Insta360 One RS 1-inch 360 Edition Review: Leica sensor for superior low light 360 videos

Insta360 One RS 1-inch 360 Edition Review: Leica sensor for superior low light 360 videos

Two months ago, I reviewed the Insta360 One RS, a modular camera that could transform from an action camera to a 360 camera in seconds. Now comes an upgraded model named Insta360 One RS 1-inch 360 Edition, which as the name suggests features a superior 360 lens with a 1-inch sensor. Not just any sensor, mind you, but one that Insta360 says was co-engineered with Leica.

The 1-inch image sensors — there are two of them because a 360 camera uses two lenses — are just about twice the size of the 1/2.3-inch sensors found in previous Insta360’s 360 lenses, and it brings immediately noticeable improvements in image and video quality, particularly in low light conditions. The larger sensor also allows the camera to shoot in 6K resolution, compared to the 5.7K before.

Insta360 one rs 1-inch edition in the hand about to shoot a 360 video

With the hardware getting a bump, so does the price. The Insta360 One RS 1-inch 360 Edition is the company’s priciest consumer-level camera yet at $799. But it still costs less than other 1-inch 360 cameras on the market such as the $1,000 Ricoh Zeta Z1. Clearly, this new Insta360 camera is aiming at “pro-sumers” more than the average consumers.

      This upgrade to the standard Insta360 One RS brings a new 360 lens with a pair of 1-inch sensors co-engineered by Leica

        Pros:

        Cons:

    About this review: This review was written after a week of testing the Insta360 One RS 1-inch 360 Edition provided by Insta360. The company did not have input in this review.


    Insta360 One RS 1-Inch 360 Edition: Pricing and Availability

    The Insta360 One RS 1-Inch 360 Edition retails for $799 and is available at online and physical retailers worldwide, such as Amazon and Apple store, along with Insta360’s own online store.

    The $799 price is for the entire set, including the 1-inch lens, core, and battery base/mounting bracket. This being a modular camera, there is a cheaper $649 edition aimed at people who own existing Insta360 One R or One RS cameras. This version excludes the core, as the older core from previous cameras will also work with the new 1-inch sensor.


    Hardware and Design

    For those unfamiliar with how the originally Insta360 One RS (launched two months ago) worked: it was essentially four pieces: a core that houses a 1-inch LCD screen and the brains of the camera; a battery base, and two camera “mods”: a 360 lens and a 4K action lens that shoot ultra-wide footage. The core and battery base are must-used items, and the user can swap between either the 360 lens or the 4K lens.

    This new model comes with the aforementioned enhanced 1-inch 360 lens that requires a new battery base that doubles as a mounting bracket with a quarter-inch screw at the bottom. The core remains unchanged. This means those who own the Insta360 One RS would not need to buy a new core (hence the cheaper package mentioned in the pricing section).

    insta360 one rs and 1-inch edition standing on a table.

    The Insta360 One RS released in April (left) and the Insta360 One RS 1-inch 360 Edition with new battery base.

    As you can see from the photos, the new 1-inch model is significantly bigger than the original camera. The 1-inch lens module is much larger of course, but the battery base is also much larger too.

    The 1-inch lens (left); the core (middle); the new battery base/mounting bracket (right).

    I’m still okay with the overall size (about six inches tall) and weight (239g), but I carry my cameras in a backpack when I’m out anyway. Those who tend to carry their Insta360 cameras on their body (in pockets) may find the new size/weight unwieldy. Another issue is when I mount this new 1-inch edition camera on an extended selfie stick (and this is something most users will do often because the camera is best-used this way), the weight starts to stress the stick. Depending on how heavily you use it this way, this has the potential to become a problem.

    insta360 One RS on a selfie stick

    If I extend this stick longer, the weight of the camera starts stressing the stick — I can see it bend slightly.

    The core houses a slot for a microSD card (it has no internal storage) as well as a USB-C port for charging and other accessories. But there is also a USB-C port in the battery base now, which is easier to access in this particular model because the core is quite wrapped up by the battery base/mounting bracket.

    The core and lens connect via pin adaptors, and the core connects to the battery base via a USB-C connection. On the battery base are buttons for power and record. When all the parts are connected, the camera is rated IPX3, meaning it is only splash-proof, and can’t be submerged in water. This is a big downgrade from the previous Insta360 One RS (or Insta360 One X2), which are rated IP68 and can be taken underwater for minutes at a time.

    Battery

    The larger battery base brings improved battery life as expected. On a single charge, the Insta360 One RS 1-inch edition can film for up to 62 minutes. No one will ever be able to test this continuously because the microSD card will have run out of storage before the hour is up. But I have taken this camera out for a weekend of shooting, and over two days of on-and-off use shooting over 25 clips (which vary in length ranging from 10 seconds to five minutes), the camera still had around 45% battery after the weekend, so I don’t think battery life will be a concern at all.

    Insta360 modular parts


    Image Quality

    The new 1-inch sensor can shoot 6K/30fps videos or 21MP still photos. Those not familiar with 360 footage need to know that the bar is different for resolution here. For traditional videos with a set field-of-view, 4K footage is more than enough for like 99% of the screens on the planet. Even 1080p is sharp enough for most human eyes (I still don’t really care whether my phone screen is 1080p or WQHD+, for example). But 4K is actually just average resolution in 360 footage because the video is capturing so much more canvas (literally, everything around you). Most professional-grade 360 cameras are 8K or 11K. This means 6K 360 videos are somewhere between casual consumer 360 cameras and professional level.

