This DJI Action 2 review takes a closer look at the latest action camera to compete with the ubiquitous GoPro Hero line. By reimagining action camera design and creating a modular system, DJI's created a wonderfully compact, innovative, and fierce competitor to the GoPro Hero10 Black. As well as being modular, the Action 2 enjoys a very handsome blasted metal finish, which all makes it look and feel more futuristic and premium than its main competition. It also makes this device a gem for gadget lovers.
As the name suggests, this isn't DJI's first foray into the world of action cameras. The original DJI Action impressed with its brand of stabilization: RockSteady. For this second instalment, the line has got more than just a facelift. The DJI Action 2 introduces 180-degree horizon levelling, beating the Hero10 Black, which caps out at 45 degrees.
However, as impressive as the swanky new design and HorizonSteady mode are, there's no getting around the fact the DJI Action 2 isn't quite as versatile as a Hero10 Black when it comes to, well, action. Its materials are more prone to denting and damage, and there are some waterproofing limitations too. But could DJI's fine-looking gadget be a good option for someone after a more stylish, compact alternative to a chunkier, clunkier, traditional action camera? And how does it measure up as one of the best cameras for YouTube? Let's find out.
DJI Action 2 review: design and screen
There's no doubt about it, the DJI Action 2 looks more impressive than the GoPro Hero10 Black. With its novel design, premium styling, and magnetic, modular accessories, it's the kind of device that when you see one, you wonder how it works, want to try it out, and probably decide you might like one for yourself.
While there's some very clever hardware and software inside the DJI Action 2, its shell is extremely simple. The whole thing is merely a metal cuboid with a camera lens on the front, protected by a large circle of glass. There's a screen at the back, and a button at the top. Yep – just one button.
As for the screen, you get a rich touchscreen interface that allows you to control shooting modes, wireless settings, and more. There are also some metal connectors at the bottom of the camera, and this brings us to its marvellous modularity.
A mighty magnet at the base of the DJI Action 2 combines with a clamp system to secure an essential mod in place – either a detachable selfie screen or a battery. One of these clip-on cubes ships with the camera, depending on which package you go for, and while both add extra battery life, Micro SD card support and USB-C port functionality to the camera, only the selfie screen option (available as part of the Dual-Screen Combo), gives you a front display for framing when vlogging.
On the one hand, this modular approach to action cameras is smart. It ensures the core element – the camera, is as small as possible. The DJI Action 2 body slips into even a relatively slim-line pocket. And it offers 32GB storage for a healthy amount of filming.
There are drawbacks to DJI's design choices for the Action 2, though. The minimalist core unit doesn't have a USB port, so if you want to charge the camera, you'll need to do so with either the Dual-Screen or Power module attached. There's no SD card slot either, so you're limited to the storage capacity of the device itself unless you clip on a module. Additionally, when you connect the core unit to a module, it stops being waterproof, so if you want to record to an SD card underwater, you'll have to purchase separate housing. This is not the case with the GoPro Hero10 Black.
All this means that if you're thinking about picking up a DJI Action 2 – you should do your homework first. Yes, it's a design champion – it looks great and it's supremely portable. However, underwater-loving vloggers and anyone looking for an all-in-one waterproof solution would probably be better served with a GoPro.
Land lovers, however, are likely to love how modular the DJI Action 2 is. You can see it pictured above with a magnetic neck strap – the footage in this review of me walking through Paddington and Piccadilly Station was captured with the DJI Action 2 on this around my neck.
The Action 2's screen, it's a square 1.76-inch touch display, and while it's responsive and looks great – it's bright and punchy and easy to view outdoors – it isn't as fit for purpose as the main screen on the GoPro Hero10 Black. Being square (1:1 aspect ratio), the DJI Action 2's screen is better suited for squat photos than widescreen 16:9 videos. When out and about framing your shot, you might miss some small details a larger widescreen could have picked up.
I didn't have any issues with the touch interface. Icons are logically laid out, and I was able to navigate the UI comfortably after a swift learning curve. That said, you'll likely find the Action 2's small display to be more fiddly to navigate than GoPro's due to its smaller screen. The DJI Action 2's small screen size shouldn't be an issue if you've got time on your hands strolling along a beach at sunset. But when you're hurtling down a mountain at 50mph trying to switch modes, it could make all the difference. For that kind of situation, I'd rather have the Hero10 Black with its bigger screen and physical buttons.
DJI Action 2 review: shooting modes and software
The DJI Action 2's sensor is lower resolution than the Hero10 Black's, clocking in at 12MP. The camera captures photos at that resolution and video at up to 4K at 120 frames per second (fps). If you want to use the full sensor to record video, you can also capture 4:3 4K video at up to 60fps, and for serious slow-motion capture, you'll need to shoot in 1080p (Full HD), which frees framerates to climb as high as 240fps.
