On paper, the drones and 360 cameras go together like pineapple and pizza, that is, they are an excellent combination, although rather niche. However, the problem has always been when shooting with an all-seeing camera, that the view also includes whatever the camera is attached to. This means that filming with a 360 camera on a drone feels more like riding a speeder on Endor than flying unaided through the sky. The Insta360 Sphere solves this problem by making the drone invisible, thus fully immersing you in the flight experience.
The Sphere accomplishes this by placing one lens on top of the drone and one below. He then uses software to stitch the images from each half so that the drone disappears from the video, creating a perfect sphere. It is exclusively compatible with DJI’s Mavic Air 2 and Air 2S drones and has been designed not to interfere with the structural integrity or various wireless systems on the drone, such as GPS. The sphere is held securely around the center of the drone in such a way that vital sensors are not obscured.
It is lightweight, but it should also be noted that the Sphere will decrease your drone’s battery life slightly. The camera itself has an estimated recording time of 48 minutes on a single charge. I typically shoot 3-5 minute long 360 aerial videos, so in my experience the Sphere should be good for 8 shooting sessions without needing a recharge.
The Sphere’s camera is very similar in specs to Insta360’s other current 360 cameras, shooting at up to 5.3k resolution at 30, 25 or 24 frames per second, and with a bit rate of 100Mbps. It can also capture spherical photos at up to 6080 x 3040 resolution and features Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. There are a variety of modes available on the camera, such as timelapse or bullet time, and the Sphere implements Insta360’s excellent FlowState video stabilization for beautifully smooth footage.
360 images captured with the sphere can be edited on desktop or mobile devices, either in the Insta360 apps themselves or in Adobe Premiere via a plugin. Personally, I prefer to edit my 360 footage in the Insta360 iOS app on an iPad Mini 6, which is a very intuitive way to reframe your footage or implement various cool effects like barrel rolls and dolly zooms.
The Insta360 Sphere is available today for $430 in the US and mainland China.