Insta360 One R Twin Edition – The Ultimate Action Camera?
After waiting eagerly for the GoPro Hero 9 to launch, I ended up picking up the Insta360 One R Twin edition, a day after the GoPro launch as I did not find it to be a significant upgrade over the Hero 8.
For starters I knew what the Insta360 could do, having seen the One and the One X do wonders in matter of stability and a sturdy build. Sharath had picked up the One R recently and I loved the shots from the camera. His Insta360 One was even thrown off on the highway at over 100kmph due to a faulty suction mount. It survived. So, I knew that the build quality will be remarkable.
Now came the value for money aspect of things. Let us do a price comparison, in India, of just the units available and the GoPro equivalent. Prices are as per Amazon.in at the time of posting this article.
- Insta360 One R Twin Edition – ₹39,999.00 (includes 360 & 4K wide angle units)
- Insta360 One R 4K Wide Edition – ₹28,149.00
- Insta360 One R 360 Edition – ₹34,999.00
- Insta360 One R 1 Inch Edition – ₹43,999.00
- GoPro HERO 8 Black – ₹30,990.00
- GoPro MAX Action Camera – ₹42,999.00
- There is no Twin Edition, hence if you get both – ₹73,989.00 (that is close to 50% over the current price of the Insta360 One R Twins)
- GoPro Hero 9 Black – $450.00 inclusive of the import taxes in India, one can expect this to be north of ₹45,000.00 (I will update this once we have official figures for India)
As you can see, if you try the combinations, of individual units or the combo packs, the Insta360 One R is true value for money. Additionally, one advantage if that if you buy any single unit, you can always add on the other modules as and when you feel like. These are just the camera modules, there are a load of other modules designed to work with drones or even for underwater shooting in 360.
The Insta360 One R Action Camera aims to be a step up above the rest by being a fully modular system. Quite a unique feature! The specifications are drool-worthy for any adventure traveler.
The base camera module has FlowState stabilization, Insta360’s patented technology. This smooths out bumpy footage and makes it watchable. This works due to an internal 6-axis gyroscope.
It has an auto frame mode that allows the camera to track a subject throughout your capture, voice control for hands-free control, a HDR mode, night shot for low light captures, slow motion and hyper lapse modes, and a reversible touch screen. RAW photo mode is also available for folks who like to do post shoot processing.
The still photo resolution sits at larger than 3000 pixels, which is a remarkable for action cameras!
The video resolution can shoot at up to a mind boggling 100 frames-per-second depending on the mode.
The Twin Edition tends to catch most people’s eye. This version includes two camera lenses, the 4k Wide Angle Lens and the Dual-Lens 5.7k 360 lens. The wide-angle lens features an aperture of F/2.8, and the 360 has an aperture of F/2.0. Nice for low light captures and good subject separation.
Then there is the One Inch Edition. This one features a 14mm lens at F/3.2, ultra-wide angle. This lens is a collaborate with Leica and features Leica glass.
When this camera is put together, it appears to be a typical small action camera. Upon closer inspection is when you notice that all the components come apart! Taking the elements apart and putting them back together is quite satisfying. Unlike a traditional DSLR or mirrorless camera that requires a twist and lock, these pieces just pop into place. A bit like Lego pieces. The downside is that you must disconnect from the battery to swap the components, so it is not as prompt as it sounds. The One Inch Edition requires you to take off the front lens cover too.
The physical build itself is sturdy and feels like it can handle a lot. You never want a sports camera to feel flimsy. That said, the locking mechanism does seem sturdy. I believe the mounting case it comes with will hold it in place in case of a fall.
The One R delivers on both Shock and Water resistance. It is waterproof up to 5 meters, but divers should still consider a water housing just in case. It is only 5 meters, unlike 10 meters in most other cameras due to its modular form factor. I did face some moisture accumulation at the lens in very cold humid conditions. This is expected and was soon taken care of by the silica gels and zip pouch provided as part of the standard box package. They have an informative documentation on how waterproofing works for this modular camera. You must ensure that you assemble the components and the camera bracket. Make sure there is no dust or sand in the connectors or between the modules, and the USB port is sealed.
This 360 camera is sized at 72mm by 48mm x 43mm on average, but size does change a bit depending on the attached lenses. It is a tad bigger than the GoPro Hero 8. The screen is a 1.3-inch square display, a bit small for everything you need to use it for. That said, the pocket-size and modular ability is worth the screen size sacrifice. There are tactile buttons for ease of use located at the top of the screen cube. The buttons are large and easy to find, even with a glove on!
What I Like About The Insta360 One R ?
This camera leads the pack with its resolution. It can capture in over 5k! Improvements in color rendering, contrast, and depth are immediately noticeable when set to this mode. This also allows for more detailed editing and post-processing. The higher resolution equals more control over color grading and cropping. I have even tried taking snapshots of the 5K video and they are remarkable.
The image stabilization system is also quite neat. It utilizes a 6-axis gyroscope versus 3 to a maximum of 5 axis in other cameras. There is a slight distortion in the ultra-wide-angle shots right at the very corners, but I was really nitpicking to find this. Majority of the world would not even notice this.
The AI tracking is something of sheer beauty. You can use this feature while shooting footage and during post processing! You can track a subject after capturing the footage and have the application re-frame. That is something amazing and makes life easy for action content creators.
What Could Have Been Better ?
I found getting used to the the UI a bit more difficult than I expected. It can be intuitive if you memorize the various gestures required to operate the camera. Swipes up, down, left, and right open various menus and options. I still do not believe I found everything I was looking for with limited use, unlike other brands, in which it was easy to set up in a few moments. I think it is probably just me as I am used to the GoPro UI and it took me few attempts remember the gestures. Although battery life is rated for 65 minutes, I could average an actual battery life of 45 minutes in 5K 360. The screen being on always will drain the battery rather quickly. I managed to get 60 mins with 5K 360 recording and the LEDs and screen in auto off mode. For the vloggers, there is no dedicated microphone output, but you can buy a USB-C compatible one and use as an add on along with the standard mounting case.
In Conclusion, What Is Better? The GoPro Hero 8/9, Or The Insta360 One R?
The answer is really in what you plan on using it for. This camera tends to combine the best of all worlds due to its ability to swap lenses and screen. The modular build leaves the door wide open for some cool adapters and accessories as well. You can build this camera into whatever you need it to be!
However, the price point worked in Insta360’s favor in comparison to competitors. You can buy one unit and build on with other modules. You get more bang for the buck with Insta360 when compared to an equivalent combination from GoPro. The video quality is excellent, be it stabilization or the exceptional video resolution. In fact one can just manage to live with one camera alone, the Insta360 One R 360 edition as you can post process regular wide angle images in their app. With the 360 you do not need to worry where the lens is pointing, just fix, shoot, and edit the angles in post processing. I believe the Insta360 One R is a good choice to build on.
Here are some images and footage shot by me on the Insta360 One R