Laurent Boninfante goes flying with “the world’s smallest action cam”.
I have never felt I had the mental bandwidth to deal with a camera while flying. It’s one too many things to think about and possibly a hazard if head-mounted because it can catch on the lines when you launch, or, worst case scenario, if you have a big incident in flight.
The Go 2, “the tiny mighty action cam” as Insta360 describe it, has a very small footprint and, on paper, seems incredibly easy to use. Is it simple enough for me to handle in flight? Is it suitable for paragliding?
Form factor and camera controls
The camera really is tiny, literally about the size of your thumb. Mounted on the front of my helmet its top only slightly protrudes over the helmet – meaning less risk of catching a line.
The reduced size means you can be innovative about where you mount it. For example, I particularly like the fact that I can attach it to my A-risers using its supplied Easy Clip.
A charging case, just a little bigger than an Apple Airpods charging case, is also supplied. It secures the camera magnetically and can be stick-mounted. The case doubles as a remote control and dramatically extends battery life.
Camera operation is straightforward since its front is clickable. You can map ‘single-click’ and ‘double-click’ to any shooting mode. You can choose from five photo modes and six video modes covering everything you would expect from HDR video to timelapse, night photos and more. Mapping is through the companion mobile app, available for both Apple and Android.
I mostly experimented with the camera either helmet- or riser-mounted. The Easy Clip holds the camera in place magnetically and is clipped to the A-riser. The magnetic connection appears strong but it is a little unnerving. Deciding to be better safe than sorry I elected to tie it on too.
I found it easy operating the camera in both modes, although I would prefer a louder sound or stronger vibration when clicking. While flying, the sound is drowned out by wind and vibration can’t be felt. Occasionally, I didn’t know whether the camera was on and recording.
I also tested it with the charge case open and mounted on a stick. The connection is magnetic and feels strong, no string needed. It does the job, but a minor gripe is that the camera software doesn’t remove the stick from the video.
Finally, a magnet pendant can also be worn around the neck, affixing the camera at chest level over clothing. This gives a great first-person view but works better for groundhandling than in flight, when harness buckles get in the way.
How can such a small camera produce such good footage? Colours are crisp without being exaggerated. With the default filter, no fuzziness was noticeable and additional filters can be purchased for different lighting conditions.
Camera stabilisation is incredibly smooth and uses Insta360’s FlowState stabilisation algorithm in Pro mode. Mounted to the riser, it may sometimes feel overly smooth but I think that’s better than too bumpy.
Video Pro mode enables reframing of the video vertically as the camera resolution is 2880 x 2880 but exports in widescreen at 2550 x 1440 after stabilisation. This gives some leeway to remove your feet or add your glider in the frame. That said, be careful not to expose the stitching edge of the video!
Battery life and flying
The main limitation of the Go 2 is that the standalone camera only has about 20 minutes of battery in Pro mode. You can pop it back in its charge case for a full charge in 30 minutes; the case can recharge up to 150 minutes of video recording before it needs charging itself.
Another limitation is that due to overheating normal video mode clips are limited to 15 minutes, whereas in Pro mode you get a maximum of 10 minutes of recording before the camera switches off.
Is the camera suitable for flying? Absolutely, so long as you don’t intend to record your whole long flight and instead want to target specific clips: maybe a tricky take-off, a scenic ridge run, a hike-and-fly, or an SIV or acro run – facilitated by the camera’s waterproofing (to 4m).
I have adopted mine. It suits my simple needs and I can finally share my flights with non-flying family and friends.
Insta360 say: “The twenty-gram steadycam”
Dimensions (mm): 52.9 x 23.6 x 20.7 (camera only, actual size)
Weight: 26.5g (camera); 63.5g (case)
Photo modes: Standard, interval, night shot, starlapse, pureshot
Photo resolutions: 16:9 (2560 x 1440), 1:1 (2560 x 2560), 9:16 (1440 x 2560), film panorama (2936 x 1088)
Video modes: Video (Basic stabilisation), Pro video (Flow State stabilisation), HDR, timelapse (110 mins = 7-minute clip), hyperlapse, slow motion
Best video resolution: 2560 x 1440 @ 50fps, 30fps, 25fps, 24fps
Run time standalone: 30 mins (Basic); 20 mins (Pro)
Editing: Insta360 app, Android and Apple
In the box: Charge case, magnetic pendant, easy clip, pivot stand and lens guard
RRP: £294.99 / $299.99 / €319.99
Find out more about the Insta 360 Go 2 from their website and get free lens guards when you order (*affiliate link): insta360.com
Published in issue 226 (Dec 2021 / Jan 2022)
*Affiliate links = We make a small commission from these websites at no additional cost to you.