you want to be a vlogger? Or do you just want to take selfie videos? You might consider purchasing the Dual-Screen Combo or the Display Module individually if your answer is yes. The exact same screen as the Action 2 is placed on the back of the clip-on companion that lives below it.
The second screen can be touched and is just as small as the main. Although we would love to have a larger screen module that could be clipped in any way, the front display is still very useful, especially considering the wide-angle Action 2 captures. We were able to ensure that our faces did not touch the barred edges of the frame by using the front display.
The Power and Dual-Screen modules both have a 1,300mAh lithium battery which charges and powers the Action 2. They weigh in at 60g and include a microSD slot that can be used to expand the 32GB storage available on the Action 2.
Unfortunately, neither module can be waterproof. If you are going to use Action 2 to do a dunk, and you need to access your SD cards, you will want to purchase a case. It costs $65 / PS45 / AU 79.
Specifications And Resolutions
The camera of the DJI Action 2 features a 1/1.7 inch CMOS sensor with a large 155-degree field-of-view and an f/2.8 aperture. The ISO range is 100 to 6400 for both photo and video.
Action 2 does not capture video at a maximum of 5.3K, unlike the Hero 10 Black. The camera can only capture 4K (4:3) and allows you to shoot at lower resolutions across stills and video. Talking to DJI, we were informed that the real-world benefit from a resolution boost would not actually increase the output of an action camera such as the Action 2. DJI also didn’t want artificially to inflate resolution without any real-world benefits.
Photos are captured at 12MP on the Action 2, while 16:9 video is shot at 1080p (the frame-rate options are 24/25/30/48/50/60/100/120/200/240p), 2.7K (24/25/30/48/50/60/100/120p), and 4K (24/25/30/48/50/60p). You can capture a 4K video at a maximum of 60fps, but you cannot capture 4K at the same frame rate.
Horizon Steady is the fun mode that allows you to tilt the Action 2 180 degrees. It’s only available for shooting 1080p and 2.7K in 16-9.
The Action 2 features two buttons, one on each side of the main camera and one on the add-on module. However, they all serve the same purpose. The long press turns the camera on/off, while a quick tap stops the video or takes a picture.
The touch screen is your primary control surface. It measures approximately 2 inches in diagonal and is difficult for me to use without much care. It’s easy to navigate with the proper finger placement and DJI’s use of big icons to switch settings, but it’s not too bad.
Swipe left to browse media. To change exposure settings, swipe right from the right. Scroll to the bottom to see resolution and frame rates options. Scroll to the top to access the complete menu. Swapping modes is the most difficult part. To switch between photo, video, and timelapse, swipe left or right. However, you must start your swipe from the middle.
Voice commands are also possible. The camera responded to voice commands, such as “Record,” “Stop Recording,” and “Take a Photo.” You can turn off the function, which is a good idea if you are using it in noisy environments. While watching TV, I had the Action beside me, and it began rolling video when Mayim Bialik introduced them during a recent episode. GoPro supports voice commands, and it is very similar to the previous experience. However, a simple remark can trigger recording.
Software DJI Action 2
The interface for Action 2 is very easy to use. Everything is exactly where you’d expect. To view more battery information, tap on the battery at the top right. Tap the play button to see what you have recorded. Tap the resolution button at the bottom left to adjust the aspect ratio and resolution. Finally, tap on the zoom button at the bottom right to zoom in digitally. You can also access the Settings button on the right. This allows you to adjust color options and field-of-view. You can also find more niche options like looped recordings.
You can choose to use the camera to transfer files or as a webcam when you plug it into your computer. The webcam function didn’t work on a Mac. However, that may be due to macOS limitations. DJI may release software that will make this possible. It worked perfectly on Windows.
The DJI Mimo application can be used to control the camera. It works well. You can connect the app to your camera quickly and easily, and you can adjust all settings and features from the app. The app doesn’t offer much functionality beyond what you can do with the camera, and I didn’t use it very often. It may be useful if you need to see the Action on a bigger screen.
Video And Image Quality
Cameras aren’t known for their DSLR-quality image quality. We were not impressed with the Hero 10 Black and all that GoPro could squeeze out of its tiny sensor. We’ve learned not to expect too much from electronic stabilization and the tiny camera modules. This context is crucial when reviewing DJI Action 2.
This camera has a wider angle than the Hero 10 Black. Therefore, punching into objects will make them look softer. This makes it great for large shots. However, this is less useful if you are shooting in bright environments and need to use the standard, wide, and ultra-wide fields of view.
The colors in both video and photos are muted. Action 2 takes a cinematic approach to saturation, vibrancy, and color. The camera does not suffer from this, however. The photos have a dull, sometimes underexposed, and dreary look that can’t be compared to SuperPhoto on Hero 10 Black. Even with some editing, it’s difficult to get snaps from both cameras to a level of color parity.
Video can be a very similar story but is less extreme. The Action 2 uses colors in a different way. It produces more natural hues than most competitors. Action 2’s footage is more appealing to those who like editing videos. We did find the contrast to have a bit too much – even though DJI wanted to create a cinematic effect.
