Insta360 One X is a 5.7K 360 camera that incorporates almost all of the best features of its competitors, and adds some features that have never been seen before in consumer 360 cameras, at an aggressive price point. All things considered, this appears to be the best 360 camera for consumers as of January 2019. I’ve been testing the Insta360 One X since October 1, 2018, and here is a detailed hands-on review with complete specifications, features, comparison with and differences from the Insta360 One, GoPro Fusion and other 360 cameras, sample photos and videos, and more. June 15, 2019 update: 9 techniques to get the best video quality. June 3, 2019: How to use Insta360 One X with no editing needed . See other updates below.
Table of contents:
Part 1: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
36 Features updated: new features — 3D tiny planet, loop mode, screenshot
Part 2: SAMPLE VIDEOS AND PHOTOS
Sample photos, sample videos, download sample files
— Insta360 One X HDR photos
— Low light photo ISO comparison
— Sample surfing video from Dive Case
— Sample underwater video with Dive Case
— Sample video from Venture Case 2.0 underwater and above water (added May 22, 2019) .
— Sample video with Insta360 Stats GPS overlay
— Sample files for download
Part 3: WORKFLOW AND TUTORIAL
Download the software and apps
Quick Start Guide – No Editing (added June 3, 2019)
Insta360 One X and Adobe Premiere workflow tutorial.
22 Tips and Tricks for Insta360 One X
How to get the best video quality: 9 techniques (added June 16, 2019)
Part 4: IMAGE QUALITY COMPARISON AND ANALYSIS
DNG Raw support and comparison with JPG
HDR Video comparison (firmware 188.8.131.52)
Comparison between Insta360 One X vs. GoPro Fusion
Comparison between Insta360 One X vs. GoPro Hero 7 for hyperlapses
Disadvantages and problems
May 22, 2019 update: Venture Case 2.0 sample video
February 17, 2019 update: 22 Tips and Tricks for Insta360 One X
February 13, 2019 update: new features — 3D tiny planet, loop mode, screenshot
February 4, 2019 update: Insta360 Studio 3.2.1 no-stitch workflow
January 25, 2019 update: Adobe Premiere no-stitch workflow
Updated December 5, 2018: HDR video mode now added.
Updated: November 18, 2018 hyperlapse comparison between One X and GoPro Hero 7 Time Warp.
Updated: November 11, 2018 comprehensive Insta360 One X vs. GoPro Fusion comparison with 40 factors compared
Updated: November 2, 2018: new underwater sample videos.
Updated: October 31, 2018: DNG Raw support plus comparison with JPG.
Updated: October 30, 2018: ISO comparison for low light photos
Updated: October 26, 2018: Sample video from waterproof Dive Case
Updated: October 21, 2018: in-depth video review
Updated: October 18, 2018 – new low light sample, how to avoid blur in videos, underwater sample
Updated: October 13, 2018 – download links for software
Updated: October 12, 2018 – updated comparison vs Fusion
Updated: October 10, 2018
Updated: September 27, 2018
Originally posted: September 26, 2018
Part 1: Executive Summary
Here is my video review of the Insta360 ONE X, including its strengths and weaknesses:
Insta360 has since resolved most of the issues, and has added new features. For new features, see below.
Insta360 One X is a bold new direction for Insta360’s consumer 360 cameras. Until now, Insta360 has been known for having smartphone 360 cameras, i.e., 360 cameras that clip onto your smartphone. All their consumer 360 cameras have been smartphone 360 cameras: the Insta360 Nano, Insta360 Nano S, Insta360 Air, and Insta360 One. The Insta360 One X breaks from precedent and is purely a standalone device.
Here is a product video
Beyond its form factor, Insta360 One X is also turning heads with its comprehensive feature set. It’s as if they assembled the top 360 cameras in the market, identified the best features of each one, and crammed those best features into the One X, as you’ll see below. While its competitors will likely be filled with fear and loathing, consumers should be elated, as it will be easier to choose between features that would otherwise only be available in separate cameras.
I should add that Insta360 One X did not just copy its competitors features. They also improved their signature features, such as Bullet Time, and added new features such as Drift Shot and Time Shift.
Here are 32 features of the Insta360 One X for video, for photo, and for both photos and videos.
Insta360 One X Video features
1. High resolution video (Improved)
The One X shoots video at 5760 x 2880 at 30fps (5.7k or 6k depending on who you ask).
2. Super slow motion (New!)
The One X can shoot slow motion at either 3K at 100fps or 4K at 50fps. With interpolation (playback at 1/4th speed), the app can simulate up to 3K 400fps or 4K 200fps
3. Bullet time (improved)
Insta360 introduced the bullet time feature in the Insta360 One. The One X’s Bullet time mode has improved tremendously with a higher resolution, a wider field of view, and a variable aspect ratio (9:16 portrait, 1:1, 4:3, or 16:9). In addition, Version 3.1 of the desktop app now allows the user to change the field of view (e.g. to make it wider).
4. Flowstate stabilization
Just like the Insta360 One, the One X features gimbal-like stabilization, which they call “Flowstate”. Here is a stabilization comparison Insta360 posted between the new One X and the GoPro Hero 7 as well as the Sony FDR-X3000:
5. Direction Lock stabilization
As with the Insta360 One, the One X can stabilize the video in the direction that the camera is facing. This mode is very useful for example, for cycling and motor sports. I haven’t had the occasion to use this feature yet on the One X but here is a sample Direction Lock video from the Insta360 One
6. Drift shot (NEW!)
The One X has a new special effect called Drift Shot, where you attach the One X to a special throwable case called the Drifter. With the Drifter and with the slow motion 3K 100fps video, you can capture unique angles. Here is a video showing sample drift shot videos with the One X:
7. Hyperlapse with motion blur
Insta360 One X can create a hyperlapse in the smartphone app. A hyperlapse is like a time lapse, except the camera is moving. For more information, and a comparison with GoPro Hero 7 Time Warp, see below.
8. Time Shift (NEW!)
TimeShift is a speed ramp effect that lets you switch between high speed and slow motion. Here is a sample shot by renowned director Philip Bloom:
9. HDR Video (now available)
Insta360 One X features an HDR video mode, which enables the sensor to capture a wider dynamic range. Insta360 hasn’t disclosed how it works, but I speculate that the One X uses a Sony sensor with spatial multiplexed exposure HDR (SME-HDR), where different pixels capture the video at different exposures, and the sensor can combine the data from all the exposures to achieve an HDR video. See the samples and comparison below.
