UPDATE: The Insta360 ONE is here. Check out the specifications, features and first impressions.
Insta360 announced that it is launching a new 360 camera on August 28! I believe this will be what CEO JK Liu called the “Nano 2” (though the actual name may be different). Here’s what I know so far, and some predictions.
UPDATE: According to JK, the new camera is NOT the Nano 2 but is actually for a different target market. This likely means an intermediate / prosumer camera that fills the gap between the Insta360 Air / Nano for consumers and the Insta360 Pro for professionals!
About 5 months ago, CEO JK Liu casually mentioned to me that they were working on the Nano 2:
He said it would have a built-in gyro stabilization that would not require a phone. Other than that, I could not find out any other information.
Then at NAB Show, Yi announced the Yi 360 VR with 5.7K video. The announcement surprised the industry because of its high resolution and relatively low cost of $399. However, Insta360 representatives were totally unfazed. All they would hint at was that their next camera would be just as, if not more impressive.
Over the next few months, representatives would only say that they were working on a camera but were extremely tight-lipped about its features.
Then today, Engadget posted a video from Insta360 showing a video with a bullet time effect (first made popular by the Matrix).
Here are some observations / predictions about the new camera. Arranged in order of likelihood (from most likely to less likely):
1. It will have in-camera stabilization, and the stabilization will not require a phone. The stabilization is apparent from the teaser video.
2. It has two lenses and will be fully spherical, 2D not 3D. This is based on the appearance of the teaser photo on Insta360’s page. The Insta360 Pro has 3D capture capability but it appears this one will not (because it only has 2 lenses).
3. No, contrary to what Engadget said, it will not take an orbiting video while you are stationary, even though it might seem that way. Rather, it has a high-fps mode (at least 240fps or higher). When the camera is attached to a string and spun around with high fps video, you get the effect that you see here. It appears that this is a fully spherical high fps mode (not just a front lens mode).
4. It is a compact consumer camera (not a professional 360 camera). We know this because they were able to spin the camera around, so it shows the small size and weight of the new camera. You definitely can’t do that with an Insta360 Pro!
5. It will have its own memory and storage. We know this because the new camera can be used independently from a phone (otherwise there would be no point having an internal gyro as opposed to using a phone’s gyro as in the current Nano and Air).
6. Excellent stitching. The video shows very smooth, totally seamless stitching. The camera will likely have an optical flow mode, a feature of the Insta360 Pro and a feature that was recently implemented in the Insta360 Air.
7. Excellent dynamic range. The video shows that the model’s skin wasn’t blown out. At the same time, there is detail in the shadows of the distant hills. These characteristics indicate that the new camera has excellent dynamic range.
8. It will be at least 4K and more likely 5.7K. The seemingly high level of detail in the teaser video (even if it’s just a GIF) seems to suggest it is at least 4K. And because Insta360 remained confident about the Yi 360 VR announcement, I would venture to say the new camera would also have 5.7K, possibly more.
9. It is probably slim. Because the stitching is seamless, I am supposing that it has a thin form factor.
10. It will probably be compatible with both iOS and Android (either both in the same unit, or they will have two versions). There are cameras that are compatible with both iOS and Samsung phones, such as the Samsung Gear 360 2017. I am supposing the new camera will also likewise be compatible with both iOS and Android.
UPDATE: An anonymous source says the price of the camera will be under $300. If that is indeed the price, and it has the features I predicted, then it will have a very good chance of becoming the best intermediate 360 camera on the market.
One question is whether the new camera will still have a smartphone connector like the Air and Nano. I think that would be very helpful in order to allow streaming via Wi-Fi (which would otherwise be used up for the connection between phone and camera). On the other hand, it would be harder to maintain universal compatibility, unless it has some sort of interchangeable connector or adapter.
UPDATE: a few more observations here.
I will definitely be keeping a close eye on the new camera. To find out more about the new camera, please sign up to be notified at Insta360’s website.