Insta360’s X4 captures 8K 360-degree video

There is a cult following 360 degree cameras. While the likes of GoPro and Ricoh continue to dominate the category, Insta360 simply dominates. To date, the X3 has been the best 360 camera around, with tons of features and shooting modes that are relatively easy to use. Insta360’s collection of selfie sticks, protectors, cases and peripherals has added more cool tricks like bullet time effects and fast zoom video effects. A few years later, we get the Insta360 X4 with upgrades that favor the basics. There are higher resolution camera sensors, a bigger battery and more versatility thanks to multiple resolution and frame rate options.

Insta360 X4Insta360 X4

Photo by Mat Smith/Engadget

The Insta360 X4 Not much different from the X3. It has the same candy bar form factor, with two giant wide-angle lenses on either side. It seems longer, but I had no problem squeezing it into my pocket during a week of testing.

The new camera has removable lens guards, which is a smart design improvement. Any damage or scratches to the lens will likely affect image quality, especially when exposed in … adventurous settings. Previously, the Insta360 offered sticky lens covers, but the new X4 lens has protectors that can snap the camera sensors on and off. And they are included in the box, which is nice.

Both the USB-C port and the battery compartment, which houses the microSD slot, are protected by sturdy covers with sliding locks. The Insta360 X4’s Type-C port now supports USB 3.0 speeds, which is essential when working with higher resolution videos and larger files.

Insta360 x4 sample photoInsta360 x4 sample photo

Photo by Mat Smith/Engadget

The button layout remains simple and familiar to anyone who has used Insta360 cameras before. There’s a circular ‘shoot’ button (voice and gesture capture options are also built in, but they’re a bit fiddly), a mode dial, a programmable Q button and a power button. The 2.5-inch touchscreen is also larger, and most settings are just a few swipes away. It feels like using a smartphone, which helps make it intuitive.

However, sheer versatility means there are plenty of menus to peruse. I never felt overwhelmed, but in my testing I could never get Bullet Time and Time Shift to work anywhere near as well as I’ve seen them on YouTube.

Insta360 X4Insta360 X4

Photo by Mat Smith/Engadget

Newbies can power up the X4 right away and shoot video and stills without too much trouble. Of course, it’s all fun for those who know what they’re doing.

Technical improvements focus on video with the ability to record up to 5.7k frames at 8K 30fps or 60fps. Slow motion video has also been upscaled to 4K resolution. Insta360’s Me mode, which shoots traditional ‘straight’ video (complete with an ‘invisible’ selfie stick), has been upgraded to 4K 30fps. In short, it holds everything more than its predecessor. More pixels means more detail with 360-degree video (or any shooting mode). It also ensures that footage doesn’t look too low-quality when you crop it to create clips for social media. Plus, Insta360 claims that dropping down to 5.7K resolution for video recording will offer better low-light performance, which seemed to be true during my indoor and evening tests.

Insta360 has taken into account the increased processing demands of higher quality content. The X4 has a 2,290 mAh battery, which is 67 percent larger than the X3. According to the press release, it should be able to record up to 135 minutes of video.

While we’ll focus on the improvements, many of the Insta360’s best camera features are carryovers from the X3. The 360-degree horizon lock keeps all your shots level no matter how you hold the X4, and there’s still impressive image stabilization and waterproofing up to 33 feet. While the X3 solved many of the biggest problems with shooting 360-degree video, the X4 has increased the fidelity to the point where polished footage can be captured without much effort.

The X4 is now available to order directly from Insta360, priced at $499.99. This does It’s $100 more than its predecessor, but still less than the company’s $800 pro-level camera, the One RS 1-inch 360 Edition.

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