Photography

Insta360's One X2 360-degree video camera gains extra AI smarts

Insta360's One X2 360-degree v...
These things are next-level action cameras for motorcycle filming, if you don't mind losing some image quality compared to your GoPro
These things are next-level action cameras for motorcycle filming, if you don't mind losing some image quality compared to your GoPro
View 10 Images
These things are next-level action cameras for motorcycle filming, if you don't mind losing some image quality compared to your GoPro
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These things are next-level action cameras for motorcycle filming, if you don't mind losing some image quality compared to your GoPro
The One X2 can now be controlled through an Apple watch app, or via voice commands through a set of AirPods
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The One X2 can now be controlled through an Apple watch app, or via voice commands through a set of AirPods
The world needs more people skilled in the art of performing as if they're having a good time just as long as a camera is rolling, and then gathering around the camera to demand another take
3/10
The world needs more people skilled in the art of performing as if they're having a good time just as long as a camera is rolling, and then gathering around the camera to demand another take
Cameras like the One X2 can capture everything that's happening inside and outside the car
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Cameras like the One X2 can capture everything that's happening inside and outside the car
Influencers in the process of influencing
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Influencers in the process of influencing
Do you feel influenced yet? Because I'm feeling very influenced
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Do you feel influenced yet? Because I'm feeling very influenced
The new One X2 is waterproof down to 10 meters, and has a touchscreen for extra control and feedback
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The new One X2 is waterproof down to 10 meters, and has a touchscreen for extra control and feedback
Remote control accessory
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Remote control accessory
Sometimes, life is just so extra that you have to fling yourself skyward in a sidewalk jeté. Fear not, nobody appears to have discovered a limit for how hard you can influence
9/10
Sometimes, life is just so extra that you have to fling yourself skyward in a sidewalk jeté. Fear not, nobody appears to have discovered a limit for how hard you can influence
Face it, you are never going to have a good time as good as the time these influencers are having
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Face it, you are never going to have a good time as good as the time these influencers are having
View gallery - 10 images

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.

The world needs more people skilled in the art of performing as if they're having a good time just as long as a camera is rolling, and then gathering around the camera to demand another take
The world needs more people skilled in the art of performing as if they're having a good time just as long as a camera is rolling, and then gathering around the camera to demand another take

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.

Do you feel influenced yet? Because I'm feeling very influenced
Do you feel influenced yet? Because I'm feeling very influenced

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.

Sometimes, life is just so extra that you have to fling yourself skyward in a sidewalk jeté. Fear not, nobody appears to have discovered a limit for how hard you can influence
Sometimes, life is just so extra that you have to fling yourself skyward in a sidewalk jeté. Fear not, nobody appears to have discovered a limit for how hard you can influence

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.

Source: Insta360

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3 comments
guzmanchinky
It's the comments on the photos that slay me. I've always wanted to give the 360 cam thing a try, but it seems awfully difficult to edit into a video without making everyone nauseous...
guzmanchinky
Ok I just watched their promo video and I'm already feeling a bit queasy. I think I'll stick with my two GoPros and edit that together when I need different perspectives...
Synchro
I have a One X that I use for skiing. It really is excellent. I've had several gopro-type cameras, and they really just don't work that well. The biggest issue is framing - they are never looking the right way, so you either end up with pictures of your feet, or the sky, and it's all quite boring. They also usually don't go wide enough – you might start out with 170°, but you have to sacrifice some FOV for lens correction and stabilisation.
The One X is just a different league of usability. Stabilisation is scarily good, really a bit weird to behold – you have to get used to not needing to point the camera anywhere in particular! The "invisible selfie stick" really works – when combined with the stabilisation, the footage looks like you're being followed by a really smooth drone, so I get people asking "who filmed this?". I've also found that stills grabbed from video are really usable - there is no way I could reliably get those kind of angles with a still or fixed direction camera. Editing is a mixed bag - the tracking options for rendering standard HD work pretty well, but transferring video from the camera is a bit clumsy, and the desktop app misses some features but gains others over the phone app. I'd love to see a 360 plugin for Resolve, as there is for Premiere.