The DJI Action 2, a refreshing change to existing action cam lineups

  • The DJI Action 2 is an exciting upgrade to their previous DJI Osmo Action camera and breaks free from the traditional designs that have been around for a decade. The A2’s small form factor and magnetic modular design is set to revolutionise how we use action cameras and make it a part of our everyday lives.
  • The A2 dual-screen combo retails for $770 here in Singapore with the power combo module that is just a battery pack retailing for $640. Kevin Wong, TheHomeGround Asia Editor-in-Chief with a keen interest in the world of emerging technology, spends a week using the DJI Action 2 and here is what he thinks.

More commonly known as DJI, Da-Jiang Innovations is the world’s largest commercial drone manufacturer with a global market share of between 70 and 80 per cent.  With growing interest in the production of cameras and camera accessories such as gimbals, stabilizers and action cameras, DJI recently jumped on the bandwagon to launch their latest action camera called the Action 2.

Weighing just 55g, the Action 2 is one of the lightest action cameras in the market. It is an upgrade of the DJI Osmo Action camera, where DJI took the bold step to redesign the whole camera system making it modular and magnetic. Its small form factor, magnetic modular design, is a refreshing change to the current traditional action camera product lineup.

General use

The DJI Action 2 is simple to use as its touch controls are quick and easy to navigate. For example, a long press on the camera button turns the camera on or off, and a short tap starts and stops videos, or snaps a photo. The 1.76″ OLED touchscreen at the back is the main control surface and the camera’s settings and functions can be easily changed using the large setting icons. There is also a DJI MimO App that provides an additional means to navigate the control panel of the device.

The camera comes with built-in features such as Hyperlapse, Timelapse, 8x slow-mo, and ‘Lapse Control’, that allows users to control the speed and duration of hyperlapse and timelapse modes.

Available in two kit combos, the Action 2 Power Combo includes an add-on Power Module pack which extends the battery life. The battery pack houses a USB-C charging port and a MicroSD card slot. Unfortunately, it isn’t waterproof like the camera itself. The Dual-Screen Combo includes a front-facing touch LCD in the add-on module that houses a battery reserve, USB-C, and a MicroSD slot for expandable memory up to 256GB, and microphones.

The main camera module comes with an internal 32GB memory, but you only have about 22.4GB for recording after taking into consideration the operating software. Shooting a 4K only gave me about seven minutes of recording on the main module, following which I needed to switch to the expandable memory but that meant the device got larger especially when using the chest mount. The small form factor did generate a substantial amount of heat, but it didn’t interfere much with the recording.

The modular and magnetic design of the camera made it so easy to snap the camera on any device or mount. The inclusion of a GoPro compatible mount was welcomed and meant that we did not need to get a whole new set of accessories to use with the Action 2.

DJI Action 2 dual screen mounted on 1/4-20 tripod thread and ball head (Photo courtesy of Ziyaad Siddique)

Specifications

The Action 2 has a 1.76″ OLED touchscreen at the back which provides for great viewing in both day and night lighting.

The camera shoots 12MP photos and immersive 4K videos and can shoot up to 120FPS in 1080p for fast action shots. It uses a 1/1.7″ CMOS sensor, which is larger than the 1/2.3″ sensor in the original Osmo Action camera. In addition, a new colour temperature sensor helps the camera quickly adjust as shooting situations change.

DJI’s RockSteady 2.0 helps maintain a steady shot and the A2 also features a new stabilisation mode called HorizonSteady that promises to keep horizon lines stable regardless of camera orientation.

The camera has an F2.8 lens that has a field of view of 155 degrees which is one of the largest and gives you the ability to get up close to your subjects to provide that immersive experience. The A2 comes with 4x digital zoom with HorizonSteady off, 2x digital zoom with HorizonSteady on.

The Action 2 can be used as a webcam or for live streaming at 1080/30p.

DJI Action 2 Dual Screen Combo (Photo courtesy of Ziyaad Siddique)

Accessories

Both the Action 2 combos come with basic accessories that include camera mounts compatible with GoPro mounts and standard 1/4-20 tripod thread and ball head. A magnetic lanyard as a wearable necklace for chest-mounted footage, and a USB-A-to-USB-C charging cable.

Magnetic wearable necklace for chest-mounted footage (Photo courtesy of Ziyaad Siddique)

Additional accessories such as a macro lens add-on, waterproof case, Bluetooth remote selfie stick and a magnetic headband can be purchased. As most standard photo, action camera, or video mounting accessories can be used with the GoPro and standard tripod mounts in the box, the only accessory that you would really need to get is the waterproof case should you want to take the camera deep up to 60m and have the front-facing camera or additional battery and increased storage capabilities.

Battery Life

With Rocksteady turned off and power reserve mode activated, the capacity of the inbuilt battery in the main Action 2 camera module is limited and rated for 70min shooting at 1080 at 30FPS; the front-facing screen module would be able to give you 160min of shooting time and the battery combo module can provide you up to 180min of shooting time should you need a longer shooting time.

Video

The Action 2 produces great images and videos that are both vibrant and dynamic. DJI chooses to deliver more realistic hues and cinematic output in the videos. The notably wider-angle lens brings viewers closer to the subjects for that up-close experience.

The RockSteady 2.0 stabilisation worked great and could easily handle heavy moves and quick steps. However, it is important to note that the stabilisation was capped at 2.7K. DJI could have explored raising this to 4K but with a smaller viewing angle.

The main module only had one microphone and that really limited the audio recording capabilities of the device. However, with the addition of the dual-screen module, the number of microphones increased to four, which increased the camera’s audio capture capabilities.

Our impression

Pros

The small form factor is a bold design move and refreshing. The magnetic and module design made it easy to mount on various devices. It connected easily to the chest neckless mount and I could easily move it to my bike or selfie stick holder with a simple click.

In addition, with abundant GoPro accessories in the market, many of which we already have, using the DJI GoPro compatible mounts adapter means that we do not need to repurchase accessories just to use with the Action 2.

The wide field of view, class-leading horizon levelling and bright OLED screens are bright and perfect for both day night lighting viewing.

Its quick-start capabilities make it convenient to quickly get those moments or action shots.

Cons

There are however some downsides to the A2. From a price perspective, it is slightly more expensive than the Go Pro 10 and insta360, so if you already have an action camera, is it worth forking out more to get a similar device?

Its sleek design makes the Action 2 feel like a flagship phone from Samsung or Apple and that’s the issue. Do we really need another device to take good photos when I could just bring my handphone along? The sides are smooth and slippery and the OLED screens have no protection and would definitely crack on impact.

The Action 2 seems to be an action camera that you won’t want to take into dangerous or extreme situations. The device did generate quite a bit of heat when we used it shooting at 4k but was bearable.  It is also important to note that the horizon lock is only available in 1080 and not in 4k.

Despite the concerns surrounding the protective covering over the body and OLED screens, I do believe DJI would be coming out with some projective skins that will protect the device and impede heat regulation.

The small form factor is a plus for me, and given the loads of gear that we bring for shoots, this small camera is ideal on sets and if we need to place a camera in small enclosed places.

The Action 2 is a decent camera to have on our production set and is well suited for our vlogging and the recording of our various web series.

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