Insta360 ONE X review

Insta360 ONE X review
Review

What is the Insta360 ONE X?

The Insta360 ONE X is the Chinese manufacturer’s latest consumer 360 camera (it also makes professional options), which boasts a top video resolution of 5.7K at 30 fps.

Users can control the Insta360 ONE X via their iPhone or Android smartphone using its companion app or via direct controls on the camera body. It also boasts a range of special effects and shooting modes, as well as built-in stabilisation.

The Insta360 ONE X price tag is $400/£400.

Features

The big selling point of the ONE X over the ONE is its increased resolution to 5.7K (5760 x 2880) at 30fps. This effectively means that you can film in 360 and concern yourself with composition later. At 5.7K you can find your desired angle and extract a standard 16:9 video that will still be 1080 resolution. You can do this via the companion app using its Viewfinder feature.

The Insta360 ONE X also has options to film at 4K (3840 x 1920) at 50fps or 3K (3008 x 1504) at 100fps.

Insta360 has also added a new TimeShift option that lets you adjust the speed around certain moments within a video clip. And the company has revamped its 6-axis gyroscopic FlowState stabilisation.

The Insta360 ONE X also brings live-streaming capability, which competitors like the GoPro Fusion don’t have. This is achieved via a cable, provided with the camera, that connects your phone to the ONE X.

As well as spherical video, the ONE X can shoot 18-megapixel HDR still 360 images, both as JPEG or DNG raw. Content is saved to microSD (up to 128GB), and its 1200mAh battery provides about an hour’s use per charge if shooting video at its top resolution.

It’s worth noting that the ONE X doesn’t stitch spherical images and video in-camera. For this you’ll need to download the Insta360 Studio 2019 software, which you can get for free here.

 

Build and Handling

The Insta360 ONE X weighs just 115g and measures 115mm x 48mm x 28mm. In real terms, smaller than your wallet but bigger than your memory card reader. Its body is made of a robust plastic with a rubberised finish all around.

As a unit, it feels solid in your hand, and the door springs and buttons are all high quality and built to last.

Its design is minimalist. On the front are two buttons: a smaller circle which powers the ONE X on or off and also navigates through the shooting modes and settings menu. The larger circular button is your shutter button and also cycles through the individual menus for each shooting mode.

The menus and overall operation are completely straightforward. In some respects this is the easiest 360 camera I’ve used.

Above the shutter button is a round OLED screen which displays your menu information and shooting settings.

At the base of the ONE X is a standard tripod mount. Next to this screw thread is a microSD card slot. On one side of the ONE X is a micro USB charging port, and on the other is a battery compartment (the battery in the ONE X is removable unlike the previous ONE).

The dual lenses on either face of the ONE X are glass, and the camera comes with a handy soft pouch to protect these lenses. This attaches to a lanyard so you can even wear it around your neck.

The ONE X isn’t waterproof like the Fusion, which is a downside for a camera that seems to position itself as an action/360 camera hybrid.

And I did find myself questioning the logic of having the power button double as your mode selector when I accidentally turned the camera off on a few occasions.

But overall, I was pretty impressed with the build quality of Insta360 ONE X.

Its design is undeniably minimalist, but its construction is superb and feels like it’s made of premium materials.

The App

The Insta360 ONE X has a companion app for remote control. The app is simple to use and offers a decent amount of exposure controls. It has all the tiny planet and sharing options you’ve come to expect from a 360 camera’s companion app, and is very simple to use.

Yet there’s a fair amount of control within the app. You can adjust ISO, exposure compensation, white balance, shutter speed, frame rates, apply effects and much more.

When powered on, the ONE X automatically creates a WiFi hotspot (which also affects its battery life). You can then connect to the WiFi via Bluetooth within the app by pressing the camera icon, and you’re ready to go.

That said, I’ve had a few issues with connecting to the ONE X within the app. The camera’s WiFi hotspot hasn’t appeared sometimes in my phone’s available networks. For some reason, it seems to be that if a familiar network is in range, the ONE X WiFi hotspot doesn’t appear. If I forget the network or if I go away from it to somewhere where I’m using 4G, then it connects fine. This could very well be a quirk with my Huawei P20 Pro, though.

Performance

The Insta360 ONE X is dead easy to use. The ethos of its minimalist body design carries over into the companion app, which is well laid out and simple to set up.