10. Data overlay (Now available as of December 25, 2018)
You can overlay speed, altitude, and other data including a map that will draw itself as you travel:
Previously, Insta360 has said this feature would only be available when using the optional dedicated Bluetooth remote. However, on December 25, they made a surprise announcement to make the feature available with no additional accessories. You simply need to connect your One X to your phone wirelessly, and the GPS data from your phone will be used to provide the data for the overlay. As of January 2019, Insta360 Stats is available for both iOS and Android. See the sample video below.
11. Log mode video
As with the Insta360 One, the One X can shoot in Log mode. You can download the Insta360 One X LUT here.
As with the Insta360 One, the One X can capture 360 video and allow you to present it as a non-360 video where you choose the perspective. This allows you to “shoot first and point later.” Freecapture has several modes: Viewfinder lets you hold the phone as a virtual camera (with stabilization). Pivot Point lets you use keyframing to change the view smoothly. Smart Track can pan the view automatically to track objects.
13. Overcapture videos without stitching
The One X is one of the very few cameras that enables editing without stitching. Specifically, you can create an overcapture video without having to first stitch the 360 video.
14. No-stitch editing in Adobe Premiere and in Insta360 Studio for One X (NEW!)
Insta360 One X videos can be edited in Adobe Premiere or Insta360 Studio for One X without stitching them first. This not only saves time and storage space, but can also improve the quality of your resulting video by compressing the video only once — during the final render. For a tutorial of this feature for both Insta360 Studio and Adobe Premiere, see below.
As with the Insta360 Nano S, the One X can put a picture-in-picture overlay with independently panning perspectives.
16. 360 live streaming with realtime stabilization
The One X can live stream in 360 to Facebook, YouTube and other sites. The live stream resolution is up to 2560 x 1280. Unlike 360 cameras from other brands, the One X’s live stream is stabilized in realtime.
17. Freecast (live streaming in freecapture or tiny planet mode)
The One X can live stream in non-360 mode where the live streamer can change the view in realtime during the live stream.
18. In-camera video montage (NEW! Not yet available at launch)
According to Insta360, you’ll be able to combine two or more videos into a video within the One X smartphone app.
19. HDR Photo (NEW!)
This enables the ONE X to shoot a true multi-exposure HDR photo. It will take 3 shots, with exposure intervals that you choose, up to +/- 4EV. When you load the photo in the app, the app recognizes it as an HDR series and stitches an HDR shot. The desktop app does not yet stitch HDR as of launch date, so instead you would need to stitch the 3 shots separately and then fuse them using your preferred HDR software. See below for sample HDR shots.
20. Manual exposure (Improved)
The One X has a wider range of shutter speeds, from 1/8000 up to 120 secs.
21. Raw DNG photo shooting and stitching
The One X can shoot in DNG raw. Insta360 Studio will be able to stitch the One X Raw photos in DNG format. This feature is now available.
Features for both photos and videos, plus other features
22. New lens design with smoother stitching vs. Insta360 One (improved)
With the One X’s new lens configuration, the lenses are closer to each other and are back-to-back for better stitching.
23. Better low light performance (improved)
The One X’s new sensor performs quite well in low light. Insta360 opted for a sensor with slightly lower resolution but with larger sensels for better low light performance.
24. Wireless live preview (NEW!)
You can now get a live preview wirelessly, unlike the previous generation Insta360 One which allowed wireless control but had no live preview unless it was connected to the camera.
25. Removable battery (NEW!)
With a removable battery, you can pack some spares to ensure you’ll never run out of batteries.
26. In-camera editing (Improved)
In addition to preset filters and to a skin-smoothening beautifying filter, photos and videos can be edited in the app, enabling you to adjust exposure, contrast, saturation and other settings. The edits are nondestructive and are reversible.
27. Underwater case with smooth stitching (NEW!)
There are now several 360 cameras that can be used underwater, but very few of them can record smoothly stitched underwater 360 photos and videos. Water refraction changes the effective focal length of lenses, decreasing their field of view significantly. As a result, most 360 cameras can’t stitch well underwater.
The only 360 cameras that are able to stitch smoothly underwater are those with a hemispherical lens cover, such as the Ricoh Theta (with the new TW-1 case), Kodak PIXPRO SP360 4K Dual Pro, and to some extent the Rylo.
The Insta360 One X has a dedicated underwater case called the Dive case, with spherical lenses that negate underwater refraction. With the Dive case, the One X will be able to stitch underwater photos and videos smoothly.
28. Venture Case Hardcase
You can use the One X in rough environments with an optional protective hardcase accessory. The case has a similar design to Insta360 One’s hard case. The case is not designed to be used underwater. Rather, it is designed simply to protect the One X in harsh or wet environments such as white water rafting.
29. Improved connectivity: High speed 5G Wi-Fi and USB cables (improved)
You can transfer photos and videos quickly to your phone with 5G Wi-Fi. You can transfer them even faster with the included USB cables.
30. Remote activation (NEW!)
With your phone you can turn on the Insta360 One X remotely. This is useful if the One X is away from you on a tripod, such as near a stage, while you are in the audience. This does drain the battery faster, even when the One X appears to be off, but a future firmware update will let you choose whether to keep Bluetooth on, or turn it off when the camera is on standby. Note: As of February 2019, this feature was partly disabled to extend the battery life. However, iOS devices will be able to connect to the One X even while the Wi-Fi is turned off, by using Bluetooth to turn on Wi-Fi remotely.
The One X can include GPS data in its 360 photos and videos when connected via GPS-capable smartphone or when used with the optional Bluetooth remote accessory. This means that photos or even videos can be readily uploaded to Google Street View with GPS data. GPS is also useful for virtual tours that use GPS data. The One X can also add GPS data to photos that were taken while the One X was connected to a phone equipped with GPS, either wirelessly or with the included USB cable.
32. OLED display (NEW!)
The One X’s OLED display is clear and shows what mode you’re shooting in.
