The Insta360 ONE is a 4K, six-axis stabilized connected 360 degree camera

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posted Monday, August 28, 2017 at 1:30 PM EDT

 
 

For those interested in capturing VR footage, most of the 360 degree/VR cameras that exist- especially if you narrow the scope to cameras that the average (or even above-average) consumer can acquire- aren't up to the quality or UI that you might hope for. They tend to be plagued by at least one of a host of problems: oddly shaped, not enough memory, bad image quality, poor stitching, the list goes on. The biggest of these problems tends to be the editing or transferring of images and video though, as editing 360 degree content can be daunting, especially to a first-timer. Insta360 is trying to address all these problems with their new ONE camera, and from specs and example footage, they may have done it. 

The Insta360 ONE shoots 360 video and photos at resolutions of 4K ([email protected], [email protected]) and 24 megapixels (6912 x 3456 pixels), respectively. Though not shaped like a typical camera, it can be mounted in one of two ways through three modes of operation: standalone, remote control via Bluetooth and direct control via a connection to your smartphone (presently only iPhone is available, with Android "coming soon.") You can choose to mount it vertically with an included handle/case, or horizontally while connected to your smartphone.

Insta 360 ONE is putting a lot of stock in a feature they are calling "FreeCapture" technology. What it allows you to do is take your 360 video, download it into your phone, and then edit it through their app to create to create a standard, fixed-frame video with all the benefits of having shot in 360 degrees.

Insta 360 says that by "leveraging a phone’s onboard gyroscope, FreeCapture lets users simply peer into the original 360 scene using their phone display as a viewfinder. Whatever they see as they point their phone into the original experience is what they’ll capture in a fixed-frame video. In other words, users can stand in the present moment while they film a past experience – using exactly the same hand motions they would always use to capture a video on their phone."

This technique seemed new to me, and Insta 360 agreed. They say that "never before has this editing technique been achievable on a phone, and it opens the door on a new era in videography, allowing anybody – from a journalist to an outdoor adventurer – to effectively act as their own camera crew." Addidtionally, "FreeCapture also allows users to seamlessly shift from standard perspectives to the unique shots that are only possible with 360 cameras, such as “tiny planet” and “rabbit hole” effects."

 
 

Speaking of that gyroscope, the camera comes equipped with a six-axis image stabilizer. From their example footage, it greatly smooths out the quality of video that current cameras on the market tend to leave wobbly and hard to watch. That stabilizer makes capturing typical footage better, but also allows the ONE to shoot bullet-time footage by mixing the tech with the camera's ability to completley remove a selfie-stick from the captured footage- in camera. 

"Advanced stabilization is also what makes possible the all-new bullet time mode, which has to be seen to be fully appreciated. Using only a selfie stick or a string attachment, creators can capture up to 240 FPS slow-motion shots where the ONE circles them dramatically, always keeping them center-frame—while the accessory used to spin the camera is flawlessly concealed. (The ONE shoots at a maximum of 120 FPS, while 240 FPS video is achieved algorithmically with the companion app.)"

The ONE also offers 360 timelapse mode as well as HDR capture (it will shoot in both RAW for stills and a LOG format for video, which gives it the best possible quality for editing purposes). It can also be purchased with a IP68 waterproof housing. 

The Insta360 ONE is available for pre-order, and shipments will start September 5. The US retail price of an Insta360 ONE, which includes a camera, a two-in-one case and camera stand, a MicroSD card, a Micro-USB cable, a lens cloth, and a string attachment to achieve the bullet-time effect, is USD $299.99