For the longest time, GoPro’s Hero series of action cameras were the norm for anyone who wanted a decent camera that could be mounted practically anywhere. And when its job was done, it’d neatly fold up in a package that almost fit in your pocket. “Almost” being the keyword here. There are also the DJI Osmos of the world competing in the same segment. Still, GoPro Heros are the category-defining products of the action cam world.
But then again, you wouldn’t pull out a GoPro to shoot everyday events as you might do with your phone. Partly because GoPro’s marketing material prompts you to only use a GoPro when you are on an adrenaline high and because it’s not truly an everyday carry standard of portable.
You might argue that you’ll have a phone on you most of the time, so it doesn’t really matter. Modern smartphones are plenty capable of everyday point-and-shoot.
But what if there was a better alternative?
Something with the buttery smooth stabilisation, stupidly wide ultrawide, and portability that even the famed GoPro Heros can only dream of…
Enter the Insta360 Go 2.
In a form factor comparable to an Airpod, the Insta360 Go 2 packs an action camera, a tripod, and a charging case, while the camera unit itself is no bigger than your thumb. At its longest dimension, the Go 2 camera unit is two inches long.
Of course, the Insta360 Go 2 is not the golden bullet that their ultra-cool website and influencer marketing materials paint it to be, yet it’s surprisingly close. It makes a few understandable compromises here and there but essentially delivers on the promise of an everyday action cam.
Starting with the good aspects of the Insta360 Go 2 and with complete acknowledgment of sounding redundant, it is surprisingly portable. Yes, the size of the camera unit and the charging case is small; we’ve established that.
Even with the exception of size, the camera is also portable, thanks to the smart accessories that come in the box. Now when you hear the word smart, your mind probably goes to a pairable app situation by default (not that it doesn’t have one). In this case, the smart comes from the application of magnets.
Inside the box, the camera comes with three mounting options, excluding the makeshift tripod, remote trigger, and tripod mount in the case, and those include a magnetic pendant, a cap mount, and a pivot stand.
The magnetic pendant is just a metallic plate with a diameter tad bit bigger than the camera unit and can be tucked under your shirt incognito. Since there are magnets involved, the tiny camera unit sticks to the mount perfectly, giving you a fantastic first-person POV.
If you want a higher angle, you have the cap mount with a small clamp that goes in the back strap of any regular cap. Apart from that, the magnets work the same way. One advantage that the cap mount has over the pendant is its adjustability though. The cap mount can pivot a little over the vertical axis giving the user a little bit more flexibility.
Lastly, there is a pivot stand that you can stick to any smooth surface to fix the camera on to. This one is more in line with what we have come to expect of action cams.
Having these many options in any product is fantastic, but having these many things right out the box is simply mind-bending in 2021. (ahem! iPhone)
The camera unit is also waterproof for up to four meters or 13 feet, so underwater shots are welcome. It is most certainly not designed to withstand the abuse that a GoPro can handle though, as is apparent from the get-go.
The video quality is excellent at a maximum resolution of 2560X1440 at 50 frames per second. The f/2.2 wide-aperture lens churns out impressively bright and crisp video. The stabilisation is outstanding, and there are a few shooting modes to choose from.
The camera unit will shoot for 30 minutes per charge, and the included case can charge the camera up to five times. That is impressive endurance for something so small.
All that being said, there is one more surprise that this little gadget packs, and it’s called horizon lock. In short, once you turn this feature on, no matter the orientation of you and your cam, it will keep the footage right side up.
Going from good to the bad, the most apparent downside to this micro-setup is the storage capacity. Even though it does not shoot 4K footage, the 28 gigs of onboard storage is not a lot of space for 1440p videos.
The only solution is regularly connecting it to your phone or PC to move the videos over.
Another major drawback to this amazing hardware is its software. Don’t get me wrong, the camera’s image processing abilities are more than capable. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the mobile app. As with most other action cams, the companion app does not do the marvelous camera engineering justice.
This is especially regretful on the Insta360 Go 2 because it does not have a screen of its own and requires a smartphone screen for you to set the shot properly, for the first few times at least.
One thing good that does come out of the app though is the auto edit feature. Once you capture a series of clips, the app will generate a video that you can instantly share over social media.
You will still have the original files if you want to put in the post-editing grunt work by yourself, which if you are buying a $300 action camera, you probably are doing.
Although it is not readily available with the local vendors, you can still order it off of Amazon via online vendors. Just keep in mind that it’ll cost you $300 plus taxes when it gets here. But in our opinion, it is definitely a worthwhile buy.