The Insta360 ONE is one of the rare 360 cameras that has actually had an impact on the way I shoot. Out of the forty-one 360 cameras I’ve owned so far, it is among the best 360 cameras I’ve used because of how useful the features are. In this review, I will explain not only its features and specifications but why they matter to shooters, whether they are beginners, intermediate shooters, or advanced users.May 22, 2018 UPDATE: Insta360 posted an app update that added directional lock / direction hold .
March 20, 2018 UPDATE: On March 20, 2018, Insta360 released an update to the Insta360 ONE that made huge improvements, particularly to stabilization, but also to workflow. Here is my Flowstate stabilization demo!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Build quality and design
Insta360 ONE improved stabilization (Jan. 2018)
Insta360 ONE v 3.0: March 2018 update with major improvements
– FlowState stabilization tests .
– Directional hold .
How to use Insta360 ONE: shooting
How to use Insta360 ONE: workflow tutorial
– Log mode tutorial
Image quality and samples
Comparison with Rylo and other 360 cameras .
May 2018 update .
Insta360 ONE strengths and weaknesses
Discounts; where to buy
3/20/18 update: March 2018 update with major improvements
1/15/18 update: stabilization improvement.
1/4/18 update: Bluetooth remote demo and where to find it
12/23/17 update: stabilization improvement
– Android adapter now available for preorder
– Added more info about shooting options, including the dedicated Bluetooth remote (with advantages noted), and a generic remote
Originally published: September 21, 2017.
There are many 360 cameras on the market today, and they are constantly trying to outdo each other in terms of specifications, whether in photo resolution, video resolution, or any of the other traditional metrics for comparing 360 cameras. The Insta360 ONE is different because it tries to stand out from its competitors with special features that help users hit the ground running with 360, even if they’ve never shot with 360 before.
This is not to say that the Insta360 ONE is only a beginner’s camera – on the contrary, it also has features for intermediate and advanced users. And it also excels on more conventional criteria.
Here is a video review of the Insta360 ONE (based on the original firmware — there will be a new video based on the new firmware in a couple of weeks):
I’ve been using the Insta360 ONE consistently since September 2017. I would say that the dynamic range and low light performance are among its strengths. And even though there are now a few cameras that feature the “overcapture” style video, Insta360 ONE’s FreeCapture is the best implementation of it thus far.
|Lenses||two fisheye lenses|
|Field of view||fully spherical|
|Sensors||two 1/2.3-inch Sony CMOS sensors|
|Processors||unspecified Ambarella processor|
|Photo resolution||6912 x 3456 in JPEG or DNG raw|
|Video resolution||3840 x 1920, 30fps|
2560 x 1280 @ 60fps 2048 x 512 @ 120fps
mp4 (log mode available)
|Live streaming:||Yes, stabilized.|
Compatible with YouTube, Facebook, Periscope / Twitter, Weibo
|Shutter speed:||1/4000 to 60 seconds|
|ISO:||100 to 3200 (up to 6400 for video)|
|Stabilization:||6-axis gyro-based image stabilization|
|Connector:||1/4-20 tripod connector|
|Storage:||one Micro SD up to 128GB (8GB included)|
|Working humidity:||30% to 80%|
|Temperature:||14F - 113F (-14C to 45C)|
|Waterproof:||No (waterproof housing accessory available)|
|Connectivity:||MFI-certified lightning connector|
Bluetooth LE 4.0
iPhone 8 / 8 plus
iPhone 7 / plus
iPhone 6s / 6s plus
iPhone 6 / 6 plus
iPad Pro (10.5 in, 9.7 in)
iPad mini 4
iPad Air 2
Android version shipping December 15, 2017
|Dimensions:||96 x 36.5 x 25 mm|
|Battery:||70 mins.; not removable; USB charging|
Freecast (live streaming with changeable perspective)
Time lapse mode
– includes combination hard case cover, handle and mini stand (similar to LG 360 Cam)
– optional waterproof case
Insta360 ONE Compatibility
Officially, the ONE is compatible with the following iOS devices: iPhone 7/7 plus, iPhone 6s/6s plus, iPhone 6/6 plus, iPhone SE, iPad Pro(10.5-inch), iPad Pro(9.7-inch), iPad Pro(12.9-inch), iPad mini4, iPad Air 2. However, I’ve also been able to use the ONE with an iPhone 5S, although the app seems to crash often. It might work with iPod Touch 6th Generation which has an M8 processor, the same as the iPhone 6.
