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Insta360’s ONE RS 1-Inch 360 Edition is a welcome and huge-sensored addition to the ONE RS family – A review


Insta360 has seen a lot of success in the 360° camera market over the last few years and they’ve arguably become the leader in pocketable 360° cameras thanks to devices like the Insta360 ONE X2 (review here) and the Insta360 ONE RS (review here).

Today, though, Insta360 has announced that they’re going big with the new Insta360 ONE RS 1-Inch 360 Edition. Co-engineered with Leica the new 1-Inch 360 mod lets you shoot 360° footage at up to 6K resolution using, as the name suggests, a pair of giant 1″ sensors.

As part of the Insta360 ONE RS ecosystem, the new RS 1-Inch 360 camera is modular and uses the same core module as the standard Insta360 ONE RS. But thats’ about where the similarities end between the two kits. The ONE RS 1-Inch 360 comes with a completely different case that’s held vertically, like the Insta360 ONE X2, rather than horizontally, like a traditional action camera.

As such, it needs the vertical battery unit, not the standard horizontal one. And even though the new 1-inch 360 mod is connected to the standard ONE RS core mod, there’s no way this thing is going to fit into the standard Insta360 ONE RS cage. But here are all of its components.

How does it stack up to the competition?

Naturally, as a pocketable 360° camera with a pair of 1″ sensors, its only real competition is the Ricoh Theta Z1. Unfortunately, I don’t have one of those available to me in order to do a side-by-side comparison, but even just on paper, the ONE RS 1-Inch 360 offers some advantages over the Theta Z1.

For a start, there’s the price. Being released at $799.99, the ONE RS 1-Inch 360 is $250 less expensive than the $1,049 Ricoh Theta Z1. And with it using the standard Insta360 ONE RS core module, you also have access to see what you’re shooting and spin around the scene right there on the camera itself.

Then there’s the fact that the Ricoh Theta Z1 only shoots 4K 360° video at up to 30fps, despite having sensors with the ability to shoot 6.7K resolution stills. The Insta360 ONE RS 1-Inch 360 shoots 6K video at up to 30fps at 120Mbps and DNG raw stills at up to 6.5K resolution.

Storage is another big factor. The Ricoh Theta Z1 features either 19GB or 51GB of internal storage, whereas the Insta360 ONE RS 1-Inch 360 lets you use microSD cards all the way up to 1TB. And, yes, they really mean it. I’ve tested it with both the 1TB SanDisk Extreme Pro (review here) and 1TB Silicon Power Superior (review here) microSD cards.

The modular design of the ONE RS also means that parts are interchangeable. You can swap out to the regular 5.7K 360 mod or the 4K Boost mod (or the 4K mod from the original Insta360 ONE R), slap on a horizontal battery and use it like a more traditional action camera.

Naturally, as an Insta360 camera, you get access to Insta360’s 6-axis FlowState stabilisation, which brings gimbal-like stability to your handheld 360° video footage. And thanks to the larger sensor and larger pixels of the 1-Inch 360 mod, you’ll be able to get better stabilisation in low light compared to the ONE X2 or the standard 360 Mod for the ONE RS.

The Insta360 ONE RS 1-Inch 360 also offers a microphone input via the optional adapter. There’s also a microphone bracket that lets you mount the Rode Wireless GO II receiver straight to the camera in the perfect position to keep it hidden from view. The microphone adapter also features a Type-C USB socket to let you keep it charged up while using a microphone.

And if you can’t keep it charged up while using it, the ONE RS 1-Inch 360 has the advantage of using removable batteries so you can carry spares and keep going for as long as you want. The Theta Z1 only has a fixed, built-in battery.

Then, of course, there’s the Insta360 App for smartphones and Insta360 Studio on the desktop giving you a lot of easy control over editing and stitching your 360° video clips together. And you get all of the usual photo shooting modes you’re used to, Standard, HDR, Interval, Starlapse, Burst and PureShot as well as Standard, Timelapse, TimeShift and Loop Recording modes for video, with standard vivid or LOG colour profiles.

As I mentioned, though, I don’t have a Ricoh Theta Z1 here to test side-by-side so the one thing I can’t speak to is how the image quality of the two compares. What I can say, though, is that the Insta360 ONE RS 1-Inch 360 is pretty good, as you’ll see in the samples below.

So how does it go together?

