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Insta360 has been in the action camera market for some time now, starting out in the world of 360 cameras, with their original Go model as well as the super-adaptable One R. Their latest offering is a replacement to the original GO camera, named quite simply, the GO 2.
The GO 2 is a wildly compact HD 1440p 30/50fps camera, coming in at a mere 53mm x 23.6mm x 20.7mm (for the camera alone). Your first question is probably, "is the GO 2 a worthwhile upgrade to the original GO?" On specs alone, I’d answer "yes, definitely", thanks to a boost in resolution, storage, and stabilization. Perhaps the bigger question, "would I reach for the GO2 over my GoPro?" Read on to find out.
Starting with the specs and features of the GO 2, the first thing you’ll notice is its incredibly small dimensions. It is roughly the same size as my thumb and also extremely lightweight. The Go 2 has a 32GB internal storage, a replaceable lens guard, and an Airpod-esque charging case. Additionally, don’t worry about needing all new mounts for your action camera; if you already have GoPro mounts, the GO2 comes with a skeleton cage to use with your favorite existing mount.
The little camera is IPX8 waterproof—13feet (4 meters)—which is an upgrade over the original GO model (which had IPX4 water resistance). A GoPro Hero9—which is rated to 33ft (10 meters)—is still a better choice for anyone who spends significant time in the water, but the GO 2 won't shy away from a quick dip and certainly won’t be bothered by some splashes.
The battery life of the Go 2 camera on its own is rated at only 30 minutes. I found this to be adequate for capturing a few clips at the bike park or on local trails, or for rides on a shorter road loop. The big advantage of the Go 2 happens when you put the camera back in the charging case where you gain up to 150 minutes of video. It also features Insta360s “Flowstate” stabilization, a similar function to HyperSmooth on a GoPro.
The Go 2's charging case it is much more than a simple charging case. The case is more like a technical hub for the Insta360 GO 2. In addition to allowing you to charge the device, it aids in connecting to your phone, acts as a mini tripod, and works as a remote control when the camera is mounted in hard-to-reach places. It also has a mount for an accessory, such as a larger tripod or the dreaded selfie stick. There is a small screen on the case which allows you easily see and change camera modes, or to check if you are recording. I also found the charging case to be useful as a little handle or tripod when getting some handheld shots of friends riding. This was something I utilized for a few work projects and a change of perspective on the trails.
In Use/Tech Thoughts
When choosing a camera to capture POV footage while riding, the most important thing for me is the end product being watchable. When I say watchable, I mean good resolution and, most importantly, minimal shake. The trails I spend the most time riding are full of rocks and roots that challenge even the best camera's smoothing algorithms. So, I took the GO 2 straight to my local test track that features a mix of chunky rocks and smooth flow to put it head-to-head with footage from a Hero 8.
I found the Insta360 footage came out looking smoother than the footage out of the GoPro. I re-ran the testing multiple times and determined the reason for this is not thanks to smoothing software, but simply to the Go 2 being so small and light. I find that cameras—including the GoPro—weigh a bit too much to comfortably sit on a helmet, or not bounce too much on an elastic chest mount. This weight can result in some jarring shakes that the software just can’t fix.
With every win, there is a loss. As well as the GO 2 performed in terms of smooth footage, it does have some weaknesses, particularly in changing light conditions. When entering and exiting wooded areas, footage from the GO2 adjusts noticeably slower to the changing light conditions, ending up being very overexposed or underexposed for a longer time than the GoPro.
The form factor really is what gives the GO2 its perks. Aside from the smooth footage, the camera to go virtually unnoticed when mounted to either a helmet or chest mount. It is also easy to stash in the case and toss in a jersey pocket when not in use.
The primary way to review footage is on the Insta360 app. Since the Go 2 does not have removable storage, this is the quickest, and easiest, way to check captures. The app is fairly intuitive; offering a few gimmicky features but also a few that I found quite handy. Most useful was the trim feature. This feature allows you to trim down a long video into multiple segments, then stitch it together in the app before exporting it as on single file. This is great for for further editing or sharing, and really easy to get end results like the one below.
There is also an “AI Trim” feature where the algorithms decide which clips to keep. I found this to be very hit or miss. On more monotonous clips it was good enough to trim quickly, but it didn’t make great decisions on high speed downhill runs, often leaving me scratching my head as to why it chose certain moments. Another handy in-app feature is "Stories", where you can rapidly select multiple clips and add them to a timeline. It functions very intuitively, allowing you to make edits such as trimming, adjustments to the volume, split, and slowing down of clips. This feature makes it easy to organize a day at the trails,or adventures on the road, into one clip suitable for the shorted needs of social media platforms.
While the footage from the camera is crisp and smooth, you have to be careful with in-app editing. When using the adjustment sliders, small moves make MASSIVE changes to the look of the video. If you are really looking to refine the clips it is still best to export the unedited video and do it in your editing software of choice. This is a place where the GoPro app is a little more light-handed. Using the GoPro app, I found it easier to make a quick bump to contrast and tone to create an IGTV worthy clip. However, once you know the quirks of the Insta360, it becomes pretty easy to do the same with their app. One wish for the Insta360 app would be a cloud storage option and a web or desktop-based editing option, much like GoPro.
At the end of the day if you are looking for an unobtrusive camera to capture your rides the GO 2 is worth a look. The little camera packs a huge punch, providing crisp video in an easy-to-use package. The easily stashed camera and case are a worthwhile companion to someone looking to record laps of a bike park or someone trying to jumpstart their vlogging career. If you’re a little more pro with your video making, or need a screen to help frame your shots, I’d still lean towards a Hero9 but, if you are someone who is a bit more casual the GO 2 will certainly live up to the task. Overall the GO 2 will give you smooth pleasing footage that is easy to edit and quick to share. At the end of the day, isn’t that all we really ask?
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