Today, we’re going to be checking out Insta360 ONE, made by a company from ShenZhen, Insta360.
There are many 360 cameras out there in the market I can tell you up front that you’d have to invest way about 2-3 times more in a 360˚ camera than a normal camera because it’s definitely not worth getting a 360 camera below $100 as the quality & support is really bad and will definitely deter you from using it, resulting in you using back your old camera.
Enough of that said, let’s get back to the ONE.
The ONE have been argued by many, to be the best 360 camera out there, because of the abundance of cool features and the reliable and user-friendly interface.
Is the ONE really as good as they say? Or is it just another overrated 360˚ camera? Let’s find out!
Contents of Review (Click to Skip To Section):
- Best Buy
- Compatible Devices
- What It Comes With
- Optional Accessories (Waterproof case, Selfie Stick, Android Adapter)
- Build Quality & Design (Body, Connector, Ports, Indicators)
- Usage Modes (Independent, Bluetooth, Smartphone)
- Unique Features (Stabilisation, Optimised Stitching, Freecapture, SmartTrack, BulletTime)
- Smartphone App (Insta360 Community, Album, Sharing, Live Streaming)
- Comparisons (Other Insta360 Cams & Mijia 360)
Let’s quickly run down the specs.
Image sensor: 1/2.3” Sony CMOS Sensor
Chipset: Ambarella A12 Chipset
Video Resolution & Output Format : 4K (3840 x 1920); insv, mp4, log
Image resolution & Output Format: 24MP (6912 x 3456); Insp, jpeg, RAW
Ports & Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0, Lightning Connector, Micro-USB 2.0
Mounting: ¼” Tripod Thread
Battery Capacity & Life: 820mAh; 70 mins battery life
Best Places to Buy
Note: If you’re considering of cutting corners and getting a cheaper 360 camera, especially those below 100, it’s not that you can’t find them, but you’ll probably be tired of them in a week time, and return to your old camera, as the quality and firmware at that price range is trash.
It’s available for Android (only till recently) & IOS smartphones.
For IOS, it is compatible with any device that has a lightning port (iPhone SE all the way to iPhone X) and iPads (iPad Air – iPad Pro).
For Android, it’s a little more complicated as you would have to purchase an additional adapter. Also, there are minimum configuration requirements to your phone. Check out the full list of compatible android phones here.
What It Comes With:
The package includes:
- Protective Case
- Quick Start Guide
- Micro-USB Cable
- Bullet-time String
- Lens Cloth
- Warranty Card
- 8GB SD Card
It comes in a full package, so you don’t have to buy anything separately.
The only thing I’m recommending to get is another Micro-SD card that has more storage because 8GB is definitely not enough, especially for 360˚ footages.
This can be used as a general protection case as well, other than the waterproofing capability.
Android Adaptor – Type-C/Micro-USB
You’ll need this to connect directly to an android phone.
120 cm Bluetooth Selfie Stick
Build Quality & Design
Upon holding it for the first time, it certainly feels very well-built and sturdy.
Also, most 360 cameras have a relatively large body in order to house the 2 different lenses and the other parts such as the processors, etc, but the ONE is an exception as it has a really small body which makes it really easy to bring around, making this one of its strength in my opinion.
The cover is multi-purpose which I felt was very intelligently designed.
The reason is that it can be used as a hard case to protect the camera; a handle when moving around; a stand to support the camera to stand vertically.
The only problem I had with was that it’s only held by friction and does not have any locking mechanism, which felt a little insecure. However, after using it for some time, it’s actually really reliable despite it being able to come off if you swing it around quite hard.
As the lens are prone to scratches, always carry around with the cover on unless you are using it to film!
All In One Button
At the side, there’s a button, which is an all-in-one button.
These are the main uses:
- Pressing and holding: Power it on/off;
- Pressing 1 time: Take a photo;
- Pressing 2 times: Take a video;
- Pressing 3 times: Can be configured in the app; default is bullet time
As there isn’t any screen on the camera, the only indicator is shown through the LED indicator which is located on both sides of the camera, used to display the status.