While the iPhone 6 will work with the ONE, it won’t export photos or videos in full resolution. However, I have been able to export at full resolution with the iPhone SE and iPad Air 2.
Regarding Android compatibility, Insta360 began shipping an Android version on December 15, 2017. It is actually the same camera, except that it has an adapter (available for Micro USB or USB Type C). This means that if you have both Android and iOS devices (e.g. Android phone and iPad), you’ll be able to use the Insta360 ONE with both devices. Please check this list of compatible Android devices.
For phones that are not on the list of compatible or incompatible Android phones or tablets, Insta360 posted the following minimum Android requirements for the ONE:
1. USB connector: Supports OTG
2. Processor: Qualcomm 810 / Kirin 955 or above
3. OS: Android 5.1 or above
4. RAM: 2GB or more
Here’s a video showing the Android version:
The adapter isn’t a simple lightning to Micro USB adapter, but a specially designed adapter that will protect your phone and the ONE:
The Android version will cost slightly more than the iOS version ($329 vs. $299) because of the adapter. If you already have an Insta360 ONE, you can purchase the adapter separately ($29), either for USB Type C or Micro USB.
Troubleshooting: To use the Android version you must turn on the Insta360 One first (wait for the light to change from blue to green), and only then can you insert it into your phone. You cannot insert it first and then turn on the camera after it’s already attached. It won’t work (Android weirdness). Also be sure to activate the OTG function on your Android phone.
BUILD QUALITY AND DESIGN
The Insta360 ONE is small and compact. It weighs about the same as a Nano. Although it is mostly plastic, it looks well made and thoughtfully designed. For example, the shutter was placed on the side, along the stitch line, so that when you press the shutter, your finger will be less prominent in the shot.
I also like that the lightning connector is retractable. There’s a slide / switch which causes the lightning connector to pop out. One concern is that the lightning connector seems to have an internal cable, and I wonder whether, with repeated bending over time, the cable will become loose.
One of my favorite features is the cover, probably inspired by the LG 360 Cam’s cover. The ONE’s cover is multipurpose and can be used as a lens cap, hard case for the camera, a mini handle, or as a stand for either the camera or for a phone, with or without a camera attached. (I like to use put the phone horizontally for maximum stability.) The ONE can be connected to a USB for charging or data transfer while covered with the case. To protect the ONE’s lenses, I like to keep it with the cover as much as possible, such as when attaching the ONE to a stand, removing it only at the last minute. Please note that when using the case as a mini handle for the ONE, it is being held only by friction and not a locking mechanism (as with the LG 360 Cam).
There are some things that I think could have been better. First, the tripod hole appears to be made of plastic instead of metal. Second, it is very easy to accidentally turn on the ONE, even with the cover. Third, it is very hard to insert or remove a micro SD card if you have short nails. Fourth, because the ONE’s micro USB port is beside the lightning connector, you can’t connect to Micro USB (or charging) when the ONE is attached to a phone (unless you use a lightning extension adapter).
Key Features in the Real World
Here are the key features of the Insta360 ONE and how well they work “in real life”:
1. Hybrid smartphone 360 camera: the ONE can be used in three ways. It can be used as a standalone 360 camera, a 360 camera controlled wirelessly via Bluetooth, or as a smartphone 360 camera accessory. The ONE’s direct connection via lightning port makes it very easy to share photos and videos. It also provides a reliable connection to a phone for live streaming, while also allowing the phone’s Wi-Fi to be used for the stream.
Regarding the wireless control, it’s easy to establish (you don’t even need to enter a password or go through pairing) but the range is quite short — perhaps 15 feet or so, and primarily within line of sight. I should also add that there’s no live view for the wireless mode.
2. Image stabilization – stability and invisibility. The ONE has built-in image stabilization, which can keep the horizon level regardless of how the ONE is actually positioned. Besides making the videos look much better, this also makes it possible to position the ONE in-line with a monopod or selfie stick to make the monopod disappear, creating the illusion of an invisible flying camera.
In the real world, I found that the stabilization works quite well. Videos are stabilized automatically and immediately when you review them and when you export videos. It even works for live streaming.
