Insta360 One R vs GoPro Max: Which should you buy?

If you are looking to buy the latest and greatest 360 camera then you may have found yourself struggling to choose between the GoPro Max and the Insta360 One R. These are two newly released 360 cameras and represent the flagship devices in the 360 camera market.

So, which should you get? These cameras achieve similar goals; both allow you to shoot 360 and linear video and both feature a waterproof body and touch screen. Having said that, these are two very different devices with distinct strengths and weaknesses. Let’s take a closer look at both of these cameras and see whether you should buy the GoPro Max or Insta360 One R

Insta360 One R vs GoPro Max

Specifications

Specs Insta360 ONE R GoPro Max
Aperture F2.0/ F2.8 F2.8
Video Resolution 360 Module:

5.7K @30fps, 24fps, 25fps

4K @50fps, 30fps

3K @ 100fps

Wide Angle Module:

4K @ 60fps, 30fps

1080p @ 120fps, 200fps

5.6K 30fps

HERO Mode: 1440p 60fps/ 1080p 60fps

Max Bit Rate 100MBPS 78 MBPS
Audio x 2 Microphone. External Mic Adaptor Coming Soon x6 Microphones / Ambisonic Audio
Video Format insv (can be exported via App or Studio),

mp4 (enable in-camera FlowState Stabilization),

supports LOG and HDR videos

MOV

 

Video Coding H.264, H.265 H.264, H.265
Shooting Modes Standard, 

HDR, 

Timelapse, 

TimeShift, 

Bullet Time

Standard

Time Lapse,

Time Warp,

Slow Motion,

 

Photo Format jpg,

RAW (RAW files require desktop software to edit)

JPEG
Photo Modes Standard, HDR, Burst, Interval, Night Shot Standard, Interval, Power Pano
Livestream Yes No
Waterproof Yes, up to 5m Yes, up to 5m
Exposure Modes Auto, Manual (Shutter 1/8000s-120s, ISO 100-3200), Shutter Priority (1/8000s-2s), ISO Priority (100-3200) Auto, Manual (Shutter 1/8000s-120s, ISO 100-3200), Shutter Priority (1/8000s-2s), ISO Priority (100-3200)
White Balance Auto, 2700K, 4000K, 5000K, 6500K Auto, 2700K, 4000K, 5000K, 6500K
Other Features AI Re-framing, Invisible Selfie Stick, Auto Tracking, Voice Control Voice Control,
Price
Where to Buy Insta360 Website Available on Amazon

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Video Quality

The One R and Max are designed primarily as video cameras and that’s what you’ll mostly be using them for. Both cameras can shoot 360 video as well as “normal” linear video, however they go about this in very different ways.

See Also: Insta360 One R Review

360 Video

The GoPro Max can shoot at a max resolution of 5.7K at 30fps in its 360 mode. When using “Hero Mode”, which uses one lens to shoot linear video, the maximum resolution is 1440p at 60fps. The Max shoots in the H.265 format which allows for better compression, it also uses GoPro’s excellent processor to create video true to reality. Here’s some example videos shot with the GoPro Max:

The quality of the 360 video coming out of the Max is among the best of any 360 camera right now thanks to GoPro’s color and lens technology. When re-framing this video you do experience a loss in quality but it’s more than good enough for viewing on a phone screen.

When shooting in Hero Mode the quality is noticeably lower, particularly in low light situations. Your phone will likely do a better job of shooting normal video than the Max’s Hero Mode. Never the less it’s a good feature to have and it’s super easy to switch between the two modes and later combine the two types of video in the app.  Both Hero Mode and 360 mode feature GoPro’s stabilization technology which works amazingly well, particularly in 360 mode.

The Insta360 One R can also shoot 360 video at 5.7K resolution however when it comes to linear video it trumps the Max with 4K resolution. The One R can achieve this thanks to its modular nature. Check out some video shot with the 360 module here:

You are able to switch out your 360 lens for a 4K lens and turn the One R into an entirely different camera. While this isn’t as fast or user friendly as an all-in-one camera, it does allow the One R to offer greater quality and variety.

The One R 360 module shoots decent quality video, however I’ve noticed it lacks the depth and color vibrancy of the Max. GoPro’s color and processor technology are well known for producing vibrant and colorful video which can be seen in direct comparisons with the One R.

I should mention that the Insta360 One R has the ability to shoot HDR video which generally results in better looking footage. The Max cannot shoot HDR video, but even in a direct comparison using Insta360’s HDR mode I still think the Max performs better. I should mention that the One R has many more shooting options when it comes to resolution and frame rate, allowing for slow motion video in the 360 format. The Max can only shoot 5.6K at 30fps with no other options available.

In low light situations the Max also comes out on top when using 360 mode in both cameras. In the comparison here you can see details more clearly with less noise. Unfortunately no 360 camera works particularly well in low light due to the small sensors used, but the Max is among one of a few that can do a decent job.

Linear Video

Both cameras can also shoot “normal” non 360 video and both companies push their camera’s two in one credentials. The One R offers a completely separate lens which you must plug in, replacing the 360 module. The Max shoots linear video using either one of its two lenses and is available at the push of a button.

The 4K module of the One R beats the Max’s Hero mode every time but still struggles in low light situations. Insta360’s amazing Flowstate stabilization is available in both modes and works to remove most vibration from your videos. The One R also has many more frame rate and resolution options than the Max, ranging from 60fps to super slow motion 200fps 1080p with the 4K module.

