I have had the Insta360 X3 camera with me for over a month for review, and I was thinking of how to share my experience. I am not a seasoned video content creator to convincingly critique the qualities of the Insta360 X3 compared to other recent 360 action camera products. But I was one of the early adopters of 360 cameras since Morotola, Samsung and LG released commercial 360-camera products, so I am sharing my opinions as a photographer. You can check out my review of the LG 360 CAM and 360fly 4K. The Insta360 X3 retails in Singapore at S$669.99.
Suffice to say, the 360 camera products have improved over the years. Back then, the camera has no LED display, so you had to shoot blind, which is really not an issue since the 360 camera shoots all directions, so you really do no need to frame your photos or videos. The only problem is that if you want to review the footage, you have to connect to a smartphone and download the files or stream it. The image quality is also relatively low, and image stitching between the 2 fish-eye cameras have yet to reach perfection.
Fast forward to 2022, the Insta360 X3 has demonstrated the technological maturity. It is able to function independently like a normal compact camera, complete with a bright and sharp touchscreen display, replaceable battery to keep you going, a rugged IPX8 waterproof up to 10 metres. So does that mean that everyone should buy one and create cool video content?
Yes and no.
Oh, you may wonder. Why “no”?
Let’s first talk about why “yes”.
Why You Should Get the Insta360 X3
It’s a big yes because of the versatility in shooting high quality still and moving images using the 1/2-inch 48MP dual sensors that produce a total 5.7K (5760 x 2880) pixels worth of footage, or 72MP of 360-degree worth of photo pixels ready for you to crop and pan to your heart’s desire.
With the Insta360 X3, you can control the image capture quality through the settings, adjust EV, shutter (1/8000s to 2 min), ISO (100 to 3200). You can choose to save in RAW format for post-production, in HDR so that you get a flatter colour for post-editing. Features that make your video look good includes Horizon Lock, Flowstate Stabilization. There are also shoot modes that are made popular on social media, like Bullet Time, Timelapse. It supports voice control (though I never experimented with it), and love the vibration feedback as I can feel it through the monopod.
After the shots are taken, you can generate clips with a few editing modes available on the smartphone app. There is the Auto Frame which lets the app AI do the magic, the Snap Wizard that records the framing as you watch the footage, Deep Track where you pick an object that you want to follow. There are also templates and themes that you can select from the library and then the app will generate the footage.
In short, if you have a very active lifestyle with a lot of interesting events happening all around you, the Insta360 X3 is going to help you capture some amazing scenes where you hold the camera and be your own director. No separate operator needed.
Now here comes the “no” part.
Why the Insta360 X3 Is Not For You
Creating all those IG or TikTok-worthy footage is time consuming. You cannot rely entirely on the AI-generated edits, it’s not going to look right on first try, so you will have to do a lot of tweaks. Same for still images, you can crop and frame in any way you want it, which challenges your creativity.
The other challenge is that because the camera is so powerful and captures so much data, you need a powerful smartphone and large storage space to produce the content. When I linked the Google Pixel 4 to the X3 camera, it was not able to process still images shot in PureShot mode, so I had to transfer the files to the computer and use the Insta360 Studio to convert the images. It also takes a while to generate the Auto Frame output using AI, so you have to be patient. The X3 is not a camera that you can shoot and post in minutes.
Unlike earlier 360 cameras where the camera produces JPG or MP4 files, the Insta360 X3 stores in proprietary file formats that requires the Insta360 apps to pieces them together. So you have to go through the conversion process before you can use third party apps to edit. To put it bluntly, if you do not have the Insta360 apps, your saved files are unreadable outside the camera – you would have to view your files from the Insta360 X3. This was not the case with my LG 360 CAM, where I can simply transfer the files to any 360 app to edit and share.
The Insta360 Studio is an advanced editing tool that does not have the editing wizard function to auto-generate footage. You have to manually do all the work, even specify the export format down to the file format, resolution and bitrate. You can integrate the workflow with Adobe Premiere Pro and Apple Final Cut Pro X for truly professional editing, and if you opt to record the footage in RAW format, your file sizes will be huge.
Conclusion: You Should Still Get It
Yes, I would still recommend anyone to get it, because the Insta360 X3 is the ultimate imaging tool to capture what’s happening around you without missing any visible angle, even moments that you are not even aware (because we don’t have eyes behind us). There are 360-degrees of view that you can look at every time you view the footage, giving you fresh angles. Even if you are not an aspiring content creator, you can still record your life story and upload to 360-supported sites like YouTube and share the entire 360 video uncut. And if you attend any events, the images and footages you record are going to be the most unique among all your peers.
The image quality has improved in leaps and bounds and you can definitely use the Insta360 X3 even as a daily go-to camera instead of your smartphone to capture moments around the environment. With an extra long monopod, you can record footage that seem like a drone shot. And the cool part is that you can watch back footages of strangers staring at you and at the camera.
And with all the powerful features, the Insta360 X3 is just retailing at S$669.99 in Singapore, no more than a premium compact digital camera or a midrange smartphone.