DJI Action 2 review: Is this new modular action cam the GoPro killer? [Video]

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DJI is rethinking the action camera with the brand new DJI Action 2. Featuring a magnetic modular design, the camera works well on its own, but can be quickly augmented with a variety of modules and attachments. Be sure to hit the video below to see all of the details of DJI’s latest action cam.

DJI Action 2: Design

At first look, the DJI Action 2 might be reminiscent of the GoPro Session cameras with its square design, but it’s much different. On the front is the large f/2.8 lens, along with a sensor for color temperature. 

Up top is a single physical button that can power on the camera and start recording. The button has some good weight to it. It’s easy to find but requires a bit of force so it will be hard to accidentally press, which is a good design consideration for action cameras. 

On the bottom is the expansion port that unlocks the modular capabilities of the DJI Action 2.

On the back is one large touch screen that makes tweaking settings, framing up shots, and reviewing footage easy. The whole thing feels extremely well built. Not that a GoPro feels cheap or flimsy, but the machined metal body and weight of the DJI Action 2 make it feel like it’s a step above the GoPros I’m used to. 

Weighing in a 58g and measuring 39mm by 39mm by 22mm, it’s easy to pack along when used as the camera itself. Compared to a GoPro Hero 9, the DJI Action 2 is much smaller. Adding a module does make it bigger, but the DJI Action 2 is still capable by itself.

DJI Action 2: Two main modules

One of the most notable features here is the magnetic modular design of the DJI Action 2. The camera can be used by itself, but it can also be augmented with a variety of attachments. When purchasing the camera, you can opt for a power combo that includes the battery module. That takes the record time up to 180 minutes and can quickly be swapped out with another battery module. The battery combo is priced competitively against other action cameras like the GoPro Hero 10 at $399. 

DJI Action 2: Video

The dual-screen combo will also extend battery life up to 160 minutes but acts as an additional front-facing touch screen. For those taking selfies or vlogging with the DJI Action 2, this is a huge advantage. While it isn’t any larger than the built-in screen on the back of the camera, the touch screen module makes it easy to see your framing when the camera is pointing at you and tweak settings without turning the camera around. This is the most expensive combo at $519. 

Both of these modules attach to the bottom of the DJI Action 2 via a magnetic connection and are held in place with two spring-loaded arms on either side of the module. To remove a module, just press in on both of the arms and pull the attachment away. 

Other attachments

In addition to the battery and touch screen modules, DJI has prepared a vast collection of attachments for the Action 2 camera. 

Most notably, the camera is waterproof up to 10 meters, but the modules are not. DJI has a waterproof case for the Action 2 that is big enough to hold both the camera and an attached module and will take the waterproof rating up to 60m. 

While it protects the camera well, and you can see one or two screens through the cover, the only downside is that you cannot use either touch screen with the waterproof case. So you can either set the camera up before you get it in the case or connect to it with the app. Though if you don’t want the DJI Action 2 camera outside of a waterproof case, you’ll probably not want to use a phone in that situation, either. 

In the more recent generations, GoPro has ditched the need for a waterproof case and now makes the camera itself waterproof. This might be one of the biggest differentiators as it makes the camera bulkier and harder to use when in the case, and it is a separate accessory. 

Magnetic lanyard 

Much like the Insta 360 Go 2 that we checked out earlier this year, one neat attachment is the magnetic lanyard. Utilizing a magnetic connection on the bottom of the DJI Action 2, this mount enables you to wear a necklace-like lanyard under your shirt that will grab onto the magnet on the camera. While it is much bigger than the Insta360 Go 2, the camera is much more versatile and this is a great way to capture adventures like hiking or exploring a new city. 

Tripods and remotes

Additionally, DJI has prepared a variety of tripods for Action 2. Most notable is the remote control extension rod which can control the Action 2 with simple thumb controls while stabilizing it on a surface with a tripod base or extending for a further away shot. It’s kind of like a selfie-stick/tripod/remote combo all in one. Paired with the touchscreen module, this makes for a great vlog/selfie combo. 

DJI also has a mini tripod and floating handle available if there’s no need for smart control. 

Beyond tripods and handles, DJI has accessories for mounting the Action 2 on most action-camera compatible accessories and a ¼-20 ball mount for standard tripods and mounts. 

More magnets and lenses

And that’s not all, DJI has even has a magnetic lens. This macro lens just clips on to the front of the camera and holds on with magnets. 

This allows the camera to focus on objects about 1 inch from the lens, but it also does something weird to the image and distorts lines pretty significantly. It also only works in the standard field of view mode as the others give a fisheye look with black areas on either side of the image.

Touch controls

On the back of the camera is a large 1.7-inch touch screen. Controlling the camera from this display has been easy and relatively intuitive. The touch screen is quick and responsive. Swiping in different directions will bring up different menus and controls so it’s good to play around or familiarize yourself with those from the manual. 

Video modes

Headlining the video specs is a 1/1.7-inch sensor that can shoot 4K at 120FPS in a super-wide 155-degree field of view. That keeps right in line with competitors like GoPro. If you need faster footage, you can drop down to 1080p at 240, but action cameras usually don’t look the best at lower resolutions. I try to keep the resolution as high as I can for the frame rate to ensure the footage is sharp. 

