Are you looking for an entree-level 360 camera to film your story-based scenarios? We have tested the two most promising cameras of this moment. We took the cameras to real life shoots and tested them extensively. Which camera is best for your situation?
We start with a brief summary and continue with a in-depth review with these chapters:
What's in the box?
Camera on Set
Video Image Quality
No time to lose? For the busy reader, we've made a quick summary of the pros and cons:
Insta360 One R
Adobe Premiere Pro plugin
Can't change the North in stitch app
Red dot in bright sunlight
Need adapter for microphone
High video quality (8K in 10bit)
Internal storage (64GB)
Microphone input (3.5mm)
Powerful computer needed for editing
Can't replace battery
Could go out of focus while overheating
1. What's in the box?
Insta360 One R
Dual-Lens 360 Module
Usb-C to Usb-A cable
Usb-C to micro Usb
Usb-C to Usb-C
Both cameras come with protective accessories. But unfortunately the Qoocam 8K lacks a good lens cap. The included protective pouch does not protect the lenses from impact. And the protective case is a rubber band that goes over the side of the camera, so that doesn't help protect the lens either. The Insta360 One R comes with a rubber lens cap that you can easily get on and off the camera. The mounting bracket is compatible with all GoPro accessories. Both cameras have a 1/4 "camera mount out of the box.
2. Product Tour
While unpacking the cameras, I immediately noticed the build quality of these cameras. The Qoocam 8K has an aluminum housing which gives it a bit more weight than the Insta360 One R. That is largely made of plastic. But both cameras feel solid.
The Insta360 One R is a wide camera, as we often see with action cameras. One of its big unique selling points is it is a modular camera. So you first have to assemble it and that is very easy. This makes this in theory a future proof camera. Because Insta360 can release new modules with improved hardware. This also ensures that you can easily replace a lens yourself if it breaks. You can easily operate the camera with the touchscreen.
Although a larger screen would be nicer. Under a protective cover you will find a USB C port and the MicroSD slot. What we miss is a mic input for using an external microphone. Fortunately, Insta360 has an accessory for that. But you need to purchase that separately. By the way, this is not the only accessory available, on the website you will also find other useful accessories such as larger batteries, vertical batteries so that it becomes an elongated camera and fast chargers for the batteries.
The Qoocam 8k has an elongated design, as I am used to with 360˚ cameras with two lenses. What immediately catches my attention is the large 2.4 inch touchscreen, which I have never seen on a compact camera before. I like that! You can clearly see the preview of what you want to film and change the settings. You will also find the 3.5mm jack mic input, the USB C port and the MicroSD Card slot on the outside.
When you turn on the camera, you immediately hear the fans to cool the camera. They are quite loud. But don't worry, they will go out when you start filming. Since the Qoocam has internal memory, you could start right away!
Oh, and both cameras fit in your pocket!
If you look at the technical specs and pay attention to video image quality, you will see that the Qoocam looks very promising. With its higher resolution, bitrate and sensor size, it can't miss. But can it also deliver on that promise in a real-life test? In addition, a suitable camera is not only about video image quality. Is it easy to use on set? And what about the post-production workflow?
3. Camera on set
I can be brief about it setting up the cameras on set. In both cases, the cameras start up quickly and you can easily attach them to your tripod. For the Qoocam 8K we attached a powerbank to the tripod, but I'll get to that in a moment.
They both have an easy to use app for IOS and Android. You can start filming with both cameras via the app and physically on the camera. Monitoring what you film works over WiFi in both cases. This is not the most reliable way. If you have your camera in sight, it works fine up to about 10 meters. But that's exactly what we don't want with a 360˚ camera. So if you move out of the shot and there are objects between you and the camera, you immediately notice that the video stream starts to falter.
Where the cameras differ is the battery. The Qoocam 8K has a (non-removable) internal battery of 3000mAh. You can film with it for about 45 to 60 minutes at 8k and 30fps. That is often not enough for filming a full scenario. So what do you do when the battery is dead? Fortunately, you can charge it while filming. That means that you have to attach a powerbank to your tripod and charge the camera.
The Insta360 One R has a replaceable battery, as we are used to. The included battery has 1190mAh and you can film with it for about 45 to 60 minutes at 5.7K and 30fps. There is also a larger battery for sale and a fast charger with which you can charge 2 batteries at the same time.
After using the Qoocam you really notice the difference in screens. The Insta360 One R is a lot smaller (1.3 ") than the Qoocam 8K (2.4"). This makes it more difficult to monitor your video on the camera and to adjust settings.
3. Video Image Quality
For many this will be the main point; how is the video image quality? How big is the difference between 5.7K and 8K in a headset or on a mobile phone. To test this, we took both cameras to a real life shoot. I put both cameras on the same tripod and recorded videos at the same time to see the difference.
When we got back to the office and started rendering the videos, it seemed at first that we saw just little differences. But the moment we looked at the videos in the VR headset, we saw that there was a lot of noise in the images of the Insta360 One R. Even so much that the videos were unusable. We found this strange, because we had heard good stories about this camera. And after some research we found out; we used the wrong settings. "Indoor Low-Light Stabilization" was on, which you normally use to optimize the shutter speed for a dark environment to reduce Motion Blur. So unfortunately we cannot use this test.Because we still want to test the video image quality with our own eyes, we decided to analyze videos from the internet.
After testing with different videos, we saw what we actually already expected; the videos of the Qoocam 8K are sharper and have a larger dynamic range (difference between dark and light). This is of course due to the higher resolution, larger sensors and 10bit colour depth. The 10-bit colour depth also ensures a nicer color reproduction, although this is mainly noticed by professionals. Even if you downscaled the 8K video to 5.2K, as we play the video's it in a VR headset, you see more detail. Movement close to the stitching line is no problem, because the Qoocam Studio uses Pixel to Pixel Optical Flow Stitching, but more about that in chapter 5.
