Insta360 has announced their newest camera, the Insta360 Ace Pro (buy here). There’s also a non-pro Insta360 Ace (buy here), but I’ve been testing the Insta360 Ace Pro for a couple of weeks, so that’s what we’re going to talk about here.
Insta360 Ace Pro vs GO 3 & ONE RS
Before we get into the details, let’s take a look at some sample footage. I’ve tested it side-by-side with the Insta360 GO 3 and the Insta360 ONE RS with the 4K Boost Mod lens. All cameras were at their factory defaults with minor changes.
Insta360 Ace Pro was shooting 4K 60fps, as was the Insta360 ONE RS. The Insta360 GO 3 was shooting 2.8K at 30fps – because that’s as high as it goes. The camera profile in all three cameras was set to standard, except for the specific “Flat” (Ace Pro) vs “LOG” (ONE RS) comparison clip.
The Insta360 Ace Pro is clearly better than either camera when it comes to detail. Its 4K 60fps footage is higher resolution than that of the Insta360 GO 3, and it has better compression. Compared to the Insta360 ONE RS, again, compression wins out, but that co-engineered Leica lens definitely seems to shine.
[Related reading: GoPro Hero 12 targets social media – vertical video and double runtime]
The only downside I can see to the Ace Pro vs the other two Insta360 models is the colour when using auto white balance. It tends to shift towards the blue more than the others, especially at night. This can make skies seem unnaturally saturated.
I’m sure Insta360 can tweak this in future firmware updates. For now, you can overcome it by setting your white balance manually. Or, if you’re lazy, colour correct in post.
Insta360 Ace Pro – The basics
The Insta360 Ace Pro is more of a traditional-style action camera than the Insta360 ONE RS. That is to say that it’s not modular, but an all-in-one unit. The benefit of this is that there are fewer spots for potential dirt or water ingress. So, it makes for an overall more rugged action camera.
Here’s Insta360’s introduction to the new cameras.
The downside, obviously, is that the hardware you buy on day one is what you get. There are no interchangeable modules. So, you’re not going to be able to swap out for a 360 module like you can with the ONE RS. The battery is removable and swappable, though, which is always good!
The front of the camera actually resembles the GoPro Hero 5 more than it does any of GoPro’s recent incarnations. This might seem a little disappointing initially, given that GoPro now has a second display on the front for shooting selfie videos, but the Insta360 Ace Pro (and Ace) has a trick up its sleeve to beat it.
The Insta360 Ace Pro takes a leaf out of the Insta360 GO 3 playbook here by incorporating a flippy-up LCD. The entire back panel of the camera flips up to be viewable from the front, just like the Action Pod for the Insta360 GO 3.
With the LCD flipped down, it looks like most other regular action cameras. It’s nice to see a real action camera from Insta360 that overcomes the limitations of the ONE RS screen.
Fast Charge Battery
The Insta360 Ace Pro has an interchangeable battery. Insta360 hasn’t declared the total runtime of the battery, but I’ve managed to shoot over an hour’s worth of footage several times, filling a 64GB microSD card each time without issue.
When it does go flat, you can fast-charge it up to 80% in just 22 minutes. You’ll need a USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) charger or power bank to do this, though. A full charge from flat takes 46 minutes.
This means that if you plan things out well, you can pretty much go all day long on a pair of batteries. One in the camera and the other charging in your bag from a power bank. Ideally, though, I think three batteries would be the best solution. One in the camera, one charging, and one backup.
4K video (8K soon) and 48-megapixel stills
The Ace Pro shoots 4K video with a 1/1.3″ sensor. And it does it at up to 120fps. Insta360 says that 8K resolution is a firmware update or two away, but it doesn’t exist in my pre-production unit. So, it’s not something I’ve been able to test yet.
In bright conditions, the Insta360 Ace Pro produces footage that’s about as good as one can hope for. The real test, though, is low light. With small sensor cameras like these, low light can be a nightmare. The ISO only goes up so high, so slow shutter speeds can cause jitter. The Insta360 Ace Pro doesn’t eliminate this issue entirely, but it does handle it much better than both the Insta360 ONE RS and Insta360 GO 3.
While still small, the 1/1.3″ sensor is larger than many of its competitors. So, the Insta360 Ace Pro handles low light extremely well. Even in the standard video mode, it looks very good. But the Ace Pro also features a new PureVideo mode. This is powered by a dedicated “cutting edge” AI-denoising chip to produce even cleaner footage.
No camera this size is going to be perfect in low light, but the Insta360 Ace Pro has impressed me. It’s certainly good enough for vlogs and holiday videos. Or, shooting pretty much anything after 4pm in Scotland at this time of year.
