Photos

Swinging 360-degree views

ST VIDEO: TREVOR TAN
PHOTO: INSTA360
PHOTO: INSTA360

The Insta360 One X comes with an app that makes editing photos and videos a breeze

The Insta360 One X is a 360-degree action camera that can shoot 5.7K 360-degree videos at up to 30 frames per second (fps) and 18-megapixel 360-degree still images.

Like most 360-degree cameras, the One X features a candy-bar design with a fish-eye lens at the front and back.

At the front, it has a circular display with two round buttons below it. The smaller button is the power/mode button while the bigger one is the recording button.

On one side of the camera is a micro-USB port for charging and image transfer. On the other is a compartment for holding the battery. At the bottom of the camera, there is a microSD card slot and a tripod mount.

Three cables - with micro-USB to Lightning, micro-USB to USB-C and micro-USB to micro-USB connection types - are included in the package.

The cables allow for faster transfer of the stills and footage from camera to smartphone via the Insta360 One X app, which is available for Android and iOS. I tested the iOS version.

You can also transfer content via a Wi-Fi connection.

While the wireless mode is slower, I found it faster than other 360-degree cameras that I have tried.

The One X app is easily the best that I have used for a 360-degree camera. It provides easy-to-use editing tools that let you create videos with plenty of effects, such as timeshift, bullet time and many more.

  • SPECS

  • PRICE: $599 (camera only) or $669 (includes bullet-time handle and Hidden Selfie Stick, available at apple.com/sg)

    IMAGE SENSOR: 18-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS

    LENS: 2 x 200-degree fish-eye

    SENSITIVITY: ISO 100 to 3,200

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

    WEIGHT: 115g (with battery)

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 5/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4.5/5

When it comes to capturing footage, I find the One X works best with its own selfie stick. Called the Hidden Selfie Stick, it is designed to avoid the "chopped hand" phenomenon found in other 360-degree cameras.

In the 360-degree footage I shot using the Hidden Selfie Stick, all I see is my hand and not the selfie stick. I highly recommend buying it.

Another accessory I recommend is the Insta360 bullet-time handle. It has two mounts - a standard top mount and a side rotating mount for attaching the Hidden Selfie Stick.

Here is how bullet-time works: Attach the One X to the selfie stick and the latter to the bullet-time handle. You can now swing the One X horizontally, in a circular motion.

Select the Bullet Time mode in the app and start "swinging" the camera above your head. You can adjust the speed of the rotation. The result is an amazing Matrix-like effect.

Like some 360-degree cameras, the best thing about the One X is not necessarily its 360-degree output, but its ability to transform a 360-degree video into a 2D video with different angles that simulate multiple camera set-ups.

The One X app lets you easily choose which angle to use at a certain time of the footage and mix the angles to create a video clip that looks like it has been shot with multiple cameras. You can also speed up segments if you find them too boring or to create a sense of speed. And the app allows you to track yourself and other subjects.

It is also easy to edit footage using the app.

The app has tutorials on how to use the One X to shoot in various creative ways. Among them is the "little planet" mode in which the surroundings exist as a bubble landscape around the user.

You can also learn how to create a simulated drone shot with the camera. Even newbies will figure out how to do it in no time. In fact, you will have plenty of fun experimenting with the One X.

Most importantly, the 360-degree photos and videos are superb with great sharpness and fantastic details. The image stabilisation is equally stellar, with footage looking at times like they were shot with a dolly.

I did not see stitch lines - a common flaw in many 360-degree cameras - in outdoor shots. It was only in some indoor settings that the multiple reflections caused by different artificial lights revealed the stitch lines.

On the downside, it is not water-resistant unless you get its optional case. Another slight quirk is the sometimes-iffy Wi-Fi connection between the camera and the app. But it is not something a quick restart of the camera cannot fix.

The battery life is average for a 360-degree camera, at around 60 minutes of video recording with a full charge.

• Verdict: With its superb image quality and intuitive app, the Insta360 One X is simply the best 360-degree action camera that you can get right now.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2019, with the headline 'Swinging 360-degree views'. Print Edition | Subscribe