The Insta360 has created some of the most fun and interesting cameras in the last few years – and the new Insta360 X3 is no different. In fact, it might just be the most versatile action camera (or camcorder) you can buy right now.
Like its predecessor, the Insta360 One X2, the X3 is a 360-degree camera with two ultra-wide-angle lenses that capture everything around you, allowing you to later “crop” your footage into standard film. But the many improvements mean it is now much more usable as a traditional “single lens” sports camera.
One of our biggest problems with the Insta360 One X2 was that it could only record in 1080p with a single lens. But on the X3 you can now shoot in 4K in this “single lens” mode, making it more like having two cameras in one.
The highlight of the X3, however, is its versatile 360-degree modes. It also introduces several improvements, including a new 1/2 inch sensor (a step over the 1 / 2.3 inch sensor in the X2) and a new “Active HDR” mode. While its predecessor did offer HDR video mode, it appears to use additional processing to minimize ghosting and increase stabilization.
The X3 does not provide a resolution boost for 360-degree material (which is still limited to 5.7K / 30p), and its video bit rate is still 120Mbps. But there are improvements to its slow-motion modes, with the X3 capable of 4K recording. / 120p or 3K / 180p. X2 mode equivalent with only 3K / 100p tops.
The X3 is likely to be a huge hit with social media makers as well, as its wide-angle footage can easily be turned into an Instagram 4: 5 post with a 9:16 TikTok video without much loss in quality. Its larger 2.29-inch screen also looks like a boon to usability compared to the small circular X2 display.
It’s hard to imagine another camera that has a list of shooting modes as long as the Insta360 X3 which is waterproof to 10m and can be purchased now for $ 449. Can take invisible selfie stick effects, 8K timelapse, 72MP photos, looped dash cam videos and much more in “Shot Lab” in the companion app. But the big question is how smooth it all works in reality …
The main problems we’ve had with Insta360 cameras in the past, especially immediately after launch, are relatively minor software bugs. In our short time with the Insta360 X3 it seems to be the case again.
For example, when editing in an Android app, our 360-degree video would sometimes automatically start sliding to the right (unless we turned on the direction lock). Downloading some tapes, such as Starlapses, to our phones also proved difficult, and the process took an indefinite period of time.
Insta360 analyzes these issues and they are most likely pre-release bugs that will eventually be fixed in the software. We are also impressed with the X3 in general, in particular with its new screen and the wide range of shooting modes available.
Of course, it is mainly intended for creating unique social media clips and will not be in the way of top video cameras to get great video quality. But it’s also more flexible than almost any camera we can think of, from GoPro to smartphones and full-frame beasts.
360 cameras have gradually grown out of niche beginnings to become powerful tools in the arsenal of all kinds of creators. One TechRadar writer has even successfully used a 360 camera as his wedding cameraman to complement his human Snapper.
Their unique advantage is the ability to decide where the camera is aimed at the scene after recording a movie. We’ll let you know shortly if the Insta360 X3 is indeed the best 360 camera you can buy in our full review.