Insta360 ONE R Twin Edition
“That’s how 360 should have been made from the start.”
Long list of additional functions
Well-built editing app
Although 360-degree cameras see everything around them, they can only be used to a limited extent. However, the Insta360 One R is not a typical 360-degree camera. In fact, it doesn’t have to be a 360 degree camera at all. With the modular platform, you can replace the 360 lens with a conventional wide-angle camera lens. There is even a Leica 1-inch sensor mod for capturing higher image quality, but one was not provided for this test.
The One R consists of three main components: the interchangeable camera module, the battery and the touchscreen. Each is a separate piece, but the latter two are more permanent because they are used with both camera modules. The $ 480 Twin Edition (tested) includes a 5.7K 360 Mod and a 4K wide angle mod.
The Insta360 One R not only addresses the limited number of uses for a 360-degree camera, but also has a long list of features and a well-designed mobile app to access it. Not only does it break 360 out of its niche, it also competes with GoPro as an action camera.
We loved the Insta360 One R when we saw it at CES 2020, and it won the Top Tech of CES Award for the photography category. Let’s see if it meets our expectations.
When assembled, the One R is more or less similar to a typical action camera. A plastic protection wraps around the top and sides of all three parts and contains a GoPro-compatible holder at the base.
The camera module is connected to both the core (the part with the LCD screen) and the battery. As a useful addition to vloggers, the non-360 module can even be mounted backwards so that the screen itself is visible during the recording. The camera module jumps off the base with a tiny lever and can then be pulled out of the core with a good jerk.
Although the Insta360 One R consists of modular components, it is not much larger than a typical action camera. Both the camera module and the core are approximately the size of a golf ball (if golf balls were dice). The small size makes installation easier in the sense of a conventional action camera. However, you should use a selfie stick to keep your fingers away from the lens and pick up the camera handheld.
The simple controls include a power switch on the top right with the record button next to it. A small door on the side has a USB-C port and a microSD card slot.
The rest is done via the touchscreen. Most 360 cameras do not and rely on a smartphone connection instead. Therefore, the screen is a big advantage – a big one because the actual size of the screen is only about an inch wide. This is a limitation of the modular structure.
The on-screen controls for recording and playback are intuitive, but you need to know the correct gestures to access them. A swipe to the left opens the recording settings, to the right is the playback, additional settings are opened from above and different recording modes are called up from below. This is not very different from the number of working action cameras. Therefore, it should at least be known to customers who have used something like a GoPro.
The touchscreen could also be a little picky. It often took a few swipe attempts to land in the mode I wanted, rather than scrolling right past it.
The Insta360 One R is waterproof up to 16 feet without an additional housing. (The frame provided does not provide additional water protection.) We tested the camera in a snowstorm – including dropping a sled into a pile of snow – and had no problems with moisture penetration.
The modular structure may be unique, but the One R was still simple and easy to use. Trying to remember gesture control takes time, but no more than any other miniature camera. The mode wheel kept rolling over the option you wanted and it’s easy to accidentally press buttons when changing mods.
Nevertheless, the One R is the first modular action camera of its kind to be impressively impressive.
Exchanging lenses with an action camera is actually a lot of fun. Unlike a DSLR, you don’t swap lenses to get closer or further away, depending on whether you want an immersive view, a wide-angle front-facing camera, or a wide-angle rear-facing camera. Insta360 also includes options for digitally adjusting the viewing angle. This will of course crop the video, but before those pixels are thrown away, the One R uses the extra cropping space to improve electronic image stabilization.
The controls on the camera offer enough so that you can escape without having to rely on the mobile app and not that you want to do without it entirely. Controlling the camera through the app opens a long list of options, including manual exposure and RAW photos. The app also offers tutorials on how to record and edit.
With the 360 lens, the app also allows tracking – press and hold the subject and the 360 video is adjusted so that the person or object is always in front and in the middle. This chase worked well and kept pace even when the selected face was partially covered, but stops the chase when the view is completely blocked. The 360 videos can also be viewed in three main perspectives: ultra-wide, wide, or tiny planet (with the entire field of view grouped into a circle that gives the impression that you’re walking on a tiny planet). .
Where the app really shines is in the editing. It felt more complete than the company’s desktop software and had more options than most other mobile video apps. You can easily trim clips, add filters, and even join multiple clips together. You won’t find any advanced editing controls, but it does the job for occasional use.
FlashCut is an option from the Stories section of the app that A.I. to quickly convert multiple clips into an edited video. Starting with a topic, select a few clips – you can see which one you want by looking at the icons for the front camera, the rear camera, the forward movement or the faces. The app then puts them together into music and various special effects.