The camera also captures timelapse video at 4K, 2.7K and 1080p, with intervals between 0.5 and 40 seconds, and the camera can shoot photos and videos in Pro Mode, which gives you control over a handful of manual settings. Navigating the interface is a doddle. Swipe up to switch resolutions, swipe left or right to switch modes, and swipe down to access additional options.
The Action 2 supports voice controls for hands-free shooting, just like the GoPro Hero10 Black, so simple commands like "start recording", "stop recording", "take photo", and "shut down" are reliably recognised.
The DJI Action 2 also pairs with an Android or iOS/iPad OS device for remote control and a live preview. DJI's app connectivity was a bit hit and miss when the Action 2 launched, but it's now overtaken GoPro when it comes to reliability and connection strength in my experience. It's easy to get files off the Action 2 – you can use the app or plug the camera into your smart device (via the Power or Dual Screen modules' USB-C port). Once plugged in, the Action 2 turns into a storage device, so you can treat it like an SD card.
Going one step further, plugging the Action 2 into a computer fires up an option to turn the action camera into a webcam. This works great on PCs, but DJI appears to have an ongoing compatibility issue with Macs running macOS Monterey – it just didn't work on my MacBook Pro (2021) but it worked find on a Windows laptop – a Huawei MateBook (2019). For the latest on whether there's been a solution to this, check the thread on DJI's forums (opens in new tab).
DJI Action 2 review: image quality and performance
The DJI Action 2 can be a superior shooter than GoPro's Hero10 Black if you're looking for the widest angle of view in the most portable package. Its stabilisation is also excellent. That said, its image quality and the 'cropability' of its footage trail behind GoPro's high-resolution Hero.
That said, since it launched, DJI has improved the quality of the Action 2's footage, making it more punchy and dynamic in auto mode, while offering a flatter, cinema-style colour mode option for video editors. The camera's wide-angle makes footage look wonderfully dynamic, and it's also wonderfully steady. However, with the Action 2's lower resolution sensor and its wider angle of view than the Hero10 Black, the level of detail on specific objects is unsurprisingly weaker.
GoPro's footage generally edges ahead in darker scenes, though neither the Hero10 Black nor the DJI Action 2 does a great job of brightening things up at night or indoors. You can still get some pleasing ambience on DJI's camera if you're happy to shoot in Pro Mode with dialled-back ISO, though.
Image quality isn't really the issue though – given its size, the Action 2 delivers excellent results. The camera's microphone isn't great, so vloggers will want to pick up a DJI Mic or another compatible option/external recorder. But the biggest issue is the Action 2 overheating. As a result, I wasn't able to record a 4K clip longer than four minutes with maxed-out frame rates. The camera gets uncomfortably hot in the hand, with its metal chassis conducting heat too well. Drop the resolution right down and things get better, but this definitely isn't good for anyone who wants a 4K camera for recording long clips.
DJI Action 2 review: battery and accessories
To understand the DJI Action 2 is to understand its accessory range. As it's modular, the line becomes blurred between what's an accessory and what's part of the core camera system. Adding to the confusion is the fact you can pick up the Action 2 in two packages, the Power Combo ($399 / £349) or the Dual Screen Combo ($519 / £455).
If you want more battery packs, you can pick up a Power Module ($79 / £50), or a Front Touchscreen Module ($169 / £155). There are plenty of other accessories available. DJI makes a magnetic macro lens, a clip-on action camera mount, a standard tripod thread mount, a remote grip as well and many more tools to stow and boost your Action 2.
Third-party options are also extensive, ranging from a magnetic ND filter through to a protective casing and even a slimline charging solution (opens in new tab) for simple mounting and charging.
As for battery life, you can get around 20-30 minutes of capture from the device depending on the resolution you're shooting in – 2.7K or 4K. If you're prepared to drop the settings all the way down to 1080p and fire up Power Reserve mode, you can extend this significantly. With the Dual-Screen or Power Module attached, I found that this time is roughly tripled, which isn't bad going. However, there's no improvement on the device's overheating issue.
DJI Action 2 review: should you buy it?
The DJI Action 2 is an exceptionally novel piece of design and a true gadget. It's also a good action camera. While not perfect – the camera overheats and can't stack up to the Hero10 Black when it comes to clarity and durability, it could still be better for a specific type of user.
DJI has combined an all-capturing wide lens with a supremely portable core unit. It's also improved its app experience since launch and created a relatively simple-to-navigate interface. While I'd sooner have a GoPro Hero10 Black underwater or on the slopes, I'd take the Action 2 for day-to-day use, particularly thanks to its smart accessory options.
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