The GoPro Hero 10 Black is the best action camera you can buy right now, but could that be about to change with the new DJI Action 2?
DJI's follow-up to the original DJI Osmo Action, which itself was a great rival to GoPro, not only took the easy route and only made a slightly improved version. Instead, DJI has shifted to the left, taking more inspiration from its rival GoPro Insta360 than its own cameras or even GoPro.
But are these new changes positive or negative? We're here to explain how the new DJI Action 2 compares to the GoPro Hero 10 Black, so you know which action camera to take on your adventures.
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Price: The DJI Action 2 looks cheaper, but is it?
If you just go to one store and buy the GoPro Hero 10 Black, it will cost you $499 / €479 / AU$749, that's more than if you bought the new DJI Action 2 which costs $399 / €349 / AU$609.
This DJI Action 2 bundle gives you the main camera and the Power Brick add-on. Even if you choose the front display module, you'll pay less unless you live in Australia It's $519 / €455 / AU$799.
However, this is not the end of the story as GoPro offers you another way to buy their premium action camera. With a GoPro subscription, the GoPro Hero 10 Black costs €399 / £379 / AU$599. The GoPro subscription gives you cloud storage, discounts, and replacement of up to two broken cameras per year (charged at €99). for each replaced Hero 10 Black).
The initial purchase includes a one-year subscription and you can cancel afterward, so it's a bit of a no-brainer. All of this means that the two cameras are pretty much the same in terms of price, which isn't a clear winner for the budget-conscious buyer.
Design: modular versus traditional
You can't miss the main difference between DJI Action 2 and GoPro Hero 10: their designs.
The GoPro is a fairly traditional form of action camera, the kind the company has been selling for years, with the most recent addition of a secondary front-facing display.. It's a comfortable kind of camera for those of us who've used stuff for years.
The DJI Action 2 is a modular camera. It has the main unit and you can connect a rear battery or front display module if you need. These connect using magnets and a clip, rather than just physical connectors.
However, DJI hasn't gone as far down the modular path as Insta360 with its One R series cameras. You can use the Action 2 head unit on its own because it has a battery.
Some of you may also think of the GoPro Hero 10 Black as a modular camera. In fact, for recent models, you can get the Display Mod with an additional screen, the Media Mod with a microphone, and a Light Mod with an LED array. However, these are accessories for optional features, whereas the DJI system relies on mods for some pretty basic stuff.
Size and weight: a tale of two halves
The modular approach of the DJI Action 2 means that the main camera body is much smaller than that of the GoPro Hero 10 Black. It measures just 39x39x22,3mm and weighs 56g.
The GoPro, on the other hand, measures 71,8 x 50,8 x 33,6mm and weighs 158g. It is nearly three times as heavy, 50% thicker, and about 85% longer.
This seems to be intended to give DJI Action 2 new appeal to the crowd of content creators. It can be magnetically mounted on a pendant around your neck so you can wear it under a shirt, and the camera appears to stick to its surface.
The Action 2 is not a spy camera, and you shouldn't be filming people without them noticing anyway, but it does give you a stylish way to store your camera when not in use.
However, add the battery or power modules to the Action 2 and we get closer to the weight of the GoPro Hero 10 Black, although the DJI is still lighter. The kit weighs 112g with the power module, 120g with the front window. It's up to 38g lighter than the GoPro.
As well as complicating the controls, there is a price to pay for this flexibility. The camera alone offers 10m of water resistance, which is great, but you lose it if you plug in a module. You will need to get the waterproof case for a good seal in this case as which offers a resistance of 60M for an Action 2 with one of its additional modules.
Battery life: GoPro lasts longer
The battery life of the DJI action camera is also predictable. DJI says that the Action 2 will last up to 70 minutes when shot in Full HD resolution (30 frames per second) only with the camera brick.
The GoPro Hero 10 Black lasts up to 112 minutes on the same stage. This drops to 76 minutes when shooting at 4K resolution (60fps). And if DJI experiences a similar drop, it will likely last 45-47 minutes when using 4K mode.
Is 45 minutes enough for occasional shots? Most of the time it will be, of course. However, you should also be aware of the Action 2's tendency to overheat, which means it can only record short clips. For example, without any module connected, our Action 2 stopped recording at 4K 60fps after 5m 45s (at 79% battery).
