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Insta360 Ace Pro Action Camera Review (2023): Best of Both Worlds

Insta360 Ace Pro Action Camera Review (2023): Best of Both Worlds

The Ace Pro uses a 1/1.3-inch sensor, which is what the DJI Action 4 uses as well. I was unable to confirm whether these are the exact same sensor, but they’re equal in size. It’s almost 50 percent larger than the GoPro Hero 12’s sensor, but somewhat smaller than the 1-inch sensor of the One RS.

As with the lens, the larger sensor, while larger, is still pretty small and the differences in image quality between any of these cameras is going to depend more on the exact shooting modes, lighting conditions, and other variables rather than sensor size. That said, shooting the Insta360 One RS, Ace Pro, and GoPro Hero 12 side-by-side did reveal how much more detail the One RS is capable of, despite being considerably older. If the highest video quality is what you’re after, the One RS Leica mod remains the action cam to beat.

Sometimes you have to zoom in to see the difference though. What you see with the GoPro, Action 4, and Ace Pro are more sharpening artifacts, which aren’t there in the One RS footage. How much this matters really depends on what you do with your video. If you’re recording video that’s primarily intended for TikTok or Instagram, this is all a moot point. The quality of video that either of those services streams could be replicated with a pinhole camera. If that’s your audience, get whatever camera is cheap this week.

I found the footage from the Ace Pro to be largely indistinguishable from my GoPro Hero 12. Each has its strengths. The GoPro seems to handle extreme vibration and windy audio much better, while the Ace Pro had the edge in well-lit outdoor scenarios, thanks to excellent color rendition.

I almost never shoot anything but Log footage with my GoPro and do all my coloring in post-production because I don’t like the GoPro’s color rendition defaults. With the Ace Pro, I was pleasantly surprised to find the colors are quite good. They pop without appearing oversaturated, and skin tones of all shades rendered with true-to-life color.

I should note that there is no option to record Log video on the Ace Pro, so if you don’t like the color rendition, this is not the camera for you.

Video resolution goes to 8K at 24 fps, which no other action cam can match. It’s impressive on paper, and if you need zoom by crop to 4K it might be handy, but the world is not currently set up for 8K footage. Go shoot 10 minutes worth and try opening it in Premiere or Final Cut if you don’t believe me. There are also very few 8K monitors out there, and none that are affordable. Still, if you need 8K in an action cam, the Ace Pro is your only option, or it will be. This feature was not enabled during my testing and is coming in a future update.

What’s slightly confusing to me is that the Ace Pro doesn’t have a 5.3K or 6K setting like the non-Pro Ace camera. I’d love to see Insta360 add this down the road. It’s worth noting that Insta360 has a great track record of adding new features via firmware updates.

16 Best Camera Accessories for Phones (2023): Apps, Tripods, Mics, and Lights

16 Best Camera Accessories for Phones (2023): Apps, Tripods, Mics, and Lights

We’re living in a golden age of mobile photography. The gear in this guide will up your game for making content at home or out and about, using just your smartphone. Our favorite Android phones and iPhones have outstanding cameras, but tripods, mics, and video lights can elevate the quality of your work. Here’s everything you need to turn your phone into a pro-grade powerhouse.

Check out our other buying guides, like Gear and Tips to Make Studio-Grade Videos at Home, Best Compact Cameras, Best iPhone 15 Cases, Best Pixel Phones, and Best Instant Cameras.

Updated October 2023: We’ve added the Lume Cube Creator Kit 2.0, Lume Cube Ring Light Mini, Moment T-Series Lenses, Moment Filmmaker Cage, Insta360 Flow, Boling P1, DJI Mic, Rode Wireless Go II, Nimble Champ, Canvas Lamp, Joby Wavo Plus, and Peak Design Creator Kit.

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FLIR One Edge Pro Review: Thermal Images and Videos From Any Phone

FLIR One Edge Pro Review: Thermal Images and Videos From Any Phone

Are you a zebra fish? If not, you are missing out on something: the ability to see infrared light, the thermal radiation beyond the scope of human vision given off by everything around you.

Fortunately for those without the Cyp27c1 enzyme that allows zebra fish to see infrared light, thermal cameras—like the $550 FLIR One Edge Pro—can capture otherwise invisible infrared light, and in doing so show us how warm or cool the things around us are. That’s a handy trick for lots of reasons: Zebra fish can see food in the dark, homeowners can see where the heat is escaping from their houses, and I can see where my dog is in the yard at 3 am on a cold night. 

Many thermal cameras are available that plug into your smartphone; I reviewed several in our recent roundup. The FLIR One Edge Pro is different, because it uses Wi-Fi to connect to your phone. That means it doesn’t have to be physically plugged into your phone or even situated nearby. My Samsung Fold 4 could connect to the ad-hoc Wi-Fi network that the FLIR One Edge Pro created up to a distance of about 20 feet. Since the phone and camera can operate independently, it’s much easier to peer into confined or hard-to-reach spaces without worrying about dropping the expensive phone your camera is tethered to. However, at $550, the One Edge Pro might cost as much as your phone.

Bring the Heat

The FLIR One Edge Pro is a tall and thin module, just under 6 inches long and about 1.5 inches wide. It is shaped like a C clamp, with a spring-loaded top arm that clamps onto your phone’s back. This design looks a bit wack, but it works: It fitted onto several Samsung and Apple iPhones, with and without cases.

The device charges through the USB-C port on the side, and a single button on the front turns the camera on. The FLIR One app controls everything else. Near the top of the body are two cameras: a 160- by 120-pixel infrared camera and a 640- by 480-pixel visible light camera. In standard lighting, the images from the two cameras are combined to give you a picture with the invisible detail of the thermal image overlaid on top of the visible light image; a process FLIR gives the rather grandiose name of Multi-Spectral Dynamic Imaging. These dynamic visuals can be saved as 640- by 480-pixel photos or as a video that runs at about nine frames per second—rather choppy, but it’s a limit imposed by the US government on technology that might be exported.

