Insta360's One X2 360-degree video camera gains extra AI smarts
Insta360 has upgraded its pocket-sized 360-degree camera – but without adding to its already-beefy 5.7K resolution. The new Insta360 One X2 instead gets some extra intelligence designed to make it an easier, less fiddly and more useful video tool.
360-degree cameras, if you haven't played with one, capture vision from basically all around themselves at once, using multiple lenses and clever stitching software to create a giant, confusing mess of everything all at once. This raw video isn't much use, but when it's shot at a high enough resolution, you can then use it to create "projections" using some more clever software that stretches, crops and pulls the image into a useful format.
Because you've got video of literally everything that's happening around the camera, you can zoom in on part of the image to create a pretty great impression of a typical GoPro angle, with the added advantage that you can look around within the image, angling the view wherever you want after shooting for interesting and dynamic effects.
This is next-level for video stabilization, because it doesn't matter if you drop the camera and it flips and spins all the way to the floor, you can still reconstruct a smooth and stable shot with very little effort thanks to in-built inertial measurement gear and accelerometers that can precisely track the motion of the camera and use that information to auto-stabilize the image.
And that's with the old version; the new one gets smarter in its image processing and subject tracking. So it can stabilize an image on a target object if you tell it what to stay pointed at; indeed, its new MultiView mode can give you an instant split shot created from two different views at once. The main view might be pointed forward, say, and another might show an inlay that tracks your face, all constructed in real time and shown on a new circular touch screen that gives you extra control as well as a better idea of what the light's doing.
MultiView is one mode, others include raw 360-degree footage for later editing, FlowState-stabilized Steady Cam mode for a super-smooth action cam effect, and an InstaPano photo mode that eliminates stitching and time warping to grab panoramic pictures in a single shot.
Shooting in 360-degree mode makes things a bit more fiddly, but gives you access to a bunch of post-processing options through the Shot Lab app: a bunch of different projection and camera control options, as well as things like automatic dolly zooms, "clone trails" that create little freeze frames of people or objects as they move, and a "ghost town" mode that lets you take a long video in a still spot at a crowded tourist attraction, and have the software process it into a still image with all the people edited out.
Indeed, there's even an AI system that aims to go through the footage and figure out where the good bits are on your behalf. There are also time-shift hyperlapses, automatic HDR photos even in low light, and one-touch color balancing for underwater shooting, since the camera is IPX8-certified for total immersion in water up to 10 meters (33 ft) under the surface. An optional Dive Case accessory can take you down as far as 45 m (close to 150 ft).
The One X2 has four microphones, which can either be used to generate an ambisonic full-sphere soundscape for your video, or a stereo audio feed with wind noise reduction.
The price rises a little, to US$429, and the One X2 is available now, either directly from Insta360's website, or through retailers. Without having used it, it seems like there are some nice new features – but from our test of the original One X the main improvement we'd be hoping to see would be a jump in image quality. Resolution is only one part of that picture; things like chromatic aberration, contrast and dynamic range were a bit underdone on the first camera, so it'll be interesting to see what's changed there.