One of the main reasons I decided to pursue a career in tech journalism was my fascination with smartphones. Whether it’s the innovative form factor of the Galaxy Foldables or the computational prowess of the Pixel cameras, the latest phones have always grabbed my attention. In 2022 though, there’s nothing really that piqued my interest in this space. Smartphones were mostly boring with iterative upgrades here and there.
As a result, I had to shift focus elsewhere. I started looking for gadgets launched in 2022 that had something unique to offer. Something that grabbed my attention. Something that would make tech fun for me all over again. That’s when I stumbled upon the Insta360 X3. The Insta360 X3 is a small, pocket-sized camera that records 360° videos. While that doesn’t seem much at face value, the Insta360 X3 turned out to be one of the coolest gadgets I used in 2022. Here’s my Insta360 X3 review to tell you why.
Insta 360 X3: Specifications
|Dimensions||114 x 46 x 31mm|
|Sensors||2 x 1/2-inch, 48MP|
|Video and Photo Resolution||5.7K, 72MP|
|Battery||1,800mAh (80 minutes)|
The X Factor
The concept of small, portable cameras that record videos at high resolutions and ultra-wide angles isn’t new. Brands like GoPro and DJI have been doing it for a while now with the former being one of the early pioneers of action cameras. So, what sets the Insta360 X3 apart, you may ask?
It’s the Insta360 X3’s dual-lens setup that stitches two separate video feeds to create a complete 360-degree video sphere. One of the most significant advantages of this is that you can start filming without worrying about framing your shot. This is because you can always reframe the video since you’re capturing a complete sphere.
The idea is to keep you involved in an activity without having to worry about framing yourself properly. If you’re surfing or skiing, you want to concentrate on the activity rather than checking if your head is being chopped off in the video. This is exactly what the Insta360 X3 lets you do. All you have to do is hit the record button and continue what you’re doing.
3X More Fun
According to me, 3 key aspects make the Insta360 X3 extremely fun to use. The ability to switch between different perspectives, Insta360’s feature-rich app, and the wizardry of the invisible selfie stick. Let’s go over each of them.
One Camera, Two Lenses, Three Functions
While Insta360 markets the X3 as a 360° camera, it’s much more than that. Of course, the marquee feature is the ability to record 360-degree videos. But when you don’t want so much in your frame, you can switch the camera to action camera mode with the press of a button.
In this mode, you can choose to record from any one of the lenses — either the rear one or the one on the front. If you wish to use the camera for PoV recordings, this is the best way to do it. You can also vlog with the camera using this mode since you get an ultra-wide field of view.
The third function is to take photos. If you have a large gathering, or you want to click a selfie from a height for a fresh perspective, the Insta360 X3 has got you covered. You can click high-res 72MP photos with crazy perspectives.
Edit Like an Xpert
360-degree videos are fun to watch for sure. But the biggest challenge when it comes to such videos is editing them. However, Insta360 has made it a breeze to edit all your videos via its app. There’s an app for Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS; so no matter what platform you use, you’re covered. While the features on the app (which we will discuss in a hot minute) are surely the highlight, the ease with which you can edit your 360-degree videos is what sets this camera apart.
You don’t have to learn about complex key-framing techniques or masking to edit your footage. The integrated AI engine within the app handles all of that for you. Insta360 makes it even easier by providing simple instructions with video tutorials on the app itself to perform various types of edits.
A Drone in Your Pocket
Finally, the invisible selfie stick is what sets the Insta360 X3 apart from other action cameras. Thanks to some AI magic here as well, the camera is smart enough to detect a selfie stick and stitch it out of the final video. This gives the effect that the camera is floating above your head when recording.
You can even mount the selfie stick on the front of a bike to get the perspective that someone is filming you while being in front. With some smart camera movements and placements, you can also emulate drone shots with the help of the invisible selfie stick. The possibilities are countless. It’s almost like having a film crew in your pocket all the time.
Apart from the selfie stick, there are several accessories for Insta360 X3 that can help you record various types of activities.
Insta360 has thrown in the kitchen sink when it comes to the features that you get on the camera. The sensor size is quite large at 1/2 inch with a much bigger display on the front compared to the previous generation. A huge benefit of the larger display is that you can see what’s being captured in the frame which is useful when you’re using the action camera mode.
The X3 records videos up to 5.7K at 30fps with HDR enabled. If you do away with the HDR setting, it can bump up the frame rate to 60fps while bringing the resolution down to 4K. However, note that these resolutions are for the entire 360-degree video. If you export a standard 16:9 video out of this, you will end up with a 1080p output.
In good lighting, the Insta360 X3 captures a good amount of detail with colors that pop. The stabilization is exceptional and is easily the best I have seen on any camera. This makes it an excellent purchase for those who want a camera for recording physical activities like running or cycling.
If you don’t want to record 360-degree videos, you can use the single lens mode that can shoot up to 4K at 30fps. If you want a higher frame rate, you have to drop the resolution down to 3.6K.
While the video quality is good in broad daylight, it takes a hit in indoor lighting conditions and low-light situations. So, if you record a lot of videos at night, you’re not going to be too impressed with the output of the X3. This is generally the case with most action cameras but we hope Insta360 works on improving the low-light performance in the next iteration.
Play Around With Effects
You can use all the abovementioned modes along with your creativity to churn out some great content. However, if you want to take it to the next level, the Insta360 app has some superb effects.
Right from mini planets to color-changing skies, there are plenty of cool effects to make your videos stand out. You can add these effects and upload your videos straight to social media.
The best part of these effects is that you just have to tap a button and the app handles everything for you.
Why I Loved Using the Insta360 X3
I spoke about video resolutions, effects, and plenty of other parameters related to the camera. However, what makes it so cool is its versatility. Heading out on a bike ride? Use it for PoV footage. Walking on the beach? Use it for an overhead drone shot. Out on a road trip? Use it as a dashcam in your car.
The best part about the X3 is that it brings out creativity in you. You constantly try to figure out different ways of shooting with it. You get to capture everything in your surroundings so you never have to regret missing out on a certain shot because it was out of the frame.
In fact, I’m having so much fun using the Insta360 X3 that I carry it with me wherever I go in my backpack. I record moments that I wouldn’t have been able to with just a phone or even a standard action camera for that matter. And that’s exactly what makes it so special and fun. Not to forget, you can even take it on a dive with you, thanks to its rugged construction and water resistance.
An ‘Insta’nt Recommendation
The Insta360 X3 is much more than just a 360° camera. It’s a powerful Swiss Army Knife for videographers and enthusiasts alike. Don’t go by its size. It’s tiny, but it packs a punch. I wish the battery life was better than the current 80 minutes that it lasts, and the low-light performance is a letdown.
What makes up for those downsides, though, is the joy you get out of experimenting with the different modes and effects. And the fact that it’s so small means you can stuff it in your pocket and carry it wherever you go to capture your memories.
While smartphones may have disappointed me, I’m glad I’m ending the year with gadgets like the Insta360 X3 that have restored the fun I was looking for in the tech space.
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