A camera just over 5-inches long has no business being this good, and yet the DJI Pocket 2 is perhaps the best pro-quality camera made with such a small, flexible profile. It’s part of DJI’s renewed focus on becoming the highest quality provider of action cameras, and they nail just about everything they could while improving significantly over the first generation “pocket”.
Vlogging and content creators would be particularly taken by this one, with a wider field-of-view that doesn’t distort at the edges, a better sensor, and better dynamic audio performance – now with four mics – some of the more substantial updates. At 117 grams, that’s remarkable for a portable camera that can do plenty of tricks so you can really nail those forthcoming travel videos with style and engaging details. That includes better slow-motion, HDR support, four gimbal modes, and up to 8x zoom for photos.
If you’re familiar with the first-generation pocket just know that this is tighter, sleeker and much more portable. Although there isn’t too much difference. The main additions are in the technology, but it does seem like the motors on the 3-axis gimbal are smoother and allow for more flexible movement. The built-in camera responds instantly to all modes and record buttons on the reference screen, which is brighter and easier to see in direct sunlight. There’s also a new power button to the side, better placed to avoid any accidental presses no matter the orientation of the device.
Around the bottom of the device is the USB-C port and there’s a universal port adapter for better choice in how you connect the Pocket to other devices. Generously, DJI include both Lightning and USB-C adapters.
The Pocket comes with a case that fits the wand-like format much better, feeling much more protective when it comes to any accidental drops. A software features named Drop Aware also assists in keeping it solid, detecting any falls while they happen so that the gimbal can lock up automatically to prevent further damage.
Simple, neat and compact – DJI have nailed the minimal look here, giving users something they can travel with in pretty much any situation.
Photos are beautiful and crisp at a max of 64GB, and those 4K 60fps videos are similarly high in quality. You wouldn’t really expect it from something this size, but then again the results from some DJI drones have dropped my jaw on more than one occasion. The heightened drama and cinematic quality of content benefits from the ability to quickly and intuitively edit using improved AI via the smartphone app, resulting in content that looks like they’ve been put through a days work, when in reality the labour has been just a few minutes. For travel content creators in particularly, a good few days of getting used to the new AI editor couldn’t be more valuable.
DJI have packed in a lot of features to make the Pocket 2 much more accessible. Less effort is required to record perfectly stabilised footage, and those who know what they’re doing have great flexibility with a 1/1.7-inch sensor and 20mm f/1.8 lens, complemented by a Pro mode where users can adjust shutter speed, focus, EV, and ISO with a cap of 6400.
The 4x lossless zoom is one of the best and most consistent features of the Pocket 2, maintaining 16MP photos and 1080p video with very little shake. If you want go 2x you’ll still be able to milk 4K 100MB video out of the camera. Although forget about video if you want to push this thing up to 8x, even though you can still get reasonably good 64MB photos.
Aside from Pro Mode, there’s enough to record 8x slow motion at 1080p, as well as both timelapse, hyperlapse and motion lapse. You can also create panoramas, live streams and engage a returning Story Mode, which uses preset movements to assist beginners in creating engaging content.
One area in which DJI have obviously worked hard to improve is audio. You’ve now got four microphones places around the camera to pick up sound dynamically, assisted by software that is smart enough to constantly adjust audio pick-up depending on where the camera is pointing.
The battery has remained pretty much the same from the original Pocket, with 140 minutes being the reasonable expectation at average use. That’s not long, but it is decent enough for most use cases. What is disappointing though is that there’s no replaceable battery like with DJI’s drones, so you’ll need to keep a power bank on hand for longer use.
Verdict & Value
It’s hard to imagine DJI creating a purpose-built tiny camera that performances as well as the Pocket 2. There are some sacrifices of course, mainly in the built-in battery life and the max zoom’s limit, and at $545 I’d expect a bit more in this area. Regardless, it’s unlikely this will be topped by any competing brands for a long to come, meaning you’ve got yourself one very efficient, powerful and flexible camera for those travel videos and vlogs you’d been looking to start in 2021.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Incredible quality for both photos and video; variety of modes are great for all experience; can maintain great quality at close zoom; smoother motors; protective build; smartphone app is easy and intuitive.
Lowlights: Poor battery life, with no option for an additional battery; expensive.