Insta360 has announced the One RS, a successor to the modular One R action / 360 cam it released last year. The RS is mostly a minor upgrade, with the brain module (or “core,” as Insta360 calls it) and mounting system getting a few tweaks that should make the experience of shooting with the 360 lens slightly better.
The One RS upgrades are mostly minor, but welcome, quality of life improvements. The core has an extra microphone, faster Wi-Fi for transferring your photos and videos, a quick menu to change shooting modes, and an “Instant Zoom” that lets you punch in up to 2.7 times while recording.
Insta360 also says the camera’s built-in “FlowState” stabilization is improved. The mounting bracket used to attach the RS to other accessories has been redesigned — it now opens from the side, making it much easier to use with the 1-inch Edition mod. It also includes a new plastic and foam piece at the front that should help improve audio by protecting the microphones from picking up wind noise.
The biggest change Insta360 is bringing with the One RS is the new 4K Boost lens, which is the regular action-cam lens part of the camera system. The company says it has an “upgraded 1/2-inch 48MP image sensor,” which comes with some spec bumps compared to the older version: it’s slightly faster, with an f2.4 aperture vs. an f2.8, and has a higher maximum ISO, maxing out at 6400 vs. the original 4K lens which can only do 3200. It’s also got a slightly wider lens — a 16mm full-frame equivalent, versus the 16.4mm lens adorning the previous version.
Two new modes provide the big new functions: Active HDR and 6K Widescreen. Insta360 claims that Active HDR mode will let you capture shadow and highlight detail even in fast-motion sports video and says that the 6K widescreen mode takes “full advantage” of the sensor to produce a video with a “cinematic” 2.35:1 aspect ratio. That translates to a One RS max resolution for non-360 video of 6016 x 2560, which you can shoot at 24/25 frames a second (the One R’s 4K lens topped out at 4000 x 3000, or 3840 x 2160).
When The Verge camera guru Becca Farsace tested the original One R in 2020 (using a pre-production unit, mind), she said the 4K mod was “fine” as an action camera in terms of image quality. At that time, though, being able to flip the screen around was a novel feature. That’s no longer the case since DJI introduced the Osmo Action 2, a dedicated action cam with a very similar modular concept (that can be used in an ultra-compact mode with just the camera cube). That means Insta360 will have to come correct with the upgrades to the boost lens if it wants the One RS to hold its own as an action cam.
Insta360’s video showing off footage from the One RS.
Becca took the One RS on a ski trip over the weekend and said that if you’re watching the video on a phone, it’ll be pretty much indistinguishable from other action cameras. Viewing it back on a computer screen, though, it wasn’t as impressive. “There isn’t a huge difference from footage over the R. The more noticeable upgrade is the side-loading housing that allows the 1-inch mod to be set into the case without having to remove the mod’s lens cover.”
Of course, it’s worth noting that action cams from DJI and GoPro can’t easily convert to 360 cameras (though GoPro teased that it’s expanding its camera lineup, and who knows what it has in store). Insta360 hasn’t made any notable upgrades to its 360-degree module, though, so if you’ve got an original One R and are craving better 360 videos, this upgrade won’t do much for you. The good news is that the parts should be compatible — Insta360 says that the One R core will get support for the 4K Boost Lens with a firmware update, and you can use the upgraded RS core with the existing 360 and 5.3K 1-inch type mods.
The One RS is available today. Like the original, there’s a Twin Edition with both the 360 lens and the 4K Boost lens, which goes for $549.99 (around $70 more than the original’s launch price). There are other packages as well — for the same $550, you can get the One RS with just the 1-inch lens, and there’s also a version that just comes with the 4K Boost lens for $299.99.
For One R owners who are happy with their lens setup, Insta360 will also sell a bundle with the RS core, battery, and mounting bracket for $269.99 — it may be a tough sell, given the relatively small upgrades and lack of more new mods to take advantage of the One RS’ updates.