There's an old canard that the best camera is the one you have with you; the new Insta360 One R's new modular design lets you carry multiple cameras in just one device.
The package includes a wide-angle 4K mod and a 360-degree mod that can capture 5.7K video. And there's a third wide angle mod developed with Leica that has a large 1-inch sensor that will be sold separately.
Insta360 One R design
We've seen plenty of other modular devices before, but most have been pretty clunky. The Insta360 One R, by comparison, isn't that much larger than a standard action camera, such as the GoPro Hero, and doesn't sacrifice much in the way of functionality, either.
The Insta360 One R is made up of three pieces: A battery, which runs along the bottom; the controller module, which has the Power and record buttons, a small touchscreen, and a microSD card slot; and the camera module.
Insta360 is offering the OneR with three different camera modules (which the company calls "mods": A wide-angle 4K (60 fps) mod with an f/2.8, 16.4mm equivalent lens, a 360-degree mod that can capture 5.7K video, and a Wide Angle mod developed with Leica that has a 1-inch sensor, and can capture 5.3K video and 19MP stills. The first two mods ship with the camera, while the 1-inch sensor mod will be sold separately.
Cleverly, both of the single-camera mods can be mounted with the lens on the opposite side of the One R's touchscreen (as with a traditional action camera) or with the lens on the same side as the touchscreen, which will make it easier to frame selfie videos.
Snapping the various parts of the Insta360 One R together and apart was pretty easy. I could swap between lenses in a matter of seconds. However, you have to disconnect the battery, so you can't swap lenses as you would with a DSLR or a mirrorless camera.
The One R is water-resistant to depths of 5 meters (16.4 feet); the company will also sell a Dive Case that will let you bring the camera down as far as 60 meters (197 feet).
The control mod has two mics, but owners can also connect a microphone to its USB-C port for better audio; this of course makes the camera no longer waterproof.
Insta360 One R features
New camera features on the Insta360 One R include a Night Shot mode, as well as a process that removes noise in low-light video. The One R can also record both HDR photos and video, and supports H.265 video encoding.
You can control the camera using either its touchscreen, or through the Insta360 app via Bluetooth.
Insta360 R app
Apart from the hardware, one of the best aspects of Insta360's cameras has been their apps, and it looks like the One R will be no exception. In addition to the company's awesome Bullet Time and motion stabilization, Insta360 is debuting the following, which we're eager to test.
- Auto Frame: A computer vision algorithm that suggests the best part of a 360 video.
- Automatic subject tracking: This can be done by either tapping on a subject when editing a 360 video, or by saying "Mark that" when filming. This will reframe the shot with the person when you start recording.
- Starlapse Mode: Adjusts exposure settings when capturing time-lapse videos of the night sky.
- Flashcut: Identifies images based on a theme (such as pets) and then combines them into a video. This works with any of the One R's camera mods.
Other Insta360 One R mods
Insta360 is also announcing a few other mods for the One R, though pricing and availability have yet to be announced:
- Boosted Battery Base: double the size of the standard battery
- Aerial Mod: Lets you attach the camera to a supported drone, and makes the drone invisible in 360 videos.
We're very intrigued by the Insta360 One R and what it promises. We haven't had a chance yet to see how well it performs against other action cameras, but we like the idea of being able to carry around one camera that is adaptable for multiple situations.
Even though their use in VR applications hasn't taken off, one of the advantages of 360 cameras is their ability to capture smooth, image-stabilized video without the use of an external gimbal. Plus, the fact that they capture 360 degrees of video means that you can shift the focus of the video after the fact to different areas, such as from straight ahead of you to directly behind.
Of course, none of that matters if the video itself doesn't look good. Stay tuned for our full review of the Insta360 One R.