When Shenzhen-based camera company Insta360 launched the Insta360 Pro last year, it revolutionized the business of 360 cameras almost overnight.
Of course, there were some pretty formidable reasons behind the instantaneous popularity, one of which was affordability.
At $3,500 it was a relative steal compared to cameras like the GoPro Omni, to give an example, which offers the same 8K resolution for $5,000.
Secondly, the Pro had been designed with a lot of emphasis on the ease of workflow, making it almost as user-friendly as any consumer 360 camera.
The fact that organizations such as National Geographic and CNN, among others, have used the Insta360 Pro is testament enough to its performance and popularity.
However, not happy to rest on past laurels, Insta360 is now offering the next-gen version of the revolutionary camera in the form of the Insta360 Pro 2, which it announced on Tuesday (August 21).
So, now, we’re going to look at some of its major features – all the good stuff – and the bad – and everything in between – as well as what hasn’t changed.
To start with, here are the top features of the Insta360 Pro 2, all of which comes under the “Good” category – it goes without saying.
Higher Resolution in 3D
The Insta360 Pro 2 offers a 3D 360 resolution as high as 8K (7,680 x 7,680) as opposed the 6,400 x 6,100 3D 360 resolution its predecessor was capable of – now, that’s a 40 percent increase we’re talking about when you take both the left eye and the right eye into consideration.
And the bit rate per lens is 120Mbps, as well.
The Insta360 Pro is capable of shooting at 60 frames per second in 8K mono, as well as in 6,400 x 6,400 in 3D, in addition to the ability to shoot at 120Mbps in 4K in 2D or 3D.
Higher Dynamic Range
For videos, Insta360 has incorporated a new mode on the Pro 2 called the HDR, which is essentially there to increase the dynamic range and the resolution is up to 8K 2D 360 (mono).
For stills, the Pro 2’s Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) capability is as high as up to a whopping nine shots, which is more than useful for capturing high contrast pics for HDR.
Stabilization had been a rare inclusion in professional 360 cameras and the ones that did have it, including the Insta360 Pro, had nothing much to show for it.
Well, not until the Pro 2 came along and changed everything, transforming liability into strength with massively improved stabilization, almost in the same league as the FlowState stabilization on the Insta360 ONE.
Also, it works as well in 3D as it does in 2D.
8K 3D 360 Viewing in a Headset
Barring a couple of exceptions like the online video app Visbit – which uses foveated rendering and requires a subscription – most VR headsets are limited to viewing videos in 4K because of the tremendous processing power required for 8K viewing.
However, the Insta360 Pro 2’s companion app called “Crystal View” has made 8K 3D viewing possible on, say, a Samsung Gear VR headset, or a Google Cardboard, to name a couple, and in super detail, too.
“Farsight” Video Transmission System
While the Wi-Fi range of the Insta360 Pro was a mere 10 feet, or so, a dedicated 5.18GHz video transmission technology on the Pro 2 called “Farsight” has changed that dramatically.
It has given the camera a 300m-range alternative for mobile monitoring, one of the reasons for the $5,000 price tag attached to the Pro 2 – that’s $1,500 more than what the previous edition came for.
No Stitch Editing
Earlier this year, Insta360 introduced a plug-in for Adobe Premiere Pro that made editing 360 video captured by the Insta360 Pro a delight, as it allowed you to start editing the camera files without having to stitch everything.
It made a big difference in the workflow, making it faster and definitely more efficient, in that it afforded you the flexibility to stitch only those portions of the video that you actually wanted to use in your final footage.
Furthermore, with the significant reduction in the number of times you stitched and compressed a video, there was a consequential improvement in image quality.
The Insta360 Pro 2 takes this a step, or two, further by adding a proxy file directly to the folder when you shoot a video.
Designed for use in conjunction with the Adobe Premiere plug-in, the smaller files allows for quicker edits, after which the edits can be applied to their full-resolution twin files for the final footage.
This is a feature that’s sure to find a big audience in the professional world of 360 video editing.
Live Streaming While Recording
The Insta360 Pro had a unique feature that allowed you to record and stream video simultaneously, thereby giving you the flexibility to re-stitch the video at a later time – and at a higher quality, at that.
Again, building on the feature, the Pro 2 now allows you to shoot at an even higher resolution of 8K 2D as you stream in 4K 2D; or, you can shoot 6,400 x 6,400 3D 360 while streaming in 4K in 3D.
Fast Start Up
The startup time has been reduced significantly on the Pro 2, which now takes a mere 15-20 seconds to come alive, as opposed to the one-minute, or so, wait time for the Pro to get ready for action.
With the Pro, GPS was an option only if you had the right GPS accessory such as a smartphone, but not so with the Pro 2, which has GPS baked right into it.
As much as you try, there aren’t any glaring negatives about Insta360 Pro 2 that you’ll be able to find, other than the fact that it does cost more than the Pro.
Again, it goes without saying that the Insta360 Pro 2 was always going to cost more than its predecessor and, as mentioned earlier, it is priced at $5,000 compared to the $3,500 Pro.
Apparently, the jump appears to be fully justified when you consider some of the super additions and improvements, not to mention the “Far Sight” transmitter and receiver included in the box.
Plus, Insta360 is going to include a $236 three-month subscription for Mistika VR Professional Edition, “offering customizable stitching controls, integrated with Insta360’s official stitching libraries.”
“Also included is a 3-month license for Blend Media’s 360 Stories Pro software ($745 USD value), letting users easily create and publish virtual tours and other interactive 360 experiences,” says the company.
The price justification also lies in the fact that other cameras in this category, with similar 360 pro capabilities, cost more.
So, honestly, no real negatives – none worthy of mention – for the Insta360 Pro.
What hasn’t changed from the previous version is the photo resolution, although there is the possibility of an improvement in image quality because of other reasons.
Another thing that hasn’t changed is the physical size of the sensor but, again, there may be an improvement in image quality.
The minimum stitching distance also remains the same at around 2 meters but that’s something that should always be expected to improve, considering Insta360’s continued efforts to enhance its stitching algorithm.
Although there’s a slight improvement in the battery spec, going from 5,000mAh on the Pro to 5,100mAh on its successor, they are interchangeable.
Those interested in the cheaper previous version need not worry as the Insta360 Pro will continue to sell alongside the Pro 2.
The Insta360 Pro 2 is currently available for pre-order, with ship-out expected sometime in September.