Insta360 ONE R in-depth Review

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In this article, we will first cover the 360 video quality. The impressive stabilization called FlowState 2.0. Then we will talk about 360 photo quality — the Night Shot. Then we will review some of the exciting features of Insta360 ONE R. We will put ONE R in the water to test underwater capturing. We will fly the ONE R with the brand new ONE R drone modification and my DJI Mavic Pro 2. Then I will teach you some new AI features to create interesting videos for your Instagram that you have not seen anywhere else on the Internet.

We will then cover the 1" Leica Mod in great details for 2D action camera.

Watch Insta360 ONE R full review here

360 video quality

Let’s take a look at Image Quality comparison.

Insta360 ONE R vs GoPro MAX vs Qoocam 8K
Insta360 ONE R vs GoPro MAX vs Qoocam 8K
Insta360 ONE R vs GoPro MAX vs Qoocam 8K

From left to right, we have the Insta360 ONE R, GoPro MAX, and Qoocam 8K — GoPro MAX has a more saturated look, and ONE R has a more flat color look — but the sharpness is mostly the same for close distance. Qoocam 8K is larger and sharper because it is 8K and 10-bit. But Qoocam 8K in the current version has some coloring issue as you see the color chart. Hopefully, it will be fixed tho in the next release.

Let’s turn to the chart that is 6 ft away from the cameras.

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Insta360 ONE R vs GoPro MAX vs Qoocam 8K

We see again Qoocam 8K is obvious sharper and clearer. But ONE R is actually slightly sharper than GoPro MAX.

Insta360 ONE R vs GoPro MAX vs Qoocam 8K 300% zoom in
Insta360 ONE R vs GoPro MAX vs Qoocam 8K 300% zoom in
Insta360 ONE R vs GoPro MAX vs Qoocam 8K 300% zoom in

Let’s zoom in 300% and look at ONLY the chart. I highlighted RED for you to look at. You can tell the dots are clearer in ONE R than MAX. The reason why is because ONE R, with its new HEVC or H.265 compression, has more data than GoPro MAX. ONE R is about 100Mbps in H.265, and GoPro MAX is about 70Mbps. The extra 30Mbps in data make the GoPro MAX footage look more compressed compared to the ONE R. If you are doing any source of post-production, it will be easier in ONE R than GoPro MAX. If you are using a mobile phone to edit, then it does not matter.
By the way, Qoocam 8K has Chromatic aberration around the stitch lines — which is highlighted purple. GoPro MAX and ONE R does not have this problem at all.

Now let’s check the dynamic range — which seems to be the only thing everyone cares about these days. Well, if we turn to the California sun, we see all three cameras are mostly the same, with GoPro MAX better in the highlights and Qoocam 8K better in the shadows. But, here is where Insta360 ONE R is going to win. With HDR video, you see ONE R can dramatically recover highlight like the SUN and lift the shadow. The result is pretty obvious.

Insta360 ONE R HDR
Insta360 ONE R HDR
Insta360 ONE R HDR

Although, be very careful when to use HDR.

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Insta360 ONE R HDR vs Regular at night

As you see right here, left is HDR from the Insta360 ONE R, and on the right is without HDR. You see these crazy flickers and color noises right here. So, in general, don’t use HDR in low light or indoor lighting. I only see good results right now in bright daylight in both Insta360 Pro 2 and ONE R in HDR video.

It is only fair to compare all 3 of these cameras in 360 Video within a VR headset. So, I made a separate video on YouTube VR and Oculus TV, link right here, to show you the comparison, including stitching quality side by side.:

Insta360 ONE R in 360 Video

I also include Insta360 ONE X in that video. So go check it out NOW. That video will answer the question: why you need to upgrade from your ONE X to ONE R.

FlowState 2.0 — better 360 Stabilization

Insta360 spent lots of time to make ONE R the prefect action 360 camera — by giving it an even better stabilization called FlowState 2.0.
I will have an in-depth review of why I think Insta360 ONE R is the most stabilized camera ever in 360 VR — so stay tuned for that.

Beside impressive horizon leveling and directional locking, what makes FlowState 2.0 special is how it deals with low light stabilization by removing motion blur in low light. Let me show you.

Here we have me running at night:

On the left, we have ONE R, and on the right, we have GoPro MAX. As you see my face on GoPro MAX — it is very blurry. Also, look at the stores in the background. You can not read the store names. On the left, ONE R, it is noisier — but my face and the background are crystal clear. This is the result of AI remove grain.

