Insta360 Pro 2 review- The best VR 8K 360 ° cameras on the market
A true concentrate of technology, the professional 360 camera from the Chinese brand Insta360 has revolutionized the VR production market. It now offers the big sister of the insta360 PRO, the insta360 Pro 2 version! Increased quality, an ultra-efficient stabilization system and full HD live video feedback… let’s see this new 360 ° camera in detail.
Insta360 Pro 2: a camera for virtual reality
1 year after the release of the insta360 pro, the Chinese firm arrives with the new version of its bestseller, the insta360 pro 2. Considered by many to be one of the best 8K 360 ° cameras on the market, the Insta360 Pro 1 sees a improved version arrive at his side.
It fills in the gaps of its little sister, especially in terms of stabilization and video feedback.
Its strengths: 360 ° 8K camera; HDR video; Live streaming in 1080p
Let’s start with the exterior aspect:
The Physics: Nothing new for this new camera except the 2 GPS and wifi antennas (removable) on the top.
Still 6 fisheye 2.4 lenses, the control screen, navigation buttons and its removable stand.
Navigation in the menus is intuitive thanks to a reduced number of buttons and the possibility of controlling the camera with your smartphone, tablet or computer.
The Insta 2 has exactly the same characteristics as the 1 with 300g more on the scale.
1550g advertised for a diameter of 143mm, to give you an idea, it is almost the size of a small handball.
There is a new thread on the top of the beast that allows you to add a 360 ° microphone without having to attach it with third-party accessories, as we were a lot to do or to deport on the tripod.
Seen from below, there are 6 micro SD card slots that we will explain to you later. The screw thread on the foot is now removable to go from ¼ to 3/8.
The battery is removable, allowing it to be easily replaced for an additional 50 minutes of battery life. We advise you to invest in a double charger of this type HERE and in an additional battery. With 2.5 hours for a full charge, it might be worth having at least 2.
The Battery pack offers this charger and the additional battery for $299 .
A definition always at the top!
The particularity of this camera is to be able to shoot video images in 8K whether in 2D or 3D (monoscopic / stereoscopic).
At maximum resolution, it is able to capture a scene in 8K 60fps for 2D and 8K 30fps for 3D. The superimposition of the images of each lens allows for this very high quality and leaves more leeway for post production.
Note that 8K quality allows better immersion, especially in a virtual reality headset (see this article). This is also a “standard” for making professional 360 video, although the final video is 4K for player compatibility, it is typically shot in 8K.
The arrival of HDR in video mode
The Insta now has the HDR option in video mode, which makes it possible to have an image with a much wider range of colors and to avoid, for example, having an overexposed image.
Photo modes in RAW + HDR
The insta is also renowned for the quality of its photos, the firm has implemented many modes for obtaining excellent quality photos.
Normal mode: 8K photo 7680 × 3840 2D or 7680 × 7680 3D with automatic stitching or in post production.
RAW mode: an uncompressed version without color correction for better processing. You have the option of choosing a RAW copy in all photo modes.
HDR mode: able to take 3, 5, 7 or 9 additional photos with different exposures and provide them to you, compared to 3 on version 1.
A BURST mode: allowing you to take pictures in 12K! The camera takes 10 photos in ultra high definition 8K and stitch them together to give an even more detailed photo.
One of the big novelties of this camera is the ability to record the content of each lens on an independent micro SD card. In reality this is not a possibility but an obligation, the camera cannot function without the 7 memory cards.
SD microphones keep source video files in maximum quality with a maximum bitrate of 120Mbps. The main SD card keeps a compressed version and metadata files.
No more SSD hard drive and ease of use.
Live broadcast on the networks
The camera is capable of broadcasting a live 4K stream. Thanks to its Ethernet socket, it is thus possible to connect it to an internet network (preferably with fiber) in order to broadcast your image on social networks or on a dedicated server. I refer you to how to do a 360 ° live for a detailed explanation.
For us the big novelty of this camera is its stabilization. A technology called FlowState which will stabilize the image. The camera is stabilized on 9 axes allowing the use of the camera in motion!