Like the standard Insta360 ONE RS, the Insta360 ONE RS 1-Inch 360 is modular. And while they look like two very different cameras, they both use the exact same core module. The only difference is the lens and battery that are plugged into it and the cage that contains them.

The one thing to take note of here, and this is why I like that it supports very large microSD cards, is that your storage is essentially trapped inside the camera. The benefit of this, of course, is that you’re not likely to accidentally see your card go randomly flying out of the camera in use, never to be found again. But if you want to regularly take your card out to back up the footage, that’s going to be a little more work than just opening a flap and pulling out the card like on the ONE RS.

But with the card in place (and the aforementioned flap removed), the ONE RS core mod connects to the battery and the two slip into the vertical case together. You do need to make sure that the little flappy bit at the bottom of the case is open when you insert or remove the battery.

With those inserted, we just need to pop the new huge 1″ 360 mod on top. And when you see the size of it compared to the standard ONE RS 360 mod, you really start to get an idea of just how big this thing is.

Let’s go back to that little flap on the case. That lets us access a Type-C USB port on the battery. This is a pass-through port which charges the battery and communicates with the core mod. This means we can plug in other accessories like the Quick Reader (it uses the same one as the ONE X2) or the previously mentioned microphone adapter.

If you’re using neither of these accessories then you can also just use it to charge up your camera’s battery between takes, too. This is the way I often work when shooting 360° video on location. Rather than having a power bank plugged in all the time, I’ll shoot for a bit and then pop the camera into the bag, connected to a power bank to let it charge up on the way to the next spot.

The Sample Footage

Obviously, you all want to see some sample footage shot with the camera, so here you go. Each of the clips was cut with any speed ramps done in Insta360 Studio on the desktop. Those individual clips were then brought into DaVinci Resolve for editing. After rendering (100Mbps H.265), 360° metadata was injected using Google’s Spatial Media Metadata Injector and it was uploaded to YouTube. Due to the very visually-busy nature of the environment in some parts, YouTube’s compression does a bit of a number on it, as we’d expect. No colour adjustments were made in Resolve, these are the clips as they come out of Insta360 Studio.

The initial section of the sample footage includes clips using the internal microphones as well as the Rode Wireless GO II on the Ulanzi bracket with the microphone adapter. As you can see, it doesn’t show up in the footage at all and it sounds good, although the internal mics aren’t terrible at all! I’ve intentionally kept the sample footage as 360° footage so that you can see the original resolution and to be able to look around the scene to try to spot the stitch line.

The lenses are a little further apart on the 1-Inch 360 module than they are on the standard 360 module, so you’ll want to be careful of your distance from your environment when you’re shooting in order to minimise the chances of that stitch line becoming obvious.

Sample Stills

Here are a few sample images shot with the camera, too. These were shot in-camera as INSP and then exported out as JPGs on the computer. Other than that, there’s been no processing done to them at all, and they were shot using automatic exposure just to see how well it handled contrasty scenes with lots of shadows and highlights. As you can see, in extreme conditions, like on the edge of deep dark woodland with a bright sunny sky outside, it still struggles.

Here is another comparison sample, shot as a DNG raw file and then processed to pull back those highlights and shadows to get a bit more detail out of it. I also shot this scene as an INSP so you can see for yourself how well the in-camera jpg stands up and whether or not you want to go with the raw option. I’ve included both the raw processed by Insta360 Studio as well as one processed manually in Adobe Camera Raw.

Baked-in image file shot in-camera (INSP)

DNG raw version processed in Insta360 Studio with PureShot enabled and output as jpg

DNG raw stitched in Insta360 Studio and processed in Adobe Camera Raw

The in-camera processed version is a little more realistic than the version created from DNG in Insta360 Studio on the desktop, although the latter does pull back a lot of the highlight detail when using PureShot. Insta360 Studio also lifts the shadows up a lot more, which may be pleasing for some but it’s a little too extreme for me, personally. The final version processed in Adobe Camera Raw brings back all of that detail in the clouds and while not as overly bright as the others, provides a pleasing and more realistic look.

Is this a replacement for the ONE X2?

I know you’re curious and I was, too. So I asked Insta360 directly. Is this a replacement for the Insta360 ONE X2? Is that product line being merged into the ONE RS and being forgotten about going forward? Their answer was an emphatic no. Despite the smaller sensors, the Insta360 ONE X2 still offers some distinct advantages over the Insta360 ONE RS 1-Inch 360. For a start, it’s waterproof with an IPX8 rating, which Insta360 says protects it up to a depth of 10 metres underwater without a case.

