DJI Action 2 uses magnets to rethink action camera design


You can wear the DJI Action 2 on an included magnetic lanyard.

Josh Goldman / CNET

DJI released their first action cam, Osmo action, in May 2019, and while it hasn’t been a game-changer like the company’s drones have been, it made waves with its impressive image stabilization and front selfie display. For Action 2, DJI cut their action camera out of a cube and, using magnets, created an ecosystem of accessories to make it much more versatile right out of the box.

The small square camera can be used on its own, but you can also add a front-facing OLED touchscreen module to give you the same selfie experience as the original. It also has three microphones that combine with that of the camera module to capture audio in all directions to create a more immersive sound. There is also a drum module that you can attach instead to extend your recording time up to 180 minutes.

The Action 2 dual-screen combo costs $ 519 and includes the camera and touchscreen module. Prices for Australia and UK weren’t immediately available, but its US list price converts to around AU $ 690 and £ 375. The Action 2 Power Combo with the drum module is $ 399. I was able to spend some time with one; here are my first impressions.

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Like the DJI Pocket 2, the Action 2 is a good vlogging tool.

Josh Goldman / CNET

A familiar but original design

For anyone who likes action cameras or portable cameras in general, the cubic shape of the Action 2 won’t look too original. GoPro session (one of my all-time favorite designs despite its flaws), the Polaroid Cube and others were there first. (The Cube even used magnets to mount the camera.) That said, DJI certainly made the design their own.

First off, DJI sort of crammed a 1 / 1.7 inch sensor into a small box with its image processor, battery, 32GB of storage, and a 1.76 inch OLED touchscreen at the top. ‘back. The screen is Gorilla Glass, the case is metal, and it is waterproof to a depth of 10 meters (33 feet). It has a powerful magnetic base, so you can easily place it on a range hood above your stove to shoot your next cooking video.

But what really sets it apart is the pogo-pin contact set on the base that allows you to quickly connect to an additional OLED touchscreen module to give you a front display or battery module to boost. your recording times. (The camera alone can record up to 70 minutes.) The One R camera from Insta360 uses a similar – and I would say more useful – modular design that allows you to combine different camera modules with a small touchscreen module. If you are looking for a pure action-cam experience, the design of the Action 2 will satisfy you.

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The camera battery is charged via the USB-C ports of the modules. There are also microSD card slots.

Josh Goldman / CNET

Shooting options are standard price

Compared to the GoPro Hero 10 Black or Insta360 One R, the Action 2’s shooting options seem limited. For most people, however, the choice of resolutions and frame rate will be enough. It can capture videos up to 4K at 120fps, 2.7K at 120fps and 1080p at 240fps. You can shoot time-lapse and hyperlapse clips (aka time-lapse motion) and stream live up to 1080p at 30fps. DJI also added a QuickClip option to capture 10, 15 or 30 second clips. The camera can also be used as a webcam.

By the way, this camera gets hot when you use it or even when you charge it. This is in part because the body seems to act like a radiator. However, it is likely that it could overheat like other action cameras, and DJI has included an “auto shutdown recording temperature” setting that can be set to standard or high. When you set it to high, the camera will warn you that it will increase the temperature limit and recording time. I wouldn’t use it to continuously record 4K clips at 120 fps with the camera stopped and no airflow.

Image stabilization or horizon leveling

The Action 2 has the company’s latest version of its RockSteady electronic image stabilizer, which works great. This gives your video a smooth appearance similar to what you would get from The DJI Pocket 2 camera and its three-axis motorized gimbal. The EIS has some motion artifacts you won’t get with a gimbal but, in my limited testing, the results were really good.

DJI has also added HorizonSteady to help you keep your image level even when the camera is not. However, if you use it, you don’t get all of RockSteady’s image stabilization powers. You still have some stabilization but big shocks to the camera like landing after a jump cause artifacts you don’t get with RockSteady. Additionally, HorizonSteady is not available in 4K or with frame rates above 60 fps.

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DJI has gone above and beyond with the selection of accessories.

Josh Goldman / CNET

Accessories make the difference

While I love that GoPro has built-in editing fingers into its cameras, DJI outshines that with its magnetic clips. Just bring the camera up to one of the new mounts and they snap into place. There are also two small magnetic clips that fit into the camera or modules to give it extra security.

DJI has created a magnetic mount that works with GoPro accessories, but has also created its own line. These include a waterproof case up to 60 meters, a floating handle, a remote control extension / tripod, and a ball head adapter mount that can be used on a tripod or its adhesive base. There is also a macro lens that magnetically attaches to the lens on the front. Oddly, though, DJI doesn’t offer a protective lens cover, so if you scratch the built-in one, it’s here for good. A wireless microphone will also be available at a later date.

The magnets at the base of the camera are also very strong. That’s why you can mount it on the included lanyard and ignore the chest support that you would have to use with other action cameras (but not the Insta360 GB 2). The magnetic modular design of the Action 2 helps it stand out from the competition more than the original, although it also looks like a combination of features from the competition. We still have more testing to do before we can say for sure it’s worth the $ 400 to $ 500.


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