DJI Action 2 Review: The Competition is Getting Hotter


The DJI Osmo Action was the company’s debut attempt at taking on GoPro in the action camera space, and now it is reimagining GoPro’s long gone but not forgotten Hero Session camera. The DJI Action 2 is about half the size of a GoPro Hero 10 Black and still manages to offer nearly the same amount of features, but what truly sets it apart is its magnetic locking system which opens up a lot more innovative avenues for mounting onto objects. On paper, the DJI Action 2 seems like a worthy opponent to the Hero 10 Black, but is it really? Time to find out.

DJI Action 2 design

The DJI Action 2 is comprised of two units — the camera itself and a charging unit. The base variant, also known as the Power Combo, includes the two units along with accessories such as a lanyard mount, dual-prong mount (to attach to GoPro accessories), and a USB Type-C cable. The bundled mounts attach magnetically to the Action 2. The second variant, called the Dual-Screen Combo (which is what DJI sent me for this review) includes an additional display on the charging unit and an extra ball-joint sticky mount in the box.

The DJI Action 2 is tiny and built extremely well

 

The DJI Action 2 camera unit is a tiny and cube-shaped, weighing just 56g. It has an aluminium alloy housing, which gives it a premium look and feel. It’s dust proof and water proof up to 10m, and that can be extended up to 60m with an optional casing. Along the sides, you’ll find the single microphone, power/shutter button, and contact pins for magnetically attaching to the charging unit. The front is dominated by the camera lens along with a single status LED in one corner.

The back of the DJI Action 2 has a 1.76-inch OLED touchscreen, which is responsive and is quite visible outdoors. The charging unit is roughly the same size as the camera module and has three additional microphones, a USB Type-C port, a microSD card slot, a power/shutter button, a status LED, and in the Dual-Screen variant, an additional 1.76-inch OLED screen. This module isn’t dust- or waterproof, which means you’ll need to be careful about how and where you use it. The USB port and microSD slot are left exposed without any sort of protection, which I’m not a big fan of.

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You get a high-quality set of accessories with the DJI Action 2

 

The screen on the charging unit faces the opposite direction of the camera’s display when attached, so you can use it as a viewfinder when vlogging. You can choose to use only one of the screens at a time to save battery power. The magnetic force between modules is very strong, and firmly holds both the units together. For added security, clamps on either side of the charging unit help lock the camera in position. Similar clamps can be found on the bundled accessories. You can attach the camera unit to the mounts on its own or along with the charging unit, if needed.

In terms of design, the DJI Action 2 is very innovative as it packs a lot of tech into a very tiny footprint. The magnetic mounting system reminds me a lot of Insta360’s Go 2 action camera. The build quality of the Action 2 and the bundled accessories is top-notch.

DJI Action 2 features

The DJI Action 2 features a 1/1.7-inch fixed-focus 12-megapixel CMOS sensor. The ultra-wide-angle lens has a 155-degree field of view and a f/2.8 aperture. One of the highlight features of this action camera is 4K video recording at 120fps, albeit for only five minutes per clip under ideal temperatures. Other combinations include 2.7K at up to 120fps and 1080p at up to 240fps. Unlike GoPro cameras, the DJI Action 2 has 32GB of fixed storage and you can expand this if needed using a microSD card in the charging unit.

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The Dual-Screen charging unit helps power the camera as well as expand storage

 

You can control the camera remotely using the DJI Mimo smartphone app. It’s functional and lets you do things such as update the camera’s firmware, remotely check the frame, switch shooting modes, and offload footage from the built-in storage. It even has a basic editor for trimming clips and adding text and other effects to your videos before you share them. It’s not as polished as GoPro’s Quick app, but it gets the job done.

DJI Action 2 (Dual-Screen) performance

The DJI Action 2 is an absolute joy to use mainly because of its size and how easy it is to mount onto things. The magnetic base of the camera and charging unit allow you to stick them to any metal surface, which can be handy at times when you don’t have the right mount with you. The supplied mounts make it very easy to quickly attach and detach the camera when needed.

Using the Action 2 without the charging module has its advantages, since it has a smaller footprint and it doesn’t heat up as much. However, even when you’re using the camera itself for activities such as swimming, you’ll want to have the charging unit nearby to top up the battery. Other than that, the charging unit is also very useful for offloading content from the camera to a microSD card, in case you don’t have your phone or a laptop with you.

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The DJI Mimo app is not great but gets the job done

 

The user interface of the DJI Action 2 is snappy and the touch response of both displays is very good. The aspect ratio of the video automatically switches based on how you hold or mount the camera. You can swipe left or right on the viewfinder to switch between shooting modes. All the basic ones are present, such as timelapse, slow-motion, photo, and video. Quick Clip mode lets you shoot 10s, 15s or 30s video clips.

