The DJI Osmo Action was the company’s first attempt to take on GoPro in the field of action cameras and is now reinterpreting GoPro’s long-forgotten, but not forgotten, Hero Session camera. The DJI Action 2 is about half the size of a GoPro Hero 10 Black and still offers almost the same amount of features, but what really sets it apart is its magnetic locking system, which opens up much more innovative ways of attaching it to objects. On paper, the DJI Action 2 seems like a worthy opponent of the Hero 10 Black, but is that really it? Time to find out.
DJI Action 2 design
The DJI Action 2 consists of two units – the camera itself and a charging unit. The basic variant, also known as the Power Combo, comprises the two units together with accessories such as a lanyard holder, a double pen holder (for attaching to GoPro accessories) and a USB Type-C cable. The supplied brackets are magnetically attached to the Action 2. The second variant, called the dual-screen combo (which DJI sent me for this test) contains an additional display on the charger and an additional ball-and-socket sticky mount in the box.
The DJI Action 2 camera unit is tiny and cube-shaped and weighs only 56 g. It has an aluminum alloy case which gives it a premium look and feel. It is dust and waterproof up to 10 m and can be expanded up to 60 m with an optional housing. On the sides you will find the single microphone, the on / off / trigger and contact pins for magnetic attachment to the charger. The front is dominated by the camera lens along with a single status LED in one corner.
On the back of the DJI Action 2 is a 1.76-inch OLED touchscreen that is responsive and easily visible outdoors. The charger is roughly the size of the camera module and has three additional microphones, a USB Type-C connection, a microSD card slot, a power / trigger, a status LED and, in the dual-screen version, an additional 1 , 76 inch OLED screen. This module is neither dust nor waterproof, which means you have to be careful how and where you use it. The USB port and microSD slot are exposed without any protection, which I don’t like that much.
When attached, the charging unit’s screen faces the opposite direction of the camera’s display 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 the modules is very strong and holds both units tightly together. Clamps on both sides of the charging unit to keep the camera in position provide additional security. Similar clamps can be found in the accessories supplied. You can attach the camera unit to the brackets alone or, if necessary, together with the charging unit.
In terms of design, the DJI Action 2 is very innovative because it accommodates a lot of technology in a very small space. The magnetic fastening system reminds me a lot of the Go 2 action camera from Insta360. The quality of workmanship of the Action 2 and the accessories supplied is first class.
DJI Action 2 features
The DJI Action 2 has a 1 / 1.7-inch CMOS sensor with fixed focus and 12 megapixels. The ultra-wide-angle lens has a field of view of 155 degrees and an aperture of f / 2.8. One of the highlight features of this action camera is the 4K video recording at 120 frames per second, even if only for five minutes per clip at ideal temperatures. Other combinations include 2.7K at up to 120fps and 1080p at up to 240fps. In contrast to GoPro cameras, the DJI Action 2 has 32 GB of fixed memory, which you can expand with a microSD card in the charger if necessary.
You can control the camera remotely using the DJI Mimo smartphone app. It’s functional and allows you to do things like update the camera’s firmware, check the frame remotely, switch shooting modes, and swap out footage from built-in memory. It even has a simple editor for trimming clips and adding text and other effects to your videos before splitting them. It’s not as sophisticated as the GoPro’s Quick app, but it does the job.
DJI Action 2 (dual-screen) performance
The DJI Action 2 is an absolute joy, especially because of its size and the ease with which it can be attached to objects. Thanks to the magnetic base of the camera and charger, you can attach them to any metal surface, which can sometimes be handy if you don’t have the right mount with you. The included brackets make it very easy to attach and detach the camera quickly if necessary.
Using the Action 2 without a charging module has its advantages, as it takes up less space and does not heat up as much. But even if you use the camera yourself for activities like swimming, keep the charger nearby to charge the battery. Apart from that, the charger is also very useful for loading content from the camera onto a microSD card in case you don’t have your phone or laptop with you.
