The best 360 camera just gets better
Search the internet for the “best 360 cameras” and One X from Insta360 will certainly fill the results. Mainstream media like New York Times to technical camera sites like Digital camera world, from technology sites like TechRadar on, well, my opinions, the two-year 360-degree camera from Shenzhen-based Insta360 is still the best combination of hardware and software.
Aptly named One X2, this is another lightweight, pocket-sized camera that can shoot 360-degree footage with up to 5.7k resolution. The first One X could do that too, so what’s new with this 2020 update?
The first big upgrade is that the One X2 now has a color touchscreen that doubles as a viewfinder, so users can see exactly what they’re photographing. The black and white screen of the original One X only displayed words and numbers, not the actual content you were filming.
Recorded video clips have been improved in several areas: files now have a higher bit rate, which means more detail and more vivid colors. The One X2 has also improved its configuration to four microphones, so the sound quality in video is much better. Below is an example of a 360 clip shot in 5.7k resolution.
Battery life has also increased by 50%, and the camera is now waterproof up to 10 meters, making it possible to shoot underwater. Together, these upgrades significantly improve the One X2. But what makes Insta360 cameras so fun to use isn’t just the hardware, but the software. The companion app (available for iOS or Android) allows easy editing of content right on the phone, but what always appealed to me about the Insta360 software is the extra features that take a 360 clip and turn it into another. thing
As much as 360 content is fun for a consumer with a VR headset, the reality is that few actual platforms support 360-degree videos. I can’t post them on Instagram or Twitter, for example. Instead, I mainly used Insta360’s software to transform a 360 video clip into a standard “2D” video, but with my own framing. Since the original images literally cover everything around me, I can choose to frame the shot however I want. eventually turning into a medium close-up of my upper body and the backdrop.
Below, two videos. The first is a traditional 360 degree video (which can only be shared on platforms that support 360 videos like YouTube); the second is “normal” video cropped using the same footage as 360 footage (which can be played on any platform or screen). I had full control over where the camera focused via the Insta360 app. The editing process is simple: anyone can produce a video like this in a minute.
Another new way to use the One X2 is to use just one lens and shoot a simple video, albeit with a super-wide 150-degree field of view. Since Insta360’s built-in software stabilization is so good, the effects feel like a GoPro action camera. You can place the camera on a helmet during bike rides or skateboarding sessions.
There are many other software tricks such as “Clone Trail” which produces a video or photo with the subject replicated as many times as it wants. So you can be 12 in a video, all moving independently.
“Bullet Time” is another mode that recreates the slow motion 360 panning effect popularized by the 1999 movie The Matrix.
As usual, the camera software will also erase the selfie stick from the clip so it looks like you have a camera floating in front of or above you in the footage.
The improved battery life (I was able to shoot on and off over the course of a day and didn’t need to recharge) and water resistance should make this camera ideal for adventurers.
Truth be told, I’m a city dweller who doesn’t venture out too much, so I don’t really put this camera to its full potential. On Insta360 Instagram pages there are clips of users from all over the world, and they use the camera during skydiving sessions, skate in Manhattan against traffic, or parkour all over Paris. Their clips are fascinating and really show how this little pocket camera can film our adventures from unique angles.
The Insta360 One X2 will cost around $ 430 soon. This price will likely seem high for people who aren’t interested in 360 cameras or filming. But for content creators or vloggers, or 360 camera enthusiasts, this is reasonably priced similar to competing offerings, except Insta360 One X2 offers more software and hardware prowess.