The Insta360 One RS is a second-generation modular action camera that aims to provide a versatile and creative solution for content creators. With an external design similar to its predecessor, the One R, the RS boasts improved internal processing power and compatibility with better camera modules. While the assembly-required modular design may not appeal to everyone, the One RS offers a compelling alternative to the popular GoPro Hero10 Black, especially for creators who want to capture both 16:9 and 360-degree footage for their projects.
Easy Assembly for Enhanced Versatility
The One RS comes in three pieces: the RS core, the camera module, and a baseplate that securely connects them. Although some assembly is required, it is a straightforward process that does not require any advanced technical skills. Once assembled, the One RS is similar in size and shape to other action cameras, measuring about 1.9 by 2.8 by 1.3 inches (HWD) and weighing 4.4 ounces. For comparison, the GoPro Hero10 Black is slightly larger at 2.8 by 2.2 by 1.3 inches and weighs 5.4 ounces.
The reviewed kit, the One RS Twin Edition, includes two lens modules: the single-lens 4K Boost and the dual-lens 360. If you are not interested in 360-degree video, you can opt for the camera with just the 4K Boost lens. Another option is the One RS 1-Inch Edition, which features a larger sensor with Leica optics and 5.3K resolution, making it ideal for low-light recording.
After selecting the desired kit, the camera components need to be assembled before use. The connectors on the RS core match up with the ports on the lens module, and the baseplate secures the two parts together. Once assembled, the One RS is waterproof up to a depth of 16 feet, making it suitable for various outdoor activities.
Unlike some action cameras that come with built-in mounting clips, the One RS requires a mounting frame, clips for standard GoPro accessories, or an adapter to use it with tripod quick-release plates. It is worth noting that with a single lens module, you can choose to orient the LCD to face forward or backward, providing added flexibility in capturing different perspectives. However, switching between being on-camera and behind the lens requires swapping the parts, which may be less convenient compared to cameras that offer both front and rear color displays.
Compact Design with Limited Display
The One RS features a small square 1.3-inch (diagonal) display, which is considerably smaller than the rear touch screens found on competing cameras. While it serves adequately as a secondary front-facing display, it may not provide an optimal viewfinder and touch surface as the sole display option. The small size makes it challenging to see details in the frame, especially when previewing at the full 16:9 aspect ratio. Additionally, the touch controls on the display are cramped, which may affect usability.
In addition to touch controls, the RS core includes a record button and a power toggle. Voice commands are also available, allowing users to start and stop clips using voice prompts. However, accessing menu options to adjust frame rates and video modes still requires navigating through the camera’s menus manually.
Battery life is a common concern with action cameras, and the One RS is no exception. It offers approximately 75 minutes of 4K60 recording with the single-lens module and around 80 minutes with the 360-degree lens. However, extended recording may lead to overheating issues, as observed during continuous recording for 38 minutes in room temperature conditions.
The core includes a USB-C charging port and a microSDXC card slot for easy charging and storage. Additionally, the Insta360 app enables wireless photo transfers over Wi-Fi, supporting both Android and iOS devices. For quicker transfers or larger media files, the One RS Quick Reader accessory can be added to directly connect the camera to a smartphone.
Impressive Video and Imaging Features
The One RS may share a similar design with the One R, but it incorporates a new imaging engine and supports updated camera modules. While older modules are compatible with the new core, the new lens modules can also be used with the older One R core once a forthcoming firmware update is released.
The upgraded RS core offers faster Wi-Fi transfers, as claimed by Insta360, although side-by-side testing was unable to confirm the stated 67% improvement. The improved core also provides enhanced digital stabilization and promises better audio capture. However, in outdoor environments, the camera’s built-in microphones struggled with wind noise, and the GoPro Max remains the leader in in-camera audio recording among 360-degree models.
The single-lens 4K Boost module represents an improvement over its predecessor, featuring an updated sensor with a 1/2-inch Quad Bayer 48MP chip that outputs pixel-binned 12MP images. It supports 4K60 capture, 4K30 in-camera HDR, and various creative features like slow motion and time lapse. While the slow-motion capabilities do not match the GoPro Hero10 Black’s 4K120, the One RS provides a viable alternative with its other features.
Similar to other cameras equipped with a Quad Bayer chip, such as the DJI Mavic Air 2 and the OnePlus 9 Pro smartphone, the One RS delivers detailed video with effective stabilization. It offers three different profile options: vivid, standard, and flat. The flat profile is particularly suitable for color correction in post-production, as it reduces saturation and contrast, providing greater flexibility for adjustments.