However, one issue is that after a couple of minutes, the stabilization will drift horizontally. (For comparison, there is also drifting with the Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere but not with the Garmin Virb 360.) [Drifting has now been fixed.] The stabilization effect can be toggled on or off, and for longer videos, you may need to turn it off to avoid the drifting.
3. Freecapture – shoot first, point later. This lets you pull a full HD video from a 360 video. While many 360 video editors can do that, FreeCapture is unique because of how you create the non-360 video: after recording a 360 video, you hold your smartphone as if you are shooting a video with the smartphone. Here is a sample video created entirely within Freecapture:
Freecapture has several benefits: first, it helps you visualize the video better. Second, because the resulting video was shot ‘handheld,’ then it looks more natural compared to a non-360 video from another software that uses mouse movements or keyframing. Third, this is a more natural and familiar way of shooting for first-time users. Fourth, FreeCapture shortens your workflow because you don’t have to stitch the 360 video beforehand. You can simply go from the unstitched INSV file directly to a Freecapture non-360 video.
Tip: consider using a swivel chair to make your FreeCapture movies look smoother.
4. Smart Track – follow a subject around the 360 video. Smart Track is an additional feature that works with FreeCapture. When enabled, you can place a box over your subject or other target in the 360 video. When you press ‘record,’ the app will generate a non-360 video with the subject being followed. Tip: the tracking rectangle need not be placed in the middle. It can for example be positioned on the left third, or right third.
I found that Smart Track is reasonably accurate for tracking a subject. However, if the subject makes a sudden unexpected movement, Smart Track will lose tracking over the subject.
5. Bullet Time. This lets you swing the ONE around you while recording a high-speed video. This is arguably the effect that made the ONE famous thanks to an ad campaign that showed its capabilities. It lets you shoot in high speed 120fps (240fps interpolated), and because the ONE has stabilization, you won’t need to use a Centriphone or other stabilizer for the ONE. At the same time, unlike the normal stabilization mode that is locked toward a particular compass direction, the stabilization for Bullet Time keeps the view oriented toward the user.
In the real world, Bullet Time does work pretty much as advertised. Insta360 even provides you with an accessory string that attaches to the tripod hole of the ONE. My concern with this feature is that you would need to bring around the string accessory, and you’ll need a lot of space to use it safely. I prefer my bullet time method which uses a swivel mount together with a selfie stick because it’s easier to bring and somewhat safer (insofar as you can swing the camera at lower speed, and it won’t drop even when it slows down).
6. Manual exposure for photos and videos. Insta360 ONE is one of the very few 360 cameras that have total exposure control — manual exposure, ISO priority, shutter priority, with shutter speeds as slow as 60 seconds and as high as 1/4000. Moreover, there is manual control even for videos — a rare feature among consumer 360 cameras.
7. Excellent live streaming capabilities. Insta360 ONE is an excellent camera for live streaming. First, it has a direct connection to the phone for greater speed and reliability. Second, your phone can use Wi-Fi for live streaming, instead of using it to connect to the camera (as in the case of the Garmin Virb 360 for example). Third, the ONE’s live stream is stabilized. This makes the video look better but more importantly, it also conserves bandwidth. Fourth, the ONE has the option to live stream in tiny planet mode (FreeCast), a unique feature that AFAIK is found only in Insta360 cameras thus far.
8. In-camera editing features (see below under Workflow). The Insta360 ONE app has many editing options such as making tiny planet versions of your photo or video, or adding stickers.
9. Bluetooth remote accessory. Insta360 ONE has a dedicated remote accessory (sold with a selfie stick as a kit). What is unique about the accessory is that after you pair the Bluetooth remote once, they will automatically pair simply by turning them on. This means you just turn on the Insta360 ONE, turn on the Bluetooth remote, and within a few seconds, the Bluetooth remote will be able to control the ONE, without the need to press any buttons, go through the app, or use any menus. The accessory can trigger the shutter for photos and videos, but not the special triple-click function. For more info, see How to Use Insta360 ONE.