Bright environments look great and give you lots of room to edit. However, scenes shot in dimly lit areas look like they have had a Melancholia filter applied. Low-light is not a good look for an action camera.
The DJI Action 2 is a good competitor for low light. It also has a better realism score than the Hero 10 Black. Although the camera does not try to increase exposure, it produces a pleasing image that is still discernible.
The Hero 10 Black’s stabilization counters handshakes in dim scenes a bit better and produces less image juddering. We prefer low-light footage shot on the Action 2 if both cameras are stationary.
Action 2 has strong stabilization. It is better at handling heavy steps than the Hero 10 Black but less adept at handling erratic pans. The new DJI Horizon Steady is excellent as well and can only be matched by 360-degree cameras such as the GoPro Max. Although the resolution limit of 2.7K may be annoying to some, we still love the Action 2
We were most impressed with the DJI Action 2’s sound recording. It captured audio that was comparable to the Hero 10 Black. It was not always as sensitive as it could be. However, at times it was better at suppressing wind noise.
It’s important to note that unlike the GoPros of recent, there is no mod attachment that enhances sound recording or supports external music. This feels a little odd.
Performance Of The App, Storage, and Battery
The Action 2 communicates with your Android or iOS smartphone via the Mimo app. This connects to the camera through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, just like other DJI tech. It allows you to control your Action 2 and see what it sees on the screen of your tablet or smartphone. We found pairing easy, and the setup was simple.
32GB storage is more than what you get on other action camera models. It may sound small, but it’s still better than nothing. This means that you can start recording right out of the box. That’s excellent.
The Action 2 does not accept a microSD card, unlike other action cameras. It is not an easy solution. The onboard storage will fill quickly, and you can switch between internal recording and SD card on the fly. This can make it difficult to get Action 2 into Action. You can also end up with corrupt files if you unplug a module during recording. Despite this, it’s unlikely that anything will go wrong, considering the magnetic system.
The battery life of the Action 2’s battery isn’t great, so it comes with a module. It was overheating caused by overheating made it impossible to drain the battery in our time with this camera.
The Action 2 stopped recording at 4K 60fps for 5m 45s without any modules attached. Battery dropped to 79%. Overheating caused the 2.7K/60p to stop at 6m and drain the battery to 79%. We were able to record for 7m 24s at 1080p, which gave us an extra amount of time and left 80% of the battery in the tank. DJI also has a Power Reserve mode that records for over 20m before it shuts down. However, this can only be used at 1080p.
If you are looking for high resolution, Action 2 is not the right tool for you. The DJI Action 2 is a smart, compact, modular video camera. It can shoot anything between 15 seconds and five minutes, but you will have problems if you go beyond that.
The Action 2 comes in a combination with either the Front Touchscreen modules or the power module. Front Touchscreen Module is a front-facing module that functions in the same manner as the one at the back of your camera. The module also includes an additional 90 minutes of battery life on top of the standard 70 minutes, and three microphones that can record stereo audio from all directions.
The Power Module adds 110 minutes to the power of the camera. It does not include additional microphones. However, both modules have microSD cards slots to expand the 32GB internal storage on the Action 2 camera.
Both kits include basic accessories. Two camera mounts are included, one compatible with GoPro mounts and another with a standard 1/4-20 thread and ball head. The accessory includes a magnetic lanyard, a necklace that can be worn to record chest-mounted footage, as well as a USB-A/USB-C charging cord.
You will need to pay extra if you need anything. If you plan to take your camera deeper than 200 feet (60m), a waterproof case will be required. It costs $65 and can also fit the front screen or add-on battery. A selfie stick comes with a Bluetooth remote and a floating handle. There are also magnetic headbands for $35, $39, $75, and $75. You can use standard tripod mounts and GoPro in the box.
The macro lens accessory is a $79 accessory that attaches to the front of the lens with magnets. This allows you to switch the focus from the distant range. Action cams are designed to allow everything more than a few inches from the clear lens view. The macro lens has a limited focus range, so it’s important to hold the camera up to the subject you want to photograph or film. GoPros and competitors don’t allow macro shots. If you are interested in close-up photography or video, Action 2 is a good choice.
If you want to learn more about other cameras, check out the list here:
- DJI Osmo Pocket Review: Best Choice 2021 For You
- DJI Pocket 2 Review: Best Choice 2021 For You
- DJI Osmo Plus Review: Best Choice 2021 For You
Other cameras cannot compete with the versatility and portability of the Action 2. The camera’s ingenuity is not without expense. It’s pricey, especially if you include the auxiliary display. It also has a hard time with heat. For most people seeking a good action camera, the GoPro Hero10 Black is the best option. If you like the modular concept and are willing to invest the money, the DJI Action 2 is an excellent choice.
It’s a fantastic idea, and we hope DJI continues to push the envelope with this technique. Despite the exorbitant price, it’s a brilliant idea that works well in its initial iteration. Please share this post if you found it helpful so that others might see its contents as well! Thank you for reading!