An ActiveHDR mode is automatically enabled when shooting 4K30 or slower. It helps you to lower the contrast in the scene while keeping your video stabilised and sharp when shooting fast action in high-contrast environments.
I’ve never been a big fan of HDR modes on small action cameras because they usually just look too unnatural – like they were shot on an iPhone. Even on Insta360’s previous cameras, I’ve typically disabled any kind of HDR.
The Insta360 Ace Pro’s ActiveHDR implementation, however, does look a lot more natural than most other cameras. As a general rule, though, I still think I’ll probably keep it disabled, except as a last resort.
When it comes to stills, it shoots 48-megapixel images in JPG, PureShot or RAW. You can also shoot 12-megapixel HDR photos in PureShot format, too. 12-megapixel burst photos are also available at up to 30 frames per second. You also get the usual Starlapse and Star Trails video and photo modes.
Leica-engineered Ultra-wide lens
In front of the sensor, we have a lens, co-engineered with Leica. This isn’t Insta360’s first collaboration with Leica, and I expect it won’t be the last. It’s proven to be a good team-up in the past, and the Ace Pro continues that trend.
As mentioned, the sensor offers 4K video at up to 120fps. Typically, 4K resolution utilises the entire sensor to see the full field of view of the lens when recording. As with most action cameras, you’ve got the usual fisheye-style ultra-ultra-wide mode, a slightly less wide ultra-wide mode, a de-warped linear mode and a slightly zoomed-in horizon lock mode.
However, it also features a “Clarity Zoom”. This lets you crop right into the centre portion of the sensor when shooing 4K for a 1:1 pixel ratio. So, it’s not a digital zoom like some other cameras. You can hit this while recording to zoom in as needed and then tap again to zoom back out to the full view.
It’s not a feature I’ve used often with the Ace Pro. But it’s one that can be extremely handy when you’re out shooting and want to punch in on a subject for a quick clip, especially if you’re vlogging with it.
Insta360’s best vlogging solution
Speaking of vlogging, the Insta360 Ace Pro is about as close to a vlogging camera as Insta360 has released so far. While there are certain benefits to vlogging with 360 cameras like like the Insta360 X3 (buy here) or the Insta360 ONE RS 1-Inch (buy here), when it comes to flat footage, this is as good as it gets.
As well as the flippy-up LCD, there are a couple of accessories to aid its vlogging abilities. There’s the obvious microphone adapter but there’s also a cold-shoe bracket. This lets you either mount a small wired microphone, like a Rode VideoMicro II (buy here) or a wireless microphone receiver, like the Rode Wireless Go II (buy here).
The microphone adapter for the Insta360 Ace Pro also has another feature that will make a lot of users very happy. It was the big complaint with some of Insta360’s previous microphone adapters for their cameras. This adapter lets you plug in a microphone and charge over USB-C simultaneously!
Insta360 Ace Pro Quick-release mount
Besides the flippy-up LCD, the Insta360 Ace Pro has followed another Insta360 GO 3 trend. It features a quick-release system. The good news is that it’s been beefed up a little bit since the GO 3, and has a locking connector now. So, you can’t accidentally hit the buttons and send it flying.
The bad news is it’s not compatible with the quick-release system of the Insta360 GO 3. This means you can’t swap mounts between the two systems. So, if you want to run both without constantly swapping mounts, you’ll need two mini-tripods, selfie sticks, or whatever you prefer.
A new Multi Mount tripod
Insta360 has released a new mini tripod, of sorts, to go along with the Insta360 Ace Pro release. It’s the Insta36 Multi Mount and it’s essentially a mini tripod with a built-in extension arm. I’m not going to go too in-depth on the Multi Mount here, but here’s a quick overview.
It’s a lot more substantial than the previous Insta360 selfie-stick-style mini tripod. It has a ball head on top with a 1/4-20″ thread and comes with an included GoPro mount adapter. You can adjust the height more easily thanks to the extending arm (which can go completely straight). The larger legs make for a more stable base.
One particularly interesting feature is that it has a little hinged flap at the bottom of one of the feet. This can be hooked over picture frames, TVs and other things to sort of wall mount it. Being able to use it is situational, but it’s a handy feature.
Overall, for vloggers, the Insta360 Ace Pro and its accessories make for a nice compact solution. I’m really looking forward to using this more as a vlogging setup in the coming weeks. As new firmware updates are released, it will only continue to get better.
Pause mode & AI Highlights Assistant
Two new big features for video shooters, and particularly vloggers have been implemented in the Insta360 Ace Pro.
