Insta360 X3 Review: The Best Waterproof 360 Camera

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“The Insta360 X3 is a very versatile camera capable of capturing high resolution 360 footage.”

Advantages

  • Very good image quality

  • Large and beautiful touch screen

  • Creative and fun modes

  • Raincoat

The inconvenients

  • Some features don’t work well in low-light situations

Making your videos stand out in a time when millions of people are striving to do the same on platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram is no easy task. This is where the Insta360 X3 comes in. The X3 is the latest addition to Insta360’s line of versatile 360 ​​cameras, and it’s more of an all-in-one solution that’s also compact and waterproof. It’s packed with features aimed at expanding your creative horizons. Can the X3 live up to its promising potential and earn a spot in your camera bag?

Insta360 X3 Design

The X3’s updates are immediately apparent, as it now has a large and beautiful 2.29-inch touchscreen on the rear. The old X2 camera implemented a very small circular screen which, although very interesting and usable, is very difficult to find after using the X3 screen. Navigating through menus, changing settings and modes, and viewing sequences are then much easier with a large touch screen.

The X3 also has more physical buttons, which I really appreciate. It’s now much easier to start and stop recording or switch between 360 and single lens modes. There’s also a new quick menu button that lets you save and easily access presets. Another improvement is a hatch for the USB-C port. It is sturdier and easier to open or close.

The Insta360 X3 control buttons and screen.
Andy Zahn / Digital Trends

The design of the X3’s neoprene sleeve has been changed so that there is now a hole that allows access to the USB-C port without having to remove the X3 from the case. Small quality of life improvements like this are much appreciated.

Although the X3 is slightly larger than the X2, it’s still a very compact device that slips easily into most pockets. The small size is ideal as I’m more likely to regularly carry the camera along with my other gear.

Image quality

The X3 offers a significant improvement in image quality over the X2, which is great because disappointing image quality was my only big complaint with the X2. The X3 has a slightly larger sensor and a slightly brighter lens, and the difference is pretty amazing.

The X3 delivers really nice, crisp, clean video. It can shoot 360 video at 5.7K resolution at 30 frames per second (fps) or 4K at up to 60fps. In single lens mode it captures 4K at 30fps and up to 60fps if you go down to 3.5K resolution. Slow motion is also available in 4K at 120 fps or 3K at 180 fps. This means the X3 is an upgrade over its predecessor, but doesn’t quite come close to the GoPro Hero 10 Black in slow-motion and single-lens resolution.

Probably due to the larger sensor and aperture, the X3 now performs better in low-light situations. I’ve used it in the Dappled Forest and still got some great footage, although some of the special modes like bullet time need a lot of light to work properly. The video it produces isn’t quite up to par with the much more expensive ones Insta360 One RS 1 inch 360 edition, and this camera will go down as my go-to as the best option for 360 capture, especially astrophotography.

The X3 really shines when its high-resolution sensor is fully utilized. It can take 72MP 360-degree photos and shoot time-lapse up to 8K. This makes the camera a great choice for real estate agents creating VR experiences of properties, or for landscape photographers who want to record a time lapse while taking still photos with a DSLR.

Additional features and accessories

The Insta360 X3 with accessories on a picnic table.
Andy Zahn / Digital Trends

The X3 comes with a wide variety of modes and specialized attachments to achieve different effects. My favorite of these, as with other 360 cameras, is star-lapse mode, in which the camera captures trails of stars for incredible cinematic shots of the night sky. Due to the overall field of view, you can get the entire sky in the shot and then shoot multiple different shots from a single 360 ​​video. I love pasting these star trail photos into travel and adventure videos for a big boost of the “wow factor”.

A handy new feature of the X3 is a 4K single-lens mode where the camera uses only one of its two lenses to output more traditional action camera-style video straight from the device. Photo. With this mode, you can choose between the default field of view (FOV) and FOV Plus, which allows a 170-degree field of view for ultra-wide shots, although those wider shots should have a 360 horizon lock and stream state stabilization applied in post-processing in the Insta360 app or studio.

