MXA TEAM TESTED: INSTA360 X3 ACTION CAMERA
WHAT IS IT? Founded in 2015, Insta360 pioneered 360-degree spherical video cameras, and the X3 is their latest and greatest camera, offering extremely high-quality videos and photos with an easy-to-use editing app that links directly to your phone. NASA actually used Insta360 cameras to live-stream their InSight Mars Lander and Perseverance rover landings on Mars.
WHAT’S IT COST? $449.99 (X3 camera), $556.00 (X3 + motorcycle kit).
CONTACT? www.insta360.com or your local dealer.
WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that stand out with the Insta360 X3 action camera.
(1) Concept. With the Insta360 camera filming a full 360-degree scope, you’ll never miss a shot. You simply hit record, film your race, and then “key-frame” the footage later, choosing how far zoomed in or out you want the camera to be and editing which directions you want it to look. Editing on a smartphone takes some time to get used to, but it’s easy to do after a short tutorial on the app. The only downside is that your smartphone doesn’t export the footage at full resolution, so you need to use your laptop to edit if you want to download the footage at the highest quality.
(2) Features. The impressive 5.7K resolution video is recorded at 30 frames per second to capture 360-degree spherical footage. It has a single lens mode where you can choose either the front- or rear-facing lens. It also has impressive photo features, invisible selfie-stick capability, HDR video and flow-state stabilization to make it much easier to watch bumpy riding footage on the track. It’s waterproof to 33 feet and has its own Wi-Fi transmitter, allowing you to connect your phone to the camera to view real-time footage, and edit video and photos instantly on your smartphone.
(3) Mounting. We never recommend mounting a camera directly to the outer shell of your helmet. Your helmet is designed to deflect, and any sharp edges on a helmet only increase the risk of head/neck injury. We use the Insta360 chest mount, which has a swivel for the camera to attach, helping it to move out of the way if need be. With the chest mount, you get great views of the track and race, and it’s much safer. Riders who ride further forward on the bike may find the X3 camera can snag on their handlebars from time to time. Take a few laps to get used to it, and don’t tighten the mount too much in case it needs to bend out of the way.
(4) Tips. On the track, wind noise is pretty bad if you don’t use foam wind muffs. Insta360 sells muffs that Velcro over the microphones on each side of the camera, but we’ve found it works better to make your own. We use a thick, 3M-branded, two-sided tape. We cut out small holes in the middle for the mics, then stick small pieces of foam onto the tape. We cut the foam out of a foam paintbrush.
When editing YouTube videos, we use the Insta360 Studio app on our computer for editing. The flow-state-direction lock button is a must-use for this.
WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? The lens protectors aren’t scratch-resistant, which means you’ll need to replace them a lot if you get roosted often or if you aren’t careful with the camera in the pits.
MXA RATING: Our Insta360 X3 camera has survived many races, lots of roost and multiple crashes without damage. We’ve captured amazing race footage that would not have been possible without a 360 camera. With lots more settings and accessories to try, we have barely scratched the surface with the X3. If the X3 is capable of operating in outer space with NASA, it should be good enough for gearheads.