As many of you would know, I’m quite the fan of 360 camera technology, especially with its relationship to VR and Google Cardboard content. I’ve had a lot of fun with the V.360 sports 360 degree camera around the beautiful sights of Sydney, even so far as attaching the 360 camera to my scooter and giving everyone a crotch level perspective of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House across the water.
But while that camera is great as an action camera, its very obvious drawback is the fact that it wasn’t a full spherical 360 degrees – it was limited to a horizontal cylinder-type vision. Although the effect was cool, as many of you mentioned, it could also be disorienting, because if you didn’t have your phone facing the right way, you’d be met with a black screen, and if you didn’t know otherwise you would think I’d uploaded 4 minutes of darkness.
Thankfully there won’t be that issue with this model, the Insta360 360 degree camera. No matter where your mobile screen is pointed, you’ll see something, and it is intuitive enough to bring your screen up to horizon level – something all spherical 360 content has the advantage of, over cylinder style videos.
The Insta 360 can shoot spherical content in 3 distinct resolutions – 2K at 30 frames, 3K at 24 frames, and 4K at 15 frames a second. The sample video I’ve produced is at the full 4K, and it’s not too stuttery at that frame rate – probably something to do with Youtube’s video processing as well.
The Insta360 uses two 230 degree lenses on either side of its body and does the stitching of the two images/video files itself. It outputs a proprietary file that can be read by the Insta360 player app. To upload as a 360 video that Youtube can recognise, it first needs to be converted by Insta360 Studio, a free Windows/Mac program, then run through the Youtube metadata injector.
As you can see, the finished results are worth it. To give you an idea of the file sizes you would be dealing with, the 4 minute clip above was more than 2GB in size, and took me 5 hours to upload. Of course, when you select the 4K resolution, you can indeed see the detail all around you.
The Insta360 has an on board microphone, but the sample I used was faulty – but it also has a mic input, which I used with a Rode mic, mindful of the directional audio I was now capturing. Even then the audio still sounds weird, like my voice has been processed in one of those “whistleblower” current affairs scenes.
The size of the Insta360 is also a little surprising – it’s BIG. As large and thick as a small paperback novel, this is not an action cam-style 360 camera. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have any water or dust resistance either, so it’s definitely one that would be used on a tripod or on clear, sunny days.
It has its own OLED display on top that makes it easy to select different shooting modes and connection to your smartphone. The base has the Micro SD card slot and mic input.
All up the Insta360 is relatively bulky, but looks like it will be one of the more affordable 4K 360 camera solutions out there this year. As for the quality itself, I’ll be sure to take it out on some sightseeing and upload a few more samples so you can see a bit more of the 4K quality – and of my hometown!
Until next time!