Unfortunately the Qoocam does suffer from lens flare and veiling glare. These are visible artifacts or light stripes in the video due to the sun shining on the lens. After talking to other users, we heard about a bigger problem. Some suffer from focus problems when the camera gets too hot. This happens if you are filming for more than 10 minutes at a time. This has not happened to us, but keep this in mind.
What is left for the Insta360 One R you will think. It just can't compete with the superiority of the Qoocam 8K. But that doesn't mean the video image quality of the One R is bad. If you compare it with other 5.7K 360˚ cameras on the market, it is one of the best you can get.
If we look at movement in the stitching line, you can see that the stitch calibration changes. That means you will see the stitching line jump around. This is because the Insta360 Studio 2020 uses dynamic stitching instead of pixel to pixel optical flow stitching. But again, more on that in a moment. The lens flare is considerably better than that of the Qoocam, but you get a little red circle in return when the sun is shining brightly.
4. Audio Quality
The microphone of the Insta360 One R is good to use when the actor is standing a meter from the camera and you have no ambient noise. You can improve the sound with the True Audio feature in Insta360 Studio 2020. If you choose "Voice Focus" the software does its best to suppress the ambient noise. When you activate this function you will certainly notice a difference. It can make the audio of the actor just a little more clearer. But it certainly does not work perfectly and cannot be used in all circumstances. As a professional, I miss the ability to tweak this setting. But it is only on or off.
The audio from the Qoocam 8K is disappointing. It is very dull and can only be used as a reference audio during post-production. I wouldn't use the sound in a VR Scenario for a client. You will therefore have to record the audio externally when using this camera.
Fortunately, both cameras come with the option to connect an external microphone. With the Insta360 One R you need a separate adapter for this, this is not included. This is a USB-C to mini jack, or 3.5mm (TRS) audio jack, adapter. When you put this adapter in the camera, it is a bit loose. HelaThat does not give much confidence. The Qoocam 8K does this better, because it has a 3.5mm audio jack in the camera. You do not need an adapter for that.
If you record your audio externally, the camera's switches off the internal microphone. It is not possible to listen to the audio with these cameras to check (monitor) before or during filming.
Although both cameras come with software that you can also use to stitch and edit the videos on your mobile phone. And the Insta360 One R really excels at this. I am going to focus here on stitching on a computer. Because this better fits the entire post-production workflow of story-based scenarios and Warp Studio.
Let's start with Insta360 Studio 2020. When you have transferred the video files from your camera to your computer, you will see two .insv files for each shot. Each lens has its own file. If you drag these together to the stitcher, the software recognizes which files belong together. You will see a list of the title names of all shots. Its main features are trimming the video, True Audio as discussed in the previous chapter and exporting.
What we miss is the ability to adjust the north of the video. In other words, to be able to adjust the Yaw. The software uses dynamic stitching for stitching; a combination of template and optical flow stitching. The advantage is that this is much faster than pixel to pixel optical flow stitching. The disadvantage is that the stitch calibration can differ between frames. As a result, you can see the stitching line shift and that is very disturbing. Rendering the images is therefore incredibly fast, which is nice for your post-production time.
Qoocam Studio actually works the same, if you transfer the files from the camera to your computer you will find one .mov file per shot. If you drag the video files to your stitcher, you will see one thumbnail per video. If you select a thumbnail you will see the video. Important features are trimming and being able to change the north (aka the Yaw) of the video.
The software does it's stitching with pixel to pixel optical flow, which creates the best stitch quality. Because you film your video's in 8K resolution, you will demand quite a lot of your computer. During our test, Kandao launched Qoocam Studio v2 for the Mac and that's a good thing. We sent the camera back because stitching with v1 was impossible. It took too long and it crashed all the time. The new update has made this much better, both on PC and Mac. That does not change that you still need a strong computer to render 8K videos. Qoocam recommends at least this computer configuration:
CPU：i7 or above
RAM + Virtual Memory: more than 20GB
GPU：above NVIDIA 1050Ti（GPU memory is 4GB）
Both stitch programs can export in H.265 (.mp4) and in Prores (.mov). With Insta360 Studio 2020 you can also export in H.264 (.mp4). Although with the Insta360 Studio 2020 you can improve the sound by turning on True Audio. Both programs are not video edit software. For that you miss the ability to add externally recorded audio and tools to adjust the audio.
If you choose to use other video edit software, Insta360 offers a plugin for Adobe Premiere Pro so you can skip stitching. If you have installed the plugin, you only have to set how you want to stitch in Premiere Pro once. Then it's as easy as dragging one .insv file directly into Premiere Pro and stitching will happen automatically and almost immediately in Premiere Pro. That saves a step in the Post-production pipeline and one time rendering of your images. What you only miss is the ability to calibrate the stitch, which can make for a better stitch.
In terms of price, both cameras do not differ that much. But they do differ in who the ideal user is. Both are offered as a consumer camera while I think the Qoocam is more for the prosumer. That's because that camera requires a powerful computer. And you have to record the audio with an external microphone for the desired quality, which again requires some film experience. What you get in return is the best video image quality for this price and in this form factor. I am really impressed by that.
Don't you have access to a powerful computer or aren't you confident enough to use external audio? Then I can certainly recommend the Insta360 One R. You sacrifice some video image quality for ease of use. Nevertheless, our advice remains to use an external microphone, because in both cases this gives your audio quality and thus your video quality as a whole a huge upgrade.