Looking for something a bit different from an action camera, then the Insta360 One R is about as different as they come. Adopting a modular design, this small camera is inspired, and any initial fears about how robust the connection between the module parts is, can be quickly dismissed. From VR 360 camera to standard action camera in a few seconds, the different modules make GoPro’s modules look like cheap ill-fitting add-ons.
In use, the camera with the single 4K Wide angle lens module fitted is a pure action camera, producing clear, crisp, vibrant footage, while once the dual-lens 360 is fitted, the camera captures VR footage in the way you always wanted.
The Insta360 is not just good; it’s market-leading when it comes to innovation and image quality.
Click here to buy https://store.insta360.com/product/one_r
- Modular design
- Incredible image quality
- Both standard and 360º video
- Joins get filled with mud
- App home screen cluttered
What is Insta360 One R?
The concept behind the Insta360 One R is inspired, a small go-anywhere action camera that quickly transforms from a standard single lens to a dual-lens 360.
Insta360 are by no means new to the camera market; in fact, they are the GoPro of the VR world and highly respected for both their consumer and professional products.
While they dominate the 360 camera product lines, they haven’t until now had a thoroughbred action camera.
Their approach to the small camera market is completely different to any other that I’ve seen in as far as it uses lens modules.
These modules plug into the screen module to ensure that you have the best possible imaging solution for the scene, event or action you’re about to record.
It also gets around that one size fits approach to some degree. While the camera is the same, the imaging component is different with the Wide-Angled 4K module reflecting a standard action camera, the dual-lens 360 being similar to their standard line of VR cameras, and then there’s an additional 1-inch edition lens that has been designing with the co-operation of Leica.
Drop in the big imaging and optics name of Leica, and you’ll start to get an impression of just how big the investment is behind this company and small camera.
Sure enough, when the box arrives, and the camera is revealed, the quality is instantly apparent. The Insta360 One R Edition is one of the best-made cameras out there. The design, materials and style are on a par, if not better, than GoPro.
Likewise, boot up the app, and again it’s feature-packed, if a little over the top with the latest posts, tutorials and inspiration in between the pure camera function.
The Insta360 One R edition is exciting; you get that impression from the outset, but before looking at the quality of the video, you have to wonder if the Insta360 One R Edition is a jack of all trades master at none?
- 360 Resolution: 5.7K
- Max standard video resolution: 4K@60fps
- Stabalization: FlowState
- Waterproof: 5m
- Special modes: Bullet time, Invisible Selfie Stick, Night Shot and many more
- Modular Design: Two additional lens options available
- SlowMotion: 8x standard, 4x 360
Build and Handling
Modular has been a buzzword for a while; modular bags, cameras, and countless other devices seem to signify a cost-efficient, space-saving, and innovative product. In reality, it often means the product is slight half-assed and is mediocre at best at most of what it’s supposed to do.
Then 12 years ago (2009), Ricoh launched the Ricoh GRX, a compact camera with a choice of lenses, sensor combo’s that could be fitted to the camera body.
It was quirky, worked, produced great images but was met with a coolness that is all too common with something a bit different and from Ricoh.
However, while the GXR might have disappeared, the Ricoh GR and its various iterations are still one of the best compact cameras out there. If you delve into the product line, there are still a host of lenses, filters, flashes and other accessories that you can bolt-on, although not in quite the innovative way of the GXR.
The Insta360 One R Edition takes an almost identical route to the GXR, just in a smaller form and for a different audience and one that I think is more appreciative of the modular design.
First and foremost, putting the camera together is simple. You have the main module with the screen, and I assume processor, battery and card slot; this clicks into the lens module of choice.
Once the base plate is fitted, this hinges onto one end and then click securely in place to hold the camera assembly together with a reassuring click.
Once everything is in place, the camera is solid and robust, and the precision is made, so there’s no wobble between components. An early worry of mine when I heard about the concept.
What’s impressive is that despite being modular, the Insta360 One R is waterproof to a depth of 5m, although they do state that you should use the dive case if you’re surfing.
Alongside the main camera, there’s a host of accessories further boosting the potential of this camera; these include the dive case, lens protection, tripods, battery bases and a host of other additions you’ll find on their site.
If you’re already a GoPro user, then you probably have a host of GoPro accessories, so you’ll be pleased to hear that, as is standard with every action camera, there’s a GoPro mount adapter in the box.
It’s an impressive package and one that goes well beyond the offering of GoPro for the same price.
Despite the small size, action cameras are generally feature-heavy, and this is certainly the case for the Insta360 One R. If you think that the modular design was the USP, then, in reality, that’s just the start of it.
It has all the usual action camera features, including 12mp stills, invisible selfie stick, Flash Cut (Impressive editing software), Timeshift, HDR, Night shot, Flow State (Image Stabilisation), reversible touch screen, Waterproof to 5m, point to track, 8x slow motion and 4x slow-motion 360, bullet time, 5.7k 360º, voice control and Auto fame.