There are 3 colours that the indicator can show:
Green: Normal condition; Blinking green: Recording Video / Capturing Photo
Blue: Memory card storage full, Firmware Update
Although, I felt the indicator status is obvious and easy to read, which is good, it can be further improved by incorporating battery status as well as there’s no way to know the battery life other than through the app.
Ports and Connectors
At the other side, there is a micro-usb port for charging and a retractable lightning connector used to connect to your iPhone/iPad.
At the top, there’s a micro-SD card slot. I felt it was a little too deep and which made it quite difficult to insert/pull out your micro-sd cards especially if you have short nails.
Beside it, there’s a ¼” tripod thread, which allows you to mount just about anything, from monopods, tripods, to the bullet time string.
The only way of mounting this would be through the universal ¼” tripod thread at the bottom, which you can then mount it to a selfie stick, a tripod, hand strap, or any action camera mounts.
Exclusive Tip 🙂
Mount it parallel to the selfie stick to take advantage of its blind spot: make sure the selfie stick is directly under so that way in your videos or photos, it’d stay perfectly hidden and it looks like it is remotely taken! 🙂
Different Usage Modes:
Independent Mode – For general use such as vlogging, trips, etc (Footage(s) Stored in Micro-SD)
Bluetooth Mode– For taking scenic time-lapse on tripods or simply for taking wefies on selfie sticks. (Footage(s) Stored in Micro-SD)
Smartphone Mode – For taking group photos/videos(Footage(s) Stored in Smartphone)
6 Axis Gyro Stabilization & Optimised Stitching – For Creating Smooth & Clear Videos
The stabilization is excellent and it’s as if there’s a gimbal built right directly into the camera as it effectively reduces shake really well.
It is also able to stabilise videos because there is an internal 6 axis gyroscope, which is used to detect and remove the shake.
Also, the ONE has a feature called optimised stitching, which makes the image a lot more natural and smoothens the transition in the stitch line.
Update Mar 20 2018: Flowstate Image Stabilization
A new technology release by Insta360 is by far one of the greatest software updates that I’ve seen from any 360 camera company.
You may be wondering, doesn’t the Insta360 One already have an image stabilization? Well that’s true, but this thing they called “Flowstate” really adds a whole new level to stabilization, bringing it up to the same level as the Rylo, which was previously the best 360 camera for stabilization.
Take a look for yourself here, the difference is astounding!
Free-capture & SmartTrack – For Seamless Conversion From 360˚ to Normal Videos
SmartTrack is another feature for converting 360 to standard videos but instead of you using the phone as the view finder, it’ll keep the tracked object in the middle of the frame.
Both of these editing features are exceptionally important when converting from a 360 video to a normal video which can be played back by a normal video player.
They make the process of converting really easy and most importantly quick, so that you’re able to focus more on enjoying your trip, rather than editing to share with your family and friends.
Bullet-time – Filming In A New Perspective
This is a very cool visual effect that enables you to film the world from a very unique perspective.
All you have to do is to enable bullet time and use either the string (provided) or your selfie stick to swing the camera around.
The app is awesome. It’s loaded with lots of awesome features and it’s the main reason why the ONE stands out from its competitors.
Navigation & Interface
The introduction of the Insta360 ONE community came from a recent update and is a sharing platform that allows anyone with the ONE to share their footages with everyone.
Feel free to check it out (by downloading the app) if you don’t own the ONE yet, do it! There are tons of mind-blowing and immersive footages in there and I’m sure you’ll be impressed by it after taking a look at them!
This is the only part of the app that I felt could be improved. The categorisation is very messy because at times, the latest video wouldn’t be at the top or the bottom but somewhere in the middle and thus when you’re looking for videos, it’s pretty hard to do so.