The user interface of the DJI Action 2 is snappy and the touch response of both displays is very good. The video’s aspect ratio changes automatically depending on how you hold or mount the camera. You can swipe left or right on the viewfinder to switch between capture modes. All the basic ones are there, like time lapse, slow motion, photo and video. In the quick clip mode you can record 10s, 15s or 30s video clips.
While it supports basic features like digital zoom and can easily change the field of view, frame rates, and stabilization settings, there are some features that I am missing. For example, in Photo mode you cannot take continuous shots and there is no night mode. For videos, the HorizonSteady function can only be used at 1080p or 2.7K at 30fps, but not at higher resolutions.
The DJI Action 2 takes good photos and videos during the day. Still images have decent levels of detail, and the Field of View Standard (Rectification) option corrects most of the barrel-shaped distortions inherent in the ultra-wide angle lens. Videos are well stabilized and packaged with good details and colors. Low light performance is a bit weak – there is visible noise and detail, and the colors are not the best. In comparison, the GoPro Hero 10 manages to deliver slightly better results.
While testing the DJI Action 2, I noticed a few things. If you need good sound for your recordings, consider using the camera with the charger to take advantage of the extra microphones. My device kept showing a “slow memory card” warning on my Lexar 32GB UHS-II Speed Class 3 card, which I found strange because I had previously used it in GoPros to read 5K footage with no problems to record. DJI has a list of recommended cards on their website, so it’s probably best to stick with them to avoid compatibility issues.
Perhaps my biggest concern with the DJI Action 2 camera was heat. If you are recording at 2.7K or higher and at a frame rate greater than 60 frames per second, you need to make sure that the ambient temperature is cool enough or the camera will overheat and stop recording. The menu system even gives a recommended temperature of 25 degrees if you select a frame rate of more than 60 fps. Unfortunately, I wasn’t that lucky as I was based in Mumbai, India, which meant that even in the relatively mild winter, Action 2 overheated very easily and randomly stopped 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 can find many such complaints on the Internet.
In theory, 4K clips should be limited to four minutes at 120 fps, but the camera would overheat and stop recording after about two minutes. You can still take still photos but not video until your body has cooled 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 less than five minutes, while the GoPro recorded for almost 30 minutes before finally overheating and stopping. If you are using the Action 2 in a static position you will need to make sure your surroundings are cold enough or you will need to record at a lower resolution.
I’ve noticed that even a 4K endurance run at 30 frames per second can be challenging for Action 2 when it’s in a static position. However, while riding my bike, I was able to take photos for much longer with the same settings, with air flowing non-stop over the camera body, which helped dissipate heat – that is, until I had to stop at a traffic light. The charger tends to exacerbate this problem as it charges the camera while recording, making the temperature rise even faster. Holding the Action 2 can become very uncomfortable even after a few minutes of recording with the base attached.
Considering its size, the battery life of the DJI Action 2 is not bad. The camera’s internal memory will allow you to record around 25 minutes of 4K 60fps footage and you will likely run out of space before the battery runs out. You can get more sustained runtime by recording directly to a large and fast enough microSD card (up to 256 GB supported). Longer recordings will be split into multiple files of different sizes, although it is unclear why DJI does this. The charger charges the camera’s battery pretty quickly and is good for a full charge and more.
The DJI Action 2 is available in India at a price starting from Rs. 31,490 for the power combo and at Rs. 39,990 for the dual-screen combo. It’s a little cheaper than a GoPro Hero 10 Black, but still a little expensive for what it offers. The Action 2’s greatest strengths are its size and versatility. The magnetic mounts make it very easy to assemble and disassemble this camera with little effort. Other pluses are responsive displays, integrated memory and good video quality as well as stabilization during the day.
Some areas that the Action 2 can do better are the low-light stills and videos, which are not the best. The biggest concern, however, is the overheating problem, which unfortunately makes this action camera quite unreliable. Recording at lower resolutions and frame rates helps mitigate this, but then it defeats the purpose of paying such a premium and leaves many buyers dissatisfied.
If the climate and weather conditions where you want to use it are favorable, the DJI Action 2 can serve you well. For everyone else, the GoPro Hero 10 Black is simply the more reliable choice.