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DJI Action 2 review: An innovative approach with a high price

DJI’s action cam efforts are evolving. The original DJI Osmo Action was considered an excellent action cam, and it seriously challenged GoPro, which was, at the time, the status quo in action cams. Now, however, DJI is back — and it wants to flip the concept of the action cam on its head. The DJI Action 2 adopts a modular design that lets you mix and match accessories, and use the camera pretty much however you want.

but is that a good thing? The modular design may make the camera more versatile, but does it also introduce other limits? Find out in our full DJI Action 2 review.

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DJI Action 2 design

As mentioned, the DJI Action 2 takes the concept of the action cam and flips it on its head. Gone is the traditional design on offer by the Osmo Action, in favor of a completely modular design that lets you mix and match extra displays, batteries, gimbals, and so on.

DJI Action 2 Display Bundle
DJI Action 2 Display Bundle Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The main Action 2 camera module measures 39mm across and 22mm deep, and it’s a square. It’s very small and easily pocketable, though of course most of the time you’ll use it with accessories that bulk it up a little. On the front is the camera lens, along with an LED light that indicates status. On the top, there’s a button to turn the device on and off, and to start and stop recording. And on the bottom is the six-pin magnetic connector, which is how you’ll attach the device to other modules. Modules kind of latch on to the sides, and the magnets seem relatively strong, so I never felt like modules would detach without me wanting them to.

On the back of the module is the display, which measures 1.76 inches. It’s relatively small, but it’s an AMOLED display with a resolution of 350 pixels per inch, so it looks great.

When you buy the Action 2, you can buy one of two bundles. The cheaper bundle comes with a battery module, which attaches to the bottom of the Action 2 and gives it some extra juice. The more expensive option is the “Dual-Screen Combo,” which allows you to add a second display on the front, while also adding some extra battery. It’s great for vloggers who want to be able to see themselves as they film.

Generally, the modules are well-built and strong. They look premium, and they feel like they’re built from premium materials.

DJI Action 2 specs and battery

The main Action 2 camera comes with a 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor, with a 155-degree field-of-view, and an f/2.8 aperture. It doesn’t offer any optical zoom, but you can get up to 4x digital zoom. The sensor is 12-megapixels. The 155-degree field-of-view allows the camera to be able to capture a little more than many other action cameras out there.

The video specs are solid too. If you capture video at a 16:9 aspect ratio, you have a ton of options for resolutions and framerates. 1,080p video can be captured at anywhere between 24 and 240 frames per second, while 2.7K and 4K video tops out at 120fps. You can film in 4:3 at 2.7K or 4K, between 24 and 60fps. That’s not bad, though the GoPro Hero10 Black can film 5.3K video at up to 60fps, and 2.7K video at 240fps.

DJI Action 2 Magnets
DJI Action 2 Magnets Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

While you’ll get relatively versatile video options, the same can’t be said for audio. There’s no way to use an external audio source with the Action 2 except for DJI’s own DJI Mic, and while that might be a somewhat niche use-case for action cam users, the Hero 10 Black has it as an option.

The camera by itself comes with a relatively small battery. You probably won’t get that far into shooting video with it by itself. That’s to be expected though — by itself, it’s tiny. Add the battery or secondary display module, and you’ll get some serious extra juice.

DJI Action 2 modules and accessories

The Action 2 can be paired with a series of modules and accessories. We already briefly mentioned the secondary display and the battery module, which both add a USB-C port and MicroSD card slot. That slot can be used to add storage to the 32GB that’s built into the camera.

Unfortunately, you can’t use both modules at the same time. Now, that’s not surprising — most people will probably buy one or the other. But if you did want to add tons of extra battery, you can’t just infinitely stack battery modules. You’re limited to one.

DJI Action 2 Accessories
DJI Action 2 Accessories Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

You can, however, use the other accessories that work with the device. There are tons to go through. There’s a waterproof case that lets you take the camera swimming, along with extension rods, magnetic lanyard adapters, magnetic ball-joint, adapters, and so on. Many of these accessories come included in the box with the camera. However, accessories like the waterproof case and Remote Control Extension Rod cost extra.

