Insta360 One R Camera Review – A Snowboarder’s Take on How To Use This Awesome New 360 Camera

The new Insta360 One R Camera is a revolutionary system. It can shoot 360 videos as well as 4K. Here, I show you how I used it for snowboarding and mountains.

Insta360 One R Camera Review

Insta360 One R Camera Review

Insta360 One Cameras

Insta360 has made some very easy to use 360 cameras that I have enjoyed using over the last few years.  The Insta360 One is still a great camera for ease of use and price point.  The Insta360 One X had become my go-to 360 camera last year and put out some really great looking videos and pictures. However, there were opportunities with both cameras.

The One was a bare-bones device that had a tendency to freeze in the cold.  The screen…. wait, there was no screen.  LOL.  Just a light.  So, that was easy to improve on.  The Insta360 One X streamlined the workflow with a great app experience and form factor.  The screen was still hard to read in bright sunlight though.

The one thing that Insta really nailed over other 360 cameras was the ease of editing using their app.  I have used several other 360 cameras and the workflow within the Insta360 app is by far the best.  You can use the camera as a viewfinder and literally move the camera around to direct the viewing experience.  Super easy, and great looking footage.

Bottom line – I would still recommend either of the cameras for new 360 users. They can be found on sale and Insta still does firmware updates on them.  That is pretty impressive!

Insta360 One R Camera

The new Insta360 One R camera is a totally new approach to action and 360 cameras.  Why did I add action cameras to this write-up?  You will see 🙂 The creative engineers at Insta360 decided to make the new camera a modular system.  Meaning, you can build the camera to be what you want it to be.  Starting with the battery pack base, you can add either a 360 camera, 4K action camera or even a 1″ Leica camera.

I ordered the Twin Pack $479.99 – a 360 camera and 4K camera set up. Honestly, I did not care to get the 4K camera, but for the seemingly fair price of $30 more, it was a no-brainer. You can order the 4K version for $299 (that is $50 less than the GoPro Hero 8, which is on sale for $349 right now) the 1″ Leica is $299 add on or $549 as a stand-alone camera.

 

As you can see, there are a lot of options to create your own action / 360 camera set up.  Heck, there is even an Ariel Addition $549 for use on drones!  Truly, the options are endless.  You can pick what you want and create your own package.  I opted for the 360 and 4K camera kit as that is what I plan on using the most.

Insta360 One R Camera – Waterproof!

Yes! The new One R is waterproof (IPX8) without needing to get an additional waterproof case.  This is a really great perk as many of us recreate in the snow and on water.  I did not submerge the camera underwater, but I did use it in snowstorms and in the mountains. I don’t have a desire to use it diving or snorkeling.  I will be using it for white water rafting, kayaking and swimming this summer though.

Insta360 One R Camera – Bright Touchscreen!

Yes and Yes!  This was my biggest frustration with the other cameras.  Not being able to see what settings you are in and not being able to see what you are shooting. To be fair, with 360 cameras, you don’t need to see what you are shooting as the cameras basically capture everything.  But still, it is very nice to see what you are shooing and even nicer to be able to review the footage, on the camera! No need to use your phone.

Insta360 One R Camera Review

Insta360 One R Camera Review Bright Touchscreen – you can see yourself in it!

It is also very helpful if you are using the 4K camera for vlogging or to make sure the camera is capturing what you want it too.    Yes, this screen is good enough to use as a vlogging camera set up.  You can orient the screen to face forward or backward. It is kind of mind-blowing what all you can do with this camera!

Insta360 One R Camera – External Audio?

There is a USB C port for charging as well as for accessories for this camera.  I ordered the audio adapter a few weeks ago and am eagerly looking forward to using this feature.  I tried to use other brands USB C port audio adapters, and none worked. So, I will update this review once I test the external audio feature.  It would be great to be able to use a RODE Wireless Go set up for vlogging and interviews.

Insta360 One R – Bluetooth Audio?

It was advertised that the new Insta360 One R would be compatible with Bluetooth audio devices, such as Apple AirPods.  I tried to connect my set of AirPods, but it did not work.  I believe this feature will be in a future update.  For what it is worth, I was able to get a cheap Bluetooth remote control (the kind that comes with some selfie sticks) to pair and work with the camera. So, I have hope this feature will work, and soon!

Insta360 One R Camera – Updates

I am impressed with how often Insta360 is updating the firmware.  I have only had this camera for a few weeks and there have already been 2 updates. Updating the camera is very easy.  The app says “there is a new firmware update”, you download it, then the app uploads it to the camera when it is connected via WiFi.

