Insta360 ONE X2 Unbiased Review

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If you are interested in creating 360 photos or videos and want to find out if Insta360 ONE X2 is the right camera, this is for you.

Don’t just follow the hype and waste your money before you know the facts. Let’s test the One X2 in direct sunlight and compared it with One R, GoPro MAX, Qoocam 8K, and even the brand new Labpano Pilot One EE. Stress test the new AI bullet time and understand the 360 Pure Shot against Richo Theta Z1 DNG RAW.
By the end of this review series, you will have the necessary information and knowledge to make a logical decision on GETTING ONE X2 or PASS. Let’s go:

Should you get the One X2 if you already have One R? Both cameras have the same technical specs — same sensor size and the same max resolution. One X2 is narrower than One R, so it is better in handling stitching — as you soon see in this video. But better stitching is not a good enough reason to justify the upgrade. For 360 Content Creator who makes 360 videos — not gimmicky shadow clone or reframed videos — I still think this is a good upgrade.

Insta360 ONE X2 Specs

Aperture: f/2.0
Focal Length: 7.2mm
Photo Resolution: 360: 6080x3040 (2:1) / Pano: 4320×1440 (3:1)
Photo Format: JPG / DNG RAW
Photo Modes: Standard, HDR, Burst, Interval, Night Shot, PureShot (*new), InstaPano (*new)
360 Video Resolution: 5760 x 2880, 30fps / 3840 x 1920 @ 50fps / 3840 x 1920 @ 30fps / 3008 x 1504 @ 100fps
Video Color Mode: Log, Standard, Vivid
Video Codec: H.264 / H.265 mp4
Video Modes: Standard, HDR, Timelapse, TimeShift, Bullet Time 3.0 (*new), Steady Cam (*new)
Bitrate: Single Lens H.264–50Mbps / Single Lens H.265–22Mbps (*not from official — but this is what my camera read)
Video Bitrate: 100Mbps
Livestream: 360 Live / reframed Live
ISO: Auto, 100 to 3200
WB: Auto, 2700K, 4000K, 5000K, 6500K, 7500K
Shutter speed: 1/8000–1/30
Gyroscope: 6-axis gyroscope
Audio: Stereo audio with optional wind-noise reduction / 360 audio (ambisonic)
Bluetooth: BLE 4.2
Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
LCD screen: OLED touchscreen
Battery Capacity: 1630mAh
Run Time: 5.7K@30fps ~ 80 minutes
Weight: 149g (5.25oz)
Dimensions (W x H x D): 4.62 x 11.30 x 2.98 cm (1.82 x 4.45 x 1.17in)

Since One X2 is a 360 camera, you should NEVER judge the image quality on a 2D review video. As a viewer trying to decide a $430 purchase, you need to see this as its full glory, in 360. Even you are only using it for reframing video or tiny planet photos.
In 360 video, there is no way for a camera to hide its imperfection. That is why I created a referencing 360 video for this review. Please head over to this YouTube link to watch this video. If you have a VR headset like the Oculus Quest 2, use it:

https://youtu.be/nf-xOUcyAfo

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First, let’s look at the sharpness. We know already One X2 is the same sensor size as One R, One X, and GoPro MAX. 1/2.3-inch sensor. So, in theory, image quality should be the same. But One X2, as you can see, has better sharpness than One R, One X and def a lot better than GoPro MAX — which is not even 5.7K.

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I zoom in 300% on the focus chart. You can see more Es in ONE X2. Also less digital sharping artifacts compare to the old One X. Another way to easily see more details are the wires on top — you can see all the cables in One X2 — but some are lost in One R, One X and GoPro MAX. I think One X2 is using a nicer sensor to boost in detail.

One X2 has a new color mode call Vivid. So besides STANDARD Color and Log color, Vivid mode is like a GoPro Color. In fact, it is a lot like GoPro Color — besides the standard GoPro blue cast in low light. BTW, the GoPro MAX footage in this video uses a different white balance. I set it like that to get a more cinematic look instead of the standard GoPro look. As I want to show, GoPro MAX is still going to win in Color as its log curve is a lot flatter than One X2. But if you don’t do the hard work in color grading, which most consumers do not, the One X2 Vivid mode is a winner here. Look at the Sunspot and our model face; it looks nature, with realistic lens flare and BETTER, a lot better dynamic range. One R, One X and GoPro MAX, all highlights are gone, and the sun is disappearing in whiteness. One X2, you can see the beautiful orange halo around the sun. If you see my sunset drive on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in 360, you see the sunset is absolutely beautiful, and not many consumer 360 camera can capture that except a prosumer 10-bit camera like the Qoocam 8K.

One X2 is noisier than One R and One X tho without AI denoising from Insta360 Studio. I like it that way as in-camera denoising makes your footage look like a security camera footage instead of a cinematic video. It is always better to denoise professionally with Neat Video following this tutorial or use their AI denoising during render — which is getting a lot smarter. One X2 allows ProRes 422 render — which is what we need as 360 editors to avoid crashing inside Davinci Resolve or Adobe Premiere Pro.

How about comparing to 8K cameras like Qoocam 8K and Labpano Pilot One EE? Well, bigger sensor and more sensors still capture more details no matter what kind of magic Insta360 is using. You can clearly see from the chart Qoocam 8K and Pilot One EE capture more Es than One X2 — also fewer compression artifacts on the focus chart right here. Also, Qoocam 8K still has a better dynamic range and color than One X2 thanks to the 10-bit color. One X2 does not have 10-bit color-depth is kinda a disappointment.

Labpano Pilot One EE has the best details among all the cameras. But it is also a thousand dollar camera. So if you consider the pricing point, One X2 is one of the best in the consumer 360 camera category.

