In my Insta360 Pro review, I pointed out that each frame of an Insta360 Pro 8K video has higher resolution than a photo from the Ricoh Theta S. That statistic sounds impressive but how do the photos compare in reality? In this post, I compare a video framegrab from the Insta360 Pro with a photo from the Ricoh Theta S.
The Insta360 Pro can shoot at 8K (7680 x 3840), which is an even higher resolution than a photo from the Ricoh Theta S, the most popular 360 camera on the planet (5376 x 2688). However, a higher resolution doesn’t always mean better image quality. For example, the Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere 360 camera has a lower video resolution compared to the Samsung Gear 360 2017 (3456 x 1728 vs. 4096 x 2048), yet the Xiaomi video looks much more detailed (in the shadows) than that of the Gear 360 2017.
I wondered how the Insta360 Pro 8K video image quality compares to the image quality of a Ricoh Theta S photo. Ordinarily, a video is at a huge disadvantage for any image quality comparison because the bit depth of each frame has to be lower since there are 24 or 30 frames being captured per second. But I was still curious how they compared.
I shot a test scene with the Insta360 Pro and the Ricoh Theta S. For the Theta S, I took a standard photo (not HDR). For the Insta360 Pro, I used 8K video using default settings (not flat color or isolated exposure mode), stitched on Insta360 Stitcher at the default 240 mbps and at the maximum 350 mbps. I then took frame grabs from each video using Adobe Premiere. I then uploaded the Theta S photo and the two Insta360 Pro frame grabs and uploaded them to Roundme.
Here are the 360 photos:
Here are some crops. For these comparisons, the Theta photo is on the left, and the Insta360 Pro video is on the right. The Theta S was on auto exposure, and it was at f/2, 1/2500, ISO 125. I don’t have the exposure data for the Insta360 Pro (fwiw, the Insta360 Pro’s base ISO is the same as the Theta — ISO 100).
In this shot, you can see the wall, a low contrast subject, which I like to use to compare detail.
The Theta S is surprisingly noisier, with noticeable luminance noise. The Insta360 Pro video on the other hand has a little bit of chroma noise. Not counting the false detail from the noise in the Theta, you can see that the Insta360 Pro has much more detail than the Theta S, as shown by the texture of the wall. The Insta360 Pro’s colors are also much richer compared to the faded color of the Theta S.
Interestingly, there wasn’t much of a difference between the Insta360 Pro sample at 240mbps and the one at 350 mbps, at least with this sample:
Here is another crop for comparison. 360 cameras are usually sharp near the lens but the detail drops quickly as you go farther from the lens. Here I compare the amount of detail at a moderately far object (I guess around 20 to 25 feet away?). The Theta crop below is 1:1 while I zoomed the Insta360 Pro image to be roughly the same size as the one for the Theta.
Once more you can see that the Insta360 Pro shot on the right has far more detail, as you can see from the wall or the folded patio umbrella.
Of course resolution isn’t everything, so I looked at dynamic range as well.
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