The SMALLEST action camera in 2021: Insta360 GO 2 Unbiased Review

This is the first Hands-on review of the Go 2 from a professional filmmaker. We bought the Inst360 Go 2 to the beautiful Lake Tahoe and filmed some snowboarding. We know this is one reason you are getting this small action camera — and we want to put it to the test in a real-world scenario.

We will review the Go 2 in TWO conditions — Action Sports and Daily Use. In daily use, we traveled with the Go 2 on American Airlines. You will see how good is the stabilization of Go 2 — during aircraft take-off and landing, how we use it as a POV camera — in Jim Carrey's art gallery.

We test the Insta360 GO 2 against Insta360 One R, GoPro, and my iPhone, in low light.

We even bought the Go 2 all the way to Joshua Tree to shoot some stars with long exposure mode. Look at that beautiful picture! Can you believe that this tiny little camera took this?

Let’s watch the full review video now:

Insta360 GO 2 SPECS

Dimensions (W x H x D):
Camera: 52.9 x 23.6 x 20.7mm (2.08 x 0.93 x 0.81in) Charge Case: 68.1 x 48.5 x 26.6mm (Closed) / 132.5 x 26.03 x 26.6mm (Open)
Weight:
Camera: 26.5g (0.93oz) Case: 63.5g (2.24oz)
Aperture: f/2.2
35mm Equivalent Focal Length 11.24mm
ISO: Auto, 100–3200
White Balance: Auto, 2700K, 4000K, 5000K, 6500K, 7500K
Exposure Value: (EV) -4 to 4
Photo Modes: Standard, Interval, Night Shot, Starlapse, PureShot
Photo Resolution
Exported via app: 16:9, 1920x1088 / 1:1, 2000x2000 / 9:16, 1088x1920
Photo Format INSP (can be exported via App or Studio) DNG (can be exported via App or Studio)
Photo Exposure Modes Auto, Manual (Shutter 1/8000s-120s, ISO 100–3200), Shutter Priority (1/8000s-1s), ISO Priority (100–3200)
Video Modes: Basic stabilization, FlowState stabilization, HDR, Timelapse, TimeShift (Hyperlapse), Slow Motion
Video Resolution FlowState stabilization:
● 2560x1440@50fps,30fps ● 1920x1080@50fps,30fps Basic stabilization:
● 2560x1440@50fps, 30fps ● 1920x1080@50fps, 30fps HDR:
● 2560x1440@25fps, 24fps ● 1920x1080@25fps, 24fps
Timelapse:
● Interval: 0.5s, 1s, 2s, 5s, 10s, 30s, 60s, 120s ● 2560x1440@30fps ● 1920x1080@30fps TimeShift (Hyperlapse):
Speed: Auto (up to 6x) 2560x1440@30fps / 1920x1080@30fps / Slow motion: 1920x1080@120fps

Video Format MP4
Video Exposure Modes: Auto, Manual (Shutter 1/8000–1/30, ISO 100–3200)
Video Coding: H.264
Max. Video Bitrate: 80Mbps
Waterproofing IPX8 to 4 meters (13ft)
Audio Mono with optional Wind Noise Reduction
Bluetooth: BLE 5.0
Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Storage: 32GB (~28GB usable)
Battery Capacity Camera: 210mAh Case: 1100mAh

Run Time
Standalone: 30 mins — 1440p30 Basic stabilization video
In Case: 150 mins — 1440p30 Basic stabilization video
Max. Clip Length:
FlowState stabilization: 10 mins
Basic stabilization: 15 mins
FPV mode: 30 mins
Timelapse: Adjustable interval, record up to 110 minutes with the Charge Case for a 7-minute clip
Charging Method: Type-C USB
Charging Time:
Camera: 23 mins to 80%, 35 mins to 100%
Case: 47 mins to 80%, 65 mins to 100%
Use Environment 14°F to 104°F (-10℃ to 40℃)

As you hear, the audio is pretty clear, even with my mask on. The Go 2 is attached on top of my helmet — probably not a good spot for snowboarding as I move my head a lot. But the stabilization is still really good. As you see, later on, I attached the Go 2 on my chest — which provides a way better stabilization perspective. The Go 2 is capable of shooting 1440p in 50fps — which is great for action sports. I do wish it has 60fps tho as in US, 59.97fps is the standard here, not 50fps.

