Released in spring 2021, Insta360’s Go 2 is the second generation of their popular take-anywhere Go camera line. And it comes to market 18 months later to refine a fan favorite.
Rather than aiming at the 360º market, this lineup tackles wide-angle first-person videography. And with this release, Insta360 doubles down on its efforts to diversify. So, instead, the Go is an ultra-compact action camera squarely aimed at mobile-first creators. And it ‘s both thumb-sized and among the smallest in its class.
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As such, it’s a camera designed for mounting and attaching to anything, be it a person or an object. Doing so ensures you get into the heart of the action, capture a spontaneous moment, and have the ultimate first-person video. And with the rise of first-person vlogs and Tik Tok videos, it comes to capitalize on the trend.
On paper, it brings substantial improvements over the original Go. Namely, it’s now waterproof, has more storage, a better camera, and comes with redesigned accessories. And it obtains all of the key benefits as the original but irons out some kinks. Even so, are the changes enough? And how does it stack up to other higher-end rivals in its class, like the GoPro Hero 9, DJI Osmo Action, and Akaso Keychain 4K? Let’s Find out.
“Small but mighty.”
What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the Insta360 Go 2?
Build Quality, Design & Handling
At first glance, it maintains the overarching design and footprint of its predecessor. But Insta360’s made several notable design changes over the original model. Let’s cover these sequentially below.
Firstly, the device now boasts a waterproof design with an IPX8 rating. This lets it survive submersion at depths of 4m (13 ft). So now it’s robust enough to use during rain or during light snorkeling.
Second, they’ve re-designed the folding case that accompanies the device. This case offers a small OLED screen, a 1/4-20″ tripod thread, and two buttons, which you’ll use to cycle through modes, change settings, view battery life, or start recording. Plus, the case connects wirelessly to the camera, letting you control it remotely, even at a distance. But, it also acts as an external battery with a 1,100 mAh battery, charging the device five times over on a single charge.
So with it, you can get 150 minutes of video recording. Additionally, it has two folding legs that act as a mini tripod. Otherwise, the case is how you’ll eventually export stored clips. And it plays quite an active role in the camera from a remote, tripod, protective case, and even external battery. So it’s a powerful accessory and a smart inclusion on Insta360’s part that fixes several of its predecessor shortcomings.
Next, the camera now also has a removable lens cover, which screws off for quick replacements if it gets scratched. And it’s a nice change to maintain good working conditions, even with modest abuse.
And lastly, it now includes 32 GB of built-in flash storage, rather than only 8 GBs. So you can capture plenty of footage on the device itself without having to tether to the accompanying app permanently.
Despite these changes, though, the camera remains ultra-small and lightweight at only 26.5g, less than a single ounce. Comparatively, though, it is slightly bigger than its predecessor. Still, this is about the weight traditional AA battery and the size of a typical USB drive to put that into perspective. And it currently stands as the smallest and lightest action camera in the class. As such, it’s an excellent suite for everyday creators who favor smaller gear rather than more bulky advanced rigs.
Otherwise, the camera features a single physical button, like the original, now seated just beneath the lens. And this button has several functions, which you can also customize through the app. But, by default, a single press starts recording, and a double press captures a photo. And the camera offers vibration feedback to indicate an action.
Overall, this product looks and feels premium. And it’s an excellent design that stands apart in this class. Insta360 may not have made many physical changes. But, the induced case here is genuinely innovative and drastically improves the usability of this system.
Insta360 also includes a magnetic pendant clip with a necklace to attach the device to a shirt or jacket, along with a hat brim clip, and a pivot stand with an adhesive back. And all of these accessories connect magnetically for a simple and seamless connection.
And together, they let you create various POV content that otherwise requires larger mounted cameras. They also make the device more unobtrusive when doing active sports. So overall, these included accessories become a key selling point over rivals, all of which offer only paid add-ons.
Companion App & Connectivity
You’ll control this camera with Insta360’s companion app, available for Android and iOS. And this app unlocks the camera’s full range of shooting options and effects. This is also how you’ll offload and download the captured content to edit it before sharing.
You’ll connect to the app using the camera’s Wi-Fi hotspot. Or, you can use the Charge Case and directly connect using either Lightning or Micro-USB connectors. Once connected, you’ll have access to Insta360’s extensive collection of editing tools, from trimming and reframing clips to changing aspect ratios, speed, adding filters, music, and more.
You can also see a real-time live preview from the camera, then change its resolution, field of view, and other camera settings. Field of view, in particular, is a nice addition. You can change the field of view between three options: Narrow, Linear, and Ultra-Wide. Ultra-wide is the default and captures the entire sensor.
