The more I’ve travelled to shoot photos and video over the last few years, the more I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of smaller and lighter kit. Ok, so I haven’t done much travelling in the last year… Ok, I haven’t done any at all, really, but the point still remains that smaller is often better suited to the task when you’re out exploring.
And today, Insta360 has announced something very small to help document your exploration adventures. It’s the update to their popular Insta360 GO wearable FPV camera, the Insta360 GO 2. I’ve been testing one for a few weeks now, and I’ve really come to like it. Oh, and they’re releasing a Minions version, too. Yup, a Minions version.
The Insta360 GO 2, and the GO that came before it, are something of a departure from Insta360’s usual 360° cameras, but there isn’t much out there that really competes with this tiny form factor – even now. Like its predecessor, the Insta360 GO 2 is a very small camera, designed to be worn as a sort of bodycam (although you don’t have to), and allows you to film your activities easily from a first-person perspective.
Specs & Comparison to the original
Note: The below specs are those available from the Insta360 website and Insta360 GO 2 documentation I received at the time of publication. I will update this to fill in the blanks as I can. And, yes, there is some sample video footage from the Insta360 GO 2 at the end of this review!
On first glance, the Insta360 GO 2 looks a lot like its predecessor and follows an almost identical form factor, but let’s take look at the specs and see how the two differ.
|Insta360 GO 2||Insta360 GO|
|35mm equiv. focal length||11.24mm||Unknown|
|White Balance||Auto 2700K, 4000K, 5000K, 6500K, 7500K||Auto|
|Shutter speed||1/8000-1/30th (video) / 1/8000-1s (Photo)||Auto|
|Exposure compensation||-4 to +4||Unknown|
|Photo modes||Standard, Interval, Night Shot, Starlapse, PureShot||Standard, Interval|
|Photo file format||INSP, DNG RAW||INSP, JPG|
|Video modes||Basic stabilisation, Flowstate stabilisation (Pro mode), HDR, Timelapse, TimeShift (Hyperlapse), Slow Motion||Standard, Interval Shooting, Timelapse, Hyperlapse, Slow Motion|
|Video format||H.264 MP4||INSV|
|Video bitrate||Up to 80Mbps||Up to 40Mbps|
|Video resolution||Up to 2560x1440 @ 50fps (25fps for HDR)||Up to 2720x2720 @ 25fps (exported out to 1080p from app)|
|Battery Capacity||210mAh (Camera) / 1,100mAh (Case)||Unknown|
|Run time||30 mins (standalone) / 150 mins (in case)||~1hr with charge case|
|Charge time (camera)||23 mins to 80% / 35mins to 100%||~20 mins|
|Charge time (case)||47 mins to 80% / 65 mins to 100%||~1hr|
|Connectivity||BLE 5.0, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac||BLE 4.0|
|IP Rating||IPX8 to 4 metres (13ft)||IPX4 (water resistant to splashes)|
|Dimensions (Camera)||52.9 x 23.6 x 20.7mm||49.4 x 21.4 x 14.85mm|
|Dimensions (Case)||68.1 x 48.54 x 26.6mm (Closed) / 132.5 x 26.03 x 26.6 (Open)||N/A|
Many of the specs do seem quite similar, but the GO 2 has some distinct advantages over the GO. One of the most notable being that the Insta360 GO 2 is actually waterproof, whereas the original GO is only “water-resistant” with an IPX4 rating not designed for use underwater. Now, the GO 2 is IPX8 rated, and Insta360 says that it can be submerged at depths of up to 4 metres (13ft) for periods of time without worry.
Another benefit of the GO2 is that it has a removable and replaceable lens cover. So, if it gets scratched or damaged, you can just unscrew it, get a replacement, screw that on and you’re good to go. Or, if you’re shooting in extremely bright conditions, you can remove the clear lens cover and screw on an ND filter (I haven’t heard anything about those becoming available at the time of writing this – but I’ll find out!).
But by far the biggest visible change is the charging case that comes with the camera, which can now act as a remote control or keep the camera powered indefinitely while in use.
But one of the questions a lot of Insta360 GO users will want to know the answer to is can it record for more than 5 minutes at a time? And the answer is yes, it can.
When shooting in Pro Mode, which lets you take advantage of Flowstate, you can shoot for up to 10 minutes at a time. With basic stabilisation, 15 minutes. And in FPV mode for up to 30 minutes. Timelapse can shoot for up to 110 minutes using the charge case to create a 70-minute clip.
The Insta360 GO 2 also has a larger 1/2.3″ sensor inside it. Such a sensor is typically reserved for flagship action cameras, to maximise the amount of dynamic range, colour and detail information they can record. This new sensor combined with doubling the bitrate from 40Mbps to 80MBps (the 8GB internal storage has been upgraded to 32GB to compensate) makes for a big difference in image quality.
