In the “action camera” stakes, GoPro has all but got the battle won. Forays into the skirmish by the likes of Sony – and its FDR-X300 is a damn fine little camera – and to a lesser degree, Nikon, plus a whole bunch of “knock off” models from various manufacturers, has done little to dent GoPro’s straggle hold on that market.
Not even the mighty DJI with its “Action Camera” model, which unlike the Sony looks like a GoPro, has made little headway.
But DJI has an ace up its sleeve in a sideways direction with the Pocket Camera.
The latest version, the Pocket 2, is an advancement on the original Pocket (go figure) and whilst it has not grown too much in size, it has a bigger sensor, wider lens, a better autofocus system and even more built in mics.
But it’s major party trick is of course the three axis stabiliser using technology no doubt learnt from the DJI engineers who are the ones who nailed together the brilliant Ronin series of gimbals for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras as well as the OSMOs and just lately, the OM4 for smartphones.
And of course DJI drones all feature three axis gimbals on board, so it is safe to say the DJI boffins know a thing or two about the technology.
OK, lets get down to the nuts and bolts of the DJI Pocket 2.
The sensor is a 1/1.7” CMOS type and allied with the 20mm F1.8 lens lets you shoot in both 64Mp and 16Mp still image modes as well as panorama shots in 3 x 3 and 180°.
Video is available in 4K / 60p, 2.7K/60p, 1080/60p and HDR 2.7K/30p. Of course lower frame rates such as 24, 25, 30 and 50p can be dialled in too.
Audio is captured by no less than 4 on board mics complete with directional audio and sound tracking.
Storage is to microSD up to 256GB and the onboard battery is said to be good for 140 minutes when shooting at 1080/24p.
Getting back to that marvellous little gimbal system the controllable range is pan (-230° to +70°), tilt (-100° to +50°) and roll +/-45° with the mechanical range available in wider pan (-250° to +90°), tilt (-180° to +70°) and roll +/-90°. The maximum controllable speed is 120° / second with shutter speeds from 8 to 1/8000 of a second.
There is a whole bunch of modes available to the user to maximise the user of the DJIO Pocket 2 such as Timelapse, Motionlapse and Hyperlapse with slo-mo at 1080p /120fps for 4x and 1080p/240fps for 8x.
Timelapse as the name suggests is for timelapsed shooting cramming hours into seconds, motionlapse is DJI’s motion smoothing system and hyperlapse takes a series of photos which are then combined into a timelapse video with motion. The difference between timelapse and hyperlapse is that you can control the speeds during the course of the hyperlapse video whilst timelapse is constant.
ActiveTrack and Facetrack systems are also incorporated letting you easily keep subjects in shot. This can be activated either on the Pocket 2 itself, or via the accompanying DJI Mimo app on your smartphone.
With the Pocket 2 you can shoot RAW DNG files (but not RAW+JPG at the same time) up to 64Mp with file sizes around the 120+MB mark. When shooting panoramas, as mentioned, the Pocket 2 supports 3 x 3 shooting, stitching this matrix inside the DJI Mimo app into a 5 x 7 image. In 180° mode in contrast, the Pocket 2 shoots and stitches 4 discreet images.
Other niceties include a Story mode using video and music templates to manufacture movies in just a few taps and an AI editor that automatically combines clips with transitions and music.
Accessories available include a “do it all” handle which incorporates built in wi-fi, Bluetooth, an audio jack, wireless mic receiver, external speaker and tripod mount. We didn’t receive one of these in the review unit, but in our original Pocket 1, we did have the wi-fi receiver so can very much recommend this as it makes communication with the DJI Mimo app so much easier than the physical connection to the phone otherwise needed.
Other accessories include a mini control stick, external wireless mic with windscreen, a waterproof case (which is very much on our wish list), a wide angle lens, ND filters and charging case among others. A full list is available at https://www.dji.com/au/pocket-2
Despite its wide array of functionality, the DJI Pocket 2 is amazingly easy to use and master.
As well as the obvious shoot-on-the-go usage, the Pocket 2 makes an admirable vlogging tool, especially if you add the “do it all” handle thus getting live streaming capability.
If you are into panorama shooting, the gimbal takes away the risk of shakiness when doing the same with a smartphone while moving in a straight line, and of course the photo mode cannot be ignored.
In its own way, the DJI Pocket 2 has almost (maybe) accidentally become the Swiss Army Knife of cameras, being adept at some many functions and adaptable to so many environments – although again I stress to get the best out of it, you really do need the “do it all handle” as otherwise, with a smartphone hanging off the side, it does become a little unwieldy.
Given a fully kitted DJI Pocket 2 and a Mini 2 drone I can pretty much shoot anything at any time. Throw in the waterproof case and anything under the water, on the land and in the sky is within reach.
Cop that GoPro!
The basic DJI Pocket 2 is AUD$599 and available from the DJI Shop online. We have also seen them in Camera House shops locally and I am guessing all the usual haunts will stock them in varying degrees (but we strongly urge talking to proper camera people when buying stuff like this as the knowledge available is invaluable compared to the chain stores selling all manner of tech).