Review: Insta360 X3 Action Camera – All Action Hero!

An Epic Camera for when your phone just won’t do

There used to be a time when a person would go out to buy a phone and come home with a phone. How times have changed? Today, you can go out to buy a phone and return home with a phone, camera, video recorder, games console, calendar, diary, radio, music studio, film studio and a great many other things too.

While the amalgamation of all this technology into a single device has indeed brought a huge, positive change to the world, thanks to the folks at Insta360, the death knell of the stand-alone camera continues to be rightly muted. The Insta360 X3 Action Camera is like nothing I’ve ever seen. It’s the Ethan Hunt, James Bond, Mike Banning, Xander Cage, Jason Statham and Jackie Chan Action Camera. This feature-rich camera will have adrenaline junkies salivating and filled with unhealthy desires at the prospect of capturing their crazy stunts and general tomfoolery in Oscar-worthy glory. Read on and let’s look at what this incredible camera has to offer us ordinary people as well. Take a deep breath first.

But what about the camera?

This camera records 360º views in 5.7K. What does this mean? Well,  for one thing, you can film yourself doing breathtaking manoeuvres while surfing the crest of a wave or racing avalanches down a snow-covered mountain. Or, to put it crudely, you could place the camera on your head and film the expression on your face crying and screaming in fear while simultaneously soiling yourself as you attempt a bungee jump or exit a plane mid-flight! I jest, but just imagine the detailed shots you can capture with a 1/2” sensor capable of 48 MP coupled with a 360º camera lens!

Yes, it has an app too!

The AI-powered Insta360 app is equipped with all of the bells & whistles you need to edit your movie like a pro. Just like the best film directors, you can reframe your shots after you’ve captured the footage. Among other things, this allows you to crop the image to make your movies look and feel more gritty and dynamic. There is also an Auto Framing option that will let AI decide which parts of your 360º masterpiece to focus on.

The X3 has an Active HDR function, meaning that your footage will be packed with superior definition, clarity and quality you won’t find in many other cameras. Shadows pop with detail as well as highlighted areas.

Don’t be swayed into believing this camera can only do 360º views. If your creativity requires, the X3 can also capture 4K video at 30fps just like a single-lens action camera or you could switch to a wider 170º field of view.

If this doesn’t get your creative juices flowing, how about using the X3’s new Me Mode? This mode engages the ubiquitous Selfie feature, but this one is like no other. Fancy being the star of your own film? Me Mode can fix the lens framed on you as you film in slo-mo/ 60fps with the Selfie Stick magically missing. The creative possibilities are endless with this remarkable feature.

Fancy a bit of rough & tumble or the odd bump & grind?

If you prefer to go off-piste, travel The Road Less Traveled or plunge to deeper depths, the Insta360 X3 has got you covered. Image stabilisation is noteworthy in this camera (if you happen to find yourself in an earthquake situation.) For divers, you can take it to depths of 33ft (10m) straight out of the box or if you want to go deeper, the optional Dive Case can have you filming 360° footage down to 164ft (50m). Whether you’re tossing and tumbling or flipping and falling the Horizon Lock function aims to keep your footage level for a more pleasurable playback experience. Your audience will thank you for this!

Slow down, slow down!

Action doesn’t always require speed. Capture ephemeral, fleeting moments that combine to reveal the passing of time in amazing 8K detail with the Time Lapse feature.

And there’s a whole lot more

As you’d probably expect, there is a treasure trove of features the X3 is laden with. While some may be subtle, these features are no less laudable. The Haptic feedback generates a vibration when you interact with functions on the toughened glass touch screen. Voice control is another useful feature if the camera is out of reach or if you’re using the camera for 360º online meetings. While your creative juices may be flowing, you can rest assured that the X3 will retain its juice for longer as it comes with a very acceptable 1800mAh battery.

Hey AI?

I touched upon The X3’s use of AI for Auto-framing earlier but I feel AI needs further elaboration. AI has rightly or wrongly become prevalent in almost every new device that launches these days. Its close integration with the Insta360 app will take your footage to a level that’s only seen in Hollywood blockbusters. You can give your landscapes, skyscapes and seascapes an ethereal quality like that found on Middle Earth or Asgard.

My Verdict

The Insta360 X3 is not just a Camera. It’s not even just an Action Camera. This camera puts cinematic alchemy into the hands of ordinary people and adrenaline junkies alike, starting at $449.99 for the standard bundle. Whether you want to capture quaint family day trips by the coast or high-intensity X Gaming action, the X3 will not disappoint. They say “You can’t improve on perfection” but I eagerly anticipate if and how this camera can be topped. X-Ray vision perhaps?

About Author
Chetan is a London-based designer by profession. He is passionate about the role design plays in everyday life whether it's graphic, digital, fashion, product or environmental design. Motivated by aesthetic design, function and the User Experience of emerging and new technologies, products and platforms, he is ever keen to learn, discover and innovate. Although he doesn't consider himself a nerd or a geek, he is a big movie fan and lists Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Harry Potter, The Shawshank Redemption and… Brewsters Millions among his favourites! Chetan is also an aspiring author and is currently working on his first novel.