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Bullet time on a budget: Insta360’s $400 One X camera is ready for action

Insta360, the 360-degree camera company, is back with a follow-up to the Insta360 One, called the Insta360 One X. The new model has a different design and a variety of features that further explore how the 360-degree camera can act like a drone, or re-create effects previously only possible with multiple cameras and a Hollywood-scale budget.

Let’s talk specification first. The dual cameras have an f/2.0 aperture and can shoot 5,760 x 2,880 video footage at 30 frames per second (FPS), or 3,840 x 1,920 at 50 and 30fps, or even 3,008 x 1,504 at 100fps. Insta360 calls these resolutions 5.7K, 4K, and 3K, respectively. Stills are 18 megapixels and 6,080 x 3,040.

Made for action footage, the camera has its own stabilization feature which Insta360 calls FlowState. It claims it’s robust enough to smooth out footage taken without a gimbal, even if it’s attached to something that moves about a lot, such as a helmet. All this helps three very cool features come to life, which adds to the enjoyment of using a 360-degree camera.

While two are enhancements of features seen on the Insta360 One, TimeShift is new to the One X. Once video has been recorded, you can slow down or speed up the footage during key scenes using the Insta360 app, ready to create a dramatic and cinematic effect. Like with previous cameras, the focal point is adjustable to keep the action in-shot. TimeShift leads to an improved Bullet Time feature, which replicates the famous effect from The Matrix, and is recreated here using a special selfie stick and handle accessory. Spin the camera round in the air for an orbiting shot, and then slow it down in the app. Bullet Time video is now captured at 3K and has a wider field of view than before.

10-foot selfie stick

Insta360’s own extending, 10-foot selfie stick is essential for this feature and drone-style shots, as the camera digitally removes it from the scene. This gives the impression of a flying camera tracking your moves. All the One X’s special features require some practice, artistic skill, and patience to get right, plus the right environment, but get it right and you’ll be surprised by the results. Videos and stills are transferred over to your phone using Wi-Fi or an included cable and not a direct connection to your device, which is a considerable improvement. But you’ll have to pay extra for the selfie stick, the bullet time handle, and a series of cases made for more extreme camera use.

The app includes editing features, while there is a manual mode on the camera, an HDR setting, and the chance to shoot live 360-degree video too. The camera is now a flat rectangle, rather than the cylindrical Insta360 One, with two buttons on the front, and a small display to provide at-a-glance information about mode, battery life, and shooting time. A MicroSD card is required to store your footage. If there is a downside, it’s that the 1,200mAh battery sounds quite small and is only expected to provide 60 minutes of use.

You can purchase the Insta360 One X for $400 from the company’s website or selected retailers.

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