Digital Cameras

$399 throwable 360-degree camera unlocks impossible new action shots

$399 throwable 360-degree came...
Slot it into the Drifter case and throw the Insta360 One X right through the action for absolutely stunning Matrix-style slow-mo shots
Slot it into the Drifter case and throw the Insta360 One X right through the action for absolutely stunning Matrix-style slow-mo shots
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Shoot first, with no care for which way the camera's pointing – you can do that all later in post processing
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Shoot first, with no care for which way the camera's pointing – you can do that all later in post processing
Insta360 One X: bottom view
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Insta360 One X: bottom view
Insta360 One X: side view with MicroUSB port
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Insta360 One X: side view with MicroUSB port
Insta360 One X: side view with removable battery
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Insta360 One X: side view with removable battery
Insta360 One X: small front screen
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Insta360 One X: small front screen
Insta360 One X: bottom view with removable MicroSD card and screw mount
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Insta360 One X: bottom view with removable MicroSD card and screw mount
Insta360 One X: front view
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Insta360 One X: front view
Insta360 One X: Dive case gives you a 100-foot depth rating
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Insta360 One X: Dive case gives you a 100-foot depth rating
Insta360 One X: slotted into the throwable Drifter  case
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Insta360 One X: slotted into the throwable Drifter  case
Slot it into the Drifter case and throw the Insta360 One X right through the action for absolutely stunning Matrix-style slow-mo shots
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Slot it into the Drifter case and throw the Insta360 One X right through the action for absolutely stunning Matrix-style slow-mo shots
Insta360 One X: smart remote and tablet viewing
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Insta360 One X: smart remote and tablet viewing
Insta360 One X: standard Venture case gives you waterproofing down to 16 feet
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Insta360 One X: standard Venture case gives you waterproofing down to 16 feet

Insta360 is calling its new One X camera a GoPro Hero7 killer due to its advanced omnidirectional motion stabilization. But we think that might be underselling it, because no GoPro can get the crazy, Matrix-style slow-mo shots this thing can take when you throw it right through the action as you film.

In form, it's not dissimilar to the first Insta360 camera we had a play with a couple of years ago: twin ultra-wide lenses either side of a compact, thin handle that looks something like an oversized cigarette lighter. But things have moved along some, as you'd expect.

For starters, the new One X films in 5.7 K resolution at 30 frames per second (fps). Now, when it comes to presentation, even 4K is barely becoming relevant to the vast majority of users. But when you're filming 360-degree video, and then only presenting part of that image in the final output, resolution is king and every pixel counts.

There are also now slow-motion modes – 50 fps at 4K and 100 fps at 3K – which sacrifice resolution for frame rates, but enable some absolutely ridiculous shots which we'll get to in a minute.

Insta360 One X: small front screen
Insta360 One X: small front screen

Then there's FlowState stabilization, which uses internal sensors to track the physical movement and rotation of the camera during use to allow you to make eerily stable footage no matter what was going on during filming. It comes out far smoother than anything a gimbal can do, also beating the GoPro Hero7's HyperSmooth stabilization handily in back to back testing, according to the manufacturer. Naturally, you can use it to create hyperlapse style shots as well, with the added bonus of being able to turn the camera any direction you like at any time in post processing.

Post processing gets an upgrade too, with active tracking built in - that means you can select a subject, and the software will stabilize the footage with the subject right in the center at all times. That in itself is a powerful step forward.

The One X steps up a bit as a semi-pro shooting platform too, with manual exposure controls, HDR photography, a removable battery, automated removal of mounts and selfie sticks from the final image, GPS-enabled smart remote control and a standard case that's waterproof to 5 meters (16 ft) deep. If you want to go another level down, you can option it up with a Dive Case that gives you a 30 m (100 ft) depth rating. And you can now preview the footage on your smartphone or tablet as you shoot.

But perhaps the coolest new feature is the One X's ability to snap into a throwable dart case and literally lob the camera through the action as it happens. It's like filming slow-mo from a drone that can go pretty much anywhere, and whose camera can be aimed precisely where you want after the shot has been taken. The results are truly stunning, as you can see in the video below.

Insta360 - Own The Moment 10.10

Now, honestly, if you're looking for outright image quality in terms of resolution, dynamic range, sharpness, color bit depth, the GoPro is still going to beat the Insta360 One X, simply for the fact that it films in high quality 4K, in one single direction, while the 360-degree camera is filming in all directions and throwing out much of its resolution as you choose where to point it in post. You can see some of the quality loss in the video above, but remember, those are slow-mo shots that are working on even further restricted resolution. The difference is much less noticeable in the video at the bottom of the page, but it's still there, and you can still catch the odd stitching artefact. But the footage is so stunning that it doesn't matter.

Assuming your output is going to be 1080p, the quality gap is narrowing fast, and the case for 360-degree cameras like this is strengthening all the time. They're just as compact as other action cameras, you can stick them almost anywhere with a range of mounts, and they open up a vast range of shots and world projections you simply can't get with a regular camera, while also giving you the ability to act like a regular camera with all panning and tilting and composition done in post.

Stick them on a 10-foot pole, wave it around and you've got something very analogous to a drone shot. Put them on a drone, and you've got an unprecedented ability to simply fly close to your subject, and then compose your shot later, using motion tracking and all sorts of other tools to get supernatural shots. Look carefully and you'll realize that shots that could only have been taken on 360-degree cameras are starting to show up in all sorts of action sports videos, slowly starting to take over the genre the way the first GoPros did when they came out.

In about 18 months, we've seen Insta360's gear leap a couple of generations, to the point where anyone shooting action should start seriously thinking about throwing one in the camera bag. This is an exciting time for a new generation of action cameras. The Insta360 One X retails for US$399. Check out a full video below.

Source: Insta360

Insta360 ONE X - Introducing the Insta360 ONE X

4 comments
Joshua Tulberg
I don't understand the comparison. POV action cams and 360 cams are two completely different products. If you are going to compare this to something, it should be a GoPro Fusion. And as for the "4K" vs "1080" argument: The vast majority of POV action cams offer 4K in WIDE FOV so that you can get 2.7K or 1080 in a narrower FOV. 1080 footage from a 5.7k 360 camera basically means you are shooting in a WIDE FOV which means in order to get decent shots you need to be really close to your subject. One could say as close as a dart-throw. ;-)
guzmanchinky
Well, I just bought the Hero 7 and was disappointed to find out that "Hypersmooth" only works up to 4K30fps and not in 4K60fps. I feel a bit ripped off since the Youtube video from GoPro shows 4k60fps hypersmooth in it. So maybe I'll give this one a try...
Joshua Tulberg
@ guzmanchinky: Pretty sure that info is on their website. Must of been your first action cam?
Joshua Tulberg
@ guzmanchinky : Just FYI: You can get 4K60 w/ Hypersmooth. Just need to perform the software update.