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Insta360 One R Hands On Review After 5 Months

The Insta360 One R is the fourth generation 360 camera from industry leader Insta360. After the very successful and popular Insta360 One X, fans were eager to see what the next camera would bring and the reveal had a somewhat mixed response.

Insta360 have gone in a slightly different direction with the One R, opting for a modular camera that can shoot 360 video as well as “normal” 4K video. This design allows the you to physically replace the lenses with other modules set to be able available in the future.

While this opens up a lot of opportunities for shooting different types of video in one camera it meant that less attention has been payed to upgrading the 360 resolution. I’ve been using the One R for 4 months and I’ve shot a lot of video with it, overall I’ve found it to be a great camera to use with a few annoying flaws.

Certainly the One R is the most adaptive camera I’ve ever used and the editing app is unbeatable, but is that enough to justify the price tag? Let’s find out.

Insta360 One R Review

8 Total Score
Insta360 One R Review

Modular design give you two cameras in one, as well as great quality video, amazing stabilization and an unbeatable editing app.

PROS
  • Best 360 Editing App Ever
  • High Quality 5.7K Video
  • Multiple Lenses Available
  • Great Stabilization
  • Night Mode
  • Waterproof Design
CONS
  • Changing Lenses can be Inconvenient
  • Red Dot lens Flare
  • More Obvious Stitch Lines
User Rating: 4 (1 votes)
Insta360 One R
Insta360 One R
Modular camera. High quality 360 photos and video and amazing stabilization. A top choice for best 360 camera of 2020.

Specs

Specs ONE R 4K Wide Angle Mod ONE R 360 Mod ONE R 1-Inch Wide Angle Mod
Aperture F2.0 F2.8 F3.2
Video Resolution 4000×[email protected], 3840×[email protected], 3840×[email protected], 2720×[email protected], 2720×[email protected], 2720×[email protected], 1920×[email protected], 1920×[email protected], 1920×[email protected], 1920×[email protected] 5760×[email protected], 5760×[email protected], 5760×[email protected], 3840×[email protected], 3840×[email protected], 3008×1[email protected] 5312×[email protected], 3840×[email protected], 3840×[email protected], 2720×[email protected], 2720×[email protected], 1920×[email protected], 1920×[email protected], 1920×[email protected]
Max Bit Rate 100MBPS 100MBPS 100MBPS
Focal Length (35mm Equiv) 16.4mm 7.2mm 14.4mm
Video Format insv (can be exported via App or Studio), mp4 (enable in-camera FlowState Stabilization), supports LOG and HDR videos insv (can be exported via App or Studio), supports LOG and HDR videos insv (can be exported via App or Studio), mp4 (enable in-camera FlowState Stabilization), supports LOG videos
Video Coding H.264, H.265 H.264, H.265 H.264, H.265
Video Modes Standard, HDR, Timelapse, TimeShift Standard, HDR, Timelapse, TimeShift, Bullet Time Standard, Timelapse, TimeShift
Photo Resolution 4000×3000 (4:3) 4000×2250 (16:9) 6080×3040 (2:1) 5312×3542 (3:2) 5312×2988 (16:9)
Photo Format jpg, RAW (RAW files require desktop software to edit) insp (can be exported via App or Studio), RAW (RAW files require desktop software to edit) jpg, RAW (RAW files require desktop software to edit)
Photo Modes Standard, HDR, Burst, Interval, Night Shot Standard, HDR, Burst, Interval, Night Shot Standard, HDR, Burst, Interval, Night Shot
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) 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 Auto, 2700K, 4000K, 5000K, 6500K
Unique Features 200fps Slow Motion Flowstate Stabilization High Quality Low Light Shooting
Where to Buy Buy on Insta360 Website Buy on Insta360 Website Buy on Insta360 Website
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Video

The One R can shoot several types of video. Obviously as a 360 camera it can shoot fully immersive 360 video at 5.7K resolution; you can then re-frame this into linear 1080p video using the app. With the 4K module you can shoot, unsurprisingly, 4K linear video similar to a GoPro Hero. There is also a One Inch module available which captures 5.2K linear video using larger image sensors than any other action camera. I’m not including this extra module in this review as it’s an expensive optional extra.