360 Stitching Quality

Stitching quality is probably the biggest improvement of One X2. Take a look at the focus chart at 2 feet away of all cameras. Both One R and One X can not get a clear stitch even the focus chart is stationary. One X2, GoPro MAX, and Qoocam 8K all get a clear stitch. But let’s see when Our model is moving. One X2 has less snapping effect than GoPro MAX and less optical flow artifacts than Qoocam 8K. I think ONE X2 is really optimized for stitching for action in 360 — I don’t know what kind of magic they did. But if you are using 360 camera for action sports, then One X2 is better than even the king — GoPro MAX.

Let’s look at close distance stitching. Our model walks into the camera closer to 1 foot — both One R and One X fail to stitch correctly. GoPro MAX has snapping artifacts, and Qoocam 8K has optical artifacts. I am not saying One X2 is free of artifacts — but it is less noticeable than GoPro and Qoocam.

So, 360 stitching is One X2 strength. And you don’t know that until you see this in 360. So again, please go watch the 360 video right here.

Pure Shot for 360 Photography and Virtual Tour

With One X2 release, Insta360 introduces a new consumer-friendly virtual tour feature — called Pure Shot. Not like other reviewers, I will cut tho the marketing BS to show you Pure Shot — what it is and how it is compared to the professional 1-shot Virtual Tour camera — the Richo Theta Z1.

So don’t confuse Pure Shot with Color Plus. Pure Shot is Insta360 One X2 capture in DNG RAW and uses AI to do the Adobe Lightroom part of the work for you, automatically. Everything happens on a Mobile phone to give you a great dynamic range 360 photo and ready to post on Virtual Tour software. If you not familiar with the professional Virtual Tour workflow for a standard 1-shot 360 camera, you should watch this Richo Theta Z1 tutorial right here. This tutorial is by far the best among all the free and paid virtual tour tutorials out there, and I am very confident to say that b/c all Virtual Tour tutorial products I checked are done poorly by non-professionals trying to make money from you using the hype of virtual tour.
Pure Shot is basically an Insta360 way to skip all those complicated post-production that professionals do for you with AI and one button click. This is amazing if you don’t know Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, or basic photo editing. As you see, the result right here compared to the Theta Z1 with Lightroom editing on the DNG RAW.

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The AI result is surprisingly good — and I tend to say the AI is better than me.

So yes, Pure Shot might really take my job. If you are a consumer 360 photographer who just wants to take 360 photos Instagrammer style and sell more houses, this is a must-have feature.

BUT, yes, you are going to hear the BUT. I am unbiased, and I work for you, my viewers.
No matter how good the AI, if you zoom in 300% and see the focus chart. You see the 1" sensor of Theta Z1 is going to look way clearer. And this is the difference between a professional camera and a consumer camera. Download the 360 photos yourself in the description of this video, you can see the difference.

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Pure Shot has another advantage — low light photography. Or at least that is what Insta360 marketing said in their commercial. Well, I bring the Z1, and the X2 in a Halloween haunted drive — well we are still in COVID in the US.
And I snap some photos with X2 and Z1 side by side, and here is Z1 my Lightroom edit. It is very noisy. Let’s take a look at Pure Shot One button AI result. Well, not bad. Pure Shot has AI denoising like the Topaz AI denoise but comes free — so in the same lighting condition, Pure Shot is actually going to get a better result. Well, not as good as the marketing hype — but it is not bad at all. With some Lightroom mobile action, Pure Shot can get a really good result.

One X2 Unique Features

One X2 has some nice upgrade compared to One R and old One X. First, the very big battery that is built into the design of the camera, as you see right here. This increases 55% battery life compared to the old One X. And it is an interchangeable battery with fast charging — so you can buy extra if you need more juice.
The SD card is finally built-in like the GoPro MAX, and now the whole camera is Waterproof up to 10 meters without any case. This does not mean you can capture undistorted 360 views underwater. Just waterproof. So don’t let the marketing hype confused you. Most influencers won’t even know this as they probably never capture VR underwater professionally. So to use underwater, you still need some kind of case — for undistorted the view. But at least now, if your case leak, your camera will still be safe!

The biggest feature of all and probably why I will buy the One X2 and recommand anyone serious about 360 video capture to get the One X2 is ambisonic Audio! Yes, Insta360 is listened for once and giving us spatial Audio! No more Zoom H3VR or external mic — your camera is now a spatial mic as well. This feature is so big and important that I will dedicate an entire tutorial just for it. So don’t forget to subscribe and learn the spatial audio magic of the One X2. GoPro MAX also has spatial Audio, but just no one figures out how to use it without learning FFMPEG. I mean GoPro, why, why?!
So now, my GoPro MAX can rest in peace.

Thank you for watching part one of the One X2 in-depth technical review. In part 2, we will mount the One X2 on a car, on a drone, and on Onewheel to test out stabilization compared to GoPro MAX and One R. We will really look at low light capture of the One X2.

If you are just going to copy everyone else is doing on Instagram, create gimmicky reframed videos, clone videos, or tiny planet videos — then, you don’t need One X2. One R is a way better option for this. If you want to step into the immersive 360 video world and tell powerful stories that inspire, with your storytelling skills — not the gimmick itself — One X2 can be your first 360 camera that opens the door for you.
And I want to be the one to help you with that journey. Be your virtual mentor. If you have not already, subscribe to our 360 VR storytelling academy on CreatorUp YouTube and hit the notification bell for more tutorials and review coming soon.

Follow me on Social Media to get more latest info on 360 VR filmmaking:

➜Oculus TV: https://ocul.us/2PINYMz
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YouTuber at CreatorUp (https://www.youtube.com/creatorup)

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