The DJI Action 2 also has timelapse and hyper-lapse modes. Hyperlapse worked well while going for a motorcycle ride to condense a longer trip into a shorter clip. I left it in auto mode, but you can dial in your own rate at how fast you want the video to move. 

Stabilization

To keep the image steady in fast-paced action scenarios, DJI has built two stabilization modes into Action 2. First up is Rocksteady mode which stabilizes video and works in any resolution and FOV setting. In my experience, it handled footage very well making for smooth video when riding a motorcycle. 

The second stabilization mode takes things a bit further with Horizonsteady. This mode will keep the horizon level no matter how far the camera rotates – even 360 degrees. For extreme action like skiing, this is a great way to steady an image and make it easier to watch. While I didn’t try any extreme sports, Hoizonsteady mode worked great on my motorcycle and when testing out the waterproof case. 

Video Quality 

So far I’ve been impressed with the video quality. It can get a little noisy in dark footage, but overall it’s sharp. The stabilization does an incredible job of keeping the footage smooth, which is one of the most important factors when considering an action camera. What good is the footage if it’s a nausea-inducing shaky mess?

Riding around at sunset shooting 4K 24FPS, I was very happy with the image coming out of the DJI Action 2. When the scene got shadowy it’s possible to pick out some noise when the image is blown up to fill a computer monitor, but those are some challenging conditions for any camera. Shooting into a bright autumn sun while dipping in and out of a shadowed road requires some hefty software to ensure it doesn’t look terrible. 

Audio Quality

Overall I’ve been impressed with the mic system on the DJI Action 2. While riding a motorcycle around 50-60mph, there wasn’t really any wind noise in the recorded video. DJI is using what they call DJI Matrix Stereo technology which utilizes up to four microphones and wind reduction. The camera itself uses a single microphone, but when you attach the touchscreen module, you also add three additional microphones for better directional clarity. To me, it sounds great for an action camera. 

DJI also plans on releasing a wireless mic for Action 2, but that will be available at a later date. I’ve also heard that the Action 2 can use wired 3.5mm mics through a 3.5mm to USB-C adapter, but I haven’t tried this myself. 

DJI Action 2: App

While you can control everything on the camera itself, the DJI app is another handy way to check your framing and change settings. In the app, it’s easy to change shooting modes, tweak video settings, and watch or download recorded clips. 

Storage

While it has 32GB of internal storage, 10GB of that is taken up by system data leaving just 22GB of usable data. I was able to get about 30 minutes of footage shooting 4K 24FPS footage which is pretty good for internal. If you need more than that, though, both the battery and touch screen modules have a micro SD card slot to take that shooting time much further. Not only is it better for storage, but you can swap out cards if you need more room. Transferring footage also goes fast from a micro SD card when compared to the internal storage.

DJI Action 2: Battery life

I filled up the internal storage in 30 minutes while on a motorcycle ride and when I got back the battery was dead as well. So from my testing, I’d say that battery life is a little over 30 minutes on the camera by itself. But, with the dual-screen module, battery life goes up to 160 minutes. And, with the battery module, that goes even further to 180 minutes. 

It’s also a webcam

When plugging the Action 2 into a computer, you can either download video clips from the internal storage or use the camera as a webcam. While not a major feature, this does make the camera more useful. 

DJI Action 2: Overheating

One potentially large caveat on the DJI Action 2 is overheating. While doing battery tests recording 4K at 60FPS at my desk, the camera would get hot enough that it would stop recording a few minutes into a clip. While it felt hot to the touch, it wasn’t dangerously hot. 

I asked my contact at DJI about it and they stated that it’s most likely from recording at a high resolution and that recording at a lower resolution could help with heating issues. 

That being said, I only had overheating problems when the camera was sitting at my desk. I was able to capture 20-minute clips riding a motorcycle without any issues. 

9to5Toys’ Take

The DJI Action 2 is a great alternative to the GoPro. Its modular design means it’s small when you want it to be but can be easily built out to a more capable system. That even carries over to the internal storage which can be expanded. It’s packing incredible video quality for the size but can also feature a front-facing screen when those are needed. Plus, the package can more discrete on a magnetic lanyard, or combined with the remote control extension rod for a more versatile filming setup. 

One thing I’ve really appreciated while riding my motorcycle is how easy it is to take the camera off its magnetic mount and check the footage. Instead of having to unscrew the mount like with a GoPro, I can just press in the arms on the side of the mount, pull, and the camera is off. Then I can quickly check my footage and get the camera mounted again just as easily and be on my way without fumbling around with any screw mounts. 

With multiple magnetic attachments, this also makes it easier to swap the camera from mount to mount. For vloggers, this means you can quickly change from a chest mount to a selfie stick to a tripod for quick transitions. 

Compared to a GoPro, the DJI Action 2 feels easier to use thanks to its small design with an internal battery and internal storage. But, if you need more memory or a longer run time, the battery module can add a micro SD slot and extend the battery life up to three hours. 

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