Insta360 Dolby Vision Enhanced comparison


  • 2024-04-20 – Added longer single-lens example.

I do not know how long this has been in the Insta360 mobile app, but when I was exporting an X4 clip today I noticed an option to enable “Dolby Vision Enhancement.”

Dolby Vision Enhanced

After transcoding, the details of the surface are significantly enhanced, enhancing the light and shadow effects and the sense of presence of the video, and presenting a more realistic color rendition of the real-life scenes.

I was unfamiliar with this, and looked it up on the wikipedia:

…and the official website…

Does it really do anything beyond playing with colors? The Insta360 already has Color Plus and Clarity Plus to play with. I decided to do a quick test of the same Skylapse clip with and without Dolby Vision Enhancement:

Well, it’s bluer, at least. Now that I am aware of this option, I will do some more tests with other footage I have shot. Exporting from the mobile app does not offer the higher bitrate that the desktop Insta360 Studio has, but if this feature is in the desktop app, I could not locate it.

Here is a longer test, shot in single-lens mode:

More to come… Please leave a comment if you use this mode and tell us why.

Insta360 X3 versus Insta360 X4 – side by side videos


  • 2024-04-18 – You can download the mp4 files I uploaded to YouTube from my Dropbox if you want to see them without YouTube’s compression.

I received my X4 the day after release (thank you Amazon) . That evening, I went out and did a few quick videos with the X3 and X4 mounted side-by-side. For one test, I recorded video in single lens mode using the default 4K settings. For the other test, I recorded in default 360 mode then reframed and exported. Since the X4 comes with plastic lens guards, and since the built in tutorial shows how to install them as a first step, I put them on my X4. I wanted to recreate what a new user would most likely be seeing if they followed the on-screen instructions.

Single Lens 4K

When comparing Insta360 X3 single lens (4K, 30fps) to Insta360 X4 single lens (4K, 60fps), I think the X4 is noticeably better. In this video, the audio comes from the X4. The X4 also had the Standard Lens Guards installed. You will see some extra lens flare type stuff caused by these lens guards on the X4 that the X3 video does not have.

360 Video Reframed

I shot in default 360 video mode. The 360 footage on the X3 records in 5.7K, and the 360 footage on the X4 records in 8K. The reframe export option from Insta360 Studio is 3840×2160 (4K) for the X4, and 1920×1080 HD for the X3. This video is in 4K. The X4 appears to be a substantial upgrade.


My goal here was to do the simplest test I could, using default settings like a regular user would use. I set video and 150 (single lens) mode and recorded, and I set 360 mode and recorded. I then exported (and reframed/exported) in Insta360 Studio using the highest bitrate it offers (200 Mbits). I edited those videos together in Final Cut Pro X then exported to “HVEC” format (h.265) for uploading.

What do you think?

More to come…

Insta360 X4 Standard Lens Guards see sun spots – maybe?

Yesterday, I mounted both the X3 and X4 to my Kugoo G5 electric scooter and rode them around some residential streets. To represent the X4 “as shipped,” I attached the “X4 Standard Lens Guards” that come with the unit. One of the first things the X4’s built-in tutorial screens show you is how to install them, so I wanted to follow the “default instructions” like a new user hopefully does.

On playback, I noticed bright sun spots dancing around the screen. You can see one here:

You will notice that the sun is above in this photo. When facing away from the sun, this spot is not there.

Is this from the Standard Lens Guard? Or just from the normal lens? I did not notice this until viewing it later. This may or may not be related to the lens guards. I will do more testing, soon.

Just an FYI for those curious to how this looks. I will be posting the video soon, but needed a place to post this photo so I can share the link with those asking about it.

More to come…

Insta360 Care, Extended Warranty, and FlexiCare

I was a bit confused over the different extended warranty plans offered by Insta360, so here is a summary of how they work:

Standard Warranty

First, the camera comes with a one year warranty against defects. If it just doesn’t power on one day, and this was not caused by damage, that should be covered. But, if you got it wet, or dropped it, that would not be covered by warranty.

Insta360 Extended Warranty

This plan may be purchased and it will add an extra year to the standard warranty, covering the camera for 2-years. The price varies depending on the camera model. For the new X4, it is $49.99. For the X3, $45.

Insta360 Care (not for the X4)

This is a one-year “accidental damage” warranty. This is for covering a broken lens or cracked screen. The plan covers one repair during the one year of coverage. It is not available for the X4 — the X4 has a new plan currently just for it. This must be purchased within 15 days of activation of the camera.

Insta360 FlexiCare for X4

This new one-year plan is only $29.99 for the X4, and it covers accidental damage. It will cover two accidental damage incidents, but each one has a fee of $29.99 which covers shipping to and from the repair center.

