Today Insta360 announced its X3 360 action camera; the latest generation of the popular camera series takes aim squarely at content creators and it makes a pretty compelling case.
While 360 videos and photos have their place, the real advantage to creators with a camera like the Insta360 X3 is the ability to reframe your photo or video after you have captured it, meaning you should almost never miss a shot.
That's what makes these such compelling action cameras as you never want to nail a trick or finish a run and find that you were just out of frame or the camera shifted and you were capturing nothing but sky or dirt. Particularly for solo content creators, this same principle holds true even if you aren't shooting action footage, the Insta360 X3 takes the point out of point and shoot so you only need to worry about pressing record.
I've spent the last few days with the Insta360 X3 running an early version of the app and firmware for the camera, and I'll have a review coming soon, but so far outside of a few hiccups that are likely related to the early software, it does appear to deliver on this promise.
Insta360 X3 features
The new half-inch 48MP sensors in the X3 can capture up to 5.7K 360 video, which may sound like an odd resolution if you aren't familiar with 360 cameras, but it means you can grab excellent 1080p footage from any angle. If you want to grab a still photo you have up to 72MP to play with, which again gives you plenty of reframing options. If you do want 4K footage the X3 has you covered there as well, you just need to drop out of 360 and into ultra-wide mode.
Returning to the content creator side of things, you can easily extract any aspect ratio you want from your footage. So for example if you need a 9:16 video for TikTok, but then want to use that same footage for a 4:5 Instagram post, you don't need to capture twice or struggle to make one work for the other, you have a full 360-degree capture to pull from.
New for the X3 is an Active HDR video mode that is designed to reduce ghosting and add stability to your action shots, something that the Insta360 cameras already excelled at in previous generations thanks to the six-axis gyroscope and FlowState stabilization.
Not new, but still amazing is the Invisible Selfie Stick, which is how you get great 360 footage without having to worry about the stick being in the shot. The camera automatically stitches it out, so you never have to think about it. Insta360 has added a new Me Mode if you just want to keep the focus on you throughout the video and it will automatically stay focused on you while ensuring that the selfie stick is invisible.
If you are a fan of timelapse the X3 can capture gorgeous 8K 360 time-lapses that are perfect for establishing shots or just to hit fast forward on the day.
Insta360 X3 hardware
Beyond the new sensors, the X3 is slightly larger than its predecessors at 4.5 x 1.8 x 1.3-inches, but its candy bar shape keeps it easily pocketable and it was worth the size boost to fit the new 2.29-inch display on the camera. It makes it far easier to control everything from the camera if you don't want to get your phone out and also gives you a more meaningful preview of your shot than the tiny circular display on the old One X models.
Action shooters will appreciate the four physical buttons on the camera that ensures you can still hit record or switch settings if you are wearing gloves and can't easily use the touchscreen.
The Insta360 X3 is waterproof at up to 33 feet, so you can bring it on snorkeling, pool, or boating outings without fear.
As I said I've had a few days with the camera already and outside of some issues with the software that aren't uncommon with early builds I have been thoroughly pleased with the results. With final updates now hitting the app and camera, I want to continue to put it through its paces for a few more days to see if that has ironed out the kinks and I'll be ready to weigh in on whether the Insta360 X3 really is the perfect choice for content creators.
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Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more. Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.