We Bought An Insta360 Pro to Rent Out. Why?

Posted by Andrew Collings on 

I know, it’s a little out of the norm for us to offer virtual reality cameras for rent. I mean, VR is cool. There are some very decent 360 films making the festival circuit, and there is definitely more of that coming in the future. But this won’t be in theaters tomorrow. Not this year. And we of Deck Hand Camera Rentals are usually pretty grounded, focused on the here and now – but we made an exception for the Insta360 Pro. Let me walk you through the reasons this camera was worth it.

One reason is future-proofing. 8,000 pixels of resolution goes a long way, and we’re counting on the Insta360 Pro to be a real workhorse for many years to come. 360 video is growing, and we need to be ready for it. Insta360 has been in the field as long as anyone, and their smaller cameras are killing it. If you had to put money on one of the big players in the market today, I like to think you’d pick Insta360 too.

But even in the here and now, people like CNN are going to love the live-streaming capabilities. I mean, they’re already covering the big eclipse in 4k 360, and I have to imagine they’ll only do more of that as time goes on. It’s a bit of a gimmick, but it’s a gimmick with a market.

But the biggest reason is the reaction it gets from customers, users, and passers-by. Everybody has probably heard of 360 video and photos by now, but seeing footage that looks this good is another game altogether. Word of mouth is going to sell this VR camera better than any spec sheet ever could. I can safely say that because I am a recent convert. Just a couple weeks ago, I would have told you it was an expensive gimmick camera for people who already knew they needed it. I was so wrong.

My transformative weekend with the Insta360 Pro

Last saturday, I took it on a day trip with my girlfriend into Angeles National Forest with one tripod and no real expectations. I hadn’t even set up the official preview/remote control app on my phone. I just stuck the camera in a few cool-looking places and pushed record. When we got home, we dumped the SD card onto my computer, downloaded the Insta360 Viewer, and threw the first clip on. From that moment, I was hooked. There we were, preserved in all of our context and environment, laughing and trying to hide from a camera that can see everything. I can’t describe the feeling of being right there again, right back on that weird bridge like we were looking through a window in the screen. It was as if a third person had been standing next to us and we were living their memories.

All I can think is that this must be how people felt watching the very first Lumiere brothers’ films, how they felt about having their first 8mm family vacation films. We had used the 360 simply as a memory-preservation device – which it worked miraculously well for. But that immediately raises the idea of transporting the viewer into someone else’s memories, dreams, or thoughts. This is what photography has always been about. This could be the future of motion pictures. And I haven’t felt this level of childlike wonder in a long time.

Let’s talk technical

When I saw the advertising for Insta360 Pro, I couldn’t believe it shot 8k. It’s the same disbelief as when Apple says that the new iphone can hear a cricket chew or a mouse cry over a breakup from 7 feet away. Or when a television manufacturer tells you that their TVs’ pixels are 10 times sharper than the other guy’s pixels. That’s all fine and dandy, but why should we care?

Well.

When you look at a normal 4k screen, you see all 4,000 pixels on display right in front of your face. That’s a lot of pixels, and your brain is rightfully impressed. When you look at a 360 image in 4k, you see about a quarter of those pixels in front of you at any given time. The other 3,000 are behind you and off to either side, serving a valuable but non-visible role. Suddenly 4,000 doesn’t seem like that much at all. For the full immersion you want all the pixels you can get.

Insta360 Pro’s 4K:

(Click the box in the right corner of the image to view full screen).

^ View full-size 4k video at  https://kuula.co/post/7lY01

Insta360 Pro’s 8K:

(Click the box in the right corner of the image to view full screen).

^ View full-size 8k video at https://kuula.co/post/7lY0Z

Notice the detail where the sun hits the tree, straight ahead. Notice the texture in the rock wall. Quadrupling the pixel count creates a much richer world, with fewer jagged edges and compression artifacts to betray that it is only a simulation of real life. 8k doesn’t seem like overkill now, does it?

Look at other 360 photos from cameras like the Ricoh Theta or even Insta360’s mobile cameras and you can start to notice how not-spherical they are. The images they take are sort of oblong – as you rotate them, entire planes of the image rotate as one.

(Click the box in the right corner of the image to view full screen). 

^ View full-size video at  https://kuula.co/post/7fSRg

Pay attention to how flat the statue of Lincoln looks as you spin past him. He moves as if he’s one flat plate rotating around a center point.

The Insta360 pro has six lenses, not just two. The image doesn’t get pinched at the point in between the lenses the same way. And if you really want to keep that depth, you can shoot stereoscopic 3D with this camera too. Let me tell you – that’s a superior viewing experience in every way. One that you can now create with the Insta360 Pro.

Now don’t get me wrong – there are a lot of little nagging issues with the camera, mostly having to do with their array of almost-functional support software. But don’t let any of that get in your way. This is an amazing 360 camera that creates fantastic images very easily. Cheap cameras stitch on board, and expensive virtual reality cameras shoot high resolutions with lots of lenses. But this camera sits right in the middle and does it all. Is it perfect? Nope. But that doesn’t make it any less special.

Rent the Insta360 Pro Near Los Angeles

Professional 360 cameras can be an expensive investment, with the Insta360 Pro currently costing $3,499 to own. If you’re new to VR and 360 video, or if you just need a 360 camera for a few small projects, renting the Insta360 Pro is a good move. Contact Deck Hand Camera Rentals to find out about our Insta360 Pro rental near Los Angeles. We also offer nationwide shipping. Call us at  (818) 557-8403.