I have seen a lot of action camera footage on social media recently. At first, I liked what I saw, but thought the constant “fish eye” style of video would get a bit boring or annoying. That was until I saw footage from the Insta360 One X. The promotional videos showed smooth high quality videos without the “fish eye” style (unless you want it). So, I decided to buy one to see how it compared to my beloved GoPro.
I haven’t done an unboxing video, as I don’t want to listen to my voice on camera. But, I took some photos to show you how it comes in the post.
The camera comes well packaged, in a good quality box and there are a lot of different cables. These are for connecting the Insta360 One X to the mains, your laptop and phone. You should have every way of connecting it to your devices without having to buy any others. However, you can connect via WiFi.
It comes with a nice neoprene case to protect it too. This is a great addition and gives you confidence that you are not going to damage it when it is stuffed in your bag. It also has a lanyard attached to it, to wear it round your neck if you want quick access to it.
You also get a small instruction manual, that tells you how to set the camera up.
The Insta360 One X and Accessories
The camera itself is a nice shape, that fits well in your hand. It is also very tactile, with what feels like a rubberized or soft plastic texture to it. It feels well-thought-out, and of good quality materials, which is reassuring when you have spent a lot of money on a camera that you have no experience with.
I went for the Premium Bundle, which came with the invisible selfie stick and a 32 GB memory card (you will need to format the card before use). I also got the Bike Bundle, but I will come to that later.
Once you have downloaded the app, you can control the camera with your phone or tablet. Once you have played with it for a while, it is fairly intuitive. The app allows you to preview what the camera is seeing, which is useful. However, the further away you are from the camera, the weaker the signal is.
You can control the Insta360 One X using the two buttons on the camera itself. You cycle through the menu and options a bit like an early model GoPro. But, this is much easier and simpler to do. The mode and camera information is shown on a small LCD display. The display is easy to read, unless it is in direct sunlight, not that this is a huge problem.
The Insta360 One X has a status light, that glows different colours depending on what it is doing
The best thing to do, is to look at the tutorials on the Insta360 website. These will show you how to navigate through the menus for each function. Do this at home when you have a bit of time and learn what you need to do for the type of footage you want. If you don’t, you will be annoying your riding buddies, while you try to remember how to switch it from time lapse mode in to video mode. However, a couple of them are in Chinese.
Stability, Quality and Field of View
Using the Insta360 One X for mountain biking is so far better than my GoPro. There I’ve said it! However, it is still early days, and I will update you as I use it more. However, the snow is just about to hit the alps, so there will be more snowboarding footage than mountain biking.
The Insta360 One X’s Flow State technology, means you don’t need a gimble to get smooth footage. I think this also has something to do with the fact that it films in 360 degrees. I haven’t taken it on a particularly technical trail yet, but, so far it is seriously smooth. Therefore the Insta360 One X is ideal for mountain biking.
The video quality of the Insta360 One X is excellent. The footage you shoot doesn’t need to be in 360 degrees either. You can crop the footage during the editing process, while choosing where the camera is pointing.
In its highest setting, it shoots in 5.7K, which means it is super high quality and can pick out colours and details especially well. The only thing so far that has an effect on quality, is that sometimes you can see the join between to two lenses. But, for most video edits, you won’t see this or it won’t show up enough to bother the viewer.
As I said above, you can choose where the camera is pointing. On the clip below, I was “driving” the camera during the editing process to point it where I wanted it. This way, you can pan around to points of interest, people falling off their bike etc. However, you can just use it as a forward facing camera, if you don’t want to do this.
One of the advantages of being able to change the field of view, is that you can show how steep a trail is. Which is a distinct advantage over a GoPro. Obviously this avoids you having to say “It was actually really steep, I promise”, when showing people your footage.
Insta360 One X Specifications
|Lenses||2 x F2.0 fish eye lenses|
|Video Resolution||5.7K @ 30fps – 4K @ 50fps – 3K @ 100fps|
|Livestream||Real-time Stitching: 3840 x 1920@30fps|
|Stabilization||FlowState Stabilization – 6 Axis|
|Connections||2 x Microphones|
|Battery||30m With Extra “Dive Case” – Domed lenses allow for a clean stitch underwater|
|Storage||1 x MicroSD card|
|Unique Features||HDR Video Mode – Bullet Time Slow Motion – Timeshift (moving timelapse)|
The Insta360 One X comes with lots of mounting options. These allow you to get creative, as the mounts are magically invisible in your footage. Therefore, it looks like the camera is floating above you or next to you, making the angles look impossible. The good thing about these mounts, is that they are all compatible with GoPro mounts. Therefore, If you already have GoPro mounts, you don’t need to buy loads more.
I got the Bike Bundle with my Insta360 One X. This comes with:
- Handlebar mount
- Chest mount
- Helmet adhesive mounts
- Extension pole (for your helmet)
- Invisible selfie stick (if selected)
This bundle gives you a huge amount of options for camera angles. When you mount the Insta360 One X on top of your mountain bike helmet, you get a high up view of your surroundings, which is ideal for filming your friends and trail dogs. It is perfectly smooth, and it looks like it is hovering above you. Additionally, you don’t need to look at what you want to film, as you do all that during the editing process.
The extension pole is a metal stick that you attach to your helmet mount. The best way to do this is use it extended out from your forehead. However, it is a metal stick extending from your forehead! I really don’t feel comfortable with this, in case I have an “over the bars” moment. However, I’m sure the stick can be used for loads of other angles too.
The chest mount is the best option for the traditional mountain bike action camera angle.
The invisible selfie stick is essential if you buy an Insta360 One X. It may not be the most useful thing to mount on you or your bike, but I have seen some really creative camera angles with it. It is great for filming your friends and doing some cheesy “lifestyle” shots for your edit.
