Want to capture action-packed video while on the move using a simple, compact camera? The competition is actually getting fierce, though maybe not exactly how you might think.
Arguably, the GoPro alternative isn’t another simple action cam, it is a 360 camera. Insta360 has been making compelling options designed for filmmaking that leverage 360 capture to make shooting easier.
The two most current releases from each are the GoPro HERO11 Black and Insta360 X3. They may be very different tools, but they can fill the same hole in your kit. If you are eyeing one or both of these cameras then this comparison from David Manning may help.
The GoPro HERO11 Black is the classic action camera. GoPro defined the genre and continues with their consistent quality and design. It’s hard to fault it for this, especially with an impressive 5.3K resolution, but it does only shoot straight ahead so you have to make sure it is positioned just right.
The Insta360 X3 is a proper 360 camera, so it captures practically everything going on around and then you can do some reframing in post to find that ideal shot. This final shot does only reach around Full HD 1080p resolution though.
The main battle is between pure image quality (GoPro) and versatility (Insta360).
Both cameras were set to their maximum quality settings. On the GoPro that is the 5.3K 30p mode while Insta360 captures a 5.7K 30p 360-degree image that is cropped down to 1080p for the final shot.
Looking at the images here you can see a bit more detail in the GoPro and the rendering the scene seems to be a bit more natural/neutral from the GoPro as well. Not that the X3 looks bad. It’s only in the side-by-side tests that I would pick out its deficiencies.
The X3 does also have a 4K 30p mode that uses a single lens. This might be marginally better but it does have that ultra-wide look due to the 180-degree lens design.
If you can prep the shot and get the camera positioned where you need it then the GoPro does deliver the better image.
Types of Footage
For vlogging, which seems to be a key focus of this video, the GoPro does suffer from having the selfie stick in the shot at all times. For anything more than just a head and shoulders shot there will be a selfie stick.
Insta360 was able to solve this with some of their 360 stitching magic. It can eliminate the selfie stick in the shot for a “floating” camera effect. The look of this shot is undeniably great.
In this situation, the X3’s extra functionality granted by 360 capture put it clearly ahead.
Both these cameras will be used for action shots. For that, you need some good stabilization. Both use digital systems that are shockingly good. GoPro has really worked some magic with what it can do and the improvements they have made over the years.
However, the Insta360 capturing the entire sphere of image and being able to perfectly compensate for the camera being completely flipped the middle of a shot is unbeatable. GoPro probably has the best digital stabilization for standard imaging, but 360 cameras are on another level.
This goes to Insta360.
Both are effective action cameras and can be beaten up and submerged without issue. However, GoPro does have an edge thanks to a replaceable lens cover. If the camera does suffer some serious damage to the lens you can just pop off the cover and put on a new one and continue to create crisp imagery.
Insta360 has two 180-degree lenses that are very susceptible to damage. A bit more care has to be taken when using the X3. Scratching those lenses is going to seriously mess us your images and you can’t fix it yourself.
GoPro wins here.
How to Choose
It is effectively a tie, but there are clear advantages to each. If you are asking for quality and have the ability to set up your shot how you want – like if you are shooting someone else – then the GoPro is likely the better choice.
If you are filming yourself and want to create good shots without worry then the Insta360’s versatility is going to be much more useful though you are sacrificing quality.
Which one would you pick?
[source: David Manning]
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