It sounds like an impressive line-up, and once you get into the use of the camera, these features start to break out. I’ve listed them above because Insta360, GoPro, and many other manufacturers try to get their users to make the most of the products they design and build.
Load up the Insta360 App, and you’re instantly hit with multiple user posts and curated content. Tap around the screen, and you get all the information in tutorials you could want about the camera and features, and every day there’s tips, tricks and activities for you to get involved with.
Ok, it’s all a bit of a marketing ploy as they try to get you to post your latest and greatest video/Still on Instagram, but ignoring that, it’s just great fun.
The app is truly a level above most other apps on the market, and of course, it’s free and required to make the most out of the Insta360 One R camera.
But the break out feature that I’ll go into more depth about in the future is FlashCut Insta’s auto-editing software. It’s slick, fast and works.
There’s also a plugin for Premiere Pro, which makes life easy.
The other feature worth pointing out at this point is a point to track + Deep track. This is used with the dual-lens 360 and essentially enables you to track a subject. It’s clever, fast and helps when editing your 360º footage by ensuring you have the point of focus where it should be during playback.
One issue with anything module is that the performance changes depending on the modules that you’re using. In this review, I’ve taken a look at the Insta360 One R 360 Edition, but Insta360 has also supplied the Wide-angled 4K and 1-inch edition modules.
In all cases, the module attaches. Then, the base holds the camera tightly together; once the base lock clicks into the camera module, the fit and connection between the components are as tight as if it were a singular unit.
Here I’ll tackle all three lens modules starting with the 360 dual-lens; essentially this is the one that enables the full 360º VR experience.
Getting started couldn’t be easier, with the lens mod plugged in and the camera switched on, it’s as simple as hitting the shutter button to start recording.
The screen acts as a powerful navigation tool for the settings and despite it’s small size, the touch screen ability enables you to move through the full 360º field of view.
To say it’s impressive is an understatement. Like other touch-enabled screens, settings and video review can be accessed directly by swiping the screen. It’s all intuitive enough and takes little to know time to get used to.
The ease of use of when it comes to capturing 360º video is welcome and with the files saved directly to a usable format exporting for up upload to your social media platform of choice through the Insta360 app is also a streamlined affair.
What stands out here is how Insta360’s expertise in the 360º video arena stands out. The workflow is intuitive and robust; the video doesn’t need ingesting or linking with metafiles. It all just works ready to upload to your favoured social network.
The quality of the footage is where the Insta360 cameras stand out. The two ultra-wide lenses provide superb quality. There is the obvious distortion that comes with the VR territory chromatic aberration and softening towards the joins controlled.
Looking closely at the footage, you can see the join, but you have to look closely. Ultimately, this is exceptional stuff.
After using the Insta360 One R 360 Edition for the last month, I’m blown away by just how easy it is to use. Ok, the GoPro Max took a huge step forward in simplicity, but this is on another level.
The straight 360º video is one thing, but all those additional features we promised, such as subject tracking and reframing, are neatly packaged with great effect.
During the test, my favourite feature had to be the follow-cam, select the subject, and the software enables you to reframe and keep up with the action. Essentially the point of focus for the video stays on the subject, but you can still spin the video around a full 360º.
There’s also some incredibly weird effects such as the stop motion feature, which enables you to select a stance, and then as you walk, it only records the frame when you’re in that same position. The result is very peculiar but at the same time good fun.
More impressive is the little planet mode, or Jump Planet, that enables you to shoot a little planet style shot and then link it with other shots of the same style. Again the result as you’ll see in the sample videos, is outstanding.
Likewise you have the very odd Timeflip and Roll Planet – both of which I’m sure I’ll find use for at some point in the near future.
The App and software support is what really makes this camera and the full 360º experience. The more you use the app and the features the more you realise just how much there is and how deep into the software and camera you can go.
Compared with the GoPro Max this camera is just in another league, even more so when you reaslise that the VR is only part of the story.
When it comes to innovation the Insta360 One R is like a concept car. One of those models that you see at the big car shows and think, yes, that exactly what I want. However, when that car filters through the system, the end results is completely different from the thing you fell in love with.
I never saw the concept of the One R, but I can imagine that it wasn’t a great deal different to what I now hold in my hand. It’s outstanding; if I was to write a list of all the things that I’d want to see in a camera then this would be it.
Actually it wouldn’t because this camera features, features that until now I never realised I wanted. What makes this camera even more astounding is that I have GoPro Hero10 Black with me.
Side-by-side, they’re both very nice cameras, but for all the GoPro excellence the Insta360 One R is at present the camera for me.
The video quality is outstanding, but it’s the additional thought that has gone into the design. The modules make it incredibly versatile and with the app and all the tutorials, tips and social media interaction, there’s plenty here to get lost in.
This isn’t just a piece of hardware it’s a tocket into a whole 360º, action camera world – there’s a real community and one that seems full of innovation for creativity and excitement and that I really like.
If you’re after an Action camera then the Insta360 One R will set you back quite a bit more than the new GoPro. But, for my money it’s well worth it.