Insta360 has made some of the funniest and most interesting cameras in years – and the new Insta360 X3 is no different. In fact, it might be the most versatile action camera (or camera) you can buy right now.
Like its predecessor Insta360 One X2, the X3 is a 360-degree camera with two super-wide lenses that capture everything around you, allowing you to ‘reframe’ footage into standard film later. But a number of upgrades mean it’s now also much more usable as a traditional action camera in ‘single lens’ mode.
One of our biggest gripes with the Insta360 One X2 was that it could only record in 1080p resolution when using a lens. But on the X3 you can now shoot in 4K resolution in this ‘single lens’ mode, making it more like having two cameras in one.
The X3’s main appeal, though, is its versatile 360-degree modes. It brings some updates here too, including a new 1/2-inch sensor (up from the 1/2.3-inch on the X2) plus a new ‘active HDR’ mode. While its predecessor offered an HDR video mode, this appears to use extra processing to help minimize ghosting and increase stabilization.
The X3 doesn’t offer a resolution boost for its 360-degree footage (which is still limited to 5.7K/30p) and its video bitrate is still 120Mbps. But there are updates to its slow-motion modes, with the X3 capable of recording in either 4K/120p or 3K/180p. The equivalent mode on the X2 only hit 3K/100p.
The X3 is likely to be a big hit with social media creators too, because its wide-angle footage can easily be turned into a 4:5 Instagram post from a 9:16 TikTok video without any major loss of quality. Its larger 2.29-inch screen also feels like a usability boon, compared to the X2’s small circular screen.
It’s hard to think of another camera that has such a long list of shooting modes as the Insta360 X3, which is waterproof to 10m and available to buy now for $449. It can do invisible selfie-stick effects. , 8K time-lapses, 72MP photos, looping panel camera videos and more in the ‘Shot Lab’ found in its companion app. But the big question is how well all this works in reality…
The main issues we’ve had with Insta360 cameras in the past, particularly immediately after launch, are relatively minor software bugs. During our brief time with the Insta360 X3 so far, this seems to be the case again.
When editing in the Android app, for example, our 360-degree video sometimes starts to automatically pan to the right (unless we’ve turned direction lock on). Downloading some images like Starlapses to our phones also proved to be tricky, with the process stalling indefinitely.
Insta360 is looking into these issues and they are likely pre-release bugs that will eventually be resolved in the firmware. We’re also impressed with the X3 in general, particularly its new screen and the wide range of shooting modes on offer.
Naturally, it is primarily designed to produce unique social media clips and will not bother the best camcorders for full video quality. But it’s also more flexible than just about any camera we can imagine, from GoPros to smartphones and full-frame beasts.
360 cameras have grown steadily from the early days of the niche to become powerful tools in the arsenals of all types of creators. One writer even successfully used a 360 camera as his wedding videographer, to complement his human snapper.
Its unique benefit is being able to decide where the camera is pointing in the scene after recording the video. We’ll soon let you know if the Insta360 X3 really is the best 360 camera you can buy in our full review.