If you’re familiar with the action camera market, you’ve probably heard of Insta360, a popular maker of action and 360 degree cameras. Although the company is not as well known in India as GoPro, the company hopes to change that now that it has an official presence in the country. Today we’re testing the Insta360 Go 2, the company’s smallest second-generation action camera.
The format reminds me a lot of the now discontinued GoPro Hero Session series of small action cameras. However, the Go 2 has some unique capabilities that make it very special. It claims to be the smallest action camera in the world, and it doesn’t come cheap. At Rs. 34,999 in India, it costs more than a GoPro Hero8 Black and almost as much as a Hero9 Black. Is it a worthy alternative? Let’s find out.
Insta360 Go 2 design
The Insta360 Go 2 has a small, pill-shaped case the size of an AA battery. It’s only available in white, which I don’t think is a good choice given the intended use. It weighs only 26.5 grams and the plastic housing makes a robust impression. There is a single LED indicator just below the lens and there are contact pins on the back for charging when you put it in the case. The front panel, just below the LED, acts as a button to start and stop recording. I’m not a huge fan of how this works, but we’ll get to that later. The lens cap is easy to replace if your existing one gets scratched or torn during use.
The charging case for the Insta360 Go 2 is just as important as the camera itself. For starters, this is the only way to charge the camera. The case is similar to an AirPods Pro charging case and has a USB Type-C port, a standard tripod mount and two folding feet that allow you to stand it vertically for recording. Inside there is a recess for the camera in the upper half, while a backlit monochrome display with two recessed buttons is installed in the lower half.
On the display you can switch between the different recording modes and the battery level of the housing and the camera. The case even has bluetooth so you can control the camera remotely. The build quality of the case is very good including the hinge, but again I wish the color was anything but white.
You get a lot of useful accessories in the box. The magnetic trailer accessory is intended to be carried as a trailer and the camera can be attached directly to it. There’s a clip mount that attaches to a bandana or hat, and a rotating stand that attaches to metal surfaces with magnets. Insta360 also sells a bracket adapter package that includes a bracket for GoPro accessories.
Insta360 Go 2 functions and app
The Insta360 Go 2 offers modest video recording capabilities. The 1 / 2.3-inch sensor can record up to 1440p (2560 × 1440) at 50fps, which isn’t bad, but I would have liked the ability to record 4K video, especially considering the GoPro Hero5 -Session supported this in 2016. supported video modes are also simple. You get Standard, ProVideo, HDR, Timelapse, TimeShift and Slow Motion. The same applies to the photo modes Standard, Interval, Starlapse and Night Shot. Oddly enough, photos can be saved as INSP or DNG, but not as JPEG. You need to export captured photos using the camera’s mobile or desktop apps to share them.
The Insta360 Go 2 supports Bluetooth 5 and Wi-Fi. Unlike a GoPro camera, you get 32GB of built-in storage, which is nice but not a lot, and there’s no microSD card slot so there’s no room for expansion. The Go 2 is also IPX8 waterproof and can be used up to 4 meters underwater. However, only the camera is waterproof and not the housing.
The Insta360 Go 2 has a feature called FlowState Stabilization (similar to GoPro’s HyperSmooth) that is available in ProVideo and Time Shift modes. You also have multiple field of view options like Ultrawide, ActionView, Linear, and Narrow. These options can even be manipulated via the app after the video is recorded, which is not possible with a GoPro.
The Insta360 app for iOS and Android allows you to remotely control the camera, update the firmware, and transfer videos and photos from it to your phone. In fact, you can edit videos and photos before exporting them.
Insta360 Go 2 performance and battery life
One of the main reasons for choosing the Insta360 Go 2 over a GoPro is the versatility and flexibility it offers during assembly. The camera itself has a magnetic back so you can stick it directly to any metal surface without worrying about fastenings. However, the magnets in the camera should be stronger because they can easily fall off a surface in the event of strong vibrations or intense activity (which is to be expected with an action camera). Nevertheless, the supplied accessories were more than sufficient for my application scenarios. With the charging case, the camera can be woken up remotely and the recording started, which I found super practical when I didn’t have my cell phone with me.