Borrowed from its “very” little sister the Insta ONE, this is one of the points that deserves to be mentioned, as 360 ° video is used more and more on drones. Unfortunately, due to the lack of suitable drones and stabilizers, the 360 ° image was often very poorly stabilized and required very significant post-production work.
With this innovation, the image is almost usable immediately after stitching and opens the field to new ways of filming.
The live broadcast
This is one of the important innovations of this camera, the ability to broadcast the video stream live and in full HD (1080p) on an external monitor! Before this novelty, it was very difficult to see what we were filming and to adjust your camera remotely, the video feedback was in 1fps and at a maximum of 10m away, not easy for the drone for example.
Like a GoPro, you had to hope that the images were usable and not too over or underexposed once on the computer.
The Insta now integrates 2 GPS and wifi antennas allowing to double the distance of retransmission of the video stream.
The Chinese start-up has also equipped the camera with a system called Farsight which increases this distance to 300m and 1000m in open terrain. These are 2 boxes (1 transmitter and 1 receiver) which connect respectively to the camera and to an external monitor (smartphone or tablet).
The Farsight announces 3 hours of battery life which is not bad considering that the camera tops out at 50 min per battery.
The end of the stitch?
A real ordeal for computers and its users, stitching is an essential step to obtain a 360 ° image. Before you could “work” the image in software such as Premiere Pro or After Effects, you had to go through the stitch box. Insta360 promises to remove this step by working with Adobe Premiere Pro, which directly stitches the image.
So of course no miracle, you always have to do the stitching but it is now possible to do it in Premiere thanks to the Insta360Stitcher extension. An interesting time saving if you want to automatically stitcher the video.
This new technology allows virtual reality headset users to enjoy an 8K image where it usually was in 4K.
It is compatible with the Oculus go, the Samsung Gear and headsets integrating IOS or Android smartphones. You obviously need a specific application the Insta360Moment that allows this.
The insta360 Stitcher stitch software offers a new tab that converts videos to 6 and 8K so that they are playable in VR headsets with better quality than the usual 4K. this option is not reserved exclusively for the Pro 2, it seems that 360 ° videos above 6K would be eligible.
This option is only available for Windows at this time.
A perfect camera?
As much as we love this brand’s products, the Insta360 Pro 2 isn’t exactly flawless. In addition to its price, which is relatively high but consistent with the market, the Pro 2 is more complex than its little sister.
Usually, the new models provide fixes that make the product easier to use. Here it was the opposite, the camera so easy to use has become more complex to gain in quality.
The SD card system is really not ideal for us. 7 SD cards to be transferred and emptied each time against 1 previously, this adds stages and complications. Also forget about the external hard drive for more storage.
2 methods to empty your SD cards, the 1st is to take the cards out of their slot in order to empty them. You can do this one by one or equip yourself with a USB HUB. Not exactly ideal when shooting outdoors.
The second is to connect the camera to the computer and transfer directly. Not really the quick solution, in our test, 2 photos: in HDR and 8K + a video of 50 seconds 8K = 4.5GB and 7 minutes of transfer.
Imagine 64GB or 128GB of data to extract …
The last is to equip yourself with spare cards, 14 for a top-up 21 for 3 etc … Really not ideal in terms of logistics and economy.
In short, a series of little things that in intensive use are a real drag when you are used to the Pro 1 which offers impressive ease of use.
Where to buy?
Insta360 PRO 2 & Farsight, Professional 360 8K 3D Camera (Memory Card Bundle - w/ 7X Memory Cards, 7X Card...
With this new camera, the Chinese company is making significant improvements that fit perfectly into the development of this technology and its constraints. Insta pushes 360 video towards more mobility and especially towards a higher quality.
The flip side is that this gain in quality comes at the expense of the ease of use of the old version.
Still at the beginning of the possibilities that this technology will bring, the Insta360 Pro 2 is placed in the list of the best current 360 ° cameras.
It is one of the good choices for professional use, being at an excellent price / quality ratio and offering versatile use.