There are still a few things it doesn’t have that I think would be good to offer.
The ability to shoot 24p (23.976fps) video, for one. For those that are shooting all their content on the GO 2, editing with the app and posting to social media, this won’t be much of an issue. But for those of us using the GO 2 to get shots that our bigger cameras can’t and then mixing footage together from multiple cameras in editing, being able to get that consistency in frame rate between them is important.
Also, unlike Insta360’s other cameras, like the ONE R and ONE X2, there’s no way to disable the flashing LED on this camera when it’s recording. This can be a bit distracting when facing somebody wearing the camera or standing (and filming) in front of anything that’s a bit reflective.
Charging, accessories and use
I’ve never used the original Insta360 GO, so I had no idea how this thing worked and it’s certainly not as obvious and intuitive as a DSLR or mirrorless camera, or even an action camera with a basic touchscreen UI. You’ve no fancy dials or displays on this thing. But when it arrived, I did shoot a quick unboxing video of the Insta360 GO 2 along with some sample footage (it’s the same sample footage at the bottom of this review).
So, while it was charging, I took to reading through the instructions, which illustrate how to perform certain tasks like turning it on, switching between photo and video modes, shooting Pro video mode and hyperlapses from the camera itself when clipped to my chest using the magnetic neck strap.
But this isn’t the only way you can control the camera. The Insta360 GO 2 also allows remote control from its charging case, which features a little OLED display and a couple of buttons to let you flip through the different modes, change settings and start and stop recording.
In all honesty, I was lazy. I didn’t try to remember all of the keypress combinations to get the camera to do what I wanted. I tested them all to check that they worked as intended, and they do, but because I had the time to pull my phone out of my pocket, connect it to the camera, adjust settings from the app and start recording that way, that’s largely what I did.
The only real exception to this was when I just wanted to record regular Pro mode video with automatic exposure. For that, all I needed to do was long-press the button on the camera to turn it on, then tap the button again to start recording – after which point I could either tap it again to stop or let it time out, depending on the duration I’d set in the app the last time I used it. I tended to record in clips of 15 or 30 seconds while I was out walking, so I’d just hit the button when I was walking up on something interesting and then just let it record its clip for 15 or 30 seconds and go back to sleep.
Runtime does cap out at about 30 minutes with the camera in standalone mode or 150 minutes when inside the charging case. But for the camera’s intended purpose, that’s plenty for many uses and it only takes 23 minutes to recharge the camera to 80% or 35 minutes to 100%.
A couple of other accessories are included in the box, such as the cap clip mount as well as a pivot stand for attaching the camera to whatever flat clean surface you wish.
Mostly I used the neck strap
That charging case
From a usability standpoint, this is probably the biggest significant change in the Insta360 GO 2 over the original Insta360 GO. With the OLED display that lets you easily see what you’re doing, you can very quickly and easily make adjustments to the camera, start and stop recording, shoot a photo or whatever without having to pull out your phone and deal with the app.
It automatically connects to your camera, and keeps communicating with it even once the camera is removed from the case, offering full remote control. It can be used inside, the case, too, however, and it features a 1/4-20″ socket on the bottom letting you mount it to a selfie stick or other kind of mount for various filming situations.
The battery capacity of the case is 1,100mAh, compared to the 210mAh of the camera’s internal battery, so as well as powering itself, it offers several charges of the camera, too. You’ll often find that if you’re shooting a lot of clips, the camera’s battery might die sooner than you expect, so I would tend to put the camera inside the case when out and not actively filming with it to keep topping it back up.
The case is a very handy remote control for the camera and lets you start and stop recording at will without even taking your hands out of your pocket. One thing I have noticed about the charge case, though, is that being white, it seems to pick up scuffs and blemishes quite easily, leading to visible marks. Attempted cleaning with a damp cloth or isopropyl alcohol didn’t seem to resolve this. It doesn’t affect the functionality, of course, but it’s something to be aware of.
The smartphone and desktop apps
The third method to control the camera, which I mentioned briefly above is the smartphone app. For shooting, we get a wide array of configuration options (as you can see from the array of screenshots below) for shooting both photos and videos, including exposure compensation, ISO sensitivity, white balance, shutter speed, timer delays (gotta get into position for that selfie!), aspect ratio, shooting duration, field of view, colour profile (yes, this thing has LOG) and you also get a 3×3 grid for when you want to make sure your shot lines up with the rule of thirds.
The app is an easy way to use the Insta360 GO 2 and you get quick access to all of the settings you might want to alter. But it can eat the camera’s battery quickly if you’re not careful. I would average about 40 or 50 15-30 second clips on a single full charge of the camera over the course of a walk lasting about an hour or so. But the camera was essentially on and communicating with my phone the whole time and streaming video to it whenever I had the app loaded.
