Over the last year, Insta360 has established itself as a strong contender among the 360 camera manufactures for both consumer and prosumer grade products. With regards to specification and user experience, the Insta360 Pro has dwarfed the consumer Nano. So to bridge the gap, Insta360 has released the Insta360 One. In this article, I’ll delve into all the features the One has to offer and share my personal thoughts after having used it.
Like all of Insta360 products, the One automatically stitches the footage for you, saving you the time and skills needed to seamlessly merge the footage from the two lenses together. It’s very much a plug and play product. Simply download the app on your phone, plug it in and away you go. No need to mess around with binding it via Bluetooth or WiFi.
Available for both Android and IOS devices
When the One was originally released, it was only available for iPhone/iPad users but Insta360 have now bought out an adapter (purchased separately) and app to cater for the android user market.
Fantastic for 360 Filming
The Insta360 is great for filming thanks to its 4K resolution, 6 axis stabilisation and if you’d like to play around with the grade in post-production, you can shoot in Log to maximise your dynamic range to help in tricky lighting situations.
It’s important to note that although it can shoot 4K video (3840×1920), it’s not the same quality as that of a regular camera that shoots 4K as the pixels are spread over 360 degrees. So what does this mean? When viewing a 16:9 image with a 90-degree field of view, you’ll be looking at a 960p image. #quickmaths
The FreeCapture feature allows you to effectively reshoot your video in post-production by choosing what the viewer sees and when. To do this, simply record your 360 video as normal then go into the app, click FreeCapture, then as your video plays you can hit the record button again and tilt your phone around to change the composition and slide to zoom in and out.
Once you’re happy with your edit, you can then save and share it to your phone or social media accounts.
Alternatively, you can use the Smart Track feature to automatically track a subject of your choice. If you’re familiar with DJI’s active track feature, the user experience is similar to that. Once you’ve shot your video and gone into the free capture menu, select Smart Track then simply select your subject and it will track it automatically, always keeping the subject in centre frame.
From my findings, it worked fairly well but it would slip up if the subject got too far away as the viewing angle is so wide, it doesn’t take long for a subject to become a dot on the screen when moving away.
Shoot 24MP Stills
You can shoot 24MP photos in either RAW or .insp which is Insta360’s own format for their photos which can be imported into their free editing software which can be downloaded from their website.
When trying to edit the DNG raw files in Adobe Lightroom I wasn’t able to find a way to ‘unwrap’ and stitch the photos without first have them auto-stitched in Insta360’s software first. Hopefully, they release a plugin or lens correction preset that will solve this.
Bullet Time Effect
This is its party trick! What is the bullet time effect? Well, you remember the super bad ass scene in the Matrix where Neo dodges the bullets and the camera whips around him all while in slow motion? That!
The Insta360 One can shoot 120fps (240fps can be achieved algorithmically with the companion app). With the simple aid of a piece of string or a monopod, you can create this effect yourself by swinging the camera around yourself. Although the resolution does drop considerably when shooting in this higher frame rate, I was surprised at how well it worked and it’s definitely a fun future to play around with.
I really enjoyed the user experience with the time-lapse feature. It gives you the option to either have all the separate frames/photos for you to edit in post productions or, have a video that is already ready to export and share.
You can set the duration and the interval rate and what I really like is that they do the math for you and tell you how long the final video will be (played back at 30fps) and also how big the file will be. #quickmaths
Note: You can only use the timelapse feature when operating the camera remotely via bluetooth.
Thanks to the standard 1/4 inch tripod thread at the base of the camera, you can mount the camera to most consumer-level tripods and monopods. Customers have also found ways to attach them to helmets, cars, drones and boats.
If you use a monopod that is no wider than the camera unit itself, you can hold the camera out and have the pole appear invisible due to the stick being in its ‘blind spot’ (between where the two images are stitched) which is pretty neat and doesn’t take away from the 360 viewing experience.
Operate the Insta360 One Remotely
You’re not just limited to using the camera when it’s plugged into your phone. You can also operate it independently using the button on the side or remotely using a bluetooth enabled mobile device.
To operate it remotely just download the Insta360 One app, turn on your bluetooth and connect the device. Simple as that and there’s no faff pairing with passwords. Note that you must have a micro SD card inserted into the camera for the bluetooth feature to work.
I was very surprised and disappointed to find that there is no live view feature when operating it via your phone. All it allows you to do is operate the camera settings and monitor its battery level.
The housing that protects the camera when it’s not in use has been designed to be able to hold the camera upright and about 4 inches off the ground to help with getting those remote shots without you immediately in frame.
Unlike many other consumer-grade cameras, the Insta360 One actually allows some manual adjustment of the camera settings. It has a fixed aperture but you can set the shutter and ISO manually or have it on shutter priority. If you do opt for shooting in auto and want to adjust the overall exposure level, you can easily alter the EV level.
Battery Life and Charging
You can expect about 70 minutes of continuous filming on a full charge which is pretty reasonable as 360 cameras go. The battery itself is built into the camera and is charged via a micro USB port.
The only point I can fault with regards to the battery is that there is no LED status to tell you the battery is low when operating the camera independently.
6 Axis Stabilisation
Thanks to the 6 axis stabilisation, your video comes out silky smooth and doesn’t require the camera to be held upright all the time. Even if you hold the camera on its side, when reviewing the footage, it will keep the horizon level throughout.
Thinking of Upgrading from the Insta360 Nano?
The only minor downside to the One over the Nano is that it is slightly bigger and heavier than the Nano but other than that, the One is leaps and bounds ahead which easily justifies it. Insta360 have essentially taken everything that wasn’t so good about the Nano and it’s competitors and improved upon it.
The Insta360 One captures the footage and photos onto a MicroSD card. It comes with an 8GB card as standard but you can swap this out for up to a 128GB card.
One minor thing I found was that the SD Card port is quite deeply recessed into the bottom of the camera which makes it difficult to eject the card and lock it into place unless you have nails.
Low Light Test
Understandably, due to the small sensor size, it doesn’t perform amazingly in low light but it does a fair job. To put it into perspective, it’s about the same quality as you’d get from an iPhone 6 in low light. It’s a substantial improvement over that from the Insta360 Nano though.
Live Stream to Social Media Platforms
In a world full of sharing experiences, Insta360 have made it quick and easy for you to live stream from your Insta360 One at the click of a button (provided you have a decent internet connection). This allows friends, family or fans to interact with your experiences in real time or retrospectively.
In short, I am super impressed with this camera. There are a few minor things that I feel could be improved but then when I remind myself of the price, it already provides incredible value for money and compared to other 360 cameras at its price point I can’t fault it at all. If I was in the market for a consumer grade camera I would definitely get the Insta360 One.
Let us know what you think or if we’ve missed anything and you have a question, feel free to drop a message in the comment section below or give us a call on 01737 457404.