Care versus FlexiCare

If you purchased FlexiCare and had to send your camera in one time during that year, it would cost you $60 ($29.99 for the plan, and $29.99 for using it that one time). This makes it more expensive than the Care plan for the X3.

BUT, the Care plan only covered one incident, so FlexiCare is basically a $90 plan for two repairs — if you use them both — or $29.99 if you don’t. That makes it a better plan if you do not ever need to use it.

Hope this helps!

Insta360 X3 and X4 file transfer comparisons

There are several ways to get photos and videos off of an Insta360 X3 or X4 camera. I no longer have a ONE X2, and never had a ONE X, so these may apply to those as well but I cannot verify.

  1. USB CABLE: Hook camera to computer via USB, mount it as a drive and copy files over. WARNING: I was doing this during a vacation, and it corrupted the microSD card. I just read about this happening to someone else (either on REDDIT or Facebook). They were able to use a file recovery tool to get their files back. In my case, the card had already been modified so some of my files were lost permanently. Because of this, I no longer use USB to transfer files directly from the camera.
  2. MEMORY CARD READER: You can take the microSD card out of the camera and then put it in a computer (via a microSD card slot, or using an microSD-to-SD adapter, or via some form of USB card reader). This is how I do it on my MacBook.
  3. VIA MOBILE APP AND ITUNES: If you transfer files into the Insta360 App, you can then hook your iPhone to a Mac via USB cable and browse the file system on the iPhone and copy files out that way. I expect there is a way to do this on Android as well.

Speed Comparisons

The X4 has a much faster USB-C connection and can copy in a few minutes what the X3 took 30+ minutes to copy. I ran a disk speed test on the memory card via a USB reader on my Mac, and then the same test via a USB mounted X3 and USB mounted X4. All were using the same Sandisk Extreme Pro 256GB microSD card.

I used the AJA System Test utility (available for Windows and Mac) to obtain these speeds.

microSD -> SD Adapter -> Apple USB-C Reader

Write: 67-77 MB/sec. Read: 88 MB/sec.

X3 via U-Disk Mode

Write: 18-19 MB/sec. Read: 22-23 MB/sec.

X4 via U-Disk Mode

Write: 50-55 MB/s. Read: 64-72 MB/sec.

Speed and Safety

As you can see, reading the memory card directly (assuming you have a fast SD card slot or a fast USB reader) is the fastest way to go. It is also safer, since if you are using a microSD-to-SD adapter you can toggle the “write protect” switch to ensure you don’t corrupt the card and lose any data. “Just in case.”

There is also a way to move files using WiFi — with the X3 being much faster than the X2. I assume the X4 will be even faster, but that is a test for another time…

Until then…

Insta360 X4 firmware 1.0.6 / 1.0.8 has many new features


  • 2024-04-17 – Added USB mode, 5.7K+ and charging display.
  • 2024-04-18 – Automatic screen brightness! Also, 1.0.8 is out but the release notes look the same as 1.0.6. It was a tiny update file.
  • 2024-04-19 – Added link to Eat Sleep 360 video.

There are quite a few things in the firmware that none of the X4 videos mentioned, so I assume these were not in the beta firmware the YouTubers had.

Some quick first impressions, coming from the X2 then X3:

  1. This thing feels larger and bulkier.
  2. The rubber lens cap for it is much thicker, to allow room for the screw-on lens protectors. This means cases, etc. will have to be much thicker, as well, to store the X4 with the lens cap on.
  3. The included pouch cannot hold the X4 with the lens cap. It will hold the X4 with the included Thermo Cover Grip, though, and has pockets for the lens protectors and cleaning cloth. I would not put the USB-C cable in there, as it can stick out of the pocket and scratch your X4.

Firmware notes:

After activation, I see a random (?) WiFi password is assigned. An X3 firmware update gave us the ability to change the default 88888888 (which the X4 still defaults to, per videos I have watched). It looks like Insta360 now randomizes it so this step is not needed to prevent nearby folks from accessing and download all your files while your camera is on ;-) (I have not tested to see if the open access is still there, if you know the WiFi password, but I will soon.)

After activation, the firmware shows you about adding lens protectors, and changing settings to match what type you have (plastic, or premium). THere is also an “automatic” setting where it will try to detect that you are using lens protectors. I expect this means they impact stitching.

There is then a nice tutorial that walks you throgh the user interface – swiping up and down and such to navigate the menus.

THe user interface is fancier now. When a picture is taken, you see a small thumbnail appear, then fly off the screen. There are a few spiffy things like that I have noticed, so far.

You also get pop ups that warn you if lighting is too low for the mode you are in.