I’ve been pretty impressed by the ONE X’s image quality. Exposures are nicely balanced; highlights on the whole have a nice amount of detail. Shooting in mixed lighting, such as under a forest canopy on a sunny day, there isn’t too much colour fringing and the ONE X handles the highlights and shadows well.

Colours are also natural and well-rendered. You can also switch to the ONE X’s HDR image mode for more robust colours.

Video

More than its all-seeing eye as a 360 camera, I mostly appreciated the Insta360 ONE X as a capable little pocket video camera. So in some ways I found myself comparing it to the DJI Osmo Pocket.

While the Osmo Pocket may be designed more specifically for video, I’d say the ONE X isn’t far behind. Its ability to shoot 5.7K spherical video and allow you to recompose a 16:9 Full HD video later is a real advantage. It allows you to just be in the moment, and as long as you press record, that’s all you need to worry about.

I also liked the options available with frame rates. Having 5.7K is ideal for situations like the paragraph above where you want to extract a standard 16:9 scene from spherical footage, but 3K at 100fps is also highly useful and probably doesn’t get as much press as it should.

Typically cameras of this ilk will give you frame rates that high at 1080 or 720p. The ONE X thus allows you to shoot slow-motion videos in high resolution using the ONE X’s Cinematic Slow-Mo and TimeShift modes. The latter enables you to speed up or slow down key moments in your videos.

The ONE X’s Bullet Time mode is also a lot of fun. In Bullet Time mode you attached the ONE X to Insta360’s ‘invisible’ selfie stick or cable and twirl the camera overhead to produce an effect of the ONE X circling above you like a drone.

It’s not something you’d want to use all the time, I found, but in some situations it can be really striking. I shot a Bullet Time video on a mountain top in the Lake District, for instance, and was able to capture stunning views of the lakes and valleys beyond the summit on which I stood.

I shot another at Kimmeridge Bay, below, which managed to capture the sea in front of me and the cliffs of the Jurassic coastline behind me.

Using the invisible selfie stick can take some getting used to. As you can see below, I’ve included my first few rotations in the footage here to show how the horizon can look a little wonky until you get into a rhythm, but the videos are good fun and easy to make.

How to shoot a Bullet Time video with the Insta360 ONE X

Shooting a Bullet Time video is done using a mixture of the Insta360 ONE X’s direct controls and the companion app.

  1. Press the mode selector button and navigate to Video mode.
  2. Use the larger shutter button/setting selector button to cycle through the video modes until you get to Bullet Time.
  3. Attach your ONE X to the mini tripod, and attach the mini tripod to the invisible selfie stick. Alternatively, you can use the provided Bullet Time string by screwing the metal bolt directly into the bottom of your ONE X.
  4. Press the shutter button to begin Bullet Time recording.
  5. Raise the selfie stick or cable (with your index finger through the finger loop) over your head and begin rotating the camera over your head in slow, but steady circular motions.
  6. When done, lower the unit and press the shutter button to stop Bullet Time recording.
  7. When editing within the app you will be able to delete the clips of you starting and stopping the recording.

FlowState stabilisation

I was particularly impressed by Insta360’s FlowState stabilisation. To test it out I mounted the camera on its mini tripod and climbed a series of small hills in a local wood. Standing at the top I ran down, holding the ONE X over my head.

As you can see from the clip below, the footage is remarkably stable given I was running down sheer drops and uneven ground.

Insta360 ONE X sample photos

Below is a selection of sample photos shot with the Insta360 ONE X.

Verdict

There’s a lot to like about the Insta360 ONE X. I’d have to place it at the top of my rankings for the best 360 cameras. It beats the Fusion in resolution, and while it matches the Yi 360 VR in resolution and live-streaming capability, the ONE X has a much better build quality in my opinion. It’s also slimmer and pocketable.

What’s more, Insta360 is continually updating its cameras with new firmware and launching new products and accessories, while we’ve heard nary a word about the Yi 360 VR since its launch. In other words, Insta360 seems more committed to its ecosystem.

Its not the cheapest 360 camera on the market by any means, but the ONE X gives you solid image quality and top-notch video features from a camera that slips into your pocket.

There are a few downsides, though. Its battery life could be better (about an hour in my tests), and it could benefit from a waterproof design. Really, a feature I’d like to see in the next version would be voice control like the Fusion. That, in my opinion, would really set the ONE range apart from all competitors. But even with these minor downsides, the ONE X is still my pick for the best consumer 360 camera.

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Insta360 ONE X
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