360 Video

Even though the One R hasn’t received an upgrade in resolution compared to its predecessor it still manages to produce superior quality video thanks to better lens and processing technology. When comparing the two cameras you can clearly see an improvement in dynamic rage, color saturation and detail.

The One R, in good lighting conditions, is capable of shooting excellent quality video with amazing stabilization. Low light performance has been improved but isn’t perfect. The camera works amazingly well for walking, running and any other kind of moving video.

One annoying issue is the “red dot of doom” which is a common problem for many 360 cameras. A small red dot caused when the sunlight hits a lens directly; it’s only a minor inconvenience but sometimes noticeable when watching your video back.

You can achieve some awesome effects when using the 360 module thanks to its amazing stabilization and ability to capture everything at once. Try using the Insta360 invisible selfie stick for the drone effect or the first person effect. There are dozens of unique shots you can shoot with the One R 360 module and the App makes it very easy to create them quickly.

My personal favourite type of shot is the Hyperlapse, or a moving timelapse, created by speeding up moving video and manipulating where the camera is pointing at any one time. It looks great and is super easy to achieve with the One R.

 

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Some people were disappointed that the resolution of the One R 360 video wasn’t upgraded to 8K. I personally think that 8K isn’t necessary for the type of video the Insta360 One R is best at. 8K would require a very powerful desktop to stitch and edit and mobile workflow would be near impossible. Maybe in a year or so 8K might be possible but 5.7K with improved color and low light performance is more than enough for creating great content with the One R.

Stitching Lines

One major downside to the One R, and a regression compared to their last camera, is the appearance of stitching lines in video shot with the camera. In case you didn’t know, stitching lines sometimes crop up in 360 video where the two lenses join together and is noticeable by a slight change in light or color or distortion in close by objects. With the One R stitching lines are more common thanks to the wider body of the camera.

Do they appear in every video? Not at all, but you have to keep in mind to keep objects at least a metre away from the camera.

4K Video

The standard edition of the One R comes with both  a 360 module and a 4K module. The 4K module allows you to shoot standard non 360 video at 4K resolution. The 4K module also uses Insta360’s excellent stabilization technology, however it’s not as effective as when used in 360 video.

The 4K module is best used when you don’t necessarily need to shoot 360 video and you want the extra quality that comes with 4K. This module is in direct competition with the GoPro Hero line-up. I don’t think it manages to best a GoPro when it comes to video quality but on the other hand the One R is two cameras in one whereas a GoPro Hero can only shoot one type of video.

4K video looks sharp as you might expect and there are several frame rate options, including 120fps at 1080p. Compared to similar action cameras the One R 4K module is weaker when it comes to capturing color and detail but not awful. The 4K module is probably the weaker of the two lenses provided in the standard edition but is still a great addition, working particularly well when shooting slow motion and moving video.

While the Insta360 isn’t the best camera for shooting either 360 video or normal video, but it’s pretty good at both and it’s the only camera than can do both.

Insta360 One R
Insta360 One R
Modular camera. High quality 360 photos and video and amazing stabilization. A top choice for best 360 camera of 2020.
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Photography

While the Insta360 One R is primarily a video camera it’s also got some impressive photography options. Can you use it in any professional capacity? No. But for social media it’s awesome for creating unique shots.

The One R can shoot 18 megapixel 360 photos and has options for shooting auto HDR and DNG RAW images. HDR images in particular look great and really bring out details compared to normal photos. The images are generally sharp and detailed when viewed in the 360 format; of course you can also crop them down or edit them into a tiny planet.

Like with video modes, you have full manual control over exposure, ISO and shutter speed so even in low light situations the camera can work well, but don’t expect noise free images in the most challenging lighting conditions.

Night Mode

A new mode introduced with the One R is Night Mode which, despite the name, works well at any time of day. Night mode stacks 10 images together the create a super image comprised of many exposures. It’s designed to bring out the maximum detail even in very low light conditions. I find it actually works best indoors with some decent lighting conditions, but in any case using night mode will massively boost the quality of your photos and it’s all automatic.