NEW from X3:

  1. Lens Guard Mode – Auto, Standard, Premium, No Lens Gaurd
  2. Screen Reader – “When on, the camera provides voice prompts for certain commands or actions.”
  3. Prompt Sound – Now has “Adaptive” in addition to High, Medium, Low and Mute.
  4. AI Highlights Assist – “AI will analyze video highlights during filming for faster editing on the Insta360 App.” It mentions this increased power consumption and temperature.
  5. Gesture Control – this works well. Show a two finger “peace sign”, and you get a countdown (so you can move your hand) and it takes the photo. Hold you palm and it will start or stop recording. On this on/on screen is a little animation of a person showing how to do each one. (Scroll down to see the other. It was not intuitive that there was more below this animation; I expected it to just show me both.) THIS IS NEAT.
  6. Timed Capture – The X4 has a clock. Turn this on, and you set a Start Time and Duration (which can be “infinite”) and a Repeat Frequency (Once, or Every day). You also set shooting mode (video, photo, all the modes, 360 or single lens, etc.) and parameters (resolution and frame rate), and image parameters (auto, ISO, etc.).
  7. Audio Settings – adds “Auto Wind Noise Reduction.” Old “Window Noise Reduction” is now called “Active Wind Noise Reduction.”
  8. There is a setting of all the quick access modes that now has defaults for Motorcycling, Skiing, and Outdoors. You can “+” to add a new one and pick from a list of presets (Surfing, Running, Biking, Cars, etc.). You can also Customize where you can make your own, and it will show as “Customize” or as one of the preset names you set it to. This is still not as good as being able to give it your own name, but better.
  9. UPDATE: There is no USB setting. When you plug it in to a computer, you get a screen asking “U-Disk Mode” or “Reverse Charging”.
  10. UPDATE: In addition to 5.7K, there is also 5.7K+. “”Close to 8K image quality but with a smaller file size. 5.7K+ is not suitable for low light conditions.”
  11. UPDATE: While charging, the screen displays a circle and the percentage charged.
  12. UPDATE: Automatic screen brightness! I missed the on screen button next to the slider. In a dark room, the screen goes dim. In bright light, the brightness increases so you can see it. Nice battery saver!

Settings has new options:

  1. “Touch to activate when off”
  2. “Power-off Charging” that tells what action happens when you plug in to charge (Charge only, Charge and power on, Charge and record). Charge and record could allow you hooking this up to a timed outlet and turning that outlet on to automatically start recording video, but I have not tested this yet.
  3. Long press Shutter Button to cancel recording – nice. That saves a swipe, I guess.
  4. Thermo Grip Cover – Automatic Recognitions, Installed or Uninstalled. A note about this – the cover has two white dots below it. I think that is how it knows the cover is installed. It also impacts stitching so you have to set the mode to match. The manual warns to not install or remove while recording or stitching will get messed up.
  5. Date and Time – set by the app but you can set it here. I do not know how it deals with time zones. I suppose you’d just have to sync your phone to the camera when you get to the new time zone? You can change the Date Format as well (MM/DD/YY versus DD/MM/YY or YY/MM/DD).
  6. Reset Tutorial – to go back and learn it all again.

There is alot here that wasn’t mentioned in any of the videos I watched, so I expect we will see Part 2 as the YouTubers get to play with the current firmware.

I will say again – this camera feels much larger and bulkier. I hope the added features are worth it.

More to come. Tonight I’ll try to record my X3-X4 comparison videos where I do some 5-10 minute clip without edits so folks can compare raw output rather than short demonstration clips.

UPDATE: Eat Sleep 360 posted a 3 minute video going over many of these options, and a few that I was unaware of.

BASIC and many input options…

Earlier this year, Jason Pittman shared a BASIC program with me that drew representations of all the letters of the alphabet. It was a cute program, and did some fancy drawing.

To select a letter, there was this block of code:

130 PMODE3,1:A$=INKEY$
140 IFA$="A"THEN410
150 IFA$="B"THEN510
160 IFA$="C"THEN590
170 IFA$="D"THEN680
180 IFA$="E"THEN750
190 IFA$="F"THEN820
200 IFA$="G"THEN900
210 IFA$="H"THEN1020
220 IFA$="I"THEN1100
230 IFA$="J"THEN1130
240 IFA$="K"THEN1220
250 IFA$="L"THEN1340
260 IFA$="M"THEN1410
270 IFA$="N"THEN1490
280 IFA$="O"THEN1560
290 IFA$="P"THEN1680
300 IFA$="Q"THEN1780
310 IFA$="R"THEN1890
320 IFA$="S"THEN2020
330 IFA$="T"THEN2100
340 IFA$="U"THEN2190
350 IFA$="V"THEN2250
360 IFA$="W"THEN2360
370 IFA$="X"THEN2440
380 IFA$="Y"THEN2490
390 IFA$="Z"THEN2550
400 GOTO130

I thought it might be fun to ask you — in the comments — to tell me how YOU would have done this. I can think of one way, that uses an Extended BASIC keyword, and another way, that would work on Color BASIC.

