Insta360 is having a sale at the moment (Aug 25 to Sep 6) so now’s a good time to share my thoughts about their cameras and hopefully help you decide which one(s) to get or not get. If you don’t know me, I make a bunch of videos about electric skateboards and frequently use Insta360 cameras.
I have the Insta360 One X2, One R, and Go 2. I will write about them in the order that I got them and you’ll see how Insta360 went from being one of my least favorite camera brands to one of my favorites.
Insta360 One R:
Popping My 360 Cherry
The One R is the first camera I ever got from Insta360 and also the first 360 camera I ever used. I hated it at first, but over time it became one of my most frequently used cameras.
I pre-ordered this camera (the Twin Edition with the 360 and 4K modules) so I was one of the first customers to receive it. This was in early 2020. Man this camera sucked at the beginning. It froze all the time, the touch display was finicky, there was no mic adapter available yet, and it did not support 24 fps unlike what it stated on the product webpage.
I hated it so much I actually made a video ranting about it, but removed it months later because Insta360 resolved the major issues through firmware updates. The camera no longer froze (or at least very rarely now like other cameras) and 24 fps was added. A mic adapter became available but the audio still sucks with it so I hardly use it. The touch display still sucks. But at least the camera became usable for me.
What made me start to use the One R more than my action camera, the DJI Osmo Action, was the Insta360 Studio app on both the iPhone and Mac. Before that, I had been editing the 360 footage in Premiere and that was a pain in the ass but I didn’t know any better.
From Insta360’s marketing, I had thought their apps were just for their gimmicky effects so I never tried them, but their regular editing capabilities are actually quite good! It’s faster for me to edit 360 footage in Insta360’s app (on either the phone or Mac), export the footage, and then import them into Premiere than for me to edit them directly in Premiere.
So actually, I’m more a fan of the Insta360 Studio apps than of the One R. I didn’t even write about the One R’s 4K module because quite frankly I never used it after testing it out a couple times. I was sold on the modularity, but in reality it was an inconvenient feature. I just kept the One R in its 360 setup.
Eventually I pretty much stopped using the Osmo Action because being able to compose 360 footage in post is really beneficial. Plus with the 360 cam, I can get my whole body in the field of view.
Insta360 Go 2:
Fun, Different, Impressive
The Go 2 is an ingenious little camera like no other. Its tiny size is only one aspect of what makes it so unique. I’m going to assume that you already know something about this camera and just share my experience using it.
That magnetic pendant works great. I’ve fallen off while downhill skateboarding and the Go 2 stayed attached just fine. I feel totally confident about using it while downhill skating and e-skating, more so than mounting an action cam or 360 cam to my chest. Action cams and 360 cams aren’t very big but they’re still more vulnerable in a crash than the Go 2 since they protrude from the chest mount. In contrast, the tiny Go 2 is right against the shirt.
Unlike other cameras, you can reorient Go 2 shots in the Insta360 apps after shooting – meaning you can use the same footage for both 16:9 and 9:16 videos without losing resolution or field of view. (Just remember to set the video mode to Pro Video.)
The Go 2 is lighter than just about every other consumer camera so it’s great for mounting on a helmet, either pointed forward or toward yourself with an extension rod.
You can position the camera in any way and the footage will always be level as long as the camera is pointed toward the horizon, or even off by a few degrees. For example, the camera can be tilted diagonally but the footage will remain level.
If you point away from the horizon (i.e., up or down), the footage will appear to smoothly move the field of view in that direction as if a human were recomposing the shot, and not just suddenly jump away from the horizon. It’s smart like that.
Of course if you want to disable the stabilization and auto level, you can do that. And you can do that before or after shooting. Shoot first, think later.
If you use the Insta360 Studio app for desktop, you can recompose the shot a little bit like with 360 footage, but just a few degrees. But unlike 360 footage, you can’t set keyframes.
I only bought this camera like a month ago and at first I was disappointed that its Pro Video mode (the one that allows you to reorient after shooting) did not support 24 fps. But now it does after a firmware update!
My only major complaint about the Go 2 is that the record button on the camera is too easy to accidentally press. Happens all the time when I’m fiddling with the camera. And since it’s easy to accidentally start recording, I’d prefer that the haptic feedback for starting and stopping be very different – like maybe one buzz for starting, and three short buzzes for stopping. (Firmware update plz?) There is an indicator light but it’s tiny and can be hard to see in bright daylight if you’re not looking straight at it.
I have things planned for this camera. Its small size and light weight opens up many possibilities.
Insta360 One X2:
Better Than I Expected
The One X2 is way better than the One R. The image quality may be the same, but the UX is so much better.
Compared to the One R, the One X2’s buttons are easier to press, the touch display is higher res and easier to control, recording starts and stops more quickly, the battery capacity is higher, and you don’t need to move the camera in and out of a mounting case since the 1/4″ mounting point is built in. The One R feels cumbersome to use, but the One X2 feels like it just works.
But the One R is better because you can use it as an action cam, right? Wrong! You can set the One X2 to use only one lens, making it an ultra-wide angle action cam. No need to change to another module. Sure the One R’s 4K module in theory should have better image quality but honestly viewers don’t care about image quality from action camera shots.
Insta360 not long ago released new lens guards for the One X2 (the Premium Lens Guards) and they work quite well! The stitching with these lens guards is noticeable if you look for it but not enough for viewers to care. And it doesn’t make your hand or body look like it’s sliced in half.
There’s also a mount accessory for the Røde Wireless Go which should keep the microphone hidden in the 360 footage. I haven’t tried it yet but it’s on my buy list.
Quick disclaimer: Insta360 hooked me up with the One X2 because I broke my One R in an e-skate crash and my friend knows somebody at the company. I thought I might get a free repair or something but hey I don’t mind a free camera! The fact that I’ve used the One R for a bunch of YouTube videos probably helped too.
I ended up getting my One R repaired through a third-party anyway so I use that as a secondary cam now while the One X2 is the primary. And I use the Go 2 for stuff like helmet shots and anything that could use a really small and light camera.
There’s actually a ton more I could talk about, like other camera features and the plethora of accessories. They even have a bunch of different selfie sticks. But anyway, TLDR:
One R: meh. Go 2: great. One X2: great. Don’t have a camera and can only choose one? Get the One X2.
If you’re getting an Insta360 camera, below are special referral links to get freebies along with your purchase.
Insta360 One X2
- free pair of Sticky Lens Guards or
- free 120cm selfie stick
Insta360 Go 2
- free extra lens guard
Insta360 One R
- free additional battery or
- free 120cm selfie stick