Insta360 ONE improved stabilization (Jan. 2018)
Insta360 announced that the Insta360 ONE’s image stabilization would be improved via a firmware and app update. Insta360’s CEO JK Liu showed me an amazing new demo of the upcoming stabilization update:
For this demo, the Insta360 ONE was attached to a harness on a dog running in a park! The demo was inspired by a similar video posted by Rylo, which has become an overnight sensation for its class-leading image stabilization. The new stabilization demo seems to show that the ONE’s stabilization will be similar to and at least on par with Rylo’s stabilization performance.
And just four days later voila … Insta360 has been able to improve the stabilization. Take note that they had also been working on a major release for Insta360 Pro at the same time (it was released yesterday). Some people think I’m unfairly biased in favor of Insta360, or that I even work for them (no I don’t) but objectively speaking, this responsiveness and rapid development pace is nothing short of remarkable. The other thing to note here is that Insta360 was honest about its competitor’s strength — and learned from it. (By contrast, many companies will resist criticism and deny that their product needs improvement, insisting that it is already perfect, and thus they don’t improve.)
Insta360 ONE v 3.0: March 2018 Update with Major Improvements
Insta360 released a major update that brought many improvements and some new features to the Insta360 ONE. The improvements are so significant that many people assumed that Insta360 was releasing a new camera. In many ways, it does feel as if it’s a new version of Insta360 ONE. even if it’s ‘just’ an update to the existing Insta360 ONE. Here’s a video demonstrating the improvements:
1. FlowState stabilization
Insta360 ONE had pretty good stabilization but now has phenomenal stabilization, approximately equal to that of the best-in-class stabilization in the Rylo. As the teaser video showed, it is even capable of stabilizing a video shot from a camera mounted on a dog running at full speed. As promised, I ran some stabilization tests to see just how effective Flowstate is.
BTW, here are some of the tools I used for the tests!
I also compared Insta360 One’s stabilization with those of Rylo and GoPro Fusion:
The Insta360 One had almost the same stabilization performance as Rylo and Fusion, except that with rapid side-to-side movement, the Insta360 One showed a little more roll than Rylo and Fusion’s full stabilization mode, although it had less roll than Fusion’s anti-shake mode.
And in case you’re wondering, here is a comparison between FlowState stabilization and a phone with a DJI Osmo gimbal:
On April 22, Insta360 released an update to Insta360 Studio to add support for FlowState stabilization (for both Windows and Mac versions), allowing users to stitch and export Flowstate-stabilized video using a desktop-based workflow.
2. Direction hold (follow mode stabilization) – Insta360 version 3.3
Insta360 app version 3.3 added several improvements, such as basic post processing for the video (e.g. change the exposure, color temperature, highlights, shadows, etc.) but the biggest improvement in my opinion is the new Direction Hold or follow mode stabilization.
Until now, videos are stabilized in one compass direction. That means that regardless of how the subject moves, the video faces the same direction. This often works well and makes the video appear very stable.
However, sometimes it is not ideal. For example, if you put the Insta360 One in a car facing the windshield, and the car turns, now the camera will be facing the window.
The new Direction Hold option gives the user the option to stabilize the camera while keeping it oriented toward the front of the camera. This is perfect not just for motorsports but also where the camera will be moving along a path, such as when used on a theme park ride. Here is a demo and tutorial:
The Insta360 One is one of only three cameras that have this ability at the moment — the others being the Garmin Virb 360 and the GoPro Fusion. (Rylo permanently has forward stabilization but not the full stabilization mode). With this capability, I’ve increased the Insta360 One’s stabilization rating to 8.8.
Insta360 ONE now has multiview, which was first featured on Insta360 Nano S. With MultiView, you can shoot a 360 video and present it as a non-360 video with an overlay showing a second point of view at the same time. This feature is useful for showing reactions for example. Unlike the Nano S, the MultiView in the ONE can only show up to two points of view whereas the Nano S can show up to three views.
Multiview is also usable in live streaming mode (FreeCast).
4. Improved Smart Track
Insta360 ONE’s Smart Track is now more effective and can track faster movements (see the butterfly tracking in this video):
To use it, tap on the subject, and hold for a couple of seconds. In the popup overlay, select Smart Track. The app will then begin to track your chosen subject.
4. Pivot Point
Pivot Point is essentially keyframing, with a more intuitive interface. You simply frame the view that you want, press and hold the screen, and select Pivot Point to establish a keyframe. You can keyframe not just horizontal movements but vertical movements as well (such as ‘looking up’).
