Tuesday July 20, 2021
By Jeff Meyer
Price when reviewed
The Insta360 GO 2 is the smallest action camera you can buy (as of summer 2021), the most user-friendly and has something to offer everyone. If you make POV videos, its diminutive size and range of sturdy magnetic mounts will really appeal. If you’re new to photography or want something small and easy to take on holiday, the GO 2 is ideal. Not only is it a pocket camera in the truest sense of the word that will slip unnoticed into the pocket of your jeans – it will even sit unnoticed in that really small pocket (called a Watch Pocket) in your Levi’s jeans!
Sure, we’re in the age of 4K and the GO 2 shoots 2K video, but this is a consumer camera designed for sharing content quickly, on the… GO. Video at 2K resolution is more than enough for sharing with your friends and family, and also helps keep file sizes down and sensor size small, allowing for a hugely portable device that is more worthy of the ‘pocket camera’ title than any compact camera or smartphone you may own.
Action cameras are known for being small, but the latest offering from Insta360 takes portability to a whole new level. In our Insta360 GO 2 review we knew we were getting an ultra-portable device, but do its image quality and shooting options make it viable? We put it to the test.
The Insta360 GO 2 is a new ultra-light, wearable action camera that comes with a multi-purpose case that also doubles as a charger. You can shoot and film with the camera housed in its charging case, prolonging its battery life by more than five times. The micro action camera also weighs just 27g, making it the ‘world’s smallest action camera.’
Designed for vloggers, TikTok creators and POV videos, the Insta360 GO 2 is a minimalist kit with a lot of handy shooting modes and excellent features, such as image stabilisation.
The Insta360 GO 2 price tag is $299.99 / £294.99 and it comes standard with the Charge Case, Magnet Pendant, Easy Clip, Pivot Stand and Lens Guard. You can also customize your GO 2 by designing a your own ‘skin’ at Insta360.com.
Inside the Insta360 GO 2 is a 1/2.3-inch sensor that can record 1440p video. This is an upgrade from the original GO, which topped out at FullHD. Still images are limited to 9MP resolution, but in the GO 2 these can now be recorded as raw DNG files.
Insta360 has also increased the camera’s internal storage, providing a generous 32GB compared to the 8GB in the original GO. There is no memory card slot to record to external memory.
Shooting modes include Video, Photo, Pro Video, HDR Video, TimeShift, Timelapse, Nightlapse and Slow Motion. In the Pro Video mode you can record 1440p video at 30 and 50fps, and in Slow Motion you can record FullHD at 120fps.
The action camera also boasts Insta360’s FlowState image stabilisation and horizon levelling technology. Meanwhile, FlashCut 2.0 uses AI to identify your best clips and edit them together.
The Insta360 GO 2 also boasts a rugged design despite its small size. The camera is waterproof down to 4m / 13 feet underwater. There’s also a lens guard to protect the GO 2’s glass from scratches. You can also unscrew the glass and replace it, or swap for an ND filter.
The Insta360 GO 2 is the smallest action camera I’ve ever used, and you won’t even notice it’s there when sliding it into a pocket during a walk or run. It’s diminutive size is a real advantage not just for your daily routines you want to capture but if you’re going away on holiday.
What’s more, the magnet mount design is unique and a real advantage over GoPro. I’m an avid runner and when I want to record my runs I have to mount my GoPro Hero9 Black on a head or chest mount. Neither of these is subtle or flattering. And the mount inevitably slips down my body with my strides, despite securing it tightly beforehand.
Insta360’s innovative magnet mount keeps the camera secure to the pendant, clip or whichever mount you are using. And its FlowState image stablisation seals the deal, ensuring your footage is smooth and professional.
There’s also a pleasing minimalism to the Insta360 GO 2. The thumb-sized camera has just a power/mode/record button and (detachable) lens, and the charge case adds tripod feet and mode and record buttons. The scratch-proof lens detaches so that you can swap in an ND filter, which is sold separately.
The camera body and accessories are made of plastic, but they are thick and solid. If I was at the top of a step ladder and dropped the GO 2 either on its own or in its charge case, I would feel confident that it would survive in most instances. And, in fact, I did drop the camera in its Charge Case a couple times throughout this Insta360 GO 2 review. It’s clear that a great deal of thought has gone not only into the camera’s size and lens, but also into the rigid design of the accessories and their mounts.
Insta360 provides a series of magnet-based mounts in the box with the GO 2. One of these is a pendant that hangs around your neck. You can even tuck it inside your clothes so it isn’t visible, allowing you to wear the GO 2 on your chest. The grip is quite strong, and I found the camera doesn’t shift with your movements.
Other mounts included are the Easy Clip, which is a thick clip with a camera bay that can attach to the rim of a hat, for instance, and the Pivot Stand. The Pivot Stand is a mini tripod with a ball head.
I tested all of the mounts for this Insta360 GO 2 review because it’s this ecosystem that really opens up how and when you can use the camera. The mount I was most nervous about – the Pendant – actually became my favourite. I assumed the pendand would swing with my body’s movements, and it does, but Insta360’s FlowState stabilisation and horizon levelling is so good that you don’t notice in the final video. I’ve embedded a video further down in this Insta360 GO 2 review which shows the difference between using FlowState and turning it off.
