Category Archives: Virtual Reality

10 minutes of Insta360 X4 VR 360 video

From my Park Hopping site, here is ten minutes of Insta360 VR 360 video.

I set the camera in various places using a Best360 tripod I purchased on Amazon. I set the camera to 8K 360 video mode and just clicked record. No manual settings – just automatic mode.

The only “editing” of the video was putting the clips together in Final Cut Pro’s 360 video editor, adding some transitions, and some overlay text. I did no color corrections or enhancements. These are the files exported out of the Insta360 desktop app and then brought into a Final Cut Pro 360 video timeline in 8K.

YouTube renders the video down to 4K, it seems, so I guess we can’t share 8K video on YouTube yet…

4/28/2024 – Butterfly Palace, Branson MO USA

More to come…

Insta360 X3 versus Insta360 X4 in low light

Updates:

  • 2024-04-26 – When I did this test, I recorded an 8K run, a 5.7K+ run, then 5.7K. I could not tell which video was which from looking at the info inside Insta360 Studio. I now think the #1 pass was in 5.7K+ mode. I will have to redo all of these ;-)

By request, here are comparison videos of the Insta360 X3 and Insta360 X4˘cameras recording in low light conditions. The recording was made at sunset, and the light level was low enough that the X4 displays the warning that it is too low for shooting in 8K.

But I did it anyway.

In the first test, I set the X3 to 360 mode and 5.7K. This allows reframing and exporting to HD. For the X4, I set it to 360 and 8K. This allows reframing and exporting to 4K. This obviously should make the X4 side have more detail, but what will it do to brightness of the video?

X3 5.7K versus X4 8K

X3 5.7K versus X4 5.7K+ (I think)

For the next test, I did two recordings with both cameras set to 360 5.7K+ (I think). In both cases, the reframed video is exported as HD. This was the mode the X4 tells you to use when recording in low light.

Test #1:

Test #2 in normal 5.7K mode (unless I have #1 and #2 mixed up):

Is one better than the other? You can certainly see alot of stabilization glitching going on at these low light levels.

To be continued…

I also repeated these tests at 24 fps (to see if that really does increase low light performance) and some other frame rates, but one of the files was incomplete from me hitting the button by mistake. I’ll go through the rest of my test clips, including some done in single lens mode, and create more comparison videos soon.

Insta360 Dolby Vision Enhanced comparison

Updates:

  • 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:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolby_Vision

…and the official website…

https://www.dolby.com/technologies/dolby-vision

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

Updates:

  • 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.

Conclusion

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.

https://store.insta360.com/product/warranty_service

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.

https://store.insta360.com/product/care

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.

https://store.insta360.com/product/flexicare-x4

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 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:

https://photos.atthefaire.com/Illinois/Geneseo2002/Panorama/index.html

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…

DJI MIC 2 transmitter works with Insta360 X3 with no adapter needed.

In addition to the new DJI MIC 2 working with the native iPhone camera app, it can also be used directly with an Insta360 X3 360 camera. With the previous DJI MIC or something like the RODE microphone system, you needed to use the microphone receiver and an Insta360 microphone adapter and have it all connected to the camera with a cable.

The DJI MIC 2 adds Bluetooth and you can pair it directly with the X3 just by pairing it as if it were AirPods. (I suppose Insta360 needs to update the firmware to just say “Bluetooth” if it supports devices other than Apple.)

This means a $99 DJI MIC 2 transmitter is all you need for remote audio for an X3 (or iPhone, with an extra step to switch the phone over to using it). There is no need for the receiver and cables unless you are wanting to use more than one microphone at a time (as far as I know, you can only pair one Bluetooth microphone at a time with the phone or X3).

Unfortunately, the DJI firmware disables local backup recording when using Bluetooth, and also disables the new noise elimination feature. This means if anything screws up with the Bluetooth connection, you are out of luck. Pity. Backup recording is one of the features that makes the DJI MIC so useful. Maybe this is a firmware thing they can change in the future.

Until then…