33. 3D Tiny Planet (added February 2019 for iOS app version 1.3.0)
34. Loop animation (added February 2019 for iOS app version 1.3.0)
Insta360 One X can create Boomerang-like loop animations. To use the feature, trim your video to 5 seconds or less. When you share that video as a FixFrame (non-360 overcapture / freecapture) video, you’ll see a checkbox for Loop. Here is a sample:
35. Snapshot / screenshot frame grab (available on iOS and Android)
You can take a non-360 photo from a 360 video. This enables the user to take a photo with the exact composition that they want by shooting a video, then extracting the photo from it. Alternatively, users can use this feature to capture a highlight from their 360 video. To use this feature, simply reframe the video, hit the snapshot button (a dotted square), and the One X app will generate a non-360 photo framegrab.
36. Wireless VR Viewing (Insta360 VR)
You can view Insta360 One X photos and videos in a headset wirelessly, with no stitching or copying required. Simply install the Insta360 VR app (Gear VR or Oculus Go or Oculus Quest), connect your VR headset to your One X wirelessly, and launch the Insta360 VR app. You’ll be able to see photos and videos in stabilized 360 view in VR.
Here are the complete specifications of the Insta360 One X, with a comparison against the Insta360 One. Advantages are highlighted in bold.
|Insta360 One X||Insta360 One|
|Lenses||two fisheye lenses||two fisheye lenses|
|Field of view||fully spherical||fully spherical|
|Processor||unspecified Ambarella||unspecified Ambarella|
|Photo resolution||6080 x 3040 in JPEG or DNG raw||6912 x 3456 in JPEG or DNG raw|
|Video resolution||5760 x 2880, 30fps
3840 x 1920 @ 50fps
3840 x 1920 @ 30fps
3008 x 1504 @ 100fps
mp4 (log mode available)
|3840 x 1920, 30fps
2560 x 1280 @ 60fps
mp4 (log mode available)
|Bitrate||100 mbps||60 mbps|
|Bullet time video||3008 x 1504 @ 100fps
variable aspect ratio
|2048 x 512 @ 120fps
16:9 aspect ratio
|Live streaming:||Yes, stabilized.
Compatible with YouTube, Facebook, Periscope / Twitter, Weibo
Compatible with YouTube, Facebook, Periscope / Twitter, Weibo
|Shutter speed:||1/8000 to 120 seconds||1/4000 to 60 seconds|
|ISO:||100 to 3200||100 to 3200 (up to 6400 for video)|
|Stabilization:||6-axis gyro-based image stabilization||6-axis gyro-based image stabilization|
|Connector:||1/4-20 tripod connector||1/4-20 tripod connector|
|Storage:||one Micro SD up to 128GB||one Micro SD up to 128GB (8GB included)|
|Working humidity:||TBD||30% to 80%|
|Temperature:||TBD||14F – 113F (-14C to 45C)|
|Waterproof:||No (TWO TYPES of waterproof housing accessories available)||No (waterproof housing accessory available)|
Bluetooth LE 4.0
MFI-certified lightning connector
|Bluetooth LE 4.0
MFI-certified lightning connector
|Compatibility:||iOS, Android, Windows, Mac||iOS, Android, Windows, Mac|
|Dimensions:||115 x 48 x 28 mm||96 x 36.5 x 25 mm|
|Weight:||115g with battery
90.9 without battery
|Battery:||60 mins. removable||70 mins.; not removable; USB charging|
|Other features:||Drift shot
Freecast (live streaming with changeable perspective)
Time lapse mode
Freecast (live streaming with changeable perspective)
Time lapse mode
The One X’s photo resolution of 18 mp is substantially lower than that of the Insta360 One, with 24 mp. However, with 360 cameras, you should not look at specifications in isolation. There are many 360 cameras that have lower specifications than its competitors but somehow have better quality. For example, the GoPro Fusion’s 18mp photos have more detail than Insta360 One’s 24mp photos. Ultimately, what matters is how the photos and videos actually look. Here are sample photos and videos from the Insta360 One X (firmware 1.15.12 or 1.16.12).
Insta360 One X sample photos
Here are a few sample 360 photos from the One X:
Insta360 ONE X HDR Sample
The ONE X’s HDR mode can make a dramatic difference. Here is a non-HDR photo for comparison:
Here is an HDR photo:
For extreme lighting, HDR shots can look better with dedicated HDR software such as Photomatix Pro (15% off with coupon code: 360rumors). Insta360 Studio (One X’s desktop software) will stitch each of the photos separately (turn off FlowState). You can then import the photos into Photomatix and fine tune the contrast, tonality and other values.
Insta360 One X sample videos
Here is a sample 5.7K 360 video from a pre-release version of the Insta360 One X. It shows log mode, the dynamic range and sharpness, and low light performance. However, it does not show HDR Video mode. Instead, to see the HDR video sample, see here.
The sample 360 video above is from the Insta360 One X, stitched on Insta360 Studio (not stitched on the mobile app). The stitched videos were then edited into a montage using Adobe Premiere Pro, with a 120mpbs bitrate. The videos show the One X’s resolution, dynamic range (with log mode and without log mode), low light footage, and stabilization performance in real world conditions.
In the low light segment of the sample video above, the background had some blur. That is because the One X defaults to a slow shutter speed of 1/30 (to use a lower ISO and reduce noise). The One X has a setting in the camera menu that lets you choose a faster shutter speed by default (under the video settings, choose Shutter: Fast). Alternatively, the ONE X has a manual exposure mode for video, so you can choose a higher shutter speed (such as 1/60 or 1/120) and higher ISO (up to ISO 3200) to avoid blur. Here is a new very low light sample that shows the effect of using a higher shutter speed and shows the high ISO performance of the ONE X in very low light
The video does NOT show audio performance. The version of Insta360 Studio that I used (released October 8, 2018) had some audio sync issues, but they were fixed after the video was posted.
Tony Northrup criticized the stabilization of the One X when stitched on a desktop. What he said was true of the older version of the Insta360 Studio. But on Monday October 8, 2018, they sent me the new version of Insta360 Studio, which stitches smoothly and has working stabilization. That’s the version that I used to stitch these videos, and as you can see the stabilization does work.
Insta360 ONE X slow motion Freecapture / overcapture sample:
Here is a sample Freecapture non-360 video edited entirely within the app using Viewfinder, Timeshift, and the 3K 100fps mode.
