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Insta360 Sphere review: Innovative “invisible” camera drone

Key Features:

Aperture: f/2

Focal length (35mm equivalent): 7.2mm

Video resolution: 5.7K, 4K, 3K

Frame Rate: 5K 30/25/24fps, 4K 50/30fps, 3K 100fps

Weight: 192g

Compatible with: DJI Mavic Air2/2S

Battery life: up to 48 minutes

360° immersive photography is the next step in drone photography and videography, and Insta360 Sphere makes it possible. This innovative camera attaches to DJI Mavic Air 2/2S drones, and the camera design means the drone remains completely invisible on video. So the question is, why do you need a 360° camera for your Mavic Air 2/2S?

Insta360 Sphere greatly expands the creative possibilities of the drone, because by editing 360-degree video from the drone in the Insta360 phone app or the Insta360 Studio desktop app, you can easily create an immersive first-person view (FPV) video. And it’s not just FPV-style footage that you can shoot and create, cinematic panoramas and other camera movements not possible with a standard drone camera are just as easily created during editing.

The fact that the Sphere is only compatible with two drones is a huge limitation, but on the other hand, the DJI Mavic Air 2 and 2S are fantastic drones, with the latter having a great balance between size, weight and image quality. Take a look at our DJI Air 2 review to see what we mean. What’s more, and perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of Sphere, is that you don’t need to be an experienced drone pilot to shoot the footage needed for editing into a visually impactful video.

Today’s best Insta360 Sphere deals

Insta360 Sphere Review: Design

(Image credit: Future)

  • Designed specifically for DJI Mavic Air 2/2S.
  • Two cameras capture a 360° view
  • The bottom lens protrudes below the bottom of the drone

Ideal for the DJI Mavic Air 2/2S, the Insta360 Sphere attaches around the body of the drone with a secure clip. This does not adversely affect the GPS, and holes in the bottom of the Sphere allow downward-facing sensors to function. The sphere consists of one camera facing up and one camera facing down, which provide a 360° view, while the camera becomes invisible in the video.

The bottom camera of the Insta360 Sphere is located below the airframe of the drone, so the drone cannot sit horizontally during takeoff and landing. This means the bottom lens of the camera is touching the ground, but to combat this, the camera comes with two protective covers that fit over the convex lenses, and a special landing mat is included. And, as you’d expect, the extra 192g of camera weight reduces flight times a bit.

Insta360 Sphere Review: Setup

  • Ease of setup and use
  • It’s best to record entire flights
  • The camera and app communicate via Wi-Fi.

Ease of use is especially important when flying a drone. The Insta360 Sphere is easy to attach to your drone and filming with your phone app to control the camera is easy. To attach the Sphere to your drone, simply detach the frame, place it in the middle and back of the Air 2/2S, and lock the clip at the top to attach it to your drone. Once attached in the only suitable position, there is virtually no chance of the safety clip coming loose when connected correctly. Speaking of safety, before you take off, be sure to check the drone regulations in your area.

The connection between the drone and the smartphone app is via Wi-Fi with a working distance of about 10m. This means you need to start recording before takeoff and film the entire flight. After the drone has landed, you must reconnect to the Sphere via Wi-Fi to stop the recording. It’s a small hurdle, but it only takes 30 seconds, so it’s certainly not a major problem.

Insta360 Realm Review: Performance

Using Sphere couldn’t be easier; you simply slowly and smoothly fly the drone over, under, and around obstacles, and video effects such as camera direction, movement, speed, and other effects are applied during editing using templates and keyframes. Also, the Flowstate stabilization does a fantastic job of keeping reframing footage smooth.

(Image credit: Future)

All it takes is watching one or two tutorials on how to use the phone and/or the desktop app and you’re good to go. Editing on the phone app is awkward, though it offers more functionality than the desktop app in the form of templates that allow you to create visual effects like Dolly Zoom. The desktop app is ultimately better for editing. However, this software is only capable of cropping and cutting clips, you can’t edit them together, so you’ll need another video editor for that.

The 7.2mm f/2 dual camera can shoot video in 5K at 30/25/24fps, 4K at 50/30fps, and 3K at 100fps. Video modes include Standard Video, HDR, Timelapse, TimeShift, Bullet Time, and Loop Recording with Standard, Vivid, and LOG color profiles available. Raw photos can also be taken in Standard, HDR, Interval, Night Shot, Starlapse, and Burst modes, although as the Wi-Fi connection drops beyond 10m, their effectiveness is limited.

(Image credit: Future)

Camera control can be set to manual or automatic, and before takeoff, the easiest way is to set shooting to automatic mode due to a drop in Wi-Fi. This means you simply fly around shooting 360° footage for a few minutes before landing, reconnecting the camera to the app and stopping recording. The image quality is good, but not excellent, although the fact that you can choose any camera angle and create breathtaking smooth camera movements that mimic what can be achieved with an FPV drone makes up for it. Don’t quite understand what that means? Then check out our “What are FPV Drones?” article to find out more.

Insta360 Sphere Review: Price

  • Two kit options available
  • The price includes customs duty and import tax
  • Expensive accessory but it’s a 360° camera

Drone accessories are generally inexpensive, but since the Insta360 Sphere is a camera, it costs more than you’re probably used to paying. However, it greatly expands the video creative possibilities of your DJI Mavic Air 2/2S, but the fact that it is only tied to two drone models is a big limitation.

The standalone kit is $423/£440 and includes the Sphere camera, two sticky lens protectors, two lens caps, one battery, charging cable, lens cloth, and a landing mat. The memory card kit costs a bit more at $440/£456 and includes all of the above along with a 64GB microSD card. The price includes customs duty and import tax, so the price shown on the Insta360 website is the price you pay.

Is it worth buying the Insta360 sphere?

This unique drone accessory/additional camera effectively makes the drone invisible, so you can enjoy a seamless 360-degree view and the ability to easily create dynamic and exciting shots. The Insta360 Sphere will appeal best to drone pilots who would like to be able to shoot video from an FPV drone but can’t fly these notoriously difficult drones or simply don’t have the time to learn how to fly them.

The beauty of the Insta360 Sphere is that you can edit videos to achieve an FPV-like shooting style, no matter how experienced you are with drones. You can also create interesting sweeping panoramas that would be difficult or impossible to capture with a standard drone, so it’s not just for mind-blowing effects. The main downside is that the Sphere is only compatible with two DJI drones.

Today’s best Insta360 Sphere deals

Today’s Best DJI Mavic Air 2 and DJI Air 2S Deals

If this product is not for you

Insta360 Sphere is a special camera where the drone remains invisible due to the separation and angle of view of the two cameras. The only other way to attach a 360-degree camera to a drone is to use the drone camera mount and attach the 360-degree camera, although this will probably also allow you to film the drone on video, unlike the Sphere.

So, if you don’t have a DJI Mavic Air 2/2S or don’t want to buy one of these models and want to attach a 360° camera, your best bet is to buy a camera/light. mounts for your drone that are available specifically for certain drones or come with a universal mount. Then you can connect a camera like Insta360 ONE X. (will open in a new tab) or Ricoh Theta SC2 (will open in a new tab) to enjoy 360-degree video on almost any drone.

Need help choosing a drone? Our best drones and best drone guides for beginners will help you. Be sure to keep an eye on our list of drone deals to get the most bang for your buck.

Today’s best Insta360 One X deals

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