Action Cameras

Insta360 One X2 assessment

The Joy of X, Volume Two £ 429.99 Good Stuff Waterproof, Compact Build Excellent Camera Tricks and Stabilization Solid Desktop Editing App Bad Stuff Shonky Mobile App Not a huge leap over the original One X.

The original Insta360 One X arrived in early 2019 and was the first 360-degree action camera that felt user-friendly enough to be universally recommended.

Now its successor, the One X2, has arrived and promises an even more appealing mix of uncomplicated filming, robustness, portability and unusual recording modes. We spent a couple of days at his company so let’s see how the improvements pile up.

Stuff Says … Aside from the occasional app frustrations, this creativity-enhancing action camera is a gripping bag of tricks

Design: wet and wild

The overall look of the One X2 is similar to that of the One X: It’s shaped like a rubbery, matte black pill with just two buttons (one for power, one for the shutter) and a slightly curved fisheye lens on each side.

However, there are two major improvements: built-in waterproofing; and a small round color touchscreen that replaces the simple LED display on the original. The advantage of sealing is obvious: you no longer have to put your camera in a bulky case to submerge it in the drink.

With IPX8 protection, it’s good up to 10m – or 45m if you buy the optional dive case. I suspect most people will just like that you can now use it in the rain without the fear of bricking it in.

The appeal of the screen lies in its ability to effectively detach the camera from your phone. While the app is certainly better for reviewing and editing recordings, now you can quickly see what’s in the picture before hitting the record button by simply looking at the screen. It’s also touch sensitive, so that’s where you can adjust recording settings and other options.

One weatherproof flap on the side houses a large battery and the MicroSD slot, while another hides the USB-C port, which is used to charge and transfer your files to a computer. A standard tripod mount is located on the underside.

The dual camera lenses attract dust and fingerprints. Therefore, use the soft cover and microfiber cloth provided. You can also buy a rubber lens cap for £ 5 and I found that to be a bit easier to use than the case.

Features: Gambol without cardan ring

The great attraction of the One X2 is its dual cameras, each filming a 180-degree hemisphere. When the two images are stitched together – something that the camera’s software does automatically and almost seamlessly – you get a full 360-degree photo or video. These images can be used as-is, but are best used as a starting point for creative editing.

For example, with videos you can change the aspect ratio, frame, tracking, adjust picture settings, overlay filters, and do all sorts of other magic tricks. They also have great auto-leveling and image stabilization to help prevent nausea-induced blurring. So you can clip the One X2 to a selfie stick and wave it around rather carelessly, knowing you still have usable footage – it’s almost as proper gimbal-mounted camera. Like its Insta360 predecessor, the One X2 expertly erases all visible traces of the selfie stick from photos and videos. Speaking of selfie sticks, they seem pretty important to the One X2.

Insta360 sent us the “Creator Kit” for review, which costs almost £ 500 but includes a retractable selfie stick, mini tripod / bullet time grip, rubber lens cap, and 32GB memory card. If you come without all of that, it seems like the package you need to buy.

Performance: same difference

Embedded video

The camera takes 360 shots at the same 5.7KB resolution and frame rate of 30 frames per second as the original One X, with faster frame rates available at lower resolutions.

The video bit rate is 100Mbps and you can now encode your footage in either H.264 or H.265 which is helpful.

The video quality is by no means breathtaking and doesn’t seem like a huge leap (if anything) over the One X, but we still find it impressive given the size of the camera and the problems often encountered with 360 lenses: the auto-stitching that works here very good, and flare and chromatic aberration are not as overwhelmingly obvious and distracting as you often see with this type of device. We therefore recommend Insta360 to keep this to a minimum.

Unfortunate app

Embedded video

If there’s one aspect of the One X2 that needs work, it’s the companion mobile app. With your phone connected to the camera wirelessly, the Insta360 app lets you not only control the recording, but also browse, edit, and share your pictures and videos, as well as use some of the more exciting and wacky shooting modes from Insta360 in Shot Lab.

Shot Lab seems geared towards quick social media sharing as its modes aren’t available in the desktop app – but this was where we ran into issues for the first time. Shot Labs’ tutorial videos often refused to load over 4G, while attempting to use pre-recorded footage was an ongoing battle that quickly cut battery life, heating up the phone alarmingly, and causing the app to stop working responded.

It crashed a few times too, so I finally gave up making the eye-catching videos of Clone Trail and Fly Lapse. It’s a bit of a mess and hopefully some much-needed fixes will arrive soon. However, the desktop editing app worked just fine for me. So if you do most of your work there, you probably won’t run into any of these issues.

Insta360 An X2 verdict

If you already own the Insta360 One X or One R, the One X2 is likely too small an upgrade to justify the cost. Image quality isn’t a huge step up, and while battery life, water resistance, and built-in screen are welcome improvements, none of them are transformative as it gets about 400 pounds more.

For new buyers, the One X2 is the 360-degree camera to beat because of its improvements. If you can learn to deal with the frustrating crashes and quirks of the mobile app (which hopefully an update will fix soon), it works well and is fun – and the camera hardware itself is lightweight, pocket-sized, and sturdy.

For creating quick, eye-catching social media clips, the One X2 offers all angles.

by Sam Kieldsen

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