Conserving battery life was not my priority. I wanted to see how it handled for my own typical use case. And, I was pretty pleased, actually. If you’re planning to go out to walk or whatever activity for longer periods, you’re best setting up your camera with whatever settings you need, and then avoiding the app and just using the button on the camera to prolong battery life.
Of course, you have the charge case, which lets you get a couple more full charges of the camera, but using the camera while it’s charging may be difficult if you’re on the go. So, plan your usage and charging times accordingly.
Shooting isn’t the only thing the app’s good for, though. You can also download the clips from your camera to your phone for quick access, processing and sharing to social media or even to edit into a final video containing multiple clips.
You also get access to Flash Cut 2.0, which uses AI to pick your best shots and edit them into a video for you with music. You can also choose from preset templates like sport, travel or pets and the AI will try to squeeze your clips into it. Just choose your Shot Lab template, choose the number of video clips it tells you to select and leave it to it. It then goes off and generates a video for you. Or, you can edit it completely manually if you wish.
One thing I wish the app had was a way to bulk delete Flash Cut drafts. If you go through the process to see what it might look like, it saves a draft. It’s a handy feature if you simply get distracted, but if you decide you don’t like it, the draft just sits there until you manually go and delete it. And a draft is created every time you edit a new one and don’t export it. So, this number of drafts can add up quite quickly.
At the moment, you have to delete drafts one by one and each deletion is a multi-step process. Hopefully, Insta360 will add a way to select drafts in bulk to delete them for quicker cleanup because these can build up very quickly with regular use.
Personally, I prefer editing on the desktop using DaVinci Resolve, so I transcode the clips from the camera using Insta360 Studio 2021 (a process that is surprisingly quick, given how slow Insta360 Studio can sometimes be when transcoding 360° footage) so I tend not to build up too many draft projects on my phone with the smartphone app. Copying files to the desktop is as easy as putting the camera in the case, and connecting via USB cable. It shows up as another drive in Explorer and you can just drag the files across.
The Insta360 Studio 2021 app doesn’t currently show me previews of footage shot with the GO 2 in the file list on the left of the interface, although this is a preview version of the new app with GO 2 support, so that might be fixed in the newest version when you read this.
As you can see on the right, though, when you shoot in Pro video mode, you get to choose between Flowstate or FPV stabilisation and you get to alter your field of view. Additionally, you can process the clips for when you’re shooting with the camera underwater to compensate for the shift that shooting underwater often gives. From here, exporting is simply a case of selecting them all, hitting the export button, choosing your settings (H.264, H.265 or ProRes) and then going to make a coffee or something.
Now all you need to do is drag the exported files into your desktop editing application of choice – I’m quite partial to DaVinci Resolve – and away you go.
We’re still on a pretty strict lockdown here in Scotland, so I haven’t been able to go and visit all the exciting places I’d liked to have gone with this camera yet. But I did take it out with me during a couple of walks of the local woods. So, here are some sample clips on a rare sunny day during the Scottish winter. And if you want to see a quick unboxing, I posted one of those to YouTube, too.
As mentioned earlier, the case can mark quite easily when it’s just rolling around in your pocket or a bag. The camera doesn’t, but the case does. I think the marks are more noticeable due to the fact that it’s white. The white camera also makes itself quite obvious against dark clothing. So, to help blend in more easily with darker clothing and to minimise the visibility of marks on the case, I do wish the Insta360 GO 2 came in a black or very dark grey option. It’s not a deal-breaker, though.
I’d also like to see more frame rates, too. Well, one more. 23.976fps (otherwise known as 24p). When shooting with multiple cameras, being able to edit it all together at the same frame rate without having to slow clips down to get everything looking like it matches without frame skipping or bad interpolation is an important factor for many who might want to use this camera to get shots their larger camera rigs can’t achieve.
That being said, I’ve found it to be a handy and useful little camera. I’ve taken it out with me during walks and worn it while doing things that I would never have considered using a camera before – at least, certainly not one offering a first-person perspective. It’s certainly given me some new ideas for things I want to shoot that I wouldn’t have thought of before without a camera of this type and form factor.
It seems to sit alone in its field with the size and versatility it offers. Despite the original Insta360 GO coming out two years ago, there hasn’t really been much released to compete with it. But the Insta360 GO II has proven to me that this form factor of camera isn’t just a gimmick. And, yeah, ok, you can achieve something a bit similar with an action camera, but the GO 2 makes it so easy to just grab and go without having to deal with body straps and screw mounts that action cameras just seem like a hassle unless you really need that added durability for extreme situations.
Overall, I can see the Insta360 GO 2 becoming a regular part of my video workflow going forward, either to shoot behind the scenes clips or to get b-roll and other shots for YouTube videos. Shots that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to easily, or possibly at all, get.
Oh, and the Minions version?
The Insta360 GO 2 Minions Edition will be available this summer for $329.99 exclusively via Insta360’s website for the USA, Canada, Japan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.