Nightshot — 9 DNG merging

For people doing Virtual Tour, or just taking tiny planet photos like I do on Instagram — having a good 360 photo camera is going to be important as well in 2020. Most people don’t want to carry a separate 360 photo camera like Ricoh Theta Z1 — even we know Z1 will have better image quality.
Let’s take a look and see how ONE R stack again other 360 cameras.
First, we have just a single DNG from the ONE R:

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Insta360 ONE R regular JPEG

Next, we have Nightshot from the ONE R:

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Insta360 ONE R Night Shot

Then we have GoPro MAX:

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GoPro MAX at Night

Lastly, we have Qoocam 8K DNG8:

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Qoocam 8K DNG8

Now, we put them together:

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As you see, just single JPG or DNG from the ONE R is not great compared to GoPro MAX. But, the Nightshot is a lot better than single DNG, in terms of dynamic range, color, sharpness, and noise. So for ONE R, you always want to shoot Nightshot at night. It is actually as fast as capturing one photo.
During daytime, you can also use Nightshot on a fast-moving subject like horse racing or DMX bike jumping if you want to avoid motion blur. I tested ONE R Night shot with this handheld 360 selfies at CES 2020 against ONE R HDR photo. As you see the result is great:

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Insta360 ONE R Night Shot at Day time Sample

Compare Nightshot with GoPro MAX, and Qoocam DNG 8 — let’s zoom in onto my shoes:

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ONE R Night Shot vs GoPro MAX vs Qoocam 8K

You see a lot more details in Qoocam 8K and Nightshot than GoPro MAX. If you look at the back of the dinosaur, you see the dynamic range is a lot better in both ONE R nightshot and Qoocam 8K. Qoocam 8K captures even more details than ONE R night shot, but Qoocam 8K has pretty bad coloring and chromatic aberration. It will require more works in post-production to make it look great. On the other hand, ONE R Nightshot just looks great out of the box — and it will look better if you do color grading in your phone with snapseed or Lightroom mobile. From a consumer perspective, if you are releasing your photo on Instagram, then ONE R night shot is the best among all 4 of the results. Do notice, ONE R night shot does not increase the resolution of your photo — it is still 6K, and Qoocam 8K is 8K. So in 360 photos, Qoocam 8K still has an advantage because of a larger resolution.

Let me also provide some shooting tips for you. When using Nightshot or Qoocam DNG8, try to drop your EV down to -1 or even -2 to underexpose your image. The idea is to protect blow out highlights. You can always recover shadow in DNG merging technology, and the noise is very low. But you can NOT recover blow out highlights. The information is just lost. So, always expose according to the brightest part of your image to get the best result.
Want more shooting tips just like this, subscribe and give me a thumb up. More tutorials are coming.

Ricoh theta Z1 is still better than all three of these cameras in 360 photos because of a larger sensor and better-looking lenses. ONE R has a 1-inch sensor MOD coming — so it will be really interesting to compare it with Z1 when it is out.

Worth to mention, ONE R also introduces AI in night photo capturing. They called it Virtual OIS. Basically, it is impossible to capture a blurry photo at night even you have a shaky hand. So this is a really consumer-friendly feature.

Waterproof and underwater test

You know by now, another big selling point of ONE R it’s waterproof.
Even better, it can focus better underwater compared to GoPro MAX. Something that you don’t know until you see apples to apples comparisons. Let’s drop the camera in my fish pond and see the result together.

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Insta360 ONE R vs GoPro MAX underwater

So on top, we have GoPro MAX, and on the bottom, we have ONE R. They both have stitching issues underwater — as we all know that already. But even just for over capture, you see GoPro MAX is slightly out of focus underwater. ONE R looks less out of focus compared to MAX — and in general — look sharper. I have a full 360 underwater camera comparison with Vuze XR underwater housing, Insta36O ONE X underwater housing, GoPro MAX, and the ONE R. Check the link here when it becomes available.

ONE R Aerial Edition

Aerial 360 is the most anticipated feature of ONE R. As you see here, I just received the beta DJI Mavic Pro 2 Mod and have been testing during the weekend. Let me show you some of my results instead of the official result you saw on their website or every other reviewers’ video.