To show how the One X performs in low light for 360 photos, I took photos across its ISO range from 100 to 3200.For ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 the exposure is a bit different because there was a gap in the shutter speeds (there was no 1/4 or 1/8 speed, but there was a 1/5 and 1/10th so I used 1/5 for ISO 800). As of October 31, 2018, you’ll find both JPG samples, and JPG conversions from Raw DNG.
The Dive Case can be used either above water or underwater, with smooth stitching. However, there is a large football-shaped nadir. The Venture Case on the other hand, appears invisible to the selfie stick and the new version is waterproof up to 5 meters. However, the Venture Case cannot stitch smoothly underwater. Here is a comparison between the two cases.
Here’s the new sample video from the Insta360 One X that shows how the video looks with the Dive Case above water:
It’s an overcapture video not a 360 video, so we can’t see everything but so far this sample shows almost no glare. That is quite impressive for what appears to be a polycarbonate hardcase, which are usually vulnerable to flare. Moreover, unlike the Ricoh Theta TW-1 underwater case, the Dive Case stitching appears to be smooth even above water.
Sample underwater video from Insta360 ONE X Dive Case
On November 1, 2018, Insta360 posted new underwater video samples from the One X with the Dive Case. The samples show seamless stitching.
Here is a link to the sample videos.
The stitching in the videos look smooth, although the case is visible at the nadir. The stitching appears similar to the Ricoh TW-1 underwater case for the Ricoh Theta, which is not at all surprising given their very similar designs.
Insta360 One X Venture Case 2.0 Sample Video with Stitching Above Water and Underwater
Here are samples from the Venture Case 2.0 showing the stitch line above water and below water.
Sample video with Insta360 Stats GPS overlay
Here is a sample video that shows the Insta360 Stats GPS overlay feature, now available on iOS and Android. This video was shot with the One X connected wirelessly to the iPhone. No other accessories were used.
Sample files for download
You can download unstitched sample files from the One X here and use them with the software below to make sure your equipment are compatible. For instructions on transferring the files to the One X smartphone app, see FAQ #20 below. The files are for your personal use only. Please do not upload them anywhere and please do not send the files to other people.
Part 3: Insta360 One X Workflow & Tutorial
Download the software; App updates
Desktop software updates:
– Version 3.1 added different types of stitching (normal, waterproof case, dive case above water, dive case under water). Version 3.1 also allows the user to change the field of view for bullet time videos, taking advantage of the full 360 field of view of the One X’s bullet time mode.
– Version 3.0.3 for Windows and 3.0.2 for Mac (both released October 30, 2018) feature Direction Hold support (forward-facing stabilization), and support for other Insta360 cameras such as the Insta360 One, Insta360 Nano S, Insta360 Air, and Insta360 Nano, paving the way to eventually replace the previous version of Insta360 Studio.
Here is how to use the Insta360 One X without editing
1. Shooting: When you shoot, point the front of the Insta360 One X toward your subject. The front of the One X is the side with the LED screen. For this method, don’t tilt the camera below the horizon. If you do, the front of the One X will switch to the side without the LED screen. If you start above the horizon, keep the camera above the horizon. If you start below the horizon, keep the camera below the horizon.
2. Download. Download the videos from the One X to your phone or desktop.
3. Sharing. The key to making this technique work is to use Direction Lock. This option is available on the smartphone app, desktop app and on Premiere.
a. On the app, when viewing the video, tap on the upper right corner and toggle Direction Lock.
b. On the desktop app, check the box for Direction Lock on the upper right side.
c. On Premiere, from the project panel, right click on the .insv video and select Source Settings, then check Lock Direction.
Insta360 One X workflow tutorial
Insta360 One X has an excellent smartphone app that is easy to use and has many editing features for both 360 and overcapture / reframed photos and videos. But if you are editing several photos or videos, it is more efficient to do it on a desktop or laptop instead of your phone. Not only will you be able to stitch files faster, but you’ll also be able to save the limited space on your smartphone. Here are two tutorials for the desktop workflow:
Insta360 Studio for One X (desktop app) tutorial and no-stitch editing workflow
The desktop app for Insta360 One X is Insta360 Studio for One X, available for both Windows and Mac. Beginning in version 3.2.1, the app added overcapture capability and the no-stitch editing workflow. This means that unstitched videos from the One X in .insv format can be directly edited and converted into an overcapture video instead of having to be stitched first.
This no-stitch workflow has several advantages: first, it is faster since the user doesn’t need to stitch videos beforehand. Second, it saves storage insofar as the user will not need to store a separate stitched video. Third, it minimizes compression. Videos are compressed slightly during the stitching process. By avoiding a separate stitching process, you can avoid one level of compression.
Here is a tutorial that focuses on using the 360 videos and photos for reframed / overcapture / freecapture non-360 photos and videos. If you want to use the photos and videos for 360 and VR instead, check out the tutorial below.
Tutorial for editing 360 videos and overcapture videos in Adobe Premiere
For Adobe Premiere Pro users, Insta360 One X is especially easy to edit, thanks to Insta360’s exclusive no-stitch workflow for Adobe Premiere. You’ll be able to import Insta360 One X’s unstitched videos directly into Premiere, where they will appear stitched and stabilized. The imported videos can be edited exactly the same way as you would edit a stitched video, and you’ll be able to apply effects such as GoPro VR Reframe. When you’re done editing, you can render the project as you normally would. During the rendering process, Adobe Premiere will stitch the unstitched videos on the fly directly in the video.
For Venture Case or Dive Case, right click on the clip in the project and click “Source Settings”. You’ll be able to choose Venture Case or Dive Case (above water) or Dive Case (under water).
The no-stitch workflow has several advantages:
Faster and easier: you’ll save time because you’ll be able to edit the videos right away without having to stitch them.
Save storage space: if you stitch a video before editing it, you’ll have the unstitched videos, the stitched videos, and the final edited video. With the no stitch workflow, you won’t have stitched videos, which will save you space on your hard drive.
Higher image quality: when you stitch a video, there will be at least a little bit of additional compression. By using the no-stitch workflow, you can avoid one level of compression and the image quality is preserved at its maximum until the final rendering.
However, the no-stitch workflow does have some disadvantages:
Processor-intensive: because unstitched videos are stitched in realtime, then the no-stitched workflow is more demanding on the processor. At times, Premiere will crash or freeze, or may fail to render. The more complex the edit it is (e.g., nested videos, or when two or more unstitched videos are shown in reframed view side by side), the more likely an error will occur.