Linear crops in slightly, removing geometric distortion. But, it reduces the sharpness around the corners as such. While Narrow crops in further, removing the wide-angle lens effect. But overall, these are helpful options. And they give users more flexibility in tailoring the camera’s angle of view
Overall, the app is well designed, reliable, and effective. And it provides excellent functionality that polishes up the original model. Newcomers to the system should find it easy to navigate and quickly master.
Below are some extra features offered in-app.
- It has a Horizon Lock option, which maintains proper horizon leveling regardless of how you’re holding the camera.
- It has Flashcut 2.0, which uses AI to automatically trim and stitch clips into final edits with music and transitions. And you can choose from themed templates or have it do so freely.
- It has Timeshift, which creates slow-motion or quick-motion hyper-lapse videos. And it also has standard timelapse.
- It has Reframing, letting you adjust the frame of the video after the fact. And you can change the aspect ratio from 16:9, 1:1, or 9:16. And this is great for sharing a single video across, say, Tik Tok and Youtube simultaneously.
Insta360’s improved the camera configuration with this iteration. Now, the camera records 2K Quad HD 50 FPS and 1080p 50 FPS video. And it records to the MP4 format using H.264 compression at 80 Mbps. Additionally, they’ve refined the slow-motion recording option, which now records at 120 FPS in 1080p resolution.
Comparatively, its predecessor only offered 1080p 30 or 100 FPS output at 40 Mbps. Otherwise, it still shoots 9MP photos. Thankfully, you can now capture RAW (DNG) images for lossless post-processing, improving their versatility though.
Otherwise, the camera itself features a 120º field of view using a 11.2mm equivalent lens with a fast aperture of F/2.2. But it grabs the new Pro and HDR Video modes. Pro Video lets you alter the field of view, level the horizon, and modify the FlowState stabilization during exporting. So it gives you more freedom to customize the footage rather than having it bake in.
And it’s a good option for adding more aggressive stabilization, perfect for filming moving action. While, the standard Video mode doesn’t offer these. Instead, it focuses on keeping things simple and streamlines the process. HDR video, on the other hand, combines multiple exposures to create more detailed-looking videos. And it’s a good option to increase detail for static shots.
Overall, this camera’s video quality is excellent for the target demographic and matches the GoPro Hero9. The footage is sharp, with pleasing and saturated colors that deliver more unique images than a phone alone. And they look true to life, especially in the Vivid Mode. Also, expect the camera to do an admirable job across tricky lighting conditions. And it vastly outperforms similarly priced 4K action cameras in this regard.
Plus, the 6-axis FlowState stabilization makes its comeback. And it does an outstanding job stabilizing the footage. While for photos, this camera is capable. Sure, the images are not ultra-high resolution. But, combined with the Pure Shot in-camera HDR mode, images have reasonable dynamic range and better processing latitude. And they pop with contrast and excellent saturation without being overly unrealistic. So, they’re undoubtedly usable in most situations.
It features a built-in microphone for capturing ambient audio.
The refined Charge Case features a large 1,100 mAh capacity battery that charges the camera five times over. And now it ups the battery life from 60 minutes to 150 minutes of recording time, a 150% improvement. The device itself has a 210 mAh battery that can record up to 30 minutes of standard video or 20 minutes with the Pro Mode.
While these figures are about half that of its rivals, this makes sense given the size of this product. And battery life, overall, remains excellent for this style of camera.
It has AquaVision, which adjusts the recorded footage for more realistic and vivid underwater colors.
As of now, there’s no way to disable the camera’s LED from blinking while recording. And this makes it apparent to bystanders, the cameras rolling.
Given the camera size, it’ll be hard to avoid getting your fingers into the frame at some point when recording with one hand.
It lacks removable storage and an expansion slot. You only have 28 GBs of usable space. So once you run out, you’ll have to offload the content.
Strangely, the accompanying case doesn’t have waterproofing. It seems like a mild overlook here, considering the importance of this accessory to the entire system. And it limits the camera’s usability for watersports, as it’s challenging to know when highlight moments are near.
The single microphone only provides a limited sense of the surroundings and positioning of subjects within the scene. It also suffers from mild pre-amp hiss, and the wind noise is only partially effective. So consider using your phone’s microphone instead.
Newcomers will find learning the multi-tap gestures on the camera confusing and challenging. There are quite a few gestures, and they vary depending on the power status of the device. If you fall into this category, consider customizing the controls to your taste.