There are 2 main ways of sharing:
- Taking snapshot – for picture only
- Uploading to private server and sharing the link of it
1st method – Taking Snapshot
The first method is pretty straightforward. You choose the perspective (fisheye, standard, tiny planet) that you want and take a snapshot, which then will be saved to your photos album.
2nd method – Uploading to A Private Server
There are many social media that you can use together with to share your footages with others.
How It Works:
Sharing a 360˚ video is a little more complicated than a normal video because it requires a 360˚ player to play and look around.
However, you don’t have to worry about that as the app does everything for you and all you’ll need to do is to select any of the sharing options.
Afterwards, it’ll upload your video to a server which others can view it on. You can easily share with your friends using the private server and send the link to your friends for them to view and look around through their phones.
Still confused? Click here for an example of what I mean.
This is one of the main highlight of this camera because the video output’s really smooth and clear, something I didn’t expect coming out from a 360 camera.
And because of direct connection between the camera and the phone, it ensures that the data is transferred smoothly and reliably. Also, even better, it is automatically stabilised already. Therefore, you wouldn’t have to worry about giving your viewers a bad experience.
Image Quality – Videos & Photos Quality
The 360 camera had incredibly better image quality than I had originally expected and it particularly excelled in 3 aspects:
- Gyro Stabilization in video
- Low light conditions
- Wide dynamic range – high contrast shots
In the default video mode, it films in a 2:1 aspect ratio, 4K (3840x1920p) however the effective resolution is lower than that because that at one time, you are only looking at a small section of the 360 video.
To me, the effective video quality looks somewhere between 720p and 1280p, and it’s definitely crisp enough to view and share with your family and friends.
Anyways, have a look at some samples.
Sample (Processed Using FreeCapture)
I noticed that especially in long non-stop recording, it tends to overheat and shuts down as a result. Thus, it’s not very ideal for taking long shots (3 hours and above), especially if you live in a warm place.
The ONE take 24MP (6912 x 3456) photos and has the option for RAW photos.
There are also 3 different perspectives you can see: tiny planet, fisheye, perspective.
Insta360 ONE vs Other 360 Cameras
Other Insta360 Cameras
Insta360 ONE vs Xiaomi Mijia 360 / Mi Sphere
Verdict: Best Hybrid 360 Camera
I felt the ONE is the best 360 camera there is to date, not because of the specs or design of it, but instead, the reliability and versatility that it offers.
It has amazing live streaming capability, easy to use freecapture feature for editing and capturing image quality is also really good.
All these features that no other 360 cameras offer makes the ONE really unique and fun to use.
It gets even better once you hold it, as it has a very small and portable body, which makes it very convenient to carry and mount.
For me, it’s definitely a camera that I’ll bring around wherever I go because it’s one of a kind and one of the strength of a 360 camera is you don’t have to worry about pointing it at the right direction as it will be recording everywhere.
Should You Buy It?
I’ve have to admit that this definitely does not come cheap especially for those who are starting out and even for some camera enthusiasts.
Nonetheless, I’m still highly recommending the ONE as I feel the price reflects on what you are getting, and I’d have to say that it’s great value for money for the quality you’re getting.
Furthermore, you don’t see a 360 camera that can be operated independently and can be reviewed immediately afterwards on your phone with a flip of a switch very often.
That comes to the end of my review!
How do you feel about this 360 camera? Is it overpriced or actually worth it? If you have any thoughts or questions about the Insta360 One, feel free to let me know through the comments down below!
Insta360 ONE299 USD
User Experience (UX)1.9/10
Value For Money2.5/10
Smartphone & PC App1.9/10
- Tons of Awesome Features (FreeCapture, Bullet Time, Stabilisation)
- Value For Money
- Sharp Image Quality & Supports RAW Photos
- Good Low Light Performance
- Small & Portable Body To Carry Around
- Awesome 6 Axis Image Stabilization
- Can’t Be Charged When Connected To Phone
- Overheats When Filming Long Shots
- Battery Can’t Be Removed Or Interchanged
- Glitchy Album
- Cover Only Held By Friction