Insta360 is back with a new version of its miniature camera. The GO 2 looks like a big capsule and can be installed and used anywhere. And despite its size, it proudly announces a good image quality and image stabilization.
Insta360 is one of those Chinese brands that try to innovate on the sports camera market. In addition to the One R, a kind of modular GoPro, and the One X2, a 360° camera, the firm offers the GO and now the GO 2 tested here.
What differentiates the GO 2 from a traditional action-cam is its size. It looks like a very large pill with a magnetic system that allows it to hang everywhere discreetly. This desire to miniaturize action-cams is not new. We remember the GoPro Hero5 Session with its square format, or more recently the DJI Action 2; the latter also offers a magnetic support that did not really convince us. Let's hope that the GO 2 will be more successful...
If we now find photo sensors everywhere, they are rarely integrated in such small devices. The Insta360 GO 2 is surprisingly small (barely 5 cm high and 2 cm deep, and weighing only 27 g). Installed in its charging stand - which also serves as a remote control and mini tripod - the camera takes up little more space than wireless headphones.
This compactness is undeniably practical and makes it possible to carry the GO 2 without difficulty. The camera is very minimalist and only its photo module and a few connectors on its rear face give the device a little relief.
Although all plastic, we appreciate the successful finishes of the object. It does not have an all-metal construction, unlike the DJI Action 2, but the materials used, associated with a very light weight, do not make us fear for the resistance of the camera in case of fall. Beware, it is not a bouncing ball either, but we will not hesitate to use it in many situations.
In this regard, it is interesting to note that it is possible to use the GO 2 in the water without worries, since the small camera is waterproof without housing up to 4 m. It is not possible to go beyond that since, for the moment, Insta360 does not offer a specific device for underwater immersion.
Like the DJI Action 2, the GO 2 has magnetic clamps. And if you can easily attach it to any metal surface, you can also use the supplied pendant to wear the camera over clothing or hang it around the neck of a pet. Given the lightness of the device, you can move relatively quickly without fear of it falling off. We did not encounter any problems while biking or navigating through Parisian traffic.
Those who want to minimize the risks will opt for the more classic mountings, where the camera is firmly embedded in plastic covers. It is then possible to install them almost anywhere you would normally hang an action-cam.
Insta360's stated goal is to make it possible to take the GO 2 with you, and above all, to hang it anywhere. If we did not try to fix the camera on an airplane - which Insta360 does in its presentation -, we were able to verify the reliability of the fixings. For a more traditional use, the case is also equipped with a screw thread for tripod.
The smartphone is its best ally
The GO 2 is only fully functional when paired with a smartphone. This requires the use of the Insta360 app (available on iOS and Android). Once the camera is connected, the smartphone turns into a control screen, a feature that the action-cam does not have. Changing the recording settings, switching from photo to video mode, or selecting more exotic modes (timelapse, timeshift, slow motion ...) are accessible only from a smartphone.
The application is quite complete. It also allows advanced editing and retouching of videos and photos. It even has an automatic editing mode, "boosted with AI", allowing the application to perform the editing of your sequences alone.
For those who would like to edit their videos or develop their photos from a computer, the company offers a dedicated software, Insta360 Studio. It allows you to edit photos taken in .INSP format by the GO 2.
Once in the application, we notice that even if we have captured a video by narrowing the field of view, it is possible to recover the widest angle of view in post-production. All the information is kept by the camera, such as the stabilization that can be activated or deactivated during editing.
Insta360 offers a certain flexibility, which makes editing and publishing more fun and more accessible to the greatest number of people.
A point on endurance
There are several limitations on battery life to consider. First, the GO 2, far from being a movie camera, limits the maximum duration of clips to 15 minutes in classic video mode. After a quarter of an hour, the video cuts out and the module has lost about 80% of its autonomy, regardless of the definition and framerate selected.
The GO 2 then has about 20% battery life left, which is enough to capture about 4 more minutes of video before the camera shuts down - we performed this test with the Flowstate stabilization mode activated. This is more or less in line with the data provided by Insta360. The brand specifies that inserted in its case, the camera can last just under 2 hours with maximum stabilization.
We are therefore not in the presence of a very enduring camera. Nevertheless, Insta360 does not try to hide the performance of its camera and announces the color from the start. Also, unlike some competitors - yes, we're talking about you DJI Action 2 - if the camera heats up, this does not cause its premature extinction in less than 5 minutes.
If the 15 min limitation exists, probably to avoid overheating, the camera does not turn off after this time and it is possible to continue using the GO 2 until its battery is completely exhausted.
It is possible to exceed this limitation to reach a maximum of 30 minutes. Nevertheless, Insta360 specifies that this mode is only recommended on a drone or in a very ventilated environment, otherwise the camera may overheat. To recharge the action-cam, it is mandatory to place it in its case which has a USB-C port.
The Insta360 GO 2 uses a 1/2.3-inch, 9MP sensor with a sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 3200. By default, images are captured in a 3040 x 3040 px square format and exported via the mobile app (or software) at a 16:9 ratio of 2560 x 1440 px. The same applies to videos captured in a slightly lower resolution (2880 x 2880 px), but exported in 1440p or 1080p.
It is possible to opt for a frame rate of 24, 25, 30 or 50 fps and even 120 fps, but only in Full HD. The recording is done on the internal memory of the GO 2; there are about 28 GB of the 32 GB of the camera.
The GO 2 allows the capture of RAW shots in .DNG format, a format recommended to lovers of retouching. The quality offered is proportional to the size of the sensor and, unfortunately, to its low definition. In photography, the processing applied to jpegs is quite aggressive and you should not try to use the camera in low light. Beyond ISO 400, the smoothing becomes too pronounced and this makes the photos difficult to use.
Those who would like to push the experience further can shoot in raw. You have to take into account that with this format, the optical corrections do not apply anymore and that you obtain a rather particular file, at the limit of the fish-eye. As for jpegs, ISO 400 is really a big limit for the GO 2. Beyond this level, the digital noise is too present.
As explained above, the GO 2 has only two video definitions (1080p and 1440p). It is also possible to play with the colorimetry and choose a mode among Standard, Vivid and even a Log mode for calibration fades.
Concerning the video quality, just like the photo part, the processing is quite aggressive and distorts the sequences a little. The smoothing also causes a loss of detail. The Vivid mode, active by default, flatters the colors, which become almost garish. For a better fidelity, you should not hesitate to switch to Standard mode.
HDR is also included, as well as an AquaVision 2.0 mode that is supposed to magnify sequences recorded underwater. Note that the latter can only be applied in post-production from a computer.
However, it should be kept in perspective: the footage from the GO 2 is more likely to be viewed on a smartphone screen and in square format than on a 65-inch 4K TV. Users should therefore not be too disappointed by the rendering of the mini action-cam.
Finally, a word about Flowstate stabilization. It is activated by default and does a rather honest job, without reaching the heights of the GoPro Hero10 Black. It is also possible to disable this stabilization in post-production, or even to opt for a stabilization more suitable for the practice of the drone.
With the GO 2, Insta360 offers a simple and fun product. Accessible to most people, it allows almost everyone to try their hand at action-cams without having to spend too much time in post-production. Combined with a well thought-out mobile application and easy-to-use software, the camera only suffers from a slightly poor image quality that suffers from aggressive processing.