    The first question to answer is, just how much better is the 1-inch 360 lens’ image quality compared to the previous Insta360 360 cameras? Below are some stills grabbed from a 360 video captured by the new 1-inch camera and the Insta360 One X2 (which uses the same 360 sensor as the older One RS).

    The difference is clearly noticeable — the 1-inch footage is sharper, and has less noise — but perhaps not as jaw-droppingly better as one may expect when hearing the words “Leica” and “1-inch sensor.” I think it’s worth remembering that these are stills grabbed from 360 videos capturing the entire world around me simultaneously, it’s unreasonable to expect the image quality to be as sharp as, say, an iPhone 13 camera shot.

    The 1-inch footage is sharper, and has less noise

    The 360 footage can be seen below — but because YouTube maxes out at 4K resolution, these videos are slightly compressed. I can confirm footage looks a bit better when viewed directly on my computer screen.

    These videos were also shot in low-light conditions on purpose to push the cameras. If I move to better lighting, the footage looks much better.

    While platforms like Facebook and YouTube support 360 videos, most social media platforms like Instagram or TikTok do not. Instead, you can reframe a 360 video (pan around, zoom in and out as you see fit) and then export that as a “normal” video which can then be shared. Insta360 was the first consumer-grade 360 camera to offer this ability, and now even though almost all 360 cameras can do this, I still find Insta360’s software to be the most adept at rendering these reframed videos, like the one below.

    If you’re wondering how the camera looked like it was floating above me or hovering in front of me, it’s because Insta360’s software automatically erases the selfie stick from view. So while you can see my hand is holding something, you can’t see what it is.

    A still grabbed from Insta360 One RS 360 footage

    This means the Insta360 One RS 1-inch 360 Edition can be used as a one-man filming tool. I can film myself without needing someone to hold a camera. Previous Insta360 cameras could do this too, but the improved visuals here make the reframed footage look a bit more presentable.


    Software

    There are two methods to edit/tweak videos captured. The first is direct via Insta360’s mobile app, available on iOS or Android. Files are transferred over to the phone via Bluetooth, and from here, you can do just about anything you’d want with the footage, including the aforementioned reframing, or adjusting colors and applying filters. You can then share the files directly to social media platforms directly from Insta360’s mobile app or just save them to your phone.

    But using the mobile app will ultimately compress videos a bit, so those who want the best possible videos should use Insta360’s desktop app, available for Windows and macOS. Here, you get a full-size desktop software that allows you to see more and export in Apple’s ProRes format or other video formats.

    insta360 software

    Insta360’s desktop software.

    The app is easier to use than the desktop software, and I think most people would be fine using it. Reframing a video on the phone app, for example, is a matter of holding the phone and panning around (in your real-world space). On the desktop software, it requires setting camera pivot points with your mouse cursor.


    Should you buy the Insta360 One RS 1-inch 360 Edition?

    Insta360 one rs 1-inch edition camera

    You should buy the Insta360 One RS 1-inch 360 Edition if:

    • You want to shoot 360 videos in low light conditions without a significant drop in image quality like most consumer-grade 360 cameras.
    • You want a versatile camera that can be both a 360 camera and a traditional GoPro-style action camera.
    • You want the best overall portable 360 camera to document your life.

    You should not buy the Insta360 One RS 1-inch 360 Edition if:

    • You do more of your 360 video shooting during the day under good lighting. The standard One RS is a better purchase.
    • You want a 360 camera for underwater adventures.
    • You already own the Insta360 One RS that was released a couple of months ago.

    Insta360’s cameras have been a must-carry item for me whenever I traveled in the past few years because I like the ability to shoot my entire surrounding and then reframe the video later. It’s extra beneficial for an often solo traveler such as myself because the nature of 360 cameras means I can film myself without needing a helping hand.

    Insta360's cameras have been a must-carry item for me whenever I traveled the past few years

    In the past, I have given an easy recommendation for Insta360 cameras, but this one is trickier because it’s so pricey at $799. The standard Insta360 One RS I reviewed two months ago costs $550, and that bundle includes the 4K action lens that’s not included in this set. So for most people, that standard edition is probably a better buy. There’s also the Insta360 One X2, a standalone 360 camera, at $450. The 1-inch sensor does produce higher quality 360 videos, but is it worth an extra $250 or $350 for most people? I’d argue not.

    But the Insta360 One RS 1-inch 360 Edition will have its own customer base: professional adventurers who have a large social media following.

    TikTok and Instagram Stories are all the rage these days, and one look at Insta360’s Instagram account and you’ll see there are many skydivers, parkour practitioners, skateboarders, and mountain bikers, who rely on Insta360 cameras to capture their footage. For these people, $800 for improved image quality is worth it.

      This upgrade to the standard Insta360 One RS brings a new 360 lens with a pair of 1-inch sensors co-engineered by Leica

    About author

    Ben Sin
    Ben Sin

    I'm a senior editor at XDA Developers. I have been a journalist for a decade, the last five years covering the mobile tech scene closely, reviewing just about every phone and attending trade shows and launches. I also run a gadget review channel on YouTube.

    We are reader supported. External links may earn us a commission.