No direction hold: as of January 2019, the videos will be stabilized but there is no option to use direction hold, a.k.a. direction lock.
Some users have had problems using GoPro VR plugins with the no-stitch workflow. To install GoPro VR plugins, see here.
22 Tips and Tricks for Insta360 One X
Here are 22 tips and tricks for using the One X, from shooting through post-processing.
1. In low light, avoid motion blur by using a fast shutter speed. In the video settings, change Shutter: Auto to Shutter: Fast, or use manual exposure mode in video to use a faster shutter speed such as 1/125 or higher.
2. To remove the dark cloud, go to the app settings, choose nadir and choose “none”. To remove the watermark, go to the app settings and turn off the Official Watermark.
3. When the battery runs out or is removed, the clock resets to 12/31/17. To set the date and time, connect the One X to your phone (wirelessly or via cable). The One X will sync with your phone’s clock.
4. Extend your battery life by connecting the One X to a USB powerbank in between shots.
5. You can extend the battery life further by turning off the camera’s Wi-Fi. In the in-camera settings, change wireless: on to wireless: auto. iPhones will still be able to reconnect with the camera using Bluetooth, although for Android phones, you must turn wireless back on in order to connect to the app.
6. Protect the lens to avoid scratches, oil, or dust, which can increase glare.
7. Point the stitch line away from your subject or important parts of the scene.
8. Avoid uneven exposure: aim the stitch line toward the primary light source.
9. Use HDR Video mode to get better dynamic range.
10. To get a third person view, use a monopod or selfie stick that is narrower than the space between the One X’s lenses.
11. A secret tip to make editing easier is to be aware of the front of the camera (the side with the LED screen)
13. Save your edits in the One X app by periodically exiting to the gallery screen.
14. A shortcut for overcapture without keyframes is to point the front lens to your subject and to use direction hold.
15. Turn a 360 video into a 360 photo by using Insta360 Studio desktop app. Use an equirectangular view and press the snapshot button near the play button.
16. Get a non-360 photo from your video using the Snapshot feature on the One X phone app or Studio desktop app.
17. If the app freezes, just close it and restart. If that doesn’t work, go to your phone settings and use “force stop.”
18. Get better colors by using manual balance, so that the color temperature doesn’t change from scene-to-scene.
19. Remove the Micro SD card more easily by using another Micro SD card to push the Micro SD card in the One X.
20. Time saving tip: while downloading videos, your camera can record new videos. No need to wait for the downloading to finish.
21. Render videos faster on your phone by turning off the power saving mode on your phone.
21. Create overcapture videos without stitching them using the One X phone app, Insta360 Studio for One X or Adobe Premiere.
22. Add a counterweight to your monopod to avoid it getting toppled over.
How to get the best video quality for Insta360 One X
Here are 9 techniques that you can use to get the best video quality from the Insta360 One X
Part 4: Image quality analysis and comparison
Insta360 One X is one of the few 360 cameras with support for Raw photos. It can not only take photos in Raw format, but can also stitch them in Raw (Insta360 Studio Beta version 3.0.3 for Windows and 3.0.2 for Mac). The One X uses the industry standard Adobe DNG Raw format ensuring support across almost all Raw-capable image editors from day 1.
The One X’s Raw files are true Raw files (not merely JPG files in Raw containers). Below are crops from the photos showing differences in dynamic range and high ISO noise (JPGs are on the left column while JPGs converted from Raw DNG are on the right column):
From these crops, you can see that the highlight range of the Raw file is much greater than that of the JPG file (look at the point where highlights are blown from the sun). Another benefit is that the Raw file has far less chroma noise compared to the JPG file. The Raw file also has more detail. For example, in the low light crop, you can see clearly see the horizontal bars of the utility poles in the distance, which are almost invisible in the JPG crop.
As expected, the Raw file does look flat in terms of color, contrast, and edge contrast (acutance), but those are easily adjusted, and the Raw file can be made to match the color and contrast of the JPG, or otherwise according to the user’s preferences.
One issue with the One X Raw files (as of November 1) is that they must be tinted at maximum magenta in order to appear normal. If the magenta / green tint is adjusted toward green in the slightest, the image will appear greenish. I’ve brought this to the attention of Insta360 and they said they will resolve it.
To see other comparisons between the JPG and Raw files, see the ISO comparison, with 360 photo samples from each.
Insta360 One X HDR Video samples and comparison (firmware 184.108.40.206)
On December 5, Insta360 posted a firmware update (220.127.116.11) and app update (iOS 1.1.1; Android update TBA) to add HDR video to the Insta360 One X. Please note you need to download 18.104.22.168 and not 1.17.12. Here is a sample and comparison:
HDR Video is exactly what it sounds: it is a high dynamic range video, which appears to be a feature of the Sony sensor used by Insta360. Insta360 has declined to name the sensor used in the One X, but the sensor appears to use Sony’s SME-HDR (spatially multiplexed exposure HDR) technology. With SME-HDR, the sensor’s pixels have different exposures. This enables the sensor to capture a wider dynamic range than would otherwise be possible.
In the sample video, we can see that the HDR video can capture a much wider highlight range. However, shadow range does not appear noticeably different.
There is some confusion as to whether HDR video can be used without a tripod. The supposed concern is that because HDR video takes multiple exposures, that any movement will appear as ghosting in the video. I tested HDR video while moving and found no ghosting or blur in bright light. It is possible that people complaining about blur in HDR video mode are seeing motion blur from a slow shutter speed in low light. You should not hesitate to use HDR Video even when the camera is in motion, as long as there is enough light.
To use HDR mode, you can either switch to HDR mode using the in-camera menu or using the smartphone app. In the in-camera menu, HDR video is a new mode that you can switch to by holding down the shutter button, which cycles to bullet time, time lapse video, and HDR video before going back to normal mode. There is also a new HDR video mode in the updated smartphone app.
To add the HDR Video mode, you need to update the firmware, see FAQ no. 22 below.
COMPARISON: INSTA360 ONE X vs. GOPRO FUSION (One X firmware 1.16.12)
Here is the most detailed comparison between the One X and the GoPro Fusion, with 40 factors compared.
