We've had some experience playing around with Insta360's cheap and cheerful cameras before and were rather impressed with some of their whacky capabilities. One, the company's newest camera, promises to up the fun-factor even more with a host of new 360-degree shooting modes including shoot first, frame later technology and a Matrix-like bullet time mode.
Launched today, the iPhone/iPad compatible Insta360 One is a 4K, 360-degree camera that follows the same compact format as the Air and Nano, which were able to clip into a smartphone port for direct control through a companion app. Alternatively, it can be controlled remotely via a Bluetooth connection or simply used as a standalone camera.
The One shoots 360-degree video at a resolution of 3840 x 1920 at 30fps, 2560 x 1280 at 60 fps and photos at 24-megapixels. It weighs 82 g (2.8 oz), packs an onboard six-axis gyroscope to smooth out your shots and runs on a rechargeable 820 mAh battery said to provide 70 minutes of continuous video shooting.
But what's really cool about the One is the clever shooting modes it offers. The first is dubbed FreeCapture, and in essence it allows users to capture a 360-degree video and select a 1080p fixed frame angle after the fact.
All this requires is the user to hit the record button to capture the spherical video, and afterwards connect the One camera to their phone to download the video. From there, the smartphone display acts as a window into the 360-degree recording, enabling users to wave their phone around and capture 1080p video just as they would in regular life. Almost as if they were stepping into the past.
Another is called bullet time mode, and is intended as a cheap and fun way to capture dramatic circling shots, like the one seen in the iconic scene from The Matrix where the camera appears to fly around Neo as he dodges bullets. Instead of Hollywood special effects, however, the One simply relies on either string or a selfie stick that the user swings around their head.
This captures 240 fps slow-motion circling shots, keeping the subject right in the middle of the frame, with software then erasing the string or selfie stick from the shot automatically. This also applies to regular shooting with a selfie stick, with the apparatus deleted from the scene to give the impression of a flying camera.
There is also an automated tracking mode, much like those seen on a lot of new drones, where a moving subject can be selected and the camera will automatically keep them in frame. And much like the One's predecessors, video can be live streamed through Facebook, Instagram and Youtube.
For now the One camera is only compatible with iOs devices, with Android support to follow "soon." Available from today, the One camera is priced at US$300, which includes a case, camera stand, MicroSD card and Micro USB cable for charging, along with the string attachment to shoot in bullet-time mode.
You can check out the promo video below.