In fact, the app is too powerful for my iPhone 7, which has to be replaced and there is no more storage space forever. It ran seamlessly on the latest iPad, but owners of older devices should expect slow performance and performance with large storage requirements (these 5.7K 360 files are not small).
If the app or mini touchscreen is not enough, voice control to start or stop recording and to mark important moments is also included.
While the One R is both fun and intuitive to use, I’ve encountered a few bugs. When I played one of the first videos I made, the video stuttered. The camera froze due to an HDR photo. I couldn’t make the errors recur, but the experience wasn’t 100% seamless.
Image quality and additional functions
The 4K wide-angle mod takes pictures from a 1: 2.8 lens on a sensor with about 12 megapixels. Videos can be 4 × 3 (4000 x 3000) with full sensor at 30 fps or Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) at 60 fps. HD video is available at up to 200 fps for slow motion.
The 360 Mod uses a slightly brighter 1: 2.0 lens. The still images are 18.4 megapixels, while the videos are 5,760 pixels wide. However, keep in mind that these pixels are spread across the full 360 x 360 degree field of view, rather than all of them being shown on the screen at the same time, so the actual resolution you see is much lower.
Videos from both mods met expectations for their respective categories with good details and colors. With auto adjustment, the exposure was generally good and enough on the track to only occasionally require a minor adjustment in the mail.
With the 360 mod, the camera had some strange stitches on too close objects, blurred details, created an abrupt transition, or even caused a color to bleed out the stitch line. However, sewing on objects that are one foot or more away looked great.
The stabilization of both mods is excellent. Since the 360-Mod can stabilize without trimming, it is almost as stable as a tripod. The wide-angle mod isn’t quite as stable, but it’s still impressive compared to other action cameras. I had my 7 year old carry the camera on a helmet mount and the results were surprisingly smooth.
Still images matched the expectations of the action camera and category 360. The wide-angle lens causes noticeable barrel distortion, but captures a beautiful wide-angle view. When you activate Color Plus in the app, beautiful, vivid colors are created and the shadows are enhanced. But even without this function, we were impressed by the bright blue sky and the colorful details. HDR The mode also enhances the shadows a little, but takes longer and does not work with moving subjects.
The One R website shows a starry time-lapse, but we were having a grainy mess when we tried to photograph the stars in the camera’s Night Shot mode. Which is not surprising since it is an action camera, but it is bad advertising.
However, the Insta360 One R combines the functions of the company from several camera generations in one, including a long list of special functions. The R will be one of those cameras that you really need to research and deepen in tutorials – built right into the app – or you’ll find a new feature you didn’t know you had in a year.
The 360 Mod can make a selfie stick invisible or capture bullet time effects. Hyper-lapses and slow motion are integrated in HDR, night shot mode and one-touch color correction with Color Plus. The R is even compatible with an Apple Watch app for remote shooting. With the accessories, you can also add a microphone, take pictures from an “invisible” drone, dive deeper under water or extend the battery life.
A mod expected in April allows the camera to take 3D pictures. Live streaming is also listed as “coming soon”.
Most 360 cameras have a short-lived cooling factor, but the Insta360 One R may be able to extend that cooling factor to the life of the camera. If the scene isn’t interesting from every angle, just swap the mod for an action camera that doesn’t affect resolution on large harvests. And when replacing the mods no longer feels new, the camera itself and the app are equipped with enough recording and editing modes to promote your creativity for months.
The Insta360 One R does everything that an action or 360 camera can do – and much more. Video is not only solid, but paired with excellent stabilization. The Insta360 One R isn’t perfect, with a few minor flaws and freezes and the small sensor limitations of an action camera. Insta360 released at least two firmware updates during the test, so hopefully these issues will be short-lived. However, the modular design, video quality and additional features – not to mention the cheap price of $ 480 for both camera mods – are worth a few quirks.
Is there a better alternative?
Only if you want to buy two cameras. The Insta360 One R Twin Edition essentially consists of two cameras in one with the two mods. The Rylo’s rewrite ability and user-friendly app make it its closest competitor, but cropping 360 videos and swapping camera mods are not the same thing. The tiny screen gives the GoPro Hero8 an advantage, but only here if you only want an action camera without the 360 functions.
How long it will take?
The Insta360 One survived being hurled into snow banks with no problems. However, as a modular camera, more connections and things may need to be broken, and with modular cameras there is not enough history to determine whether this is the case or not. But at least with the mods, you don’t necessarily have to replace the whole thing if a component breaks.
Should you buy it
If you can’t choose between an action camera and a 360 camera, or just looking for a 360 camera, buy the Insta360 One R. The videos are great, versatility unbeatable, the app extensive – and it’s just one great time to shoot.