TABLE of CONTENTS for comparison:
Part 1: Video quality
2. Chromatic aberration
3. Flare resistance
5. Dynamic range
6. Low light (video)
7. Stitching – at around 5:09 during the stitching testing, there are compression artifacts but those are from Premiere, not the one x or the fusion. not sure why premiere rendered it strangely.
8. Auto exposure accuracy
12 Slow motion modes
Part 2: Video Usability & Features
13. Startup time / speed
14. Ease of controls
15. Quick access commands
16. Remote control options
17. Manual exposure vs. auto
18. Log mode
19. Special features (video)
Part 3: photo quality
21. Photo dynamic range
22. Stitching (photo)
23. Low light photo
24. Color (photo)
Part 4: Photo Usability
26. Exposure controls (manual mode)
27. Raw mode
28. Long exposures
29. Special features (photo)
Part 5: Special uses
31. Street View
32. Rugged use.
34. Drone usage
Part 6: Editing
36. Stitching time and convenience
37. Batch exporting
38. File format
39. Editing features
Part 7: Other factors
40. Updates and longevity
As of September 2018, the best consumer 360 camera has been the GoPro Fusion (reviewed here). How does the One X compare to the Fusion and other 360 cameras? I used the 360 camera comparison tool to compare them side by side for both videos and photos.
Standard 30fps video:
For video, I found that the Fusion has higher resolution, while the ONE X has higher acutance (edge contrast). Below is a pair of crops from the videos (ONE X on left, Fusion on the right). If you look at the bushes toward the back, you can see that more leaves are visible on the Fusion, suggesting that Fusion has higher resolution. But if you look at the lines on the side of the shed, they are more easily distinguishable in the ONE X sample, showing it has higher acutance:
On the other hand, toward the stitch line, the One X has substantially more detail than the Fusion (the Fusion has a sudden drop in sharpness near the stitch line). If your priority is consistent sharpness throughout the frame, the ONE X would be better than the Fusion.
With respect to dynamic range, the Fusion appears to have noticeably more dynamic range than the One X. The wrinkle in the analysis is that I wasn’t testing the One X’s HDR Video mode (which was not functional as of launch day). It’s possible that with HDR Video activated, the One X might close the gap with the Fusion for dynamic range. However, it is not likely that it will have a material effect on the One X’s resolution.
Slow motion video:
The Fusion has a slow motion video mode, with a resolution of 3K at 60fps. I compared it against the One X at 4K 50fps and 3K 100fps. I found that the One X at 4K 50fps had noticeably more detail than the Fusion’s 3K 60fps mode, while the Fusion’s 3K 60fps mode had noticeably more detail than the One X’s 3K 100fps mode.
For photos, in my opinion Fusion has also been the best overall 360 camera for consumers because its detail is almost as good as that of the Xiaomi Mi Sphere (reviewed here), while having far greater dynamic range. This is despite the Fusion having a nominal resolution of only 5760 x 2880, lower than several other 360 cameras. I compared 360 photos from the One X and the Fusion and found that when viewed at the same viewing size, the ONE X and Fusion are similar, although the Fusion has very slightly more detail (resolution), while the ONE X has higher edge contrast (acutance).
On the other hand, the One X is much sharper than Fusion toward the stitch line:
As for dynamic range, Fusion has more dynamic range in JPG mode. Fusion’s raw mode also has slightly more dynamic range that One X’s raw mode. However, the One X has a true HDR photo mode with three exposures 4EV apart, while the Fusion has no HDR mode. With HDR, the One X exceeds the Fusion’s dynamic range.
Both Insta360 One X and GoPro Fusion have excellent stabilization, and both can use two modes of stabilization: one with a stabilized compass heading, and another that stabilizes toward the direction the camera is facing. However, Fusion’s forward facing stabilization is nowhere as smooth as the One X’s forward facing stabilization. Note further that GoPro Fusion can sometimes drift (the heading gradually turns toward one direction). The ONE X has no drifting issue (assuming you’ve already calibrated the gyro — an option in the in-camera menu).
Usability and practicality:
Insta360 One X has far more features than the Fusion, and is easier to use as well. Among the features that the One X has that are not available on the Fusion are the 3K 100fps mode, Drift Shot, Time Shift, a smooth-stitching underwater case, GPS overlay (with the Bluetooth remote accessory or a smartphone) and more.
At the same time, there is also a significant price difference between the One X ($399) and the Fusion ($699 and occasionally $599).
For practicality, one advantage of the Fusion is that it is waterproof even without a case. However, the One X has two waterproof housings available.
The Fusion has slightly more detail for videos, and noticeably better dynamic range for videos. For photos, the ONE X has better dynamic range in HDR mode. I expect that with the One X’s HDR Video mode, the gap in dynamic range for video would be much narrower. Moreover, ONE X has more consistent sharpness throughout the frame. At the same time, the One X is almost half the cost of the Fusion, and has far more features such as the very useful 3K 100fps slow motion, Drift Shot, and Time Shift. Accordingly, in my opinion, assuming Insta360 can fix the HDR Video mode, I believe the One X is a better overall camera than the Fusion, and is therefore probably the best 360 camera for consumers as of October 2018.
Comparison: Insta360 One X vs. GoPro Hero 7 hyperlapse
I compared the One X with the Hero 7 for hyperlapse:
The Insta360 One X has many advantages over the Hero 7 for hyperlapses:
+ far superior stabilization
+ the ability to pan in any direction
+ object tracking (this can help you rotate your hyperlapse around a specific subject)
+ motion blur effect
+ the option to change the speed of the hyperlapse, not only for the whole video but within any segment of the video
+ the option to create multiple hyperlapse videos from a single video
The Hero 7 is more detailed, but the detail is not readily observable with the fast motion of a hyperlapse. Therefore the Insta360 One X is better than the Hero 7 for hyperlapses
INSTA360 ONE X DISADVANTAGES AND PROBLEMS
Insta360 One X disadvantages
With the 5.7K video mode, recording time is limited to 30 mins. This is not due to overheating but due to the unique file structure of the ONE X to enable recording at 5.7K.