The standard handlebar mount is FAR TOO WEAK. As you can see from the video below, it took 22 seconds for the handlebar mount to break. Now my Insta360 has a nice chip in the lens, which creates a shadow in the footage. It is manageable to a point, but it really niggles.
I have contacted Insta360 twice and no joy. The quality of customer service seems to have declined. This is a real shame considering the quality of footage you can get from this camera. I will keep you updated on progress.
Editing Insta360 One X Footage
The big advantage of the Insta360 One X is the “shoot first, point later” aspect. This means, that you just do your filming without worrying about camera angles, other than where you mount it. All the magic is done afterwards, allowing you to enjoy your ride without being concerned about where it is pointing.
The Smart Track function is impressive. While editing, tap and hold the screen on your phone or tablet and select the smart track option. Then you just tap on what you want to have in the centre of your screen. That may be your riding buddy lagging behind, or your dog chasing you down the trail. You will find, that sometimes it may pick up your subject’s shadow, or a tree in the back ground. Other times it will only follow for a second or two, but it is easy enough to select your subject multiple times to keep the focus on them. It picks up people better than dogs, I’m assuming this is due to the size or how complicated the background is (in a forest etc)
Short videos are best
I have found that shooting short videos makes life a lot easier when it comes to editing. The editing steps are as follows:
- Open app
- Choose footage you want to edit
- Select the start and end point of your video
- Edit the video, with smart track and field of view etc
This is absolutely fine, however, you cannot split the footage to delete the boring bits. You will have to do this in iMovie or a similar software. This is why you will want to keep your clips short. A ten-minute-long clip of you pedaling up hill isn’t going to be very exiting, and will take a lot of time to edit it.
The app has crashed on me a few times, which is frustrating but not the end of the world. However, it does save your progress, so you won’t lose anything. I’m sure this is just teething problems that will get fixed with updates. GoPro software had similar issues in the old days too.
UPDATE: There has been a number of software, firmware and app updates since writing this. I have not had the issue of the software crashing
The bullet time function allows you to shoot The Matrix style slow motion shots. These look pretty cool, but I’m not sure how useful they are for mountain biking. However, if you are standing at the top of a mountain, it is a fancy way of showing off the view.
The Timeshift function allows you to control the speed of your video. With the stabilised 360 degree field of view, you can make amazing clips. If you are making an edit, and you want to have a build up clip of arriving to the trail, or you have a long clip that isn’t that interesting, you can use this feature. It gives a smooth “warp speed” style effect to your video, which looks pretty cool and gives you endless opportunities.
Pivot points are brilliant, you can see them in the video above. These are points that you can define for your field of view to pan to automatically. This is a really nice way to show of the scenery or whatever is around you. It is really easy to do using the Insta360 One X app, and the transitions are super smooth.
During the editing process you can adjust contrast, saturation etc. This gives you control over how the video looks, just like an instagram post. It also has pre-defined filters for you to use.
Taking photos with the Insta360 One X is very easy and the quality is good enough for social media. It takes photos in 18 mega pixels. The HDR setting makes the photos especially crisp and it picks out colours and light very well too. And of course you can spin the photo around to see all around you.
I haven’t been able to try the time lapse mode out yet, but it looks pretty damn good. You can capture cinematic timelapses and control what you are looking at. This is a lot more dramatic than a standard time lapse, as long as your viewer notices that they can spin the field of view around.
The Livestreaming function allows you to broadcast in 360 degrees. The viewer can spin the camera angle around and choose what they want to look at. Alternatively, you can show the viewer what you want them to see, but can pan around in full 360 degrees. I will definitely be using this on the trails!
The battery is supposed to last about an hour. However, this depends on if your phone is connected to via WiFi. If you make sure you only record the interesting stuff, you can make the battery last longer. However, I would recommend having a second battery for when you go out all day.
However, the battery life is affected by cold temperatures. I use it for snowboarding as well as mountain biking. The first time I used it, the battery went flat within two minutes! This is pretty pathetic and frustrating, especially when you have been riding some epic back country powder and it has only captured the part where you are talking to you friends about the direction you are going in.
However, there is now a cold weather battery. I haven’t tried one yet, but I have worked out how to manage the battery life on a cold day:
- Turn off Wi Fi
- Take the battery out and keep it warm
- Keep the camera warm in its neoprene case and in my beanie in my pocket
- Only put the battery in when the camera is in use
Really convenient isn’t it? Actually, it isn’t so bad, you just have to make sure you don’t faff for too long, or your mates start shouting at you. But, the footage is brilliant!
The Insta360 One X has lots of different accessories that make it suitable for lots of sports and activities. There are far too many to go through here. But there are bundles for skiing and snowboarding, skateboarding, running and climbing. There is even a way to attach it to your drone, for truly epic footage.
Even if you are not interested in capturing 360 degree footage, the Insta360 One X is still a great option for mountain biking. This is because of the super stabilisation, that is better than any GoPro.
The Insta360 One X is not perfect, but it is still a relatively new technology and there will be issues. The issues seem to be being resolved over time, as the problems I encountered earlier have been fixed. However, the customer service from Insta360 seems to be the main issue now. There are a couple of Facebook groups that are reporting bad communication from the manufacturer. Additionally, Insta360 tend to be slow in stocking up on accessories, such as the venture case. This protects the camera like the older GoPro cases.
Insta360 release new products regularly, but I think they should focus on getting their current ones right first
If you are looking for a new action camera, you should consider an Insta360 One X. It isn’t perfect, but the footage you get is fantastic. Also it is considerably cheaper than its rivals.