5. View Finder
View Finder is Insta360’s term for a FreeCapture mode where the user controls the FreeCapture perspective by moving the phone like a camera. Compared to Pivot Point, View Finder results in a more organic and natural camera movement. A further benefit of View Finder is that it is stabilized, unlike for example GoPro Fusion’s OverCapture where moving the phone will capture even the camera shake from holding the phone.
Insta360 ONE’s FreeCapture mode now includes a hyperlapse of up to 8X speed. The user can switch at will between 1X, 2X, 4X or 8X speed, instead of using the same speed for the entire video.
7. Improved image quality
The new firmware improved image quality by making images appear brighter, and improving shadow detail without significant decrease in highlight detail.
Here is a sample with the previous firmware:
Here is a sample with the new firmware, showing improved detail in the shadows. At the same time, the clouds still have plenty of detail.
To get the update, you need to update both the firmware (v 2.0 or above) and the new app (v 3.0.0). In addition, you have to use the new app for stitching photos and videos (you can’t just use Insta360 Studio). The updated app is available only for iOS for now, but will be coming to Android as well. Insta360’s representative did not provide an ETA for the Android update.
I’m working on a video to show the new features. I’ll post the video here as soon as possible.
How to use Insta360 ONE: shooting
There are several ways to shoot with the Insta360 ONE:
1. As a standalone 360 camera. The Insta360 ONE has only one button but it can be used to take a photo, video, or start the intervalometer or other shots. To take a photo, you press the button once. To take a video, you double-click the button. To stop recording, press the button again. To activate the special function, you triple-click the button. By default, the special function is the self-timer photo mode, but it can also be changed to the Bullet Time mode, or Interval Shooting mode in the app Settings.
2. Standalone 360 camera controlled wirelessly with your phone. The Insta360 ONE can be controlled wirelessly with your phone via Bluetooth. Simply turn on the ONE, launch the app, and click on the camera icon. In the shooting screen, tap on the Bluetooth icon to the left of the shutter. Select your camera on the next screen and tap Confirm.
Once connected, your phone has all the shooting modes and exposure controls available. There is no live preview, but if you take a photo, it will send a low-res equirectangular preview to give you a rough idea of what you captured.
3. Standalone 360 camera controlled wirelessly with a dedicated Bluetooth remote. Insta360 has a dedicated Bluetooth remote for the ONE. This is the fastest way to control the ONE wirelessly. To pair the remote with the ONE, you need to go to the Settings in the app and look for the option to pair the remote. When paired, the remote will stop blinking. After the remote is paired with the ONE, the camera and the remote can reconnect automatically even without a phone. You simply turn on the camera, turn on the remote, and they will reconnect. The larger button is for photos while the smaller button is for videos. Triple-click is not available. Here is a video tutorial:
As I mentioned in the video, the remote is out of stock as of January 4, 2018. However, I found a 3rd party remote that does work (almost all other remotes don’t work). Here is another one (remote only, no selfie stick) that looks the same so it might also work but I haven’t tried it.
4. 360 camera attached to your smartphone. The ONE can be attached to your phone. The advantage of this method is that it allows a live preview. As with the wireless smartphone control mode, you have all the shooting options and settings available for this mode, in addition to live preview.
How to use Insta360 ONE: Workflow Tutorial
I believe workflow is a very important consideration for a 360 camera, and can sometimes be even more important than image quality. If the workflow is horrible, then you are not likely to use the camera despite other features it may have.
Fortunately, the Insta360 ONE’s workflow is pretty easy and is similar to the workflow for the Insta360 Nano. Photos and videos captured on the ONE are stored in its memory card as INSP (photo) or INSV (video) files. The files are unstitched but when viewed in the Insta360 apps, they will look fully stitched during review.
To share a photo or video, you must export it from the Insta360 ONE smartphone app or Insta360 Studio desktop software. If you use the app, viewing a photo automatically downloads a copy of the photo from the memory card to the app, visible even after the ONE is disconnected. However, for videos, the app won’t automatically keep a copy.
When you tap on a photo or a video, you will have several editing options such as applying a beautifying filter (to smoothen wrinkles) or Instagram-style filters. You can also place stickers that will be automatically warped to appear proportional wherever you put them in the photo or video. The edits are nondestructive and fully reversible, so don’t be afraid to experiment. You can also change the perspective (e.g. to tiny planet, etc.) and take a snapshot of your creation. Tip: try flipping your phone to landscape view to change the composition.