It can also shoot 1080P in 120fps in 80Mpbs. As you see the image quality here, it is really good super slow motion. Not many DSLR or mirrorless cameras can get this quality in such a high frame rate — so this is a very impressive feature.

Just a quick user tip, you always want to shoot in Pro Video mode. The best feature of Go 2, I think for action sports, is that you can shoot it first and reframe it in post. In Pro Video mode, it is recording an almost 180 degree full fisheye file, as you see right here. You can then bring this fisheye file into Insta360 Studio and reframe it into 16 by 9 horizontal for YouTube, 1 by 1 for Instagram, and even 9 by 16 vertical format for TikTok or Instagram Reel. It is kinda like a 180 camera. It does not matter if your Go 2 is shooting vertically or horizontally, or diagonally.
Furthermore, 2 of them side by side will potentially give your a VR180 camera! This will be the lightest VR180 camera for action sports. I don’t own TWO of them so I can’t test it for you just now. But if you are interested in this build, please comment down below and let me know.

RAW Resolution VS Output Resolution

As I mention, the reason why Insta360 Go 2 can have any aspect ratio is that the camera capture a full fisheye. So in Pro Video mode, if you shoot at 30fps, your RAW video resolution is 2880 x 2880. So it is close to 3K — but in both width and height. If you shoot at 50fps, your RAW video resolution is 2688 x 2688. They are both in H.264 with 80Mbps. After processing in Insta360 Studio or the mobile app, the output resolutions are 2560 x 1440 or 1920 x 1080 — for both 30fps and 50fps. So 30fps, in theory, will look better than 50fps, because of a higher RAW resolution.
So if you don’t need 50fps, you should always shoot at 30fps in my humor opinion, to get a better image quality.

Image Quality

Now let’s talk about image quality. The Go 2 is 100 times better than the old Go 1 as you see in the spec sheet here.

The Go 2 uses a 1/2.3 inch image sensor, the same as all major action cameras out in the market. I think the best way to see image quality is to do a side-by-side comparison with GoPro and Insta360 One R — the two most popular action cameras in 2021. I also throw my iPhone into the mix. As lots of people wonder if the Go 2 is better than their iPhone 11 or 12. Well, let’s find out:

Insta360 GO 2 vs Insta360 ONE R vs GoPro vs iPhone

Stabilization

For a daily use Action camera, having flawless stabilization is crucial. As you saw my snowboarding footage, it is pretty stable. But how stable when it compared with other action cameras? Let’s find out.
iPhone stabilization is not as good as any of the action cameras, so that is why people use action cameras instead of their phones.
The action cameras are all very stable, no matter how shaky my hand was. How about horizon leveling? Here is the ranking — One R is not as good as GoPro, but GoPro is not as good as Go 2.
The reason why is, fisheye or 360 camera, in general, has better stabilization and horizon locking than the regular 2D camera. Go 2 is a fisheye and has lots of extra pixels to calculate stabilization, and that is why it is better. GoPro with MAX lens mod, which turns GoPro into a fisheye camera, will also have better stabilization results than regular GoPro. So extra tip here, if you like GoPro, getting the GoPro MAX lens mod is a must for extreme action sports.

Usability for action sports

Having good image quality and stabilization is essential, but how about usability in action sports? And that is where Go 2 falls short. To remind you, this is an unbiased review. Here, you will hear the things I don’t like about the Go 2 as a replacement for my action camera.
The battery runs out very fast when it is not connected to the charging case. In snowboarding or any action sports, you are not using the magnetic neck thing that comes with the camera. You need to secure the camera using the GoPro attachment. Here is my setup. The problem is the camera will die within 20 min. If you go snowboarding, you expect the camera will run at least 2 hours before charging again. On their official website, they said the camera could operate for 30 minutes without the case. I am using it in snow, so it is reasonable the run time is a lot shorter than normal use. You know, winter battery vs. normal battery. But 30 min mounting on something is not a long enough time neither — consider you need to demount the camera and put it back in the case to charge — which is a hassle when you have glove and helmet on!

