I know what you’re thinking, “Becca, 360 video is dead.” But what if shooting 360 degrees doesn’t mean VR or moving your phone in all sorts of weird directions to see the whole frame. What if it means having 360 degrees of angles to chose from instead?
That briefly changed my mind about 360 cameras, too.
Insta360’s One X is a 360-degree action camera that uses dual 200-degree f/2 lenses to create really unique 18-megapixel photos or 5.7k spherical video that can then be exported in 1080, non-360, frames. Unlike prior 360 cameras, which were designed to capture video you watched through a VR headset or that you panned your phone around to see, the One X is designed to let you turn it on and know that you’re going to capture whatever is happening around you. You’ll just decide what that shot is after the fact.
The One X’s mobile app makes up for a lot of the camera’s hardware annoyances, though, and is the easiest way to export content from the camera. You can use it to set keyframes, aspect ratios, and export recorded video in decent quality. There’s also the usual remote and live view of the camera.
The One X’s video looks crisp and impressive on a phone, but once exported and viewed on a larger screen the footage begins to fall apart. It struggles with bright highlights, such as the sky, and is almost unusable at night when high contrast light is present. The 18-megapixel photos are crisp and once uploaded to a desktop computer, they natively stretch to show the whole 360-degree shot without needing to be stitched.
In both photos and videos, the camera’s blind spot hides a selfie stick which can make filming yourself really easy. The magic of the One X is its ability to become a personal videographer instead of flying a drone or holding out a camera in front of you. The downside to this is you will have quite a few shots of you holding up what appears to be nothing.
The first time I used the One X I was totally sold on this promise of unique shots with little setup, but after only using it twice, I found myself not super interested in continuing to use it. Insta360 has made 360 photo and video more accessible by not putting the focus on 360 degree output, but for me, there are still too many steps for a finished video I don’t necessarily know what to do with.
As a tech optimist, I was ready to be a believer in 360 again, but sometimes more cameras just means more work, and as a consumer you really have to know exactly what you want to do with this camera before you buy it. Tune into the video for more samples from the One X, including a sick shot from the bumpiest boat ride I have ever taken.