Review: DJI Action 2 – Part 1

When I first read about the new DJI Action 2, I was, as marketing people are fond of saying, “excited”.

Finally, something new and fresh without attempting to be a clone, copy or knock off of someone else’s idea.

Then I received a review sample, complete with dual screen add on, power pack, water-proof housing, mini tripod and remote-control extension rod among other accessories.

And I was still excited. The modular make up of the Action 2 with its magnetic clamping systems for each of the components is brilliant. And the incorporation of the “finger” mounting system as a nod to the massive add on market for rival GoPro’s accessory availability is both an acknowledgement that this is a system that just works, and also makes commercial sense.

But then I read the review of the DJI Action 2 by one of my peers in Red Shark, and whilst Simon Wyndham describes the Action 2 as “high quality”, he also calls it “flawed”.

And my jaw dropped. Flawed? Really? How could this be?

Now I have the highest respect for Simon’s reviews, but I don’t agree with his thoughts on the “flaws” of the Action 2.  Firstly he considers the waterproofing aspect is an issue, as whilst the camera is waterproof and uses an internal non-swappable battery, the other accessories are not. That is, the modular camera part can be taken down to around 11 metres without a housing, but if you want to add the extra screen or external battery, you need the optional waterproof housing to accomplish this.

Next, Simon considers the lack of an SD card slot on the main camera itself (again the extra screen and / or battery is needed for this) also a problem as this means you only have around 22GB as internal memory in the camera itself for recording.

Personally, for the convenience offered, I don’t consider these two as major issues. Simon does a lot of his reviews based around his own usage which involves lots of kayaking and stomping though the Welsh mountains in the fog, and in these scenarios his critiques are more than fair.

I admit that.

But I do think in a wider picture of things, they are minor niggles. If for example you wanted to do serious SCUBA / snorkelling and purchased an Action 2 to accomplish this, you most likely would get the waterproof housing and therefore can easily accommodate the second screen and SD card.

To me it’s a bit like saying you buy a vehicle to carry bricks, but your can only carry 10 at a time as there is no back tray as you bought a Hyundai i30 (the camera body only) as against a Holden Colorado (body, extra screen and waterproof cased).

In other words, use the right tool for the job.

On the flip side, we both agree on the lens; here the Action 2 is equal to the GoPro AND the Max Lens Mod combined, and as a bonus, is shooting in 4K not just 2.7K.

And the stabilisation is sublime. I took the Action 2 (with the 2nd screen option) to the Mandurah Wall Climbing Centre and handheld, shooting Jacqui, Moira and Vanni while they played mountain goat gave fabulous results.

Switching from mode to mode and changing settings once you mastered what functions were up, down, left and right was a snap and easily accomplished on the fly even if you have slightly fat fingers.

Options available are to browse recorded media (swipe from the left), change exposure settings (swipe right), resolution and frame rate options (swipe from the bottom) and full menu (swipe from the top) For swapping modes, you start the swipe at the centre of the screen and swipe to the left or right to change between photo, video, timelapse, quick clip, and slow motion.

The Action 2 supports voice commands too (you need to turn the option on in Settings) and a quick test shows the camera responded to “Record,” “Stop Recording,” “Take a Photo”, and “Shut Down.” I did notice though whilst watching a tutorial, with the Voice command option turned on, when the presenter spoke about how to record, the camera dutifully started recording! So maybe leave that option off in crowds say…

Oh and of course you can also control the DJI Action 2 via the DJI MIMO app once you have updated it.

One thing I would note and hopefully DJI will take this on board the same way GoPro did. Please make the lens protection glass user replaceable. GoPro removed that option on the Hero9, and the masses let them know in no uncertain terms what they thought of that idea and subsequently, GoPro brought it back for the Hero9.

I am also cautious about overheating. The camera did seem to get warmer than I would have expected and have asked DJI about this. But in my initial tests, it did not fail.

Conclusion

These are mainly my first impressions of the DJI Action 2 based on around an hour of use, admittedly in a very specific situation. Over the next weeks, I intend to push this camera and its accessories a lot harder to give a wider view.

Considering there will no doubt be lots of boating, fishing and in-car use along with remote control access etc, perhaps my initial feelings may change dramatically.

Stick around to see.

The DJI Action 2 (centre) alongside a GoPro Hero 10 and Sony RX0 Mk II

In the shorter term though, if you are in the market for an “action” camera, certainly the Action 2 is worth a look along with the GoPro Hero10, probably the DJI Pocket 2 and even the Sony RX0. I’d also add in there the Insta360, except I have never seen one and despite repeated requests don’t get any response (not unlike my attempts to get ATOMOS gear for review as it turns out).

Sample video from DJI Action 2
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