Insta360 has released the One RS 1-inch 360 Edition, a 360 camera that it teased a few days ago.
Insta360 One RS 1-inch 360 Edition is a 360 camera with two BSI-CMOS 1-inch sensors and Leica Summicron-A lenses at an aggressive price point. Its key features are:
- 6K video. It can capture video at 6144 x 3072 at 24fps or 25fps or 5888 x 2944 at 30fps.
- Modular and backward compatible with Insta360 One RS and in the future, One R as well.
- More affordable than Theta Z1. It has the same sensor as Theta Z1 and offers more features, yet at $800, it costs 25% less than the Theta Z1 ($1050).
Should you buy it? If you are a casual user or just getting into 360 and you are just looking for a 360 camera that is good enough, then i think you don’t need the 1-inch 360. You can save with a lower priced camera such as Insta360 One RS or a GoPro MAX. On the other hand, if you want a 360 camera with best overall image quality for under $1000, for photo but also especially for video, then the 1 inch 360 is the camera that I would recommend to a friend or family member if they can afford it. Here’s why.
Download sample photos and videos
The best way to see the 1-inch 360’s photo and video quality is to download sample files available here.
First, let’s talk about the headline feature: the sensor. The 1-inch 360 uses two 1 inch sensors. A 1-inch sensor is about 4x larger than a typical 1 / 2.3 inch sensor used in consumer 360 cameras such as the Insta360 One R. It’s a little more than half the size of a Micro Four Thirds sensor, and about ⅓ the size of an APS-C sensor. The 1 inch 360 has two 1-inch sensors, so the total size of its two sensors is actually a bit larger than a Micro Four Thirds sensor.
The 1-inch 360’s video resolution is 6.1k if you shoot at 24fps or 25fps (6144 x 3072) or 5.9k if you shoot at 30fps (5888 x 2944). In the middle of the lens, it is only a little bit sharper than the GoPro Max. But as you move to the stitch line, the Insta360’s video quality becomes very noticeable.
How important is this sharpness along the stitch line? In the real world, most people hold their 360 cameras on a selfie stick and not on a stationary monopod unless they are shooting virtual tours. When shooting at a typical angle of a selfie stick, the 1 inch 360 is much more detailed than the other cameras including GoPro MAX, Theta X, Theta Z1 and One R 360 mod.
With respect to flare resistance, the 1-inch 360 is not immune from flare. The “red dot glare” on some Insta360 cameras is gone but in its place is a double green dot glare. There can also sometimes be rays near a strong light source such as the sun.
Low light video
I also compared the cameras in low light and the 1 inch 360 had the best detail and least amount of noise compared to the other cameras. It’s the best low light camera I’ve seen at this price range.
In terms of audio quality, the in-camera microphone is better than the Insta360 One R in that I don’t hear any noises when you touch the bracket. However, the sound is a bit muffled. I prefer the in-camera audio quality of the GoPro MAX for example.
However, to get truly good audio quality, what users really need is a wireless microphone. In this regard, the 1 inch 360 does have an invisible microphone option. It has its own version of the cold shoe mount, a new insta360 microphone adapter, and can be used with a Rode wireless Go or similar microphone, which will be invisible to the 1-inch 360.
The 1-inch 360 can capture photos in Adobe DNG and stitch them automatically in Insta360 Studio. Remarkably, the mobile app can also use the higher dynamic range of the DNG file and export it as an AI-edited JPG version called Pureshot. To my knowledge, no other 360 camera app has been able to read DNG files.
The 1-inch 360 can shoot a Raw+JPG HDR bracket of up to 9 shots, up to 1EV apart. The capture process is fast and takes only a few seconds. Insta360 Studio will stitch and merge the exposures together with no 3rd party software needed. It will also give you the option to export individual exposures that are stitched the same way so you can merge them in your own HDR software if you wish.
The primary competitor for the 1-inch 360 is the Theta Z1. For detail, the Theta Z1 is more detailed toward the middle of the lens, while the 1 inch 360 is more detailed toward the stitch line. The 1 inch 360 also has less fringing than Z1.
The advantage of the Theta Z1 is that its aperture can be stopped down to f/5.6 and its shutter goes as high as 1/25,000. The 1 inch 360’s aperture is fixed at f/2.2 and its fastest shutter is ⅛,000. This means that the Theta Z1 can capture brighter highlights. However, the 1-inch 360 may have ND filters in the future that can mitigate this advantage.
Battery life and endurance
I tested the 1 inch 360 indoors with no air conditioning and it was able to record 60 minutes, which was broken into two 30 minute files. There was no fogging, no blur, and no drifting (i.e., the stabilized view did not drift to the left or to the right for the entire duration of the 60-minute video). The 1 inch 360 can also record while charging, or it can record without the battery if it is powered via USB.
The 1 inch 360 is not waterproof but it is water resistant. I tested it under a shower and it survived. Please note that you must ensure the USB cover is secure and that the bracket is fully attached to all the mods.
The 1 inch 360’s lenses can get scratched, just like other 360 cameras. Insta360 showed me a prototype of a removable lens protector but it won’t be ready at launch, and they did not commit to releasing it.
Other factors to consider
Not for slow motion: the 1-inch 360 is not great for slow mo. It can shoot at 50fps but only at 3k resolution. So if you want slow motion, this is not the best camera for that.
Another possible issue for some users is that the camera is a bit heavy. If you use it on a long selfie stick, you’ll start to feel the strain on your wrist after a while.
The memory card is also a bit inconvenient to access. I usually transfer files via USB cable.
One very significant and unique advantage is that it is upgradeable. The 1 inch 360 can use the One RS core and in the future, it will also be backward compatible with the One R core after a firmware update. When Insta360 released the One R in 2020, no one knew if the One R would just be a one-off, or would truly be an upgradeable camera. Since then, Insta360 has kept releasing updates for it, including the new RS core with faster processor, the 4K boost with 6k video, and now the 1 inch 360 edition. This shows that the One R and One RS are truly upgradeable, like a DSLR. When you buy a new camera body, you can continue to use the old lenses. If you buy new lenses, you can continue to use them on older bodies. This is a feature that no other 360 camera has at the moment.
For me, that upgradeability is what makes it a compelling option compared to other cameras. Technology is always advancing and users have been wary of purchasing a camera only to have it superseded a few months later. But with the Insta360 One R and One RS, your investment can be upgraded and can last longer.
Where to buy
Insta360 One RS 1-inch 360 Edition is now available for $799 direct from Insta360 or from Amazon. Thank you for using my affiliate link at no additional cost to you so I can do more tests and reviews. For my Insta360 affiliate link, you’ll receive a free selfie stick.