Insta360 Pro is an affordable 8K, 360-degree camera for VR content creators

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Insta360‘s 8K six-lens camera geared towards professionals kicked off pre-orders today, April 21. Called the Insta360 Pro, the $3,499 virtual reality camera debuted at CES earlier this year and launched pre-orders during the NAB conference.

Looking a bit like a basketball with corners cut out of it, six lens modules surround the camera and work together to produce spherical stills and video. Each lens features an f/2.4 aperture for good low-light performance. Still images can be saved in RAW format with high dynamic range (HDR) support for maximum detail and quality. Video can be recorded in either H.264 or H.265 formats, the latter providing an increased quality to file size ratio.

Updated on April 21, 2017: New information on pricing and availability.

While shooting 360-degree video at 8K is possible at 30 frames per second, 4K video can be recorded at an impressive 100fps, suitable for slow motion. The camera also features an intervalometer mode for 360-degree time-lapse experiences.

In addition to standard 360-degree images, Insta360 says the Pro can shoot 3D 360-degree content at 6K resolution and 30 FPS. Sample footage, like the video below from National Geographic, offers a glimpse at the camera’s capabilities.

One of the camera’s key features is support for both live stitching and live broadcasting in 4K. Via an Android or iOS device, video can be live-streamed over Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. While the camera supports Wi-Fi and 4G wireless tethering, it can also be connected over Ethernet for increased reliability.

“The VR industry needs steady content from a strong base of creators to keep growing, but before now, high-performing cameras have been overly complicated or cost-prohibitive,” said JK Liu, founder and CEO Insta360. “With the Insta360 Pro, we’re giving broadcasters and creators the tool they’ve been asking for. We can’t wait to see what they come up with.”

If the Insta360 Pro lives up to its promises, it could be a very compelling buy at $3,499, though that price is $500 more than the estimate when the camera was announced earlier this year. That’s still significantly cheaper than Facebook’s open-source Surround 360 (which costs up to $30,000) and even less than GoPro’s $5,000 Omni. The Insta360 Pro is currently on available for pre-orders directly from the manufacturer.

This article was originally published on January 5, 2017. It was updated on April 21, 2017 by Hillary Grigonis to including new pricing and availability.