The tripod legs on the Charge Case are somewhat flimsy and not the most reliable in the wind. In these cases, you’ll want to attach a large tripod to secure the device.
The app lacks a grid display view to select the appropriate clip to before editing. Instead, you have to scrub through each file, slowing the workflow manually. It only offers a grid view of thumbnails before downloading clips.
The companion app requires a relatively new phone; otherwise, expect frustrating delays. In this case, Apple A11 (iPhone 8 or above), Snapdragon 845, Kirin 980, or Exynos 9810 (Samsung Galaxy S9, Note9, or Huawei Mate 20).
You only get FlowState stabilization by exporting the footage to the Insta360 app or desktop software. It doesn’t happen in-camera. As such, for users wanting utmost stabilization, they’ll have no choice but to tackle this part of the workflow. And that could slow down the process for full-day use.
While FlowState on this camera is excellent, it doesn’t match equivalent GoPro cameras with HyperSmooth. And fast-movement, like running or biking, will still result in jerky footage.
While the photos it captures are sharp on mobile devices, it’s a different story on the desktop. There, you will immediately notice the noise and grain, and the lower megapixel count will show. And you’ll also see it produces fewer details than similar action cameras with better sensors. Thankfully, in most situations, they remain usable.
Low Light Capabilities
While the photos it captures are sharp on mobile devices, it’s a different story on the desktop. You will immediately notice the noise and grain, and the lower megapixel count will show. Thankfully, in most situations, they remain usable.
The footage produced has a slightly oversharpened look, making it look somewhat unrealistic in some scenes. And it is also a bit more tricky to match with other cameras for this reason. But, crucially, it suffers from artifacts and tremendous softening in lower-lit scenes. And while the HDR modes fix some of these issues, they also introduce artifacts themselves when recording in motion.
So in low light, you’ll want to use a stable surface or a tripod to maintain quality.
You cannot swap batteries on the camera or Charge Case.
The camera lacks a built-in display, and the included case doesn’t provide a live view. It’s only a monochrome display. As such, you can’t preview what it’s capturing in real-time. The only way to do so is by connecting your smartphone and using the Insta360 app.
Otherwise, you’ll be shooting blind with the hope of correctly framing the footage. Additionally, there’s a mild learning curve identifying the LED light indications and vibration feedback, which wouldn’t occur if it had a screen. So be prepared to get used to operating the camera alone.
It lacks standard aspect ratios for still images, including 3:2 and 4:3. Instead, you only get film panorama, 16:9 and 1:1.
It lacks 4K resolution, which means you have less room for cropping when outputting to 1080p.
Is this a good beginner camera?
The camera itself is intuitive and easy to use, despite the minor learning curve with its central button. But otherwise, it’s an excellent action camera with plenty of advanced features fit to upgrade your creations.
Is this a good camera for you?
It marks a solid alternative to equivalent GoPro, DJI, and Akaso products. Insta360’s made some notable improvements over its predecessor here. And those improvements have refined an already excellent, if niche product. But, at its current price, it does compete with several flagship action cameras. So, if size, discretion, and portability aren’t essential to you, then you may want to look elsewhere. But, if they are, then this is undoubtedly a camera to consider.
Mobile-first vloggers and content creators should consider this camera. The image quality is sufficient, and the simple control layout and versatile form factor make it a solid option. There’s yet to be a camera this small with a 120º field of view and this level of stabilization. So, it’s currently unmatched in this particular regard. And it’s perfect for immersive shots or creating an ultra-lightweight vlogging rig.
In the end, the Insta360 Go 2 is the perfect step between a smartphone and a high-end action camera. And it’s a fine example of how a second-generation product should refine its original. Insta360’s improved the device in virtually every area, minus the battery life and limited storage. But as a package, it’s catchy, discreet, and versatile.
You can easily mount this camera anywhere, which is not the case with its rivals. Sure, it’s not a full-blown camera replacement. And yes, on paper, it doesn’t compete much with rivals. But, factor in the accessories, clever design, and incredible stabilization. You have quite the package. And it’s an ideal camera to shove into tight spots where others can’t access. And it’ll do so with a unique first-person point of view to boot.
Last Updated on May 13, 2023 by Photography PX Published May 3, 2021
Insta360’s Go 2 is a fine example of why people opt for action cameras over traditional compact or mirrorless cameras. It delivers a unique point of view while remaining smaller than rivals and more flexible too. And it’s an exciting add-on for content creators looking to add an interesting first-person point of view.