The in-camera HDR mode is ideal for capturing scenes with challenging lighting conditions. It effectively enhances details in shadows and prevents highlights from being overexposed. However, using this mode results in slightly softer details and a reduced frame rate of 30fps. Despite these limitations, it is a useful option for creators, especially those new to vlogging, who may not be familiar with log profiles and color grading techniques.
The One RS’s wide-angle lens provides a broad field of view, similar to a 21mm camera lens, allowing users to capture a significant portion of the surroundings. Digital zoom is available up to 50mm, providing a more standard angle of view without compromising image quality. This advantage is a result of extracting 4K video from a high-pixel sensor.
The camera also introduces an ultra-wide 6K widescreen mode, which produces an anamorphic-style 2:35:1 footage at 24 or 25fps. However, it is worth noting that wide-screen shots are not stabilized in-camera, requiring the use of a tripod or gimbal. Alternatively, footage can be processed through Insta360’s desktop software, which utilizes gyroscope data captured by the One RS to stabilize the video.
The Quad Bayer sensor also plays a crucial role in still image captures. The default photo mode for the 4K Boost lens is 12MP, but users can switch to a 48MP mode for situations where higher resolution is desired. The lens supports both JPG and Raw DNG formats, providing flexibility for immediate sharing or post-processing. Additionally, a JPG HDR photo mode is available for scenes with mixed lighting, capturing blended JPG images alongside overexposed and underexposed versions of the scene.
In terms of still image quality, the One RS delivers results in line with other action cameras. The wide-angle lens produces sharp images, and JPGs exhibit vibrant colors with minimal barrel distortion. Raw DNG images provide greater latitude for adjusting color, highlights, and shadows, allowing users to fine-tune their images. In backlit scenes, Raw captures reveal impressive detail recovery, although some visible barrel distortion may be present.
The Twin Edition of the One RS includes the dual-lens 360 module, which enables capturing everything around the camera. This feature allows for creating immersive videos or extracting flat 16:9 frames for integration into traditional video projects. With a resolution of 5.7K, the One RS 360 camera competes with the GoPro Max in terms of video quality. However, the GoPro Max’s microphones outperform those of the One RS.
The video captured with the One RS offers gimbal-like smoothness, even without the use of a physical gimbal. When using a straight stick to hold the camera, it is effectively erased from the stitched-together footage. The only drawback is that the footage needs to be processed through Insta360’s software to stitch it together, as the camera does not provide ready-to-use footage. The Insta360 app offers basic editing capabilities for mobile users, while the Insta360 Studio desktop app provides higher quality stitching and editing options for Mac and Windows users. Compatible with popular video editing software like Final Cut Pro, the One RS ensures seamless integration into existing editing workflows.
Is the Insta360 One RS Right for You?
Insta360 gained recognition for its innovative 360-degree cameras, including the original One model. With the release of the One RS, the brand aims to cater to a broader audience, including those who prefer single-lens capture. The One RS builds upon the success of its predecessor, the One R, offering enhanced features and versatility.
The 4K Boost lens delivers crisp and visually appealing footage with outstanding stabilization, surpassing the GoPro Hero8 Black in terms of quality. The camera’s modular design allows for compatibility with previous One R modules, providing an upgrade path for existing users. Moreover, the availability of the 1-inch Leica camera module offers an excellent option for those seeking improved single-lens video quality.
Despite its merits, the One RS does have some shortcomings. The built-in microphones struggle with outdoor environments, especially in windy conditions. The small square LCD display may pose visibility challenges, particularly when previewing wide-screen shots. Additionally, the need to disassemble the camera to switch between front and rear-facing modes may inconvenience some users.
However, these limitations should not overshadow the One RS’s strengths. For creators working with both 360-degree and 16:9 content, the Twin Edition provides unmatched versatility at a lower cost compared to purchasing separate cameras like the GoPro Max and Hero10. Budget-conscious action cam shoppers should seriously consider the single-lens 4K Boost kit, as it outperforms similarly priced alternatives like the GoPro Hero8 Black.
In conclusion, the Insta360 One RS offers an impressive range of features and flexibility, making it an excellent choice for content creators looking to push the boundaries of action camera videography. With its modular design, advanced imaging capabilities, and competitive pricing, the One RS opens up new creative possibilities for both beginners and professionals alike.
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