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Flying Insta360 ONE R drone mod

As you see the result is good out of the box. The stitching is solid. Top and bottom sync in the frame-level without rolling shutter. It is 100% genlock synced. It is not only frame-level genlock synced, but also stabilize as a full 360 video with unified IMU data. The stitch distance is about 5 to 6meters, acceptable in aerial photography. Anything closer than that, you will risk crashing your drone. So it solves all the pain points we have as 360 aerial videographers.
So should you pull out your wallet to buy this immediately?
No. This is not for consumers unless you are an FPV pilot, drone racing pilot or commercial pilot who can fly without GPS. 99.9% of the Mavic Pro 2 owners, including your boy Hugh here, is not and can not fly this. GPS data does more than just show you where your drone is on the map. It used to help stabilize your drone to prevent drifting because of winds and environment variables. When losing GPS, your drone will go into Atti mode, or altitude mode and start drifting toward the direction wind hit. That is 99% of why people crash their drones.
So unless you are a licensed FPV pilot that can fly in attitude mode without GPS assist, and only fly within line of sight or indoor like a racing drone, you want to wait for the Mavic Pro 1 mount. I will have a full, in-depth review and flying tutorial of both the Mavic Pro 2 and Mavic Pro 1 coming. I will highly recommend to check those out before buying your setup — even you know how to fly without GPS. I have lots of friends in the FPV and racing drone community will help you achieve the cinematic 360 shots, safely.
And Sorry to be the hype breaker. But that is why I am here as a professional 360 camera reviewer — helping you to be safe, and be responsible. Also, this is not going to be covered by your regular drone insurance in the United States. Well, I will save that information in that next tutorial.

Insta360 ONE R 1-inch Sensor, co-engineered with Lecia

The 1-inch Lecia MOD turns the Insta360 ONE R into the only action camera that has 1" sensor in 2020. It has the SONY RX0 TWO image quality into a rugged tiny body and produces 5.3K resolution with FlowState stabilization. If you love action sports and love to film yourself doing it, this is the best looking camera you can get. Learn more in this video:

This beautiful beast uses Leica SUPER-ELMAR-A 1:3 2/14 ASPH. It is a 1-inch wide-angle F3.2 14.4mm equiv lens. It shoots 5.3K in 30fps, 4k in 30fps, 60fps. Next, we have 2.7K in 30 and 60fps and 1080P in 30, 60, and 120fps.

Why you need 5.3K in an action camera: The reason is simple, b/c this is not like my GH5 with a zoom lens. There is no zoom in the Leica lens. So the only way to zoom in any action camera digitally zooms in. So if my final render is 4K, I can have room to zoom in or zoom out — which unlock lots of creative framing. With Premiere plugin like the GoPro FX Reframe — which will work with ONE R as its spec is identical to GoPro Hero 8 — you can also reframe in post-production. Just not as much as a 360 camera.

Insta360 ONE R 1-inch Sensor photo quality

You probably will not use an Action camera to take photos. But if you in a pitch and forget your Canon 5D Mark 4 — here is photo of GoPro Hero 8:

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GoPro Hero 8 Night Time Photo

And here is the Night Shot of ONE R Leica 1" Mod:

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Insta360 ONE R 1-inch Sensor Night Shot Photo

You see the impressive quality of Night Shot — thanks to 9 DNG merging technology and Virtual OIS — as this photo is actually captured handheld. You would never use a tripod on an Action camera, Virtual Optical Image Stabilization is very important to make your image look sharp at low light — as not everyone has a perfectly steady arm
Take a look at another even darker photo. Here is GoPro:

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And here is Insta360 ONE R:

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You should be able to make the call.

Cool features of Insta360 ONE R 1" Leica Mod

Let’s talk about some cool features. A very cool feature no one seems to mention is the detachable lens cover. You can screw this off, and that is how you put the 1-inch into your protected frame. Insta360 is working with many third-party lens filter providers, like PolarPro, to design dedicated ND and PL filters — so you can control your shutter speed outdoor. This is extremely important if you like to film snowboarding or any outdoor action sports. Experience action sports videographers will know exactly what I am talking about. That applies to photo as well. If you want that nice silky smooth long exposure photography in daylight — you need a Neutral Density Filter, aka ND filter, to achieve this kind of effect. And Insta360 has this plan out already. So smart.

Another unconfirmed information is a 1" custom mod. If you don’t like the Leica lens or you want to change into professional glasses — there will be a mod coming later this year allow you to put any lens you want — zoom lens, Prime lens, Probe Lens, VR180 Lens like the 200 degrees Entaniya lens I have here. The possibility is endless and that is probably 1 way allows Insta360 ONE R continue to upgrade into a better VR180 camera or macro camera, whatever you need it to be.