After editing the photos or videos, tap on the Share icon. You can choose your preferred social media such as Facebook or YouTube, or you can choose album to export to your camera roll (from which you can upload the photo or video to your preferred sharing platform). If you choose Facebook or YouTube, you’ll also have the option of converting the photo or video to a tiny planet, and there are tiny planet animation presets with interesting transitions.
Log mode tutorial
Insta360 ONE has a log mode for video, to maximize dynamic range. In summary, you can download a LUT for Insta360 Pro and use it for Insta360 ONE. Here is a tutorial on how to use it:
Image quality; sample photos and videos
Here are some sample 360 photos (based on the 1.14 firmware). They are unedited to give you an accurate representation of what you would get straight out of the camera. However, please note that one of the strengths of the Insta360 ONE is that you can shoot and stitch in Raw DNG format, which gives you more latitude for exposure, white balance, and other adjustments compared to JPEG. Here is a folder of a sample photo and sample video, both stitched and stitched.
Here is a sample video montage (based on the 1.14 firmware) in a variety of lighting conditions.
Here is a sample 360 video from the new version of the Insta360 ONE (v 1.16 firmware), showing its dynamic range and cleaner shadows:
Comparison with Rylo and other 360 cameras
The Insta360 ONE compares well with other 360 consumer cameras. I compared it with the new firmware against several 360 cameras but I want to focus in particular on the Rylo, because that’s one of the cameras with which it is frequently compared. Here are 100% crop comparisons between the Insta360 ONE v 1.16.8 and Rylo high quality mode, using the Ultimate 360 Camera Comparison Tool. First let’s compare the midtones, then highlights, then shadows, and finally their overall image quality.
In this 100% crop from both the Insta360 ONE and Rylo in identical ambient lighting conditions, we can see that the Rylo seems to look a slightly more detailed in well-lit areas, such as the bush to the right of the shed. On the other hand, in darker areas such as the door to the shed, or even the siding of the shed, the Insta360 ONE has more detail. For this reason, I would say that overall, they have similar levels of detail in the midtones (note further that these are 100% crops, much more magnified compared to normal viewing sizes).
In the highlight range, the Insta360 ONE has noticeably less detail than Rylo. It seems that the Insta360 One chose an exposure that is maybe half a stop brighter. This is a change compared to the Insta360 ONE previous firmware version, which used a very conservative exposure algorithm. I therefore compared the previous Insta360 ONE firmware with the Rylo, and in this comparison, Insta360 ONE actually shows more highlight detail than Rylo:
This implies that the new firmware’s more aggressive exposure did lead to some loss in highlight detail, but if you want to dial down the exposure with the new firware, you can probably end up with more highlight detail than the Rylo. But this doesn’t mean it’s always better to use a more conservative exposure like that of the previous Insta360 ONE firmware or of the Rylo. As you’ll see below, that approach has significant tradeoffs.
Even before the Insta360 ONE’s March 2018 update, the Insta360 ONE already had noticeably more shadow detail than Rylo:
With the March 2018’s brighter exposure, the Insta360 ONE’s shadow detail blows the Rylo away:
This is what I meant by the tradeoff with a more conservative exposure. For me, I favor the new firmware’s exposure that prioritizes midtones. I think it is a better approach for small sensors, which don’t have much exposure latitude. Using a conservative exposure, only to raise midtones in post, will result in more noise. And with clipped blacks like the Rylo’s, some details can actually be irrecoverable.
Overall, taking the detail and dynamic range in the midtones, highlights and shadows into account, I would say the Insta360 ONE has greater overall dynamic range, and moreover, has better exposure control. Not only can you control exposure compensation, but in video mode, you can specify the ISO and shutter speed. This means that you can use a more conservative exposure on the Insta360 ONE if you wanted to e.g. by applying a -0.3 or -0.5EV adjustment. On the Rylo, there are no exposure controls, therefore you’re stuck with its conservative exposure and high contrast tone curve that clips blacks very early.