Tony Northrup posted a review of the ONE X with several criticisms that are partly correct, but partly incorrect. In his review, Tony Northrup said if you use the Insta360 Studio to stitch the video, then the stabilization will not be good, and the stitching will be poor. What Tony said is true only for the older version of the Insta360 Studio software. But on October 8, Insta360 made a functional version available, which not only stitched smoothly (at up to 120mbps) but could stabilize well. The sample video I posted above was stitched with Insta360 Studio desktop software and you can see the stitching is seamless, and the stabilization is smooth.
Many bugs have already been resolved (e.g. frame rate, audio sync, 360 metadata) but there are still lingering bugs. For example, as of October 22, 2018, there is still no support for HDR video, which was one of the key features advertised. For those who are experienced 360 shooters, this is par for the course, but for new shooters, it can be disconcerting. It will feel like you are a beta tester. Rest assured, however, Insta360 does respond very quickly and pushes out frequent updates to firmware and the apps.
360 camera tradeoffs and disadvantages in general
In addition, the Insta360 ONE X has most of the same tradeoffs of 360 cameras compared to non-360 cameras: first, it is less detailed despite the often higher video resolution, because it captures a wider field of view compared to non-360 cameras, just like a fisheye lens will capture less detail than a telephoto lens from the same shooting distance. In exchange, with the 360 field of view, you have far better stabilization and the freedom to choose the perspective in postprocessing.
Second, like most other 360 cameras, you will need to stitch the photos and videos. You can’t just take the files straight from the memory card and stick them in your video editor (although a no-stitch workflow will be enabled for Adobe Premiere users). On the plus side, the ONE X desktop app does allow batch exporting which makes it easier to stitch. Moreover, if you use the mobile app for overcapture videos, you can go straight to overcapture and won’t have to stitch the video first.
Third, using 360 video to create overcapture non-360 video is very useful but does add an additional step in editing. To me, this is not much of a problem. During video editing, you usually have to adjust the image here and there anyway, and having the ability to change the view during editing is a benefit to me. However, for casual shooters who don’t want to edit their videos, converting to overcapture will add an additional step.
Part 5: More information
Bluetooth and GPS remote
The Bluetooth remote is a dedicated remote for the One X that can not only be used to trigger the One X but can also switch shooting modes, and most importantly, add GPS metadata to your photos and videos, which can in turn be shown as an overlay on your videos.
This case is designed to protect the One X from water or harsh environments.
You can use this case to take underwater photos and videos with the One X. The specially designed lens is designed to avoid refraction.
External battery charger
This battery charger can charge two One X batteries at the same time. I’ve tried it and it works as advertised, but you must use the included cable and adapter. If you plug the charger to a generic USB charger, the batteries might not charge correctly.
Drifter camera dart (drift shot accessory)
This is a case for the Insta360 One X designed to enable the One X to be thrown.
Insta360 Invisible Selfie Stick (improved)
The new version of the Insta360 Invisible Selfie Stick has a narrower tip to ensure that the selfie stick is invisible to the One X (as long as the shaft is extended). Other monopods I’ve tried that are invisible to the One X include the Benro MK10 and Monoshot 2 (see my Ultimate Buying Guide for 360 camera tripods).
Bullet time handle
You can use this specially designed swiveling handle with a monopod such as the Invisible Selfie Stick to create a bullet time shot. The bullet time handle has a 1/4-20 tripod connector to connect to a monopod with a tripod hole. There is no change to the bullet time handle.
1. Is Insta360 One X compatible with iOS and Android smartphones?
Yes Insta360 One X is compatible with both iOS and Android. For iOS, please note that the minimum phone is an iPhone 6S.
2. Is Insta360 One X compatible with Windows and Mac?
The desktop software for Insta360 One X is currently available for Windows and Mac. A desktop is recommended to have a GTX 750 graphics card or better in order to stitch at the full resolution. For an affordable graphics card, I recommend GTX 1050 Ti. However, I’ve been able to stitch without a dedicated GPU on a Mac Air early 2015 with Intel i7 and Intel HD graphics 6000 (but it takes a while).
4. Does someone have to catch the camera for Drift Shot?
The Drifter accessory is designed protect the One X lens if it lands on a flat surface. It is possible to land on a protruding rock or other object that could damage the lens. Also if the Drifter is not indestructible (for example, don’t drop it from a building). Finally, the One X can withstand some shocks but stronger shocks may damage internal components of the camera.
5. Can I use the Drifter accessory with another 360 camera?
The Drifter accessory is designed to fit only the One X. Moreover, the One X is the only 360 camera with decent quality super slow motion.
6. Do I need the Dive case or can I just use the Venture case?
If you want to shoot photos or videos underwater, then you need the Dive case. The Venture case is waterproof, but it’s not designed for underwater shooting, so the photos and videos shot underwater won’t stitch as smoothly (there will be blind spots on the sides of the camera).
7. I imported the video from the One X into my video editor but it would not recognize it
The One X records videos in insv format and photos in insp format. Those are unstitched photos and videos. They need to be stitched and saved as mp4 and jpg respectively. See the tutorial above.
8. After I stitch the photos and videos from the One X, where can I share them?
Photos can be uploaded to sites such as Facebook or Kuula or Veer. Videos can be uploaded to sites such as Facebook, YouTube, or Veer. After you’ve uploaded your photo or video, then you can share the URL with your family and friends.
Alternatively, you can embed the photo or video on your website or blog. Most 360 photo and 360 video sharing sites allow embedding (usually it is one of the share options). Just copy the iframe tags and paste them in the html of your blog or website. More info here.
9. Where can I get a discount on the One X?
See discount code below.
10. Which tripod, selfie stick, or monopod should I get for the One X?
In order for the selfie stick to be invisible, it needs to be narrow enough to fit between the lenses of the ONE X. I recommend the new version of the Insta360 2nd generation Selfie Stick, or Benro MK10. Also check out my Ultimate Buying Guide for 360 camera tripods.
11. Endurance: How long can the ONE X record? Can it record while charging?
In 5.7K mode, the ONE X can only record for 30 mins. at a time. This is a limit of its file system, not the battery or overheating. Yes it can record while charging via USB however you cannot record without the battery.
12. Can you shoot photos in Raw format?
Yes you can take photos in Raw DNG format. When you shoot in Raw it actually shoots it as Raw+JPEG. You will have two files: a JPG file with .insp extension and a raw file in DNG format. The DNG files are saved in the camera as unstitched files. You’ll then need to use Insta360 Studio to stitch the DNG and it will save the stitched file in Raw DNG. However, as of october 22, Insta360 Studio doesn’t have raw stitching capability yet (wait for an update). The other limit is that you cannot shoot in Raw DNG while in HDR mode.