The first is a simple Pause button when recording video. You can stop to use it as normal, or hit pause to carry on recording where you left off by hitting the shutter button. This functionality has also been extended to files, allowing you to record onto the end of existing clips.
This means you’re essentially doing your editing in-camera, for the most part. So, there’s less to cut out in post, and you’re not dealing with hundreds of little clips in the edit. You can keep everything in a single file.
AI Highlights Assistant is another feature that lets you save time in the edit. This is available in the Insta360 app with other Insta360 cameras, but with the Ace Pro, it’s built right in. No app required. Just choose the AI Highlight Assistant and it presents you with the best spots in your current video file and you choose what to keep and what to delete.
Having used other action cameras for years that don’t have these features, they’re difficult to get used to. You have to force yourself to use them until they become second nature. I still need to work on this, but they can be very handy features.
GPS Remote Compatibility
There’s a new GPS remote to go along with the Insta360 Ace Pro. It offers a streamed preview of the camera’s view right on your wrist. I don’t have one of these, but I do have the previous model GPS Action Remote and it’s compatible with that.
But you’re not just limited to Insta360 GPS remotes anymore. The Ace Pro also introduces the ability to pair it up with your Apple Watch and Garmin devices to grab GPS, speed, and other data which you can overlay in your video.
Insta360 Ace Pro – The other stuff
The features mentioned here aren’t any less important than those above. But, they’re features I haven’t mentioned so far. Mostly, these are features I haven’t had the opportunity to test. For example, the Ace Pro is waterproof to 10 metres. But it’s freezing cold in Scotland right now. So, I’m not planning to go for a dip any time soon.
Others are features that I’ve tested to see that they work but don’t really use in my general shoot workflow. Voice control, for example, is a feature I rarely use. Typically, I’m either close enough to the camera to press the button, or I’m so far from it that voice isn’t much use.
When voice control isn’t practical, though, there’s gesture control. The Ace Pro features Gesture Control 2.0, Insta360’s latest algorithm. It works and is handy when your camera is out of reach.
Of course, you get the latest FlowState stabilisation built right into the camera. But with Freeform video, you can apply it in post using the mobile app or Insta360 Studio. Freeform video mode also allows you to apply 360° horizon lock to your footage in the app and Insta360 Studio.
One very welcome new feature for iPhone users (Android’s had this for a while) is background downloading. The Insta360 app allows you to download files from the Ace Pro in the background. The app still needs to be loaded, but you can put it in the background and carry on using other apps while it downloads.
Insta360 Ace Pro vs Insta360 Ace
As I mentioned right at the top, there are two cameras being announced today. There’s the Insta360 Ace Pro and the Insta360 Ace. I don’t have the latter, so I can’t speak to its actual use, but here are the specs differences between the two.
|Insta360 Ace Pro||Insta360 Ace|
|Max Video Resolution||8K 24fps (in future firmware)||6K 30fps|
|Max Photo resolution||48 megapixels||48 megapixels|
|Fast Charge battery||Yes||No|
The Insta360 Ace Pro is an impressive action camera. The lack of modularity will hinder some but offer benefits to others – like being more rugged. It’s sharper and produces cleaner footage than either the Insta360 GO 3 or the Insta360 ONE RS. The colour’s a little cool, particularly at night, but this can easily be corrected in post or by manually setting the white balance in-camera.
Do bear in mind that the unit I have is running a pre-production firmware. So, the too-blue white balance issue may be fixed by the time you read this. 8K video also isn’t implemented in the firmware I have, but even for a 4K camera, it’s pretty excellent.
Its benefits over the Insta360 GO 3 and Insta360 ONE RS are obvious. It’s higher resolution than the GO 3, and it’s sharper, with better optics, and significantly better low-light performance and noise levels than both the GO 3 and the ONE RS.
Whether you’re using it for action, documenting vacations or even vlogging, there’s not much to dislike about the Insta360 Ace Pro. If it’s a little outside your budget, be sure to check out the Insta360 Ace, too – although I haven’t tested that one.
[Related reading: The best action cameras to buy in 2023]
Price and Availability
Update: 3:24pm GMT – It now shoots 8K
The camera has been announced now and the new firmware is available. So, the Insta360 Ace Pro shoots 8K footage at 24fps. I’ll give this a test as soon as I get a chance and update the review.
Also, a couple of people asked me on Facebook if this means Insta360 is abandoning the modular concept introduced with the Insta360 ONE R and then extended with the ONE RS and ONE RS 1″ 360 Leica edition. Insta360 has assured me they haven’t given up on the modular design, although they didn’t say anything about any potential upcoming releases. I wouldn’t hold your breath, though.