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Insta360 One R takes on GoPro with modular 4K and 360-degree action camera

Insta360 One R
(Image credit: Future)

The Insta360 One R might just be the last action camera you'll need, thanks to a unique modular design that lets it combine 4K, 360-degree and one-inch sensor cameras in one GoPro-sized body. It's also one of the best things we've seen at CES 2020 so far.

You don't get all three cameras in the box, with Insta360 providing various One R bundles so you can create the action cam system you want. The base-level camera with just the 4K module costs $299.99 / £299.99 / AU$499.99, but the Insta360 One R Twin Edition adds the 360-degree camera for $479.99 / £439.99 / AU$749.99. 

A premium 5.3K one-inch, Wide Angle Mod – which Insta360 says "achieves the best ever performance in an action camera" – costs $549.99 / £519.99 / AU$849.99, with all three bundles available from today worldwide.

So how does this nifty system work? The Insta360 One R breaks down into three parts: one houses the processor, another is the screen, and the third is the hot-swappable lens Mod, of which there are those three to choose from. 

Fancy converting it into a 360-degree action cam so you can reframe your white water rafting shots after the trip? As long as you've bought the Twin Edition, you can take out the 4K module and slot that twin-lens camera in its place.

As we found in our hands on Insta360 One R review, this works very well in practice, although there are a few downsides to the modular design, including its pretty small touchscreen. 

A new one-inch wonder?

Insta360 One R

(Image credit: Future)

Still, the Insta360 One R promises to be an otherwise very capable action camera, whichever camera module you decide to go with. The 4K Wide Angle Mod can shoot 4K/60p video and 8x slo-mo at 1080p resolution. The Dual-Lens 360 Mod, meanwhile, matches the Insta360 One X's ability to shoot 5.7K video and similarly uses the company's usually excellent FlowState stabilization to keep footage smooth. 

The one we're really excited about, though, is the one-inch Wide Angle Mod, which has been co-engineered with Leica. We've been waiting for an action camera with a larger one-inch sensor ever since the slightly disappointing Sony RX0 II, and this one from Insta360 sounds very promising. It shoots 5.3K video and 19MP photos from a lens that apparently uses Leica's optical engineering, and might just be the ideal smartphone-beating video tool for action sports.

Despite being modular, the Insta360 One R is also surprisingly tough, with waterproofing that works down to five meters, and an optional Dive Case on offer for anyone who needs to dive down to 60 meters. That said, rivals like the GoPro Hero 8 Black and DJI Osmo Action can go twice as deep underwater without a case, and we'll have to wait till our full review to find out how well that design stands up to real-world, action sports abuse. 

In typical Insta360 style, all three cameras are packed with special shooting modes too, including Deep Track subject tracking, FlashCut auto editing, voice control and Auto Frame for 360-degree videos, which promises to automatically pick out the most interesting frames and could theoretically help it match the GoPro Max's user-friendliness.

For the love of Mods

Insta360 One R

(Image credit: Insta360)

You certainly can't fault Insta360 for ambition when it comes to its new modular action camera system either. It's already announced some upcoming Mods for the Insta360 One R, including a Booster Battery Case (for twice the battery life) to go alongside its Invisible Selfie Stick, which it automatically edits out in 36-degree videos.

The most ambitious though has to be the forthcoming Aerial Mod, which promises to help you attach multiple Insta360 One R Mods to a drone and make the drone itself invisible in the final edit.

All very laudable and potentially exciting for amateur filmmakers, but we'll be keen to see whether Insta360 has nailed the basics in our full review of the One R very soon. In the meantime, you can read our first look at the Insta360 One R to get early impressions of this innovative GoPro rival.

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