The Insta360 GO 2 also introduces a new Charge Case that doubles as a charger for your camera. The Charge Case will restore your GO 2 to full power within 30 minutes. At full charge the Insta360 GO 2 can operate within the case for up to 150 minutes, as opposed to 30 minutes outside the case. In other words, filming and shooting within the case will extend the battery life by nearly three quarters of the time you’ll get per charge without the case.
The Charge Case can also double as a tripod or handheld grip for shooting selfies. You can also utilise the case’s built-in Bluetooth connection as a remote control for the camera from up to 33 feet away. The case also has a 1/4-inch mount underneath, as well as built-in tripod feet.
In use, the charge case fits in the palm of your hand and slides into a pocket quite easily. I filmed several Timeshift videos by simply holding the Charge Case as I walked over the course of an hour. The extended battery life enabled me to record the whole thing.
Yes, the Insta360 GO 2 is IPX8 rated and waterproof down to depths of 13 feet / 4 metres. It’s important to note, however, that the Charge Case is not. So if you are filming with the Charge Case to preserve battery life, you will need to remove it before going into the water.
Having tested most of Insta360’s cameras since its inception in the mid-2010s, one trend I’ve seen in all of their consumer cameras is a real simplicity of use.
The GO 2 is quite easy to navigate, whether you’re using the app or the camera’s or Charge Case’s direct controls. The simple, one-page user guide that comes in the box tells you how many times to press the camera’s lone button to cycle through mode options and settings, and the Charge Case has dual Record and Mode buttons.
I did most of my filming via the Insta360 app. This is easy enough to set up, however, I did find that the WiFi connection with my phone dropped fairly often despite being just inches away from each other. I use a Huawei P20 Pro smartphone, which is a few years old now, so it’s most likely that my older handset was having connection issues.
Setting up is dead easy. The only mystery to me was the difference between the Video and Pro Video modes.
The difference between the standard Pro Video modes is that in Video mode everything is automated. Your footage is processed in-camera with a basic stabilisation applied. Your clips are ready to share on your platform of choice.
With Pro Video, you’ll need to process your clips in the app’s editing suite before they are shareable. Here you can change your field of view, apply FlowState stabilisation and horizon levelling to make it look more professional. It’s all about the level of control you want to have. If you do want that control, but you also want to share content quickly, Insta360’s FlashCut 2.0 feature uses AI to identify your best clips and suggest edits.
Timeshift mode is also quite fun. If you’re into running, cycling or any other sport, simply clip the camera to your shirt and start recording. The GO 2 applies FlowState stablisation and horizon levelling, producing a nice, sped-up documentary of your journey. I’m nursing a broken foot at the moment, which has made testing an action camera somewhat more of a challenge than normal! I haven’t been able to go on my usual runs for this Insta360 GO 2 review, but I made the video below while walking my usual route. As you can see the footage is stable and clear.
Some people might be upset that the GO 2 lacks 4K video recording, and you could argue that its price isn’t too far off the GoPro Hero9 Black, which offers that and more. But the GoPro is bigger.
The Insta360 GO 2 is the very definition of a pocket camera. It is so small, you don’t realise it is there. You can take it anywhere, even underwater, and its wide-angle lens captures a huge amount.
The quality of its 2K video isn’t the best you can buy, owing to the GO 2’s tiny sensor, but it is still very good. For my Insta360 GO 2 review I filmed in a wooded area with lots of high contrast, and the camera coped well going from shadows to bright sun. You can see a little bit of washed-out cyan and fringing in some of the clips, but overall the GO 2 produces pleasing colours and nice exposures, even in challenging conditions.
What’s more, Insta360’s FlowState 2.0 stabilisation really is exceptional. A camera this size, attached to your body would normally provide shaky, unwatchable footage. But when you apply FlowState in post the change is really remarkable.
Thanks to this camera’s ease of use and remarkable stabilisation technology, anyone of any skillset can produce professional-looking video content with the Insta360 GO 2. And this is what you are paying for. The GO 2 is definitely one of the best beginner action cameras on the market.
The Insta360 GO 2 might be the first action camera with something for everyone. Its diminutive size and range of mounts makes it perfect for POV videos and vloggers. Its simplicity and ease of use makes it ideal for, say, kids on holiday or people who are new to photography and want something they can pick up and hit the ground running with.
More experienced users like me will also appreciate this simplicity. I love my GoPro, but its mounts aren’t subtle and it does require some setting up. Planning my first holiday since before the pandemic, the GO 2 would be on my kit list to take for its size, simplicity and very good image quality. No, it’s not 4K, and it doesn’t livestream, but it’s the first take-anywhere camera I’ve used that actually can claim this title better than a smartphone. Just walk down the street with the GO 2 sitting subtly on your lapel and your smartphone in your pocket and see which you notice most.
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Insta360 GO 2 Review – Camera Jabber
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