It’s not often a competitor to GoPro comes around and challenges them. The action cam market has been status quo GoPro for a while. Now the Insta360 One RS offers a unique modular take on the action cam space.
Insta360 recently updated their One R into the One RS. They brought more processing power and a few other upgrades to the market. With its ability to use the GoPro-like 4k Boost module, the unique Leica co-engineered 1-inch sensor module, and a 360 module, is Insta360 ready to take on the world?
- Excellent 1080 and 4k video quality up to 60fps
- Gimbal-like stability
- Surprisingly good photos from the 1-inch edition
- Modular design
- Battery life
- Laggy display while filming
- Terrible slow-motion image quality
- SD card is very difficult to access
- Long lag between button press and shutter in photo mode
Insta360 One RS — Technical specifications
All technical specifications for the One RS 4k were taken from the B&H product page:
- 4K60 video, waterproof to 16′
- Up to 6K widescreen video, 2:35:1 aspect
- 48MP photos, Active HDR Action Mode
- Supports FlowState Image Stabilization
- 3 Mics for better audio, instant zoom
- 3-Prong mounting frame
- 21% more battery capacity than ONE R
As were the specifications for the One RS 1-inch edition:
- Co-Engineered with Leica
- Lens mod features low-light 1″ sensor
- Up to 5.3K30 video/19MP photos
- FlowState stability
- Horizon lock
- 1445mAh battery base
- 16′ waterproof frame
- Crisper audio with 3 mics
- Faster Wi-Fi speed, larger battery
Insta360 One RS — Ergonomics and build quality
Ergonomics and action cameras aren’t often words you see in the same sentence. However, the Insta360 One RS gets a lot right. The buttons are large and tactile enough to operate quickly and even when wearing riding gloves. Despite the touch screen being tiny, it’s surprisingly easy to navigate. Once you learn the swipe operations, it becomes quick and easy to bounce around the menus.
In regards to size, the Insta360 One RS with the 4k boost module is only slightly larger than a GoPro Hero 10. With the 1-inch module in place, it gains some depth and a slight amount of height from the threaded-on lens cover . Its 4.4oz weight is light enough to mount on a helmet and not be a bother.
On the negative side, the microSD card on the Insta360 One RS is not fun to deal with. The compartment it’s housed in is tiny. The door is on a little tether, so you can’t get it completely out of the way. Then, once you pop the card up, there isn’t quite enough room to dig a finger in and get hold of it. On top of that, putting the door back in place is also pretty fiddly. Hopefully, future editions of this camera line will remedy that.
Build quality on the Insta360 One RS is your standard fare for a good action camera. It’s a little box that’s built to take a beating. I particularly like that the 1-inch module has an easily removed lens cover. It threads onto the module and provides excellent protection for the lens. Beyond that, each piece of the camera clicks together nicely. Everything feels well made and seems like it will hold up to use and abuse.
Insta360 One RS — In the field
Using the Insta360 One RS has its share of ups and downs. All of the standard features work as advertised. However, it’s not without some downsides. The display is laggy while filming. Trying to track a subject with the camera is a bit tough as what’s on the screen is maybe a half-second in the past. Similarly, in photo mode, there’s about a second delay between pressing the record button and the camera taking the photo. Not ideal for capturing the action!
While I mentioned the 1-inch edition’s lens cover as a pro, I did run into an issue with it as well. On a hot and humid day, the cover built up condensation inside it. You’ll notice this as a white vignette in the sample video below.
The stability in the Insta 360 One RS is next-level good. It’s the closest to gimbal-smooth I’ve used yet. Insta360 calls their stability “Flow State” and it’s easy to see why. I was able to walk behind my friends while filming their ride without a bump or jitter in the footage.
The new battery in the One RS impressed me. A long day of filming clips on mountain bike rides is easily accomplished. It’s even been in the 90s in my area, and the heat wasn’t able to beat the One RS battery into submission.
Insta360 One RS 4k Module — Image quality
The Insta360 One RS with Boost 4k lens is the most like a standard GoPro. You have 4k60p and 1080p200 for your fastest framerates, as well as a 6k widescreen mode. The video quality is excellent in the framerates from 60fps down to 24fps. The standard settings are a little heavy-handed. However, turn down the sharpening and make use of the log profile and now we’re talking.
Speaking of the log profile, it’s pretty nice. GoPro’s “flat” color profile isn’t that flat in reality. Insta360 has given us a gradable log color profile in an action camera! I was surprised that it helped retain a little more dynamic range and was able to be pushed around a fair amount.
There is a glaring negative to the Insta360 One RS, though. The slow-motion modes are nearly unusable. As you can see in my example video above, the 1080p200 is a pixelated, gross-looking mess. The 2.7k100p is a bit better, but the footage doesn’t start looking great again until 60fps. That’s unfortunate for an action camera.
Photo quality on the Insta360 One RS with the Boost 4k lens is pretty standard for an action cam. There’s not anything special about the photos. The close focus distance isn’t terribly close. Even though they claim 48 megapixel photos, they don’t hold up to pixel peeping well. It makes me wonder if perhaps there’s some AI upscaling in play to get that number. If you’re looking for better photos, stick around for the 1-inch edition.
Insta360 One RS 1-inch edition — Image Quality
The Insta360 One RS 1-inch edition is much the same as the 4k module when it comes to video. The strengths are even greater, however. Video in every mode other than slow-motion modes is stunning for an action camera. The footage is sharp and crisp. The stability is still gimbal-like goodness. It also seems to have a bit more dynamic range.
Like the 4k module, the 1-inch edition has an excellent log profile. This makes color grading a breeze. Between turning the sharpness down and using log, I was able to get decent-looking footage rather easily. Also, like the Boost 4k module, the 1080p120 in the 1-inch edition is sadly quite bad.
The photo quality in the 1-inch edition is massively improved over the 4k module. Although the 1-inch module is only 19 megapixels, it produces much better photos. The dynamic range of the raw files offers a lot more room to edit. I also found fine details to hold up much better with this module. The only downfall was that huge shutter lag I mentioned earlier. These are probably the best photos I’ve seen from an action cam, however.
It should be mentioned that these are all RAW DNG files edited in Affinity Photo. The JPEGs the Insta360 One RS puts out, both in the 1-inch and 4k modules, are super vibrant and a bit oversharpened for my tastes.