This is the Insta360 One R, a GoPro action camera competitor with a twist. Built like Lego, the One R consists of pieces that can be assembled in a number of fascinating ways. The key pieces are the battery, the core (with a tiny touchscreen, USB-C connector, Micro SD memory card slot, and the brains of the system), one of several interchangeable lens modules, and a mounting bracket.
There are currently three lens modules or “Mods”—a 4K lens Mod that mimics a GoPro, a one-inch lens Mod that shoots 5.3K video with an oversized one-inch sensor, and a 360 Mod that shoots 5.6K 360-degree video. Need an action camera to film your ride? Snap in the 4K lens Mod and go. Want to shoot a selfie video at a scenic spot? Point the lens at your smiling mug and flip the core so that the screen is facing you and hit “record.” Want to shoot a anorama video from the top of a mountain? Snap in the 360 Mod and go. You can even mount the camera on a selfie stick that auto-magically disappears when you record. The one-inch Mod is the most interesting lens for me, as the oversized one-inch sensor is significantly better than GoPro’s in low light (when compared to your standard GoPro).
The pieces feel well-built with tight tolerances. They snap together firmly and securely enough to be waterproof to 16 feet. All three lens Mods incorporate mind-bendingly good image stabilization that helps keep your video steady. But in order to get the most out of the camera, you need to use the Insta360 app on your phone or Insta360 Studio app on your computer. And with 4K and larger resolution videos, you’ll need a fast computer to process the files.
Mounting the One R to your bike, helmet, or body is much like mounting a GoPro—the standard mounting bracket utilizes the GoPro two-prong mounting system. In the real world, on the side of the road, the modularity and flexibility is a mixed blessing. It’s nice to be able to adapt the camera to your needs, but the process is best done at the kitchen table. Dealing with multiple small pieces when the flattest, cleanest surface is your pillion seat is a mistake waiting to happen. The touchscreen, while convenient, is also small and fiddly.
All-in-all, the One R is a top level action camera with image quality and stability that runs toe-to-toe with GoPro’s best and even surpasses them in some areas. With the 4K Mod, you can have a GoPro competitor that can be expanded/upgraded over time. The 360 Mod and one-inch Mod are more specialty tools that require a little more skill and computing horsepower to work with, but in the right hands the results can be jaw-droppingly good.
The Insta360 One R starts at $299.99 for the 4K Edition with the 4K wide angle lens Mod, one core, one battery, and one mounting bracket. A bundle with all three lens Mods (4K, 360, one-inch) retails for $779.98. As with GoPros, a plethora of accessories and mounts are available.