The Insta360 ONE RS 1-Inch 360 is only IPX3 rating. This means that it can potentially handle some light rain but that’s about it. You’re not going to be taking this outside during a hurricane and you’re certainly not going to be taking it underwater without some kind of dive case. To clarify, I’m not sure if there is a dive case coming for the ONE RS 1-Inch 360, but if there is, you’ll want to use it if you’re even thinking about going near water.

Insta360 didn’t give me any clues as to when we might see a hypothetical Insta360 ONE X3 or really any information about its future other than the fact that they haven’t given up on the ONE X product line.

The other stuff

One thing I haven’t mentioned so far is the included extras with the camera beyond the modules and the vertical case itself. Other than a USB cable, the only extra item of note is the rubber lens protector. This slips onto the camera when you’re not using it and when it’s just rolling around in your bag. It’s handy to be able to slip it on and off between charging in the bag and shooting when out in the middle of nowhere.

It’s difficult to tell in the photo above, but the protective cover is quite a bit bigger than that of the standard ONE RS 360 module – which makes sense, because the module itself is way bigger. One thing that’s a little frustrating, though, is that when taking it off, it’s very easy to get fingerprints on those huge lenses on the 1-Inch 360 mod. So, you do have to be careful when removing it. Make sure to always pack a microfibre lens cloth!

A slight design change to let it flare out a little on the sides to give us something to more easily get our fingers under and grip without risking running our fingers over the lenses themselves would’ve made this cover much more convenient. This is basically how the lens cover for the Insta360 ONE X2 works. Or a small gap at the top like the standard 360° module for the ONE RS. But even as it is right now, it’s still an essential item that you’ll be using a lot.

The battery when shooting 6K at 30fps runs for about an hour according to Insta360’s lab tests and that’s pretty consistent with my testing here. The lenses have a 6.52mm equivalent focal length and an aperture of f/2.2. It also supports microSD cards up to 1TB, but whatever microSD card you use for video does need to support the V30 spec.

It has an ISO range of 100-3200 for both stills and video, with shutter speeds for photos from 1/8000 up to 2 minutes and shutter speeds for video from 1/8000 up to the physical limit of the frames per second you’re shooting.

It offers manual exposure control and manual white balance from 2000K up to 10000K and there’s a wind reduction feature for the built-in stereo microphones. Or, you can go with external mics using the microphone adapter. Officially, Insta360 says that only the Rode Wireless GO II is supported but I have several wireless mic kits here that I plan to test in the coming weeks. So keep an eye out for that.

Conclusions

The Insta360 ONE RS 1-Inch 360 is a very different beast from the standard ONE RS 360 mod and the Insta360 ONE X2. It’s not really a rig designed for action. I mean, sure, you can still use it handheld and throw it on the end of the invisible selfie stick, but it’s quite a bit larger and heavier than either of those other two setups.

It’s aimed more toward photographers, filmmakers and CG artists who want better quality 360° photos and footage from a camera that fits in their pocket and for things like real estate photography and virtual tours where you’re often having to deal with contrasty lighting.

The larger sensors and inherent larger pixels help to not only increase its low light higher ISO abilities to reduce noise but also help to increase its dynamic range, allowing you to capture more of that detail in both the shadows and the highlights.

The Insta360 ONE X2 definitely slips into the pocket a little easier, but if you’ve got big pockets or you’re hiking around with a backpack that you can easily slip it into and you’re not planning to go into the water with it, then the Insta360 ONE RS 1-Inch 360 is certainly going to provide you with better results.

Up until now, the Insta360 ONE X2 has been my go-to for 360° photos and video, over the ONE RS with the standard 360 mod. I think that’s about to change. Unless I’m planning to actually go into water, I can’t see any reason now why I’d grab the ONE X2 over the ONE RS 1-Inch 360.

The Insta360 ONE RS 1-Inch 360 is available to buy now for $799.99. There’s also an upgrade bundle for $649.99 for existing Insta360 ONE R and ONE RS owners which includes the 1-Inch 360 lens, battery and mounting bracket (the vertical case). Obviously, there’s no core mod in the upgrade bundle.





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