13. Can you shoot videos in log mode?
Yes you can shoot videos in log mode. Insta360 also has a LUT available for download. Moreover, the mobile app recognizes videos shot in log mode and will give you the option to apply a LUT.
14. Does it support Google Street View?
Yes for photos and videos. To get GPS data, you’ll need to connect the One X the optional dedicated Bluetooth remote accessory.
For videos, ONE X is compatible with Street View if you use the updated smartphone app (version 1.3 or above) or if you shoot with the optional Bluetooth accessory to add GPS data to the video.
15. Can ONE X live stream over Wi-Fi?
In order to live stream, the ONE X must be connected via one of the included cables to your phone.
16. What is the maximum bitrate of the ONE X?
In 5.7K mode, it records two files simultaneously in. H.264 format, with each file having around 50mpbs. The desktop app then gives you the option to stitch the 5.7K videos as 120mbps.
17. Can you take long exposure time lapses?
Yes. In the time lapse photo mode (called “interval”), you can use manual exposure, with shutter speeds as long as 55 seconds, and take photos at intervals as long as 120 seconds apart. The photos can be in Raw DNG format.
18. Can the mobile app process 5.7K videos?
In 360 mode, you can view 5.7K but when you stitch / export, the maximum resolution for stitched 360 videos is 4K.
In overcapture mode, the ONE X app will use the full resolution of the 5.7K video in creating a 1080p overcapture file.
19. I connected my One X to my desktop but the desktop is not recognizing the One X.
Check the settings in the camera’s menu. The One X USB must be set to iOS not Android when you connect it to the desktop. Once connected, the One X will show “U Disk” on its LCD screen to show that it is being used as a USB drive.
20. How do I transfer files to the Insta360 One X app?
“To put files to OneX app, if you are using an Android device, please put them to Insta360onexgalleryorigin folder. If you are using ios device, please create a folder named IMPORT, put files in this folder, connect your ios device to the computer via iTunes, find Insta360 ONEX, use the IMPORT folder to replace the original IMPORT folder” per Insta360 support staff.
21. My Insta360 One X was fully charged when I kept it in my bag a few days ago and now it is low battery. Why?
If you turn on the camera and turn it off, the One X leaves Bluetooth on in order to allow remote activation. This lets you turn it back on even from a distance but this also drains the battery a bit. A future firmware update will give you the option to choose whether to turn off the Bluetooth when the camera is on standby. Meanwhile for now you can remove the battery and put it back. When you do that, the Bluetooth will not be activated.
22. How do I update the firmware?
There are two ways to update the firmware. First is through the smartphone app. While connecting the One X to the app, you Go to the settings from the main menu, and scroll down to “About Insta360.” If you see that the firmware version or app version has a red dot, it means an update is available. Tap on the firmware version or app version to begin the update.
The second way to update firmware is by downloading the new firmware, copying it into the root directory of your Micro SD, then inserting it into the One X (while the One X is powered off). When you turn on the One X, it will recognize the firmware update and update itself automatically. You’ll see the LED turn off for a minute or so, before coming back on again, with the new firmware version displayed on the LCD.
23. While upgrading my firmware, my camera encountered problems. I might have bricked it. What can I do?
Insta360’s support staff may be able to assist you. There are two ways to reach them. First, you can join their Facebook group (Insta360 Community and Insta360 One Community) and post your issue. An Insta360 representative will respond. The second way is to use the help button in the app. From the main screen, tap on settings on the bottom right. On the settings screen tap on the yellow support button on the upper right corner. Then explain what happened.
You can get a special deal on the Insta360 One X that includes an extra cold weather battery or 2nd generation Invisible Selfie Stick for free when you buy directly from Insta360 using this affiliate link. Another benefit of ordering from Insta360 is that you can order it together with ONE X accessories that you won’t be able to get anywhere else. However, if you prefer, you can also buy from Amazon or from B&H Photo here. Thank you for supporting 360 Rumors at no additional cost to you so I can do more tests and reviews!
Here are the Insta360 One X’s strengths and weaknesses thus far.
Strengths (firmware 22.214.171.124)
+ excellent video quality (excellent detail, good dynamic range)
+ excellent photo quality (excellent detail, good dynamic range)
+ excellent low light and high ISO performance
+ best slow motion video quality among 360 cameras at the moment
+ Timeshift speed ramp effect is easy to use on the mobile app.
+ HDR photo mode can make a dramatic difference
+ HDR video mode increases dynamic range significantly (although it can have motion blur in low light)
+ drift shot looks amazing and unique
+ excellent stabilization with two stabilization modes (Flowstate stabilized compass heading and Direction Hold forward view stabilization)
+ consistent sharpness throughout the frame
+ easy to use
+ does not break up longer files into smaller files
+ startup and shutdown are fast
+ Insta360 Studio is capable of batch exporting
+ will have no-stitch editing in Premiere
Weaknesses (firmware 126.96.36.199)
– 5.7K video recording limited to 30 mins. at a time.
– Phone app limited to 4K 30fps video and 1080p 100fps video
– Red dot lens flare
– default color profile’s contrast is a bit low
– Micro SD card is hard to remove with short fingernails.
– Lens is not replaceable (but it has an optional hard case)
– Battery life limited to 60 minutes video recording (45 mins. recording in real world conditions, turning on and off,, etc.). But you can get spare batteries.
– Does not have 3D capabilities.
Insta360 One X successfully combines almost all the best features from competing 360 cameras. The photo and video quality are both excellent, and the slow motion 3K 100fps mode is very impressive. Some of its key features were not yet available and launch, and thus haven’t been able to test some key features to do a thorough comparison. Nonetheless, I’m confident that assuming the bugs are sorted out (several of the bugs have already been resolved), the Insta360 One X is the best overall 360 camera for consumers as of October 2018. As long as you have a compatible phone and desktop, I would highly recommend the Insta360 One X. This review and resource page will be updated regularly. To get updates, bookmark this page, follow 360 Rumors on Facebook and/or Twitter, and/or leave a comment below and check the box for “receive updates.”
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