For this reason, given that they now have very similar stabilization, I rated the Insta360 ONE video as 8.6 — ‘noticeably better’ than Rylo’s video (rated 8.4), but still within the range that reasonable people could disagree and see them both as being equal or the Rylo being somehow better. Incidentally, the Garmin Virb 360 has similar image quality to the Rylo, and so you’ll find similar differences between the Insta360 ONE and Virb:
You can see how the updated Insta360 ONE compares with some other cameras here:
Overall, the Insta360 ONE has very good photo and video quality. Although I find its 360 photos just a bit less detailed than Xiaomi toward the edges of the lens, it has one of the best dynamic range for a 360 camera in its class, and is unique in having the ability to shoot and stitch in Raw DNG format.
For video quality, it is on par with the Theta V and Xiaomi, and better than the Virb 360 or Rylo. It has very good performance in low light as well. It also has better stabilization than all other 360 cameras other than the Rylo (the Insta360 ONE and Rylo seem to have similarly superb stabilization — I’m going to compare their stabilization and post the results here).
May 2018 update
Insta360 posted a firmware update for Insta360 One in May 2018. Insta360 One firmware 2.2 revises the exposure algorithm to avoid overexposure.
The previous March 2018 update (2.0) used a very aggressive exposure algorithm. On one hand, it ensured that there was adequate detail in the shadows. On the other hand, highlights were often blown, and the photos and videos appeared overexposed.
The May 2018 update (2.2) has a more balanced exposure algorithm. It avoids blowing highlights, while retaining more shadow detail compared to firmware 1.16. Here is a comparison between 2.2 (top) and 2.0 (bottom), showing frame grabs from videos from each firmware version:
You can see that in the patio, the highlights are preserved in 2.2, whereas they are blown in 2.0. The May 2018 update is therefore a very welcome improvement.
The May 2018 update also updated the app’s interface, and made a few other improvements, such as retaining the exposure settings in interval capture mode.
Insta360 ONE strengths and weaknesses; 360 Camera Ranking
Here are a list of the Insta360 ONE’s strengths and weaknesses with respect to photo, video, and usability, including a score for each category. Use the score to see its current ranking on the 360 Camera Ranking chart. Please do not simply add the plusses and minuses — rather, you should review the list of strengths and weaknesses to determine how well the ONE fares in that aspect, because some strengths may be very important to you while some weaknesses might not be.
+ good detail
+ good stitching (when photo is calibrated and optical flow stitching is used)
+ very good dynamic range
+ excellent sharpness near the center of the lens
+ very good low light performance
+ Adobe DNG raw shooting option
+ DNG raw stitching
+ manual exposure mode
+ 60 second exposure
+ almost no chromatic aberration
– prone to flare (contrast reduction)
– In low light, LED light sources can lead to horizontal lines.
– softer near the stitch line
Video quality: 8.5
+ excellent image stabilization (similar to best-in-class)
+ excellent 4K video quality
+ live streaming
+ Freecast (tiny planet / Freecapture style live streaming option)
+ live stream has stabilization
+ very good dynamic range
+ excellent sharpness near the center of the lens
+ log mode increases highlight range
+ manual exposure mode
– prone to flare (contrast reduction)
– audio is clear but mono only
+ Excellent stabilization, almost best-in-class
+ Follow mode stabilization option (“Direction Hold” in version 3.3) is very useful for vehicles and motorsports.
– When there is rapid side to side movement, there is slightly more rolling compared to Rylo and GoPro Fusion.
+ Freecapture (stabilized View Finder, and Pivot Point keyframing)
+ Smart Tracking
+ Bullet Time
+ excellent image stabilization makes it easy to shoot
+ waterproof external housing accessory
+ live streaming uses direct connection to phone; can use Wi-Fi for streaming
+ Bluetooth remote accessory can automatically pair with the Insta360 ONE without needing an app
+ simple and easy workflow on mobile and desktop
+ reasonably priced
– no live preview in wireless mode
– Micro SD cards need to be formatted with ExFAT on desktop (thanks to Mike Boening for the tip!)
– mediocre battery life; can’t use spare battery
– plastic tripod hole
Discounts; where to buy
Insta360 ONE is available on Amazon (Link #1 or Link #2) or from GearBest (March 20, 2018: use the code 360RumorsOne to get a special price of $269).
- Photo - 8.5/108.5/10
- Video - 8.5/108.5/10
- Stabilization - 8.8/108.8/10
- Usability - 9.0/109.0/10