You also lose the easy-to-replace battery system that GoPro uses. This is the cost of reducing everything to the level achieved by DJI.
However, battery life is much better with the Action 2 Power Mod. Endurance jumps to 180 minutes at 1080p, which is about 60% more than the GoPro Hero 10 Black. You can also treat them like a GoPro battery, although at €75 a part they are much more expensive than the €20 GoPro alternative.
You also get slightly worse numbers if you use the Action 2 front display module instead of the Power Mod, at 160 minutes (1080p) instead of 180. This module also has its own battery.
Ease of use: GoPro has more screen area
Buy a DJI Action 2 and you will face the same issue we discovered with the Insta360 One R. The screen is quite small and it's not the ideal aspect ratio if you're posting 16:9 video.
It is a 1,76-inch screen with 446 x 424 pixels. It will look great, but the shape is almost square. The front touch screen module also has an identical screen. Both appear to be of great quality, apart from size and shape issues.
These are OLED screens with Gorilla Glass protection and have a brightness of 500 nits. It's similar to the level of a lower mid-range phone and will at least appear reasonably clear on the outside.
Composing a scene on the GoPro Hero 2,27 Black's 10-inch widescreen will be more comfortable. Here you exchange one form of convenience for another.
Sensor: Larger sensor, lower resolution
DJI made an interesting choice in the Action 2 sensor. It's a 1/1,7-inch sensor., which is approximately a 35% larger than GoPro's 1/2,3-inch sensor, used to take photos and videos with a resolution up to 12MP.
However, the GoPro has a 23,6 MP chip with a much higher resolution, allowing you to shoot at 5K resolution. The DJI Action 2 does not have enough pixels to shoot at 5K.
Of course, the larger sensor pixels give the DJI a better chance of producing usable night images. To date, no GoPro has managed to shine in low light.
You could say that 12MP is the optimal sensor resolution for 4K video capture.. Sony seems to agree, having used this resolution on the Sony A7S III.
However, we have to consider the reality of shooting with an action camera. Most of the time, use a very cropped view. When you use digital zoom in Action 2, you end up sampling the sensor information to achieve 4K resolution.
However, despite having a lower resolution sensor, the DJI Action 2 actually has a slightly higher maximum bitrate than the GoPro. It offers up to 130 Mbps, where 100 Mbps is the maximum setting of the GoPro Hero 10 Black.
Shooting modes: GoPro offers better maximized modes
As already mentioned, the maximum capture resolution of the GoPro Hero 10 Black is better than that of the DJI Action 2. It can shoot up to 5.3k resolution.
The DJI Action 2 can use 4K resolution, either 16:9 or 4:3. The latter is 4096×3072. This may be the native resolution of the sensor, but hopefully it isn't or you can't use electronic stabilization in this mode.
GoPro also has the advantage of capturing slow motion footage. You can shoot in 4K resolution at 120fps or 2.7K at 240fps. While the DJI Action 2 can also handle 4K at 120fps, if you want to shoot at 240fps, you need to use a lower resolution of 1080p.
This is probably the effect of GoPro's more powerful or more optimized GP2 processor. Last year's GoPro Hero 9 Black could only handle 240fps at 1080p, just like the Action 2, because it has the older GP1 processor.
Image stabilization: GoPro leads the way
We don't think you'll be disappointed with the stabilization of either camera, especially if you're new to high-end action cameras. The GoPro Hero 10 Black uses a system called Hypersmooth 4.0. DJI Action 2 has Rocksteady 2.0.
And surprisingly, both offer horizon leveling. This allows your images to look "straight" even if the camera is tilted considerably, up to 45 degrees in the case of the GoPro Hero 10 Black.
Naturally, this only works with digitally trimmed modes, as it uses the same techniques as normal electronic stabilization. Image data that is outside of the initial preview frame but is “seen” by the sensor is used to smooth the ending sequence.
However, DJI's HorizonSteady shoots much sooner than GoPro's Horizon Leveling. You can only use Horizon Steady at resolutions lower than 4K. If you shoot at 100fps or higher, you don't get any stabilization. You do get 180-degree tilt correction on the Action 2, though, compared to the more limited 45-degrees on the GoPro.
The GoPro version works in the best modes of the Hero 10 Black, including 5K and 2.7K at 240fps. Once again, it's the power of the GoPro GP2 that shows what it can do. It's pretty impressive.