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TECHNIQUE: 12 Tips and Tricks to get better shots on the Insta360 Air

The Insta360 Air, a 360 camera for Android phones, is here! (Check out my first impressions here). Here are some tips and tricks!

1.  Using the Insta360 Air with a tripod or selfie stick.

The Insta360 Air doesn’t have a standard 1/4-20 tripod attachment.  However, you can still use the Air with a smartphone tripod adapter.  I compared several such adapters here and the one that I like best at the moment is this one by Ulanzi, available at Amazon.

2.  Use volume control as shutter.
If you trigger the shutter with your thumbs, you will look like you have giant thumbs or fingers because the shutter is close to the lens.  Instead of using the shutter on the screen, you can press the shutter using the volume control on the iPhone.  This will put your fingers along the side of the camera, which will make them look a little less prominent.

4.  Wireless triggering with a bluetooth remote shutter.
Yes you can trigger the Air wirelessly using a common Bluetooth shutter!  Wireless triggering allows you to stay completely out of the shot, among other benefits.

5.  Yes, you CAN use the Air without removing your smartphone case with this adapter.
If your smartphone has a case, you won’t be able to attach the Air directly because the Air has to be fully inserted in order to work.  Nonetheless, it’s possible to use the Air without removing your smartphone case by using a YCS Micro USB adapter (no Type C adapter yet AFAIK).  But you may need to modify the adapter.  Here’s how.

6.  Use an external microphone!
It is rare for a 360 camera to have an input for an external microphone, especially for entry-level 360 cameras.  Yet the Insta360 Air can be used with an external microphone.  You simply have to connect it to your phone’s headphone jack.  I’ve tried it with Apple earpods and they worked.  I haven’t tried other external microphones.

Note: depending on the location of the headphone jack on your phone, you may need to use the YCS Micro USB adapter or else the Air may obstruct the headphone jack.

7.  LED light for lowlight shots
For low light shots, you can turn on your phone’s LED light to take a shot where it otherwise would have been too dark.  Here is a snapshot I took of me and my son after we watched a movie.

8. Use Google Photos to manage your photo storage.
Insta360 Air stores photos and videos into your phone’s memory.  To avoid running out of space on your phone, use Google Photos to backup your photos to the cloud.  Google Photos has built-in functions for 360 photos.  But note that you’ll have to export them from the Insta360 Air app to your Photo Gallery (this converts them from .INSP to JPEG).  Once backed up, the photo can be deleted, allowing you to recover space on your phone’s storage.  Here are other benefits of Google Photos for 360 photos.

You can also use this for videos, although Google Photos doesn’t have built-in support for 360 videos yet.  I have a feeling they might add it in the future though.  Alternatively, you can back up videos to Google Drive for downloading to your desktop later.

9. Yes you can use the Insta360 Air horizontally.
The Insta360 Air is designed to be used with the smartphone in portrait orientation.  But what if you have a tripod holder or even a gimbal that works only in landscape mode?  It’s actually possible to use the Air with the phone held horizontally.  The resulting video will look rightside-up, but the Air app has a built-in utility for correcting the horizon.  See this tutorial.

10. For the highest image quality, you should use Insta360 Studio.
Insta360 Studio is a free 360 photo and video editing software by Insta360.  It can handle not only photos and videos in .INSP and .INSV format, but also standard equirectangular 360 JPEG and MP4 files.  If you want your Insta360 Air photos and videos to look their absolute best, you can download the photos and videos (in INSP and INSV format) to your desktop and open them in Insta360 Studio.  Besides amazing tiny planet animations, Insta360 Studio has purple fringing correction and can export photos and videos in “Superb” setting for the best possible image quality you can get from your files.  Find out more about Insta360 Studio here.

11.  Cleaning the lens
The Insta360 Air has excellent resistance to flare but that won’t mean much if your lens is covered with fingerprints, or worse, scratched.  I use a LensPen which has carbon black to absorb the oil from fingerprints.  Note: there are cheaper imitations but I don’t know if they have carbon black.

I also found the Pocket Toddy keychain lens cleaning cloth convenient for cleaning the lens in a hurry.

12. A case for the Insta360 Air
I repurposed my lens case for my Sony fisheye converter VCLECF1 (for the Sony NEX system) to fit the Insta360 Air in its rubber case plus the Micro USB extender.  You can get this hardcase for the Canon 50 1.8, which I believe would also fit:

Do you have other tips and tricks?  Please share them in the comments!

About the author

Mic Ty


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