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:
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.
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.
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.