All the accessories seemed well-built and relatively easy to use. One of the best things about the system is how easy they are to attach, mostly magnetically.

DJI Action 2 software

Using the DJI Action 2 interface is relatively easy, and everything is pretty much where you would expect it to be. You can tap the battery on the top right to get more detailed battery levels, tap the play button on the left to view what you’ve recorded, tap the resolution on the bottom left to change resolution and aspect ratio, and tap the zoom button on the bottom right to digitally zoom in. On the right, there’s a Settings button, which lets you control color options, field-of-view, and so on. More niche options, like looped recording, can be found relatively easy, too.

DJI Action 2 Software
DJI Action 2 Software Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

When you plug the camera into the computer, you’ll be able to select whether to use it to transfer files, or as a webcam. On a Mac, I couldn’t get the webcam feature to work, however that seems to be a limitation with macOS. Hopefully, DJI will release software to help make it work. On Windows, it worked fine.

You can also use the camera with the DJI Mimo app, and it works quite well. The app can quickly and easily connect to the camera, and allow you to tweak all the different settings and features that you would be able to from the camera itself. I didn’t end up using the app much, since it doesn’t add a whole lot of functionality to just using the camera by itself, in day-to-day use anyway. But if you want to be able to see what’s happening on a larger screen, you may get some use out of it.

DJI Action 2 video quality and recording

If you’ve used an action cam before, you know not to expect DSLR-quality video, and that remains true with the DJI Action 2. But as long as you temper you’re expectations, you might be pleasantly surprised with what’s on offer by the Action 2.

Generally, the camera was able to capture relatively detailed video with solid colors. Colors are a little more muted than some might like, but it’s a little more realistic than what you’ll get from some of the competition, which can make things look a little punchier than they actually are. This is actually better for those who want to edit their video, but maybe not as exciting out of the box. There’s a good amount of contrast, too.

The camera struggles a little in very low light, but with a light source of some kind, it does alright. The camera voids cranking exposure to get a brighter image, resulting, again, in more realistic footage. I would have liked a slightly more discerning image in low light.

The stabilization tech on offer by the Action 2 is excellent. You’ll get two stabilization modes — RockSteady, and HorizonSteady. The camera is able to easily keep footage looking smooth, even during shaky filming and random pans.

Audio quality on the DJI Action 2 is only fine. The camera is able to pick up voices decently well, but it does have some trouble with wind noise.

It’s important to note that the small size of the camera does impact heat dissipation. As a result, at higher framerates and resolutions, the camera does struggle with heat a little. The camera could only record 4K video at 120fps for 4:21, and while it will last longer at shorter lengths and lower resolutions, in general, the camera isn’t suited for longer recording. That’s true of most action cams, but larger ones can usually last a little longer at a time.

Conclusions

BGR Gold Award 2021The DJI Action 2 is an innovative action camera that’s more portable and versatile than most. There’s a price to pay for that innovation — the camera is a little pricey, especially if you get the secondary display, and it struggles with heat. And, ultimately, most people who just want a solid action camera should stick with the GoPro Hero10 Black. But if you like the modular approach, and are willing to pay for it, you’ll love the DJI Action 2.

I really hope DJI continues to innovate on this approach. It’s a neat idea, and in its first generation, it works great, despite the slightly high price.

The competition

The biggest competition comes from the GoPro Hero10 Black, which is a more traditional action cam. It comes with an integrated front display and can record at a higher resolution, for $399. To get the front display on the Action 2, you’ll need to pay for the Dual-Screen Combo, which costs $520. Ultimately, those that want something decent on a budget should probably stick with the GoPro.

Should I buy the DJI Action 2?

Yes, but only if the GoPro Hero10 Black isn’t for you, and you like the modular approach.

DJI Action 2 Action Camera Price: Buy Now Available from a partner
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Christian de Looper has been passionate about consumer technology since childhood, but didn’t know writing about it could be a career until he started looking for online work during college. He was born in Canberra, Australia, and has lived in France, Minnesota, and now sunny Santa Cruz, California, where he test drives cars and puts every gadget he can get his hands on to the test.




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