Having said that, I do question whether there is much point in the 4K module in the One R. Sure, it allows you to shoot normal video as well as 360, but you need to literally take the camera apart to do so and your phone is likely to shoot even better quality footage. One advantage is that you can use the 4K module underwater without a case.

A final trick up the One R’s sleeve is another module which allows you to shoot 5.2K linear video that looks great even in low light situations. The 1 Inch Module feature a larger and more advanced lens than any other action camera available right now; the down side is that this is an expensive optional add on and makes the One R much more expensive than the Max.

On the face of it the Max can shoot slightly better quality 360 video than the One R, however the One R has many more options. When shooting normal, linear video the One R easily wins thanks to the much larger resolution of its 4K lens.

Offer insta360.com
Last update was on: 18th March 2020 3:45 pm

Modular 360 Camera with awesome stabilization and advanced editing app.

Offer amazon.com
Last update was on: 18th March 2020 3:45 pm

Rugged 360 camera with amazing quality video. Hero Mode makes this a two in one camera and advanced stabilization makes it awesome for all action shots

Which is the better action camera?

This is a question regularly asked about these cameras. Both are excellent action cameras as they both feature amazing stabilization technology and waterproof body. The Max is better built to withstand knocks and scrapes, it’s also easier to use. The One R offers more options for shooting as mentioned before but has a more vulnerable body.

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Design

The One R is comprised of 3 separate parts; the central unit which features a touch screen, power control and charging port, a battery which attaches to the base and a choice of three lenses which attach to the central unit. This Lego-esq setup allows the One R to in effect become three cameras is one, the down side of this is that it can be cumbersome to switch between each lens. The touch screen on the One R is very useful for allowing maximum control of the camera without having to connect to a phone app, however the touch screen itself is quite small and not particularly responsive.

The One R comes with a bracket that allows you to attach GoPro compatible accessories. This bracket also provides further protection from damage to the camera itself, however it’s another item you’ll need to disassemble if you want to change the lenses.

GoPro opted for an all-in-one design for the Max and while this results in less shooting options it does allow for an easier user experience. The Max is a larger and thicker camera than the Insta360 One R but can still fit in one hand. The Max features a larger and much more responsive touch screen. You can switch between 360 and normal video with the touch or a button however the quality of the normal video is limited.

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Photography

Both cameras are able to shoot 360 and standard photos; don’t expect professional quality images as both of these cameras are primarily designed for video. In my opinion the One R is the superior camera for photography due to its ability to shoot RAW and HDR photos. The Max lacks these capabilities and suffers for it.

The One X has a night-shot mode which combines several images to create a much brighter and dynamic image. The Max performs reasonably well in low light situations but doesn’t offer the ability to combine multiple exposures which would really put it ahead.

 

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App and Software

What makes both of these devices the top 360 cameras right now is their amazing Apps. Both GoPro and Insta360 invested heavily in creating mobile and desktop software that makes working with 360 video easier than it ever has been. Both have succeeded here and their respective Apps are quite similar. Take a look at both of them in action in the following videos:

Both apps make re-framing 360 video extremely easy. You can also combine 360 video and normal video in both apps, you can add titles, music and transitions. I’ve been able to create dynamic 5 minute + videos using just the App for both cameras, something that I’ve never been able to do before. Both apps also feature AI editing which allows the app to select the best parts of your clips for you and automatically create a video from it, music and transitions included. This massively cuts down on editing time and allows you to create quick and snappy videos in just a few minutes.

If I had to choose between these apps then I’d say the One R clinches it thanks to its more advanced AI editing system, object tracking feature and the huge number of pre-set effects, guides and themes available as soon as you start using it.

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Other Features

Voice Control: Both the GoPro Max and Insta360 One R feature voice control that allows you to start and stop recording as well as turn off the camera.

Audio: The GoPro Max features 6 microphones and can record high quality ambisonic audio. The audio quality is the best of any 360 camera I’ve used and makes the Max perfect for vlogging as it doesn’t require any extra equipment to record audio. The One R features 2 microphones and they don’t perform particularly well. There will be an external mic attachment available for the One R soon but this will of course cost extra.

Battery: The battery life for both cameras is broadly similar. I’ve found the Insta360 One R will last slightly longer than the Max. The Max also suffers from battery drain even when it is turned off.

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Summary

These are two capable 360 cameras with a plethora of features and anyone looking to shoot high quality 360 action shots will be happy with both. There’s no denying that the One R has many more options for shooting thanks to its modular design.  If you are interested in combining 360 and normal footage then the One R is perfect but if you are only interested in shooting 360 media then the Max performs better. I’ve also found the Max to be easier to use thanks to its larger touch screen and more powerful processor; it’s largest fault is the lack of resolution and frame rate options and some missing features for windows and android users.

If I had to choose one of these I would probably go for the Insta360 One R as it seems to me to be more future proof. The less attractive video can be fixed fairly effectively in the App using filters and color correction and the App is the best mobile video editor I’ve ever used. Insta360 look set to create more “modules” for the camera to expand its functionality and I’m taking a bet that some minor software issues will be fixed with firmware updates.

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Where to Buy

The Insta360 One X is available from their website and you can find the GoPro Max on Amazon. Both are available in the internationally.

Insta360 One R

Modular 360 Camera with awesome stabilization and advanced editing app.

GoPro Max

Rugged 360 camera with amazing quality video. Hero Mode makes this a two in one camera and advanced stabilization makes it awesome for all action shots

 


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Owner of threesixtycameras.com. Writer, photographer and videographer. You can see my YouTube channel for guides of how to shoot 360 video. I've written for The Times, Digital Photography School and Sunday Express.  

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