Another thing worth to mention, this is truly a high-end vlog action camera. As you can flip the screen to facing you for vlogging. Yes, it is not as convenient as DJI Osmo action — but to me — I rather have options. As a creator, has a changeable setup makes my shot more dynamic and easy to grab viewers’ actions on the busy social media landscape. Honestly, it is not that hard to change modules.

Another cool feature is tap to zoom. You can tap the screen to zoom in and really see your face. If you complain about the tiny touch screen — do that.

As I mentioned already, it can connect to a professional audio recording device using a USB-C to audio jet converter right here. It only cost $10 instead of the boaty GoPro Media Mod that cost $80. I can connect to my Saramonic Blink 500 lav mic and record the best audio for vlog even in the noisy environment. The reason why I choose the Saramonic instead of the Rode — which is other influencers like, it is because Saramonic Blink 500 is cheaper and comes with 2 lavs for interviews instead of just one. And honestly, the quality is exactly the same or even better. Why pay more and get less, right? Hit the like button if I help you to save money.
If you don’t have professional audio recording devices, use your Apple AirPods. It can connect to Bluetooth audio recorder — that allows you to monitor and record clear audio.

Lots of people ask me how long the battery can last. It lasts around an hour for continuing filming — so it is okay. Not as long as GoPro MAX but def longer than ONE X. My ONE X goes out in probably half an hour. There are winter battery and extra capacity battery — which will be released soon with built-in GoPro mount — so even lighter weight and allow you to shoot without the frame like a true action camera. If you don’t want to buy extra batteries, now the ONE R support fast charging just like the Qoocam 8K. Half hour charge will give you 80% battery level. And as you see here, I use this invisible battery stick — NOT by Insta360. If you are interested, I will put the link down below. And if you have any accessory suggestions and want to help the community out, don’t forget to comment below.

The Cons

The biggest thing is overheating. I do not run into any overheating in both the 360 Mod or 4K Mod. But when in the 1" Mod, I got overheat in about 7 min filming — when I am doing my hyperlapse — which requires a long filming time. When it overheats, the camera stop recording and you need to wait for it to cool down or pop the battery out and do it again.

Changing the frame is super annoying. As the 1-inch Mod has an extra glass — you need to screw it out to put the frame in and screw it out again to swap to selfies mod. It might risk dropping the camera

Another annoying thing is when in selfie mode, you can not really click the video icon as the lens is in the way. Tiny touch screen does have its drawbacks.

The beautiful timeshift effect you saw in my video with flawless stabilization is only available on the mobile app — well actually right now only on iOs app. It requires a pretty beefy phone to process it, and you can’t really achieve the same cool effects in the new Studio app. According to Insta360 track record, they are a mobile-first company. So it means desktop support is going to come later. For serious editors that are using it on YouTube 4K or commercial jobs have to wait.

All your videos are captured in a special Insta360 format with FlowState IMU data and AI data embedded in the video. This creates an extra step for transcoding from the camera to Premiere or Final Cut Pro. Compared to GoPro, which directly recorded in mp4 and ready to be CUT immediately, Insta360 post workflow for desktop users is a little slower. As transcoding does take some time depends on your GPU. But, Insta360 does give you ProRes — which means it will save you time on proxy if you are using Final Cut Pro X — so apple users actually gain time in post-production if you are on some of the latest Mac. So not necessarily a bad thing.

Lastly is the weight issue. This thing is heavy when fully loaded.
As action sports require a light camera and this is not exactly light. If you are an FPV pilot — this thing is heavy and you need a stronger frame to hold this.

Thank you for reading this. If you are new here, please consider subscribing. We teach you how to produce immersive content for VR headset — which will be the future of content consumption. You need to get ahead of the game and capture that trend when it is here. Your boy is an award-winning Filmmaker more than just a YouTuber — and I can really help you if you let me.

A little plug, my recent VR travel vlog to Sao Paulo, Brazil is on Forbes as one of the Top 25 VR Videos Of 2019. And I re-released it on Oculus TV so you can watch it directly on your Oculus Go or Oculus Quest. If you like to travel, you will love this piece. I will put the link of the Forbes article and the Oculus TV link down in the description below. So you can check it out:

I hope this article answers some of your questions. More review of Insta360 ONE R is coming. If you are interested in getting the camera, click HERE.

Follow me on Social Media:
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YouTuber at CreatorUp (https://www.youtube.com/creatorup)

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