360 Camera News and Info

Insta360 X3 72mp vs 18mp – IS IT REAL or just upscaled?

Is Insta360 X3 72mp real or upscaled?

Does the Insta360 X3’s 72mp photo mode really have more detail or is it just an upscaled version of the 18mp?  Short answer: the 72mp mode is much more detailed, with some qualifications.  Check out the samples.

Insta360 X3 (reviewed here) is the most popular 360 camera in the market today.  One of its features is that it can take photos with 72mp resolution (11,968 x 5,984).  But is the 72mp real or is it just an upscaled version of its normal 18mp mode (5,952 x 2,976).

The issue is that when you look at the 72mp photo, it doesn’t look as detailed as you might expect from a typical 72mp 360 photo, which raises the question about whether the 72mp is really more detailed.

Insta360 X3 72mp vs 18mp comparison

I took photos in 18mp and 72mp mode, both in Pureshot DNG mode, and compared them side by side without any editing.  Without question, the 72mp is more detailed:

Left: Insta360 X3 72mp. Right: Insta360 X3 18mp
Left: Insta360 X3 72mp. Right: Insta360 X3 18mp

Here’s the comparison in 360 view in full resolution (left: 72mp,  right: 18mp).  You can zoom and move the image.

You can try to upscale the 18mp image using Topaz Gigapixel AI or other software but you won’t get the same detail as the X3’s 72mp mode.  That’s because upscaling software are only providing additional detail from similar images.  This works well for trees or other common objects.  But upscaling cannot add more detail to text.

Left: X3 72mp mode. Right: X3 18mp mode, upscaled with Topaz Photo AI
Left: X3 72mp mode. Right: X3 18mp mode, upscaled with Topaz Photo AI

How does the Insta360 X3 72mp work?

Insta360 doesn’t post information about the X3’s sensor, but it appears to have a Quad Bayer array, which means that each pixel is made up of four subpixels.  In normal shooting mode, the four subpixels act as one pixel.  In scenes that require high dynamic range, half of the subpixels can be used to capture a shorter exposure and thus capture highlight detail that would otherwise be lost.  In the case of the X3, it has an HDR video mode that significantly increases the dynamic range.

Finally, when high resolution is required, the four subpixels can be remosaiced (re-interpreted) to each act as normal pixels of a Bayer sensor, resulting in higher detail, although not as much detail as a native Bayer sensor of the same resolution as the increased Quad-Bayer resolution.

How Sony's Quad Bayer Coding (QBC) works. Diagram by Sony
How Sony’s Quad Bayer Coding (QBC) works. Diagram by Sony


Should I shoot Insta360 X3 in 72mp all the time?

Although the 72mp mode does have more detail, it does have some drawbacks.  One disadvantage of the Insta360 X3’s 72mp mode is that it cannot be used when you are shooting an HDR bracketed photo.  Second, the 18mp mode should also have less noise, especially in low light conditions.


Insta360 X3’s 72mp might not be as detailed as a native 72mp photo, but it does provide much more detail than its 18mp photo mode.  If you want to find out more about the Insta360 X3’s other features, check out my review.


About the author

Mic Ty


Click here to post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • If I’m correc it’s not possible to edit the 72mp photo using the same options as the 18mp version. Insta360 told me it was because hardware limitations in cell phones.

  • Underwhelming Resolution:
    To be honest, I find it a bit underwhelming. When I first heard about the jump from an 18-megapixel image to a 72-megapixel one, I expected a massive improvement in image quality. However, it hasn’t quite lived up to my expectations. Its not 4x sharper.

    Lack of Innovation:
    What bothers me more is that it feels like this camera isn’t pushing the boundaries of camera technology. Instead, it’s like they’re playing it safe and sticking with what’s familiar and cheap.

    Industry Uniformity:
    When I compare this camera to others on the market, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to distinguish between them. It’s as if all the manufacturers are following a similar formula without taking any bold steps forward.

    Missed Opportunities:
    I can’t help but think about the higher-resolution cameras that have been released in the past by the same manufacturers. It makes me wonder why we’re not seeing more substantial upgrades.

    Profit-Driven Upgrades:
    At times, I get the feeling that these upgrades are more about generating profit than truly advancing camera technology.

  • You should put the Xphase in just for fun. I think the next generation dual lens models are finally going to surpass them in terms of resolution and usability. Insta360 has done the best at getting more detail out of the quad bayer in my opinion with the last firmware.

    It would be nice if Trisio would do an updated model with better resolution too.

    Overdue for a breakthrough!

  • Back in time: Fujifilm announces Super CCD EXR, Published Sep 22, 2008 (www.dpreview.com/articles/8190879314/fujifilmexr)