If you’re looking for a way to capture your rides for insurance purposes or just for fun, it’s worth getting an action camera. Small and easy to mount, they give you peace of mind as well as the ability to create some interesting content.
Most action cameras happen to meet the needs of bikers, but the Insta360 system – and its extra Motorcycle pack – goes out of its way to cater for those on two-wheels. Is it any good? Keep reading to find out.
What did we test?
Before we get down to the review, it’s worth explaining exactly what we tested. Unlike other cameras, the Insta360 uses a modular setup; interchangeable lens modules snap on to a screen and memory module, and both then clip on to a battery pack. It sounds tricky, but it offers a level of versatility that’s unheard of.
To clarify, we tested the ultimate edition with the Motorcycle mount pack thrown in. Costing a total of £740, it’s the most feature-packed kit Insta360 offers, though you can mix-and-match components individually.
Open one box and you’ll find a Leica-badged 5.3K wide-angle camera as well as a 360-degree dual-lens camera, as well as two batteries, a memory module and a 32GB MicroSD card. In addition to the hardware, Insta360 provides several ways to attach it to things; there’s an ‘invisible’ selfie-stick and frame for the camera – both compatible with GoPro style mounting points.
The 5.3K wide-angle lens we’re testing sits at the top of the range, though there is a cheaper 4K one also available.
What’s more, the dedicated motorcycle kit adds a heavy-duty claw for attaching to the handlebars, a top-mounted helmet fixture, and a mount for the tail of the motorbike.
Build quality and durability
Most action cameras seem to stick to the GoPro formula, but the Insta360 takes its own path; colourful and more rectangular than the competition. Looks aside, it doesn’t feel as heavy as the competition, but it’s by no means flimsy.
Of course, the most interesting part of the Insta360 is its innovative modular system, and the interchangeable lenses it comes with. The Leica-branded 1-inch wide-angle features a large lens cover that can be easily unscrewed. And despite its toy-like proportions, it’s reassuringly tough. It’s also good to know it can be replaced in the event of an accident.
The second lens provides a smaller 360-degree dual-lens unit. Featuring a bulbous camera window on either side, it’s less intrusive than the 5.3K lens and has its own rubber case. Like the 1-inch camera, it’s not the sort of thing you’d want to drop – though we reckon it’d survive.
As for the modular system? It’s rather solid in practice; pieces can be pushed and pulled together with a good amount of effort, and there’s a reassuring click when everything is connected properly. The battery unit is connected to the other two modules using a latch, so there’s no danger of it all falling apart mid-ride.
We tested the Insta360 in various configurations on several rides, and in different weather conditions. Despite its Lego-like set up, the rain and wind didn’t seem to affect it, though changing lenses in the rain didn’t feel particularly clever. Still, it’s waterproof to 5 metres.
The accessories, on the other hand, should stand up to the most demanding tasks: Insta360’s Invisible stick uses a ball and socket system that’s solid but easy to manipulate. In addition, all the clasps, cradles and accessories that ship with the Insta360 feel bulletproof. From the tail mount to the larger handlebar mount and cradle, everything here is confidence-inspiring.
Performance and specs
The performance of the Insta360 kit we tested can be split into two parts; the 1-inch wide-angle 5.3K lens and 360-degree dual-lens. The former was incredibly sharp and delivered clear and accurate footage both in sunny and low-light conditions – partly thanks to its huge 1-inch sensor. When fixed to our helmet chin mount, it gave a nice, wide view that encompassed both handlebars, the rev-counter and the road ahead. The sound wasn’t ideal, though, so we’d recommend a mic module.
You can find specs for both lens arrays below:
5.3K 1-inch wide-angle lens
If the 1-inch module Is proficient, the 360-degree camera is a total game-changer. It’s not ideal on a chin helmet mount but use it with the Invisible selfie stick on the handlebars, tail or top of the helmet and you’ll get an incredibly novel viewpoint.
Mounted to the handlebars, the 360 camera allows you to look forward and backwards throughout your recordings. Whether you want to use it as a self-facing cam or a super-wide atmospheric onboard camera, it’s incredibly versatile. It’s WSBK camera angles for your commute or favourite road.
Mount it to the tail, and you’ll be able to observe yourself as you ride, almost improving on the tail-cam you’ll often see in MotoGP. Finally, when mounted to the top of a helmet, you get a remarkable top-down videogame style view. And the best bit? Both camera outputs are knitted seamlessly, and the Invisible selfie-stick is magically absent from your recordings.
Integral to all of this is Insta360’s app. Easy enough to operate, it makes importing footage fairly straight forward – but it also has several unusual features. Unlike a GoPro which stabilizes footage in the camera, the Insta360 relies on its app – and you also need the app to edit 360 footage. The overall effect is mesmerizing, giving you an insane level of control – and thankfully the stabilization isn’t too intrusive either.
With an asking price north of £700, the Insta360 set isn’t cheap, but it gives you an unparalleled range of options and effects. But what if you want to spend a bit less? The 1-inch camera is impressive – and great for standard recordings – but the 360-degree camera is the real game-changer – and the component that really shines. When paired with the motorcycle kit, it offers incredible angles that’ll set your footage apart from the crowd. Get that and the standard camera, and you’ll pay closer to £500.