Video taken in daylight was quite good. I stayed with ProVideo mode most of the time as it has the best stabilization and features like horizon leveling. The video quality was comparable to a GoPro Hero8 Black, but for high-intensity activities like running, the Insta360’s FlowState stabilization couldn’t keep up with the GoPro’s HyperSmooth stabilization. Time-lapse videos can also be recorded in 1440p and the quality was very good. HDR video didn’t seem to offer a noticeable advantage over standard video, so I didn’t use this option too often. Slow motion videos looked fine too, but they’re limited to 1080p at 120 fps.
Still images can look great depending on how they are processed. The app offers two practical presets for post-processing, PureShot and Color Plus. The first is useful when you want to instantly lighten shadows to improve visibility, but it also tends to blend in some highlights. Color Plus creates more dramatic shots by increasing contrast and highlights. Videos and photos taken at night looked grainy and details were poor. I’ve found that using the Pure Shot filter on standard photos in low light gives a cleaner image than using Night Shot. When exporting video, there is an option to remove grain to help remove noise, but it will take longer to export.
The battery life of the Insta360 Go 2 leaves a lot to be desired. While statistics show an improvement over the first model, the Go 2 can still record up to 30 minutes of video at 1440p in standard mode before the battery runs out. In my experience, it usually takes less than 30 minutes as the recording will stop as soon as the battery level drops to 10 percent. You can’t even take a picture when the battery indicator is red, so you need to charge the camera. When recording 1440p videos in ProVideo mode, the clip length is limited to 10 minutes, and each clip discharges a good 30 percent of the battery. The case should be able to fill the camera twice unless you used it as a remote control.
As much as I love the size of the Insta360 Go 2 and its versatility, there are a few things I wish the company could have done differently to improve the experience. For starters, the camera should have had a normal record button rather than part of the entire image as one, as that would have avoided the myriad of accidental presses I had to deal with. Next up is the LED indicator which, for some bizarre reason, glows white when the camera, which is shot against a white body, is difficult to see during the day. It lights up red when the battery is almost empty. So why not use this widely accepted color for shooting?
In addition, the camera becomes very hot after a few minutes of recording. This is normal to some degree with most action cameras, but in my experience with the Go 2, this resulted in the camera crashing randomly and corrupting the file being recorded a few times. This makes it a little unreliable when the weather isn’t very favorable. I also found the recording modes for 2021 a bit too easy – even things like a burst mode for photos are missing.
The charging case, useful as it is, could use a few design tweaks. Ideally, it should also have some water and dust resistance, as the lack of these currently places limits on where you can use it, for example on the beach or in a pool. Due to the camera’s low battery life, you need the cover around you, so weather protection would have been nice. I wish the top half of the case could be rotated 180 degrees, which would have made it easier to take photos and keep an eye on the screen at the same time. It’s also a bit picky about charging – it wouldn’t charge if plugged directly into a Macbook Air (M1) or a USB Type-C with a Type-C to Type-C cable -High-watt C-PD is connected to charger. Insta360 recommends its use. at the a USB Type-A to Type-C cable, like the one provided, and a 10 W power adapter to charge the case.
The concept of the Insta360 Go 2 has a lot of potential, but the execution needs a lot more fine-tuning. There is certainly a place in the market for such miniature action cameras, and the possibilities for creativity with such a tool are almost limitless. However, in order for such cameras to be successful in the market, especially like in India, the price must be more attractive. € 34,999 is just too expensive for what the Insta360 Go 2 offers, and while you can find it online for a little less, it still costs more than a GoPro Hero8 Black.
Price aside, there is a huge list of changes that I hope to see in the next version of this camera. I would like some sort of display on the camera itself to show what mode I’m in, and a more functional shutter release and status indicator. Next I’d like to take removable storage over the built-in 32GB if that means a lower price. After all, I would like a longer recording time, a 4K option, better battery life and a weatherproof housing.
Overall, the Insta360 Go 2 is a nice little action camera that offers a lot of flexibility in assembly, decent video performance and useful accessories in the box. However, if your usage scenarios don’t take full advantage of the miniature size, it is better to buy a GoPro Hero8 Black for less, or even the Hero9 Black as they are richer and more reliable.