Bare in mind that it’s not a perfect solution and the camera will still struggle if exposed to very bright direct lights.

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Design

There has never been a modular 360 camera, until now. The modular system allows you to change the functionality of the camera, but how easy is this to achieve? In the box you’ll find several parts that you need to assemble; this is as easy as Lego and takes a few seconds.

insta360 one r review

The battery, main unit with touch screen, lenses and case are all separate and click together in a satisfying way. The main unit features a full touch screen for manual control, a significant upgrade and one that makes the camera far easier to use. The camera is also fully waterproof up to 5m without a case, a rare feature for a 360 camera.

While assembly and disassembly of the camera is very simple it can be somewhat annoying when you want to quickly change from shooting 360 to shooting 4K. Actually let me rephrase that, you can’t quickly change from shooting 360 to 4K. The entire process of changing modules will probably take you at least a minute, and during this minute you’ll find yourself juggling several pieces of camera.

It takes somewhat getting used to and isn’t the smoothest of processes, in fact I’m put off changing the lenses often unless I know I have some spare time to sort out where I’m going to put the parts.

The only other downside to the overall design of the camera is the thicker body which leads to more obvious stitching lines; this was no doubt a decision made in order to add a touch screen and more lens options. Overall I think the sacrifice is worth it for the improved usability.

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App

Without doubt my favourite feature of the One R is the accompanying App, available for both Android and iOS. The One R App is the best video editing App I’ve ever used and allows you to create full length videos that would have previously only been possible using advanced desktop software.

The App includes an AI editing feature that automatically detects the best parts of your video, saving you a lot of editing time. You can combine videos together, add music, color correct and of course re-frame your 360 video, choosing where you want the camera to point at any time.

Insta360 have created automatic themes which makes creating vlogs exceptionally simple. Select the theme you want, travel vlog for example, then select the clips you want to use. The App will create a full length video using the theme’s parameters. You can then tweak the video with your own edits and render at your selected settings.

Insta360 also upgraded their tracking feature which allows you to track a specific person, following them for the entire length of the video if necessarily. This is all done with the touch of a button and works amazingly well.

The only down side to the App is that it can be a bit slow, especially when using AI editing. You’ll need a fairly new phone for all the features to work and even then you may be waiting a few minutes for each video to render.

The One R App is what makes this camera worth buying in my opinion. 360 video has traditionally been hard to work with but the One R App makes it a breeze.

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Desktop

The Insta360 Studio desktop software continues to be a useful (and free) additional software option for users who prefer desktop editing. You don’t have as many editing options as the mobile app, however the latest update does offer some AI editing for choosing the best parts of your video.

The Studio also offers the best render settings for getting the highest quality video, although in most situations the difference between desktop and mobile rendering isn’t huge if you have a phone less than a few years old.

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Summary

The Insta360 One R is a jack of all trades and master of none (expect for the app). It shoots great quality 360 video, but not the best. It shoots good quality 4K video, but not the best. What it does is combine these video types into a single camera, something that has not been done before.

Add into the mix the touch screen, waterproof design, epic stabilization, low light modes and once again, the amazing app, you end up with a versatile and capable camera that can do a bit of everything.

There are some significant improvements to be made with the stitching accuracy as well as some issues with the camera software freezing (happened t a few times too many for me) but these can be resolved in a future software update.

It’s also worth mentioning that the camera hardware can be upgraded with new modules which are likely to be released in the future. Insta360 are also well known for significant upgrades with subsequent firmware updates.

At $479 for the twin edition (360 and 4K module) the camera is not cheap – then again it is essentially two cameras you are getting. If you also want the One Inch module you’ll pay an extra $299 on top of that, but it might be worth it for the awesome quality achievable with a larger sensor.

Overall I’ve enjoyed shooting with the One R over the past few months and I’ll continue to shoot with it for the foreseeable future. It’s probably the camera I’d recommend to most people if they want the ultimate content creation device.

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Where to Buy

You can buy the Insta360 One R from the Insta360 website where all the options for different modules are available. Click the button below to see them all.

Buy on Insta360 Website

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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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