360-degree cameras first came to the market in a flat form factor that I couldn’t get comfortable with. I couldn’t get used to holding a camera with that shape, despite loving the first-person feel of the recordings. I tested the Insta360 One X2 camera last year and loved what it does. As always, we were hoping for more, and we get it in the Insta360 One RS action camera.
We previewed the Insta360 One RS in March and did a deep dive into the technical aspects, so we won’t repeat that here. Now, we have our hands on the Twin Edition of the Insta 360 One RS action camera, along with the Motorcycle Kit. It lives up to its impressive specs and a lot more.
With an MSRP of $626, the Insta 360 One RS Twin Edition with the Motocycle Kit consists of the One RS Core camera, the 360 lens with lens cap, the 4K Boost lens, a 120cm Invisible Selfie Stick with a One RS mounting bracket, a One RS battery base, and a 64 GB MicroSD card.
The Insta360 One RS is three components— a control module with a touchscreen, a lens module (360, 4K Boost 150-degree wide-angle lens, or a Leica 1-inch Wide Angle lens), and a battery base that holds all the pieces together.
The Insta360 One RS can be your action camera, your 360-degree dashcam using its loop recording mode, or your 360-degree travel vlog camera with storage of up to 1 TB per microSD card. It is powered through its USB-C port when tethered to a battery pack or 12-volt outlet, or you can use the One RS Battery Base.
The cover for the USB-C port and microSD card slot is awkward to open and unwieldy to properly close for a water-tight seal. I found it impossible to properly latch this little door when the camera is in the mounting enclosure, so you must take the camera out of the enclosure to install the little SD card cover door. Fortunately, the Insta360 One RS camera is waterproof to 16 feet with the door installed, so torrential thunderstorms won’t hurt it. It is an outdoor action camera with a high fun factor.
The little door is attached by a thin plastic thread with a nub on the end. If you want to keep the camera plugged in for recording on an all-day ride, you must remove the card door. If you lose the door, expect to pay $14 for a two-pack and $18 for freight.
The camera slides into the One RS mounting bracket that can be attached to a helmet or mounted on a selfie stick. I plan to keep mine running in loop mode as my dash cam and then raise it for interesting shots. Although I have walked down a trail holding the selfie stick, I normally mount it to my front or rear crash bars, leaning out at about 30 degrees and fully extended to about 47 inches. The artificial intelligence built into the camera makes the selfie stick invisible, so you always appear to have a personal, follow-me camera drone.
With the selfie stick fully extended, there is a lot of leverage on this friction mount when attaching it to the crash bars or passenger pegs. Freeway speed wind or off-road bumps tip the pole toward the ground. Even after putting all my muscle into torquing down the tension nut, the stick will only stay in place at half-extension or no more than slightly off vertical. If you want to use a fully extended selfie stick at a 45-degree angle on bumpy terrain, look into a semi-permanent aftermarket clamp mechanism.
With 360-degree capture, it doesn’t matter what you thought you were aiming it because you frame what you want to see during the post-ride editing process. The AI-enhanced application that processes the 360 videos helps you get the best views of the subject matter.
This Insta360 One RS action camera requires almost no instruction to start recording immersive 360-degree videos, 360-degree stills, and wide-angle videos and stills. The small, easily navigable touchscreen or the app on your smartphone can be intuitively used for setting the myriad of capture modes. You can also control the camera from an Apple Watch.
Besides the full-control touchscreen, the control module has two summer-glove-friendly buttons. One is the ON/OFF, and the other is a multi-function record button.
A quick press of the RECORD button from off and recording begins. A second rapid press stops recording and shuts the camera back off. When ON, the record button will start and stop recording in record mode or snap photos in photo mode.
The Insta360 RS One also takes voice commands. When ON and in Video Record mode, you can simply say “Start Recording” or “Stop Recording” and it executes your directive. When in Photo Mode, you can instruct, “Take Photo”. With a loud enough projected voice, the camera will obey, even at full extension of the selfie stick.
You can also use the smartphone app to fully control the operation of the Insta360 RS, including changing from photo to any one of the motion capture modes. Not wanting to be a distracted rider, your pillion can change recording modes, start and stop recording, and take high-resolution still photos from your smartphone.
When you stop for lunch, you can process your videos right on your smartphone. The files from the Insta360 RS are large. Even a 15-second clip can consume 150 MB of storage, so plan ahead for how you will get your videos either off the camera or off your smartphone. You can take the microSD card out of the camera to transfer data to your desktop or mobile storage device.
With six gyros, built-in AI, and a host of software special effects, you can be your own movie studio. You can edit your Insta360 One RS files with the free Insta360 Studio 2022 desktop editing software (Windows and macOS—I use Windows).
Insta360 provides many special effect applications that the company calls stories. With the ease of a selection button, you can make everyone else at your favorite bike week disappear, turning it into a ghost town. Another amazing story holds you still and has the background pass you by. Insta360 is developing new and innovative software tricks to spice up your road trip videos to wow even the best CGI artists.
On one ride, I inadvertently left my Insta360 on and got a video of my trail mate going through a tough section. That night, I was able to highlight her in the video using the editing software.
You can do quite a bit with the free Insta360 Camera control app on your Android or iOS smartphone to capture and send, or publish on social media. The smartphone app has helpful step-by-step guides telling you how to get all the fancy final videos, though you don’t need to get fancy to memorialize the best moments of a ride, hike, or baby’s first birthday. I am no techie and produced these clips with just a few button pushes on my iPhone.
The main difference I see between the Insta360 One X2, the previous model I reviewed, and the new Insta360 One RS is that the RS is modular. The RS can be upgraded as new lenses and batteries become available. The original X2 does have almost every 360 video feature of the RS. Because the RS has interchangeable lenses, 360, 4K, and Leica 1-inch, you have options for specialized photography. If you want to start filming your own cinematic movies, the 4K Boost lens has a 6K Widescreen mode that is not available on the X2
If you already own the X2 and it takes all the amazing video and stills your family and friends are willing to sit through, then thanks for reading—stick with what you have. However, if you are reading this review because you are trying to decide between the X2 and the RS, I recommend you purchase the latter. The Insta360 One RS is the next generation with additional features and interchangeable lenses.