For a series of options that are sequential (like “A to Z”) there are certainly some options.

As a part two … what if they were not sequential? What if it was for a menu that had options like “A, B, C, D, Q, Z” or whatever? That let me think of a third way to do it to work in Color BASIC.

Comment away!

Insta360 X4 360 camera with 8K

The latest 360 camera from Insta360 has been released today. You can watch their Apple-like presentation here:

I became intrigued with 360 photography quite some time ago. Apple QuickTime VR was the first time I ever saw it, and that software allowed taking a bunch of photos in different directions and splicing them together in to on virtual reality image that let you look in any direction. That started back in 1995 though I did not learn about it until a bit later.

I got my first digital camera in 1996, and experimented with panoramic “stitcher” programs that let me stand in one location and take photos in all directions then stitch them together to make a large panoramic image. This is why you can find odd “panorama” folders in my only photo galleries, like this one from 2002:

This led me to experiment with “one shot 360” systems, such as the SurroundPhoto attachment I owned. It was a half-mirror ball on a stick that mounted to a camera, then you took the photo pointing up, capturing all 360 around you. Software would later de-warp this in to a 360 image that allowed you to look in all directions, including limited up/down.

You can read about the various 360 devices on my old One Shot 360 web page.

Here is an example of a 360 photo taken using the SurroundPhoto attachment:

I was excited to later learn of a new 360 camera that had three camera lenses and promised to take these types of images in one shot, without any post-processing or klunky add-ons. I backed the 360cam on Kickstarter, and that was quite the fiasco, taking so long to actually ship that other companies such as Kodak and RICOH came out with their own (and cheaper) units.

Over the years, I have owned:

  • 360Cam
  • Kodak SP360
  • RICOH Theta
  • RICOH Theta S
  • Insta360 X2
  • Insta350 X3
  • …and maybe one or two others I have fogotten about.

In the early years, Insta360’s “ONE X” had inferior quality compared to the RICOH, but it had more “fun” features and effects that could be applied via the app. At the time, I did not want a device that needed an app. I just wanted to take photos and download.

RICOH remained the king of 360, with the best photo quality in their $1000-priced Theta Z model, but I was not interested in spending that kind of money on a better 360 camera.

I ended up with an Insta360 X2 and installed found it the funnest camera I had ever owned. I used it more than all the previous 360 cameras I had owned, combined. When the X3 came out, I upgraded to get improved photo/video quality.

The X4 is a slightly larger and heavier camera, but adds 8K recording, and thus needed a larger battery. With the release of X4, paid ads (er, “review videos”) have popped up all over YouTube telling us how great it is. After the X3 release, I learned many of these “review videos” were misleading – stating facts that were incorrect (either lying, or just uninformed), or mentioning how great a new feature was that — we later found out — did not even work in the beta firmware the “reviewers” were using.

We’ll see if the X4 lives up to the hype.

With the X3 price down for $399, I highly recommend it as a fun camera. For $100 more, the X4 may be worth it — but I’d wait a few months and see what real users think about it.

To be continued…

AI Music: SUNO versus UDIO

About a week ago, YouTube decided to show me this video:

While I was aware that AI-generated music was a thing, I had no idea it had gotten this good.

I signed up and spent the next few days playing with SUNO. It produced some pretty amazing and surprising results.

Then, a few days ago, I was shown a video speculating on some new AI music generator that was about to be announced. The claim was it would be 2X better than SUNO.

Yesterday, that service was launched — UDIO (like studio with the ST I guess?). It was down most of the day (overloaded) but late last night I got to play with it, mostly letting it produce random lyrics and tunes

Here is an UDIO generated song about being in love with a VCR:

Udio looks quite promising, with some features missing from SUNO (like the ability to extend a song and add to the START; SUNO allows you to extend from a time code, only).

Initial testing did not let me make any “complete song” like I have been doing with SUNO, but I expect this must be possible with enough attempts – their gallery is full of them.

Vocal quality of Udio is stunning. SUNO sounds great most of the time, but there is an auto-tune/harmonizer digital sound on vocals sometime. I have not heard that yet on any of the dozens of things I have had Udio create.

The music sounds good, but SUNO seems to generate more “wow, I like this song” tracks than Udio. The three “songs” I had SUNO make are just kind of drifting melodies, with no clear chorus or hook or anything. I have certainly heard songs like that, but right now I’d give SUNO the advantage of making “actual songs” versus tunes.

Check them both out and see what you think.