You can get the whole sky in one shot and then shoot multiple different shots from a single 360 ​​video.

The so-called invisible selfie stick lives up to its moniker by completely disappearing into your photos and videos when used with the X3. Over the past year it has become my favorite selfie stick due to its long reach and sturdy build quality.

I had the opportunity to test the X3 with the bullet time cord accessory, which when combined with the bullet time mode allows you to spin the camera around you to create crazy slow motions that otherwise would require highly trained personnel. FPV drone pilot to remove. It can be really cool, but you really need strong daylight for the 4K 120fps slow motion video to look good.

The Insta360 X3 sitting on a tree branch.
Andy Zahn / Digital Trends

Two new modes on the X3 are Me Mode and Loop Recording. Me mode is designed for vlogging or other activities where you want the video to focus exclusively on you. Loop recording continuously records footage, but only saves the last 1 to 30 minutes of video. A potential application for loop recording is to use the X3 as a dashcam for a motorcycle or bicycle.

Other optional accessories include a speed drive and an external microphone adapter, both of which connect to the USB-C port. A 3 meter long extended selfie stick is also available for capturing drone-like images.

Performance

The Insta360 X3 on a pebble beach by the sea.
Andy Zahn / Digital Trends

Despite long recording sessions in hot summer conditions, I never experienced overheating with the X3, and it held up well on chilly nights capturing time-lapse video. The camera easily shrugged off a dip in the ocean and endured tough hiking excursions. However, I frequently ran into an issue where the camera would freeze on me, often on startup, and I had to remove the battery to get it back on. However, it is important to note that I tested the camera using the pre-release firmware and the camera never froze while recording.

In terms of battery life, I found the X3 could get me through an average day of recording on a hike, although as with most 360 and action cameras, it doesn’t only be good for a single star-lapse on a charge. For multi-day backpacking trips, you will definitely need some backup batteries.

The camera easily shrugged off a dip in the ocean and endured tough hiking excursions.

Insta360’s FlowState stabilization and 360-degree horizon lock are more impressive than ever on the X3, so capturing smooth footage is easy.

The camera is waterproof to 33ft, but for 360 degree underwater (as well as deeper dives) you will need to purchase a dive case. If you’re going to be using the camera underwater a lot, I’d still recommend a dive case, if only for an extra layer of protection. The X3 is quite sturdy and shock resistant, but as with any 360 camera, you have to be careful with those two bulbous lenses. As I have unfortunately experienced in the past, you do not want these lenses to come into contact with abrasive substances.

Software

Insta360’s mobile and desktop apps are very accessible ways to review and edit 360 footage, and they offer a plugin for Adobe Premiere Pro. There are simple options available to simplify the process for novice editors and plenty of depth for seasoned content creators.

The Insta360 X3 sitting on the branch of a tree.
Andy Zahn / Digital Trends

Price and availability

The X3 is available now and retails for $450, which is about in the ballpark of a GoPro Hero 10 Black or DJI Action 2. Although slightly more expensive than either of these action cameras, it also offers a greater level of creative versatility. For a 360 camera, the X3 is a remarkably affordable option.

An excellent waterproof 360 camera that won’t break the bank

Insta360 offers a huge range of 360 cameras, but the X3 still manages to stand out with clear advantages and its own niche. It is a major upgrade over its predecessor and offers excellent value for money. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a ton of fun to use, as well as an incredibly versatile tool, thanks to its huge range of shooting modes and options. As a compact, waterproof all-in-one package, the X3 is easy to carry with you and quick to remove and start filming.

While the modular RS system also produced by Insta360 is an attractive alternative, especially with the 1-inch 360 camera attached, the simplicity of the X3 has distinct advantages. The relatively low price of a 360 camera is also very appealing, and for most people the X3 is probably the best 360 camera to choose.

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