I first heard of Insta360 back in late 2018-ish when they released the One X. And at the time there were other consumer 360 cameras on the market, such as the Theta S which was my first 360 camera, but Insta360, they marketed their camera differently.
Whereas most 360 cameras were pushing towards shooting for VR or shooting 360-degree photos that you could scroll around on Facebook, Insta360 was marketing towards reframing. They wanted people to be able to film themselves rather than focusing on the whole world around you or filming for VR.
And it was just this idea that, we pick up these tech tools, and we use them once and unless we have a really specific idea of what we're going to use them for, we often don't get enough use out of them for how much we pay for them.
And it's true, the One X didn't make its way into my daily life, but 360 cameras made their way into my creative life because once the pandemic hit, I had to make videos without a crew. We are on our way to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. I didn't have time to make crazy camera rigs, and I didn't have time to set up every single shot of myself. So I turned to the GoPro Max and I chose a Max over the One X because GoPro's desktop editing software was much easier to use. The camera felt more rugged and therefore I just trusted myself more with it. And I really liked having a color screen, but now we have the One X 2. And although I don't have time for a full-blown review because it is fully Techtober, I do wanna give this guy a spin to see what Insta360 has learned since the One X.
On paper, the One X 2 adds a full color touch screen, it's got longer battery life, it's got IPX8 water resistance and even more AI powered editing tools all for $430, which is only $30 more than its predecessor, the One X.Insta360 kept the same basic rectangular shape, but it refined the hardware with two new latched compartments. One for a battery and the Micro SD card and another for a USB-C port. The X 2 also has plastic textured rails that run along the outside of the camera and overall they just make the camera feel more rugged.
And of course there are still two very large, protruding lenses off either side of this camera, which, that will never not bring me loads of anxiety, but it is absolutely to be expected with 360 cameras.
Also, new this year is that IPX8 water resistance. That water resistance offers up to 10 meters of waterproofing without an underwater housing, but Insta360 claims that underwater, 360 degree footage stitching is still not possible without specialized dive cases or underwater lens guards. And that's because water refracts light and it creates visual aberrations, and it's really hard for an algorithm to stitch that footage and I mean, that's a problem for most 360 cameras. So nothing new here That water resistance does make it feel more rugged though. And you can also use a single lens of this camera. So it makes the camera just more of an action cam than anything else.
The most obvious upgrade is the new touch screen though. While 360 cameras are shooting everything in sight, being able to see the angle at which the camera is seeing the world is important, especially when taking photos. You can also watch playback, change settings, switch camera modes, all on this circular screen and I gotta say, this is one of the most responsive touchscreens I've used on an action camera.
I am a little worried about it underwater because flashes can sometimes be sensed as touches, but when it is warmer, and we are swimming again, we'll have to put that all to the test.
Now powering this camera is a larger 1,630 milliamp-hour battery that Insta360 claims can record up to 80 minutes of 360-degree footage at 5K 30 frames per second.
I am kind of a little disappointed to see that the One X 2 can still only record 360 footage at 5.7K 30 frames per second. And you can do 3K at 100 frames per second, but all of those specs are exactly the same as they were on the One X. These have become standard specs for consumer 360 cameras. I mean the GoPro max, the Vuze XR, Insta360's own One R. I mean, they all have these specs and while it is impressive, when I'm reframing, I think it would just be great to have 4K on a single lens.
That being said, this footage does look great. In the standard color pre-set the highlights don't blur out and the blacks are crisp. And pair that solid image quality with Insta360's Flowstate stabilization, and you have some really great footage with very little effort. The camera also has a steady cam mode which only uses one lens to create steady wide angle footage. And that maxes out at 2K 50 frames per second.
So Insta360's mobile app is like super user-friendly and you can tell they've spent a lot of time developing it. Now 360 footage is still daunting to a lot of people, especially people that aren't going to bring their footage home and edit it on a desktop. So if you have a mobile app that does most of that editing for you, well, that's a win-win right? Plus when you come home, it's like an awesome way to look through your day's adventures and to kind of edit stuff. The desktop app, not as much. And that's the biggest difference between the GoPro max and the Insta360 still for me.
As someone who edits their 360 footage on a desktop, I do simply prefer the simplicity of GoPro's desktop software, GoPro Player. Keyboard shortcuts are clearly labeled, the main tools I need are very easy to see, and they have great icons and overall the UI, it's just prettier to look at. Whereas Insta360's desktop app really requires you to kind of dig for the settings and really get to know the program before you can use it proficiently. You just can't pick it up and use it as quickly as GoPro's.
I really only had about 48 hours with this camera. So I didn't have time to put it head-to-head to the GoPro Max, but the One X 2 just feels a lot more like an action cam, which is what I loved about the Max. It's being able to throw it in and out of bags, it's not having to worry about being so delicate with it. And it's also about being able to hold it in your hand and feel that it is secure, which is what those plastic rails along the side definitely help with.
That is the One X 2. And with this you get that added color touchscreen that's super responsive, nice and bright. You also get a more rugged design, a little bit larger battery. And while it would have been nice to see a spec bump, this camera still produces really good-looking images. And with the One X, Insta360 allowed you to film everything around you and yourself really easily. And so for $30 more, you get that added bonus of being able to see yourself while you do it.