The Insta360 One takes amazing 360-degree flying-camera shots, no drone needed

Making your own visually stunning 360-degree movie no longer needs to be a long, complex, or hugely expensive endeavor. The new $300 Insta360 One 360-degree camera has it all — 4K video recording, 24-megapixel stills, and an incredibly versatile software suite with editing features that make it seem like you had a film crew with you. And the camera even gives you a way to capture those cool flying-camera shots without the need for a drone.

The Intsta360 One camera has three primary shooting modes. You can capture 3,840 x 1,920 pixel 4K video at 30fps, or at 60fps when the resolution drops to 2,560 x 1,280. The camera shoots 360-degree stills at 24 megapixels. It directly plugs into your iPhone’s Lightning port using a pop-out connector, and it can be used with its own holder, or you can use the standard tripod screw mount to connect it to any regular tripod or other mount.

What about those flying-camera shots? You can attach the device to a drone if you like, but fit the Insta360 One to the Insta360 selfie stick and it’s automatically removed from the video or picture, creating the impression that the camera is up in the air. The really cool part comes when you engage the 240fps slow-motion mode, and whirl the camera around your head using the stick, or a custom lasso-style attachment. Who needs a drone when you can create “Bullet Time” shots so easily, on your own?

All of this would be a wobbly, vomit-inducing nightmare without any kind of image stabilization, of course, so it’s good news the Insta360 One has six-axis image stabilization onboard.

Insta360 One’s software makes clever use of your 360-degree videos, by converting them into fixed-frame Full HD videos — which are easier to share — that look like they were made by multiple people and multiple cameras. Using the Insta360 One’s FreeCapture mode, a recorded video is edited on your phone as if you were actually shooting it there and then, allowing you to focus in on, and follow, the action as it happens. You can also tell the video to track a subject automatically with the SmartTrack feature. FreeCapture meanwhile lets you change perspective as you edit, adding different effects — including the Tiny Planet view we liked from the Insta360 Air 360-degree camera — as you go.

If that wasn’t enough, the Insta360 One has an HDR mode (which is very helpful for 360-degree images), easy Facebook Live and Periscope sharing, a manual mode for adjusting exposure, ISO, shutter speed, and more, plus a RAW setting for stills. The camera comes with a MicroSD card, a stand, and the lasso-like string for flying-camera shots. The selfie stick is an extra, and an IP68 water-resistant case can also be purchased separately.

The Insta360 One is $300 and will be available to buy from September 5 through Amazon, B&H Photo, and Insta360’s own online store. It’s for the iPhone only at the moment, but an Android version is in development and will come soon.