While basic functionality such as digital zoom is supported, and it’s easy to change the field of view, frame rates, and stabilisation settings, there are a couple of features that I found missing. For instance, the Photo mode doesn’t let you take burst shots and there isn’t any kind of Night mode. For video, the HorizonSteady feature can only be used at 1080p or 2.7K at 30fps, but not at higher resolutions.

The DJI Action 2 captures good photos and videos during the day. Still shots have a decent amount of detail and the Standard (Dewarp) field of view option corrects most of the ultra-wide lens’s inherent barrel distortion. Videos are stabilised well and pack in good detail and colours. Low-light performance is a bit weak – there’s visible noise and detail and colours aren’t the best. In comparison, the GoPro Hero 10 manages to deliver slightly better results.

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Shooting at higher framerates requires cooler ambient temperatures, else the Action 2 will overheat

There are a couple of things that I noticed while testing the DJI Action 2. If you need good audio from your recordings, then you should use the camera with the charging unit to take advantage of its additional microphones. My unit also kept showing a ‘slow memory card’ warning with my Lexar 32GB UHS-II Speed class 3 card, which I found odd since I’ve previously used the same one in GoPros to record 5K footage with no problem. DJI has published a list of recommended cards on its website, so it’s probably best to stick to those to avoid compatibility issues.

Perhaps my biggest concern with the DJI Action 2 camera was heat. If you’re shooting at 2.7K or above and at a frame rate higher than 60fps, you’ll need to ensure that the ambient temperature is cool enough, or the camera will overheat and stop recording. The menu system even mentions a 25 degree recommended temperature when you select a framerate higher than 60fps. I didn’t have such luck unfortunately, being based in Mumbai, India, which meant that even in the relatively mild winter, the Action 2 would overheat very easily and randomly stop recording. I had this problem even after changing the high-temperature auto-shut off threshold setting from Standard to High. It’s not just me either; you’ll find many such complaints on the Internet.

DJI Action 2 camera sample (tap to see full size)

DJI Action 2 camera sample (tap to see full size)

 

In theory, 4K 120fps clips should be limited to four minutes, but the camera would overheat after around two minutes and stop recording. You can keep shooting stills but not video, till the body cools down a bit. When tested next to a GoPro Hero 10 Black indoors under a fan, with both recording at 4K 60fps, the DJI Action 2 stopped recording in under five minutes, whereas the GoPro went on to record for nearly 30 minutes before it finally overheated and stopped. If you’re going to be using the Action 2 in a static position, you need to ensure that your surroundings are cold enough, or you’ll have to record at a lower resolution.

I noticed that even a 4K 30fps continuous run can be challenging for the Action 2 when it was in a static position. However, I was able to shoot for much longer at the same settings while riding a bike, with air flowing non-stop over the camera body, which helped dissipate some heat – that is, until I had to stop at a traffic signal. The charging unit tends to amplify this issue, as it charges the camera while recording is in progress, which makes the temperature rise even quicker. The Action 2 can even get very uncomfortable to even hold after a few minutes of shooting with the base attached.

Considering its size, the battery life of the DJI Action 2 is not too bad. The internal storage of the camera will let you record about 25 minutes of 4K 60fps footage, and you’ll probably run out of storage space before the battery dies. You can get more continuous runtime if you record straight to a large and fast enough microSD card (up to 256GB is supported). Longer recordings are split into multiple files of varying sizes, although it’s unclear why DJI does this. The charging unit is fairly quick at topping up the camera’s battery and is good for a full top-up, and then some.

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The DJI Action 2 is a hot little action camera, in every sense of the word

 

Verdict

The DJI Action 2 is available in India priced starting at Rs. 31,490 for the Power Combo and at Rs. 39,990 for the Dual-Screen Combo. It’s a bit more affordable than a GoPro Hero 10 Black, but is still a bit pricey for what it offers. The biggest strengths of the Action 2 are its size and versatility. The magnetic attachments make it very easy to mount and dismount this camera without a fuss. Other positives include responsive displays, in-built storage, and good video quality as well as stabilisation during the day.

A couple of areas in which the Action 2 can do better are the low-light stills and video, which aren’t the best. However, the biggest concern is the overheating issue, which sadly, makes this quite an unreliable action camera. Shooting at lower resolutions and framerates helps mitigate this, but then that defeats the purpose of paying such a premium, and will leave many buyers unsatisfied.

If climate and weather conditions are favourable where you plan to use it, the DJI Action 2 might serve you well. For everyone else, the GoPro Hero 10 Black is simply the more reliable choice.


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