Which naked GoPro is better: Insta360 SMO or the GepRC naked Hero 8? Plus: some information about the new version of the Insta360 SMO.
In the past couple of years, naked GoPros have become the preferred action cam for cinematic FPV because of their light weight and good stabilization. Naked GoPros are GoPro Hero cameras that have been stripped down to make them as light as possible. The lighter weight makes them useful for FPV quads, which can fly more smoothly with a lighter camera, or you can mount them on smaller FPV quads.
It used to be that if you wanted a naked GoPro, you’d have to take apart a GoPro and assemble it yourself. Now you can get a naked GoPro off the shelf. The Insta360 SMO is not literally a naked GoPro but it’s a naked Insta360 One R with 4K mod, and it was well received by the FPV community. GepRC has begun offering their own preassembled naked Hero 8 as well, and iFlight is now making two of their own GoCam naked GoPro alternatives.
The question is which of these naked GoPros is the best? Here’s Joshua Bardwell’s comparison of the Insta360 SMO ($239) and the GepRC Naked Hero 8 ($450). Note: Joshua was using the original Insta360 SMO. There’s a newer version (see below).
Joshua found that the GepRC had better detail although the SMO has the advantage of letting you choose the aspect ratio and stabilization mode after shooting. In terms of convenience, the GepRC Naked Hero 8 has a front LCD screen but requires a QR code to connect wirelessly to its app. The SMO wi-fi is active by default but the Insta360 app will prompt you to confirm the connection on the SMO’s touchscreen – which it doesn’t have. Instead you just need to connect to the SMO’s Wi-Fi manually.
One significant issue is the cost: the GepRC naked Hero 8 is almost twice as expensive. On the other hand, it is possible to buy a kit from GepRC ($40) and a GoPro Hero 8 and assemble it yourself. I have such a kit but haven’t found the time to assemble the GepRC naked Hero 8 yet.
One thing to note is that in Joshua’s video, the GepRC naked Hero 8 case was destroyed in a relatively light crash. Joshua didn’t crash with the Insta360 SMO so it’s hard to tell what would have happened. However, I have had crashes on my Beta95X V3 and Pavo30 with Insta360 SMO attached and it was usually fine although one time, the ND filter got smashed. Also, another time, the silicone rubber dampeners on the camera mount popped out from my Beta95X V3, and the SMO’s power connector was almost ripped off. I soldered it but after a while, it failed again. It seems BetaFPV and Insta360 knew about this possibility, which is why newer SMOs now have a reinforced power connector:
My original SMO case however, is fine despite several crashes. It’s possible that the Insta360 SMO has a tougher or thicker plastic case, which could be why it is 4 grams heavier than the GepRC Naked Hero 8. In addition, the reinforced power connector could make the SMO more durable than the GepRC Naked Hero 8.
The other thing is that Joshua didn’t get too deep into is a comparison between their stabilization. In that regard, GoPros can use ReelSteady for extra stabilization, but there are equivalents for Insta360 SMO, which I’ll show in my comparison next time. I also have a naked Hero 9 that I have yet to assemble.