Insta360 One R – WiFi Connection

The camera connects to your phone easily, using a wifi connection.  It seems to work every time I use the camera and app.  The few times that it did not connect right away, I simply went to the “settings” on the iPhone and chose to connect to the camera. This connection is also how you download the videos and pictures on your phone.  It is a very easy process and rather quick, given how big the files can be.

Insta360 One R Camera – Application

True to the history of Insta360 apps before this one, this is very easy to use a camera and app.  You can still use the phone as a viewfinder when editing – a feature that can make anyone a fantastic director 🙂 What is new on this camera and app, is the auto-track feature.  This is a game-changer.  Simply put, the app uses AI (artificial intelligence) to track the subject.  This can be a human or an animal!  I used it to track our dogs in a snow storm.  It is as good, if not better than the alien technology level auto track on my Panasonic G9 camera.

This feature alone is going to make ease of use the best among 360 cameras.  Imagine you are skiing with your kids and you want to keep the focus on your little one, as they are having the time of their life.  You simply press on the kid’s body on the screen, and the app will chase that grommet through the whole video.  Or your dog playing in the snow.  Or you as you run through a forest or vlog.  The possibilities are really amazing.

In the video review for this camera, I used the auto-track feature in most of the frames.  So, you can see how well it works.  I did not mess around with changing settings or getting too deep into the options of this camera and app.  I wanted to make this review as relatable to a new user as possible.  My goal is to show a first time user how to use the camera, shoot a video and share it in less than 5 minutes.

Insta360 One R Camera Review

As you can probably gather, I am a big fan of this camera.  For a lot of reasons.  The modular design is neat, but I don’t think it is necessary for me.  I would have been just as happy with a 360 camera only.  That being said, I can see this being an asset for someone looking to have one camera to shoot with.

The app and features are truly amazing.  I am by no means a good photographer or cinematographer.  I am just a person that really enjoys the mountains, dogs, camping, and splitboarding.  I want a camera that is stupid easy to use and shoots good video.  It needs to be reliable, small and capable of handling cold weather.  The Insta360 One R does this better than any other camera I have used so far.

I am really looking forward to the external audio capabilities of this camera.  If it is as good as I think it will be, this camera set up could replace a much more expensive (and bulkier) camera set up.  I am not sure how good the Bluetooth audio feature will be.  I have tested a lot of microphones (I run a podcast too – check it out!    ) and have gone down the rabbit hole for audio.  I don’t think the audio from Apple AirPods is that great, but it could be useful for certain applications.  We will see.

Insta360 One R Camera vs GoPro Max – Which One is Better?

I have owned and used both cameras now and can give some real-life feedback on both.  This is not going to be a nerdy, specced out and detailed comparison.  This is simply what I have experienced as a backcountry snowboarder and mountain man.

As I mentioned above, there are some features that are very important to me in an action / 360 camera.

They are:

  1. ease of use

  2. reliability

  3. cold weather tolerant

  4. easy to edit footage

  5. stability

  6. audio

  7. battery life

  8. good looking footage

  9. did I mention ease of use? 🙂

I enjoyed using the GoPro Max for a few months.  It has a good screen to see what settings you are in and to see what is in the frame.  Seeing as that was my biggest complaint about the Insta360 One and One X, I was happy with this new feature on the GoPro.  GoPro is famous for shooting “good looking” footage right out of the camera.  Thanks to their “Pro Tune” settings. This can make videos look really good with very little editing on the user’s part.  It can also over saturate and miss the mark on some videos.  So, it is a mixed bag, but mostly good.

The GoPro app is not as easy to use as any of the Insta360 apps.  I found it hard to edit and hard to keep the horizon locked.  The app and camera connection froze almost half the time.  That was very frustrating! Battery life was better than the older Insta360 cameras, so that was a big plus.  The biggest advantage of the GoPro is the audio.  I was truly impressed at the clarity of the audio while snowboarding.

So, the GoPro shot good looking video and had really good audio.  It also had good stability.  For what it is worth, all 360 cameras have good stability.  Adding up the plusses, we have stability, audio, and good looking footage. What we don’t have is, ease of use, cold weather is not as good as the Inta360 One R, the GoPro app is not as easy to use, the connection between the camera and phone was not reliable.

The winner….. Insta360 One R is easy to use, reliable, cold-weather tolerant (rated to -4 F!), super easy to edit with the app, very stable, good battery life, shoots great video and is smaller than the GoPro Max.  The only thing that it is not good at is audio.  The audio is acceptable, but can definitely get better. I hope it does soon too! With the addition of external audio, this could be easily fixed.

There you have it, my honest to goodness review of the Insta360 One R camera.  I hope this helps you determine if this is the right camera for you and your needs.  I am stoked on the camera and will be using it to shoot a lot of videos this year.  From hut trips to splitboard missions to winter camping to summer adventures.  This easy to use, waterproof camera is going to see a lot of use!


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