But my biggest beef with Go 2 is the internal storage solution. It can only store 28GB of content with NO external SD card solution. So during my snowboarding, I have to go find a laptop to back up my media before I can film again.

For any sports requiring a long recording time, Go 2 is not a good option, unfortunately.

POV and daily use

If you are an Everyday user who loves to take videos for TikTok or social media, let’s find out if Go 2 is a good option.
Having a small-size camera that can easily mount on your chest with a superwide fisheye view is amazing. The POV look, as you see here, is pretty unique. This little camera will be perfect for sneaking in for places that normally do not allow cameras, like an art gallery or a nightclub.
I am not saying you should do it tho. We talked to the owner of the Jim Carrey artworks, and they are okay for us to film. Please respect other people’s arts and privacy. Ask before you film.

We also did some extreme stabilization tests, like filming aircraft take-off and landing. As you see here, when the plane land, the camera can still stand stable — which is very impressive. For average users who have a shacky hand, like me, using it without a gimbal is great!

Low light quality

BUT, even for daily use, there is a condition that I think this camera is somewhat useless — in a low light situation like a nightclub. Even tho the camera is very stable, you see a rolling shutter blurry effect when there is not enough light. I think Insta360 needs a sport mode to limit the shutter speed to not go down below 60 — this will eliminate this problem. But in the initial release, this feature is not there yet.

Here is the low light image quality. It is pretty grainy, as expected for a small sensor camera. So when the sun is down, your Go 2 is pretty much useless. Well, to be fair, same as your GoPro or One R.

Photo

Insta360 GO 2 Pureshot photo

Another great feature of Go 2 is its photo quality. It can take DNG photos using the same technology that Insta360 users love — PureShot. Check out this sunset photo of Lake Tahoe — it is absolutely breath-taking. It captures the sunset color accurately with minimal noise — which is a lot better than my iPhone.
To test the limit of this little Go 2 camera, we even drive up to Joshua Tree, where there is no light pollution, to capture the milk way — Astrophotography. Go 2 allows 30 seconds to even 2 min long exposure. See the result yourself, it is pretty impressive for this tiny little camera.

It can never replace your DSLR. But it is a fun camera to have for photographers.

Other features

Go 2 is IPX8 to 4 meters (13ft) waterproofs. It has an FPV mode that is designed for FPV.
It has an interchangeable lens cover to protect your lens, as you see right here. I think that is very smart as people is going to drop this little camera left and right.
It comes with many mounts — car mount, hat mount, magnetic mount, and action sports GoPro mount. So you don’t need to buy any extra accessories. You def get your money worth considering the camera only cost $299

Every other YouTuber will glorify how small this camera is, and it is the size of an Apple AirPods. Well, it is not true. This is an AirPods, and this is Go 2. The Go 2 is considerably larger and heavier than the AirPods. In fact, it is almost the same size as a GoPro Hero 8 — as you see right here. So it is as easy to put a GoPro in your pocket as the Go 2. Size should NOT be your reason to buy this camera.

HDR video is also not a feature. The quality of HDR video is bad in most situations, just as Insta360 ONE X2 or One R. It is a gimmick as an 8-bit color depth camera can not have a true HDR dynamic range. Any professional colorist can tell you that.
But Go 2 has a really good dynamic range by itself. It does not require the gimmicky HDR mode. As you see right here, when I point the camera to the sun in a moving car, the camera handle really well. You can see the sun, which not even my eye can see it. It has the ability to use ND filters — which is a very welcoming feature for outdoor sports users and FPV users.

Thank you so much for watching this unbias review of the brand new Insta360 Go 2. For more information, check out their official website here

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