The FLIR One Edge Pro can measure temperatures anywhere between -4 and 752 degrees Fahrenheit through two switchable ranges, one that can see temps from -4 to 248 degrees Fahrenheit and a second that can see from 32 to 752 degrees Fahrenheit. In both ranges, the color scheme of the captured image can be changed, but the default uses the colors you’d typically see when an infrared camera is used on a TV show: Cold objects are blue, and warm objects are red.

Two coffee mugs one noted to be a really hot temperature and the other cold

Photograph: Richard Baguley

Image of two offee mugs taken with a FLIR One Edge Pro infrared camera with one mug a lot brighter than the other

Photograph: Richard Baguley

The camera’s default setting combines images from both cameras, so you can see an “outline” of a real-world object colored in with the temperature information. You can choose to view just the IR or visible light images. These settings can be selected in the FLIR One app, which is available for iOS and Android. This app controls the camera and keeps a library of saved images and video; no data is stored on the camera itself. This easy-to-use app allows you to control how the sensors’ temperature measurements are displayed in the images and videos, either by marking the hottest and coldest spots with crosshairs or setting up to three spots in the image to be continuously measured, which is especially useful in video mode.

When clipped onto my Samsung Fold 4, the FLIR One Edge Pro stayed firmly in place, but it felt like it could slip off at an inopportune moment. I found myself instinctively keeping a firm hold on both the camera and the phone.

Working with the camera detached from the phone, the FLIR One Edge Pro feels very comfortable. It is easy to hold in one hand and move closer to examine a heat source with the phone in the other hand. I would have liked a tripod socket on the bottom of the camera module to make it easier to attach to things with a flexible tripod like the Joby Gorillapod. That would make it easier to monitor the temperature of something over a longer period of time.  

Best Thermal Cameras for Phones (2022): Flir, Seek Thermal, Uni-T, Perfect Prime

Best Thermal Cameras for Phones (2022): Flir, Seek Thermal, Uni-T, Perfect Prime

The Flir One Gen 3 is the largest of the thermal cameras I looked at; it’s about 2.6 inches wide and 1.3 inches tall, and it fits a lot into that space, including a built-in battery and two cameras. It is also the most complex of the cameras I looked at. This large camera body has rounded edges and two rubber grips on the side and a USB-C plug on the top that fits into the USB-C port (the iOS-ready version has a Lightning plug), which is the only thing holding it in place. 

The Flir saves images at a remarkable 1,440 by 1,080 pixel resolution, but that’s a bit of a cheat. Well, perhaps cheat is too strong a word, but some sleight of hand is going on here. The infrared sensor only captures 80- by 60-pixel images. To create the higher resolution image, the device smooths and scales up the lo-res thermal image and combines it with a much-higher-resolution visible light image from a second camera located right next to the infrared one. Yup, this device adds two cameras to the multiple ones your phone already has. 

It may be a bit sneaky, but it works. The visible light camera adds a ghostly edge-drawn effect to the image that can be very useful when trying to pinpoint a heat source—such as which side of a window is leaking warm air or which component on a circuit board is overheating—because it provides a visual map.

The downside of this complexity is that it requires more power. To handle this, Flir includes an extra battery in the camera, which you must charge through the USB-C port on the bottom of the device. If you don’t charge it, the camera doesn’t work. You also have to turn the camera on by pressing a button at the bottom of the device once you have plugged it in, then wait about 20 seconds for the Flir One app (available for iOS and Android) to detect the camera. The images you get are great, but it all feels overcomplicated compared to the other cameras, and it is one more device to keep charged. 

The problem with this (and the other thermal cameras) is that they plug into the phone’s charging port, which requires a tight fit to work. If you have a case on your phone, you may not be able to plug the device in fully. The adjustable plug here is a nice solution, though; twisting the wheel under the connector makes it move up and down, providing an adjustable length to adapt to phone cases of different thicknesses. To use the Seek Thermal and the Prime Perfect cameras, I had to take the case off my phone or use an extension cable because the case blocked the plug from clicking fully into the phone’s socket. However, the Flir One Gen 3 worked with the rather chunky Samsung case on my Fold 4.

GoPro Hero 11 Black Review: Vertical Video

GoPro Hero 11 Black Review: Vertical Video

As somehow who largely dreads postproduction video editing, I was far more excited about some of the other new software-based features in the Hero 11 Black, especially the Star Trails feature. If you’ve ever tried shooting star trails before, you know how laborious it is to stack hundreds of images, so this will probably blow your mind: The Hero 11 can shoot perfect star trail video with a single press of a button. Again, the ability to pull out a 24 megapixel still comes in handy. 

Other new software modes include a Light Painting mode if you want to have some fun with a flashlight, and a Vehicle Light Trails mode to easily turn nighttime car lights into rivers of white and red.

In keeping with the idea of less work for the user, there are now two modes available in the GoPro: Easy and Pro. The camera ships in Easy mode, which offers a streamlined interface for those who aren’t going to wade deep into the GoPro’s color settings and other fine-tuning details. If you are a pro, or are just used to the old UI, it’s, um, easy to switch to Pro, which is the familiar GoPro interface.

Another nice feature that isn’t directly related to the Hero 11 (in fact, it works with all GoPros going back the Hero 5) is more control over Auto Highlights video. You do need to be a GoPro subscriber, and you have to turn on Auto Upload. 

Once you do, the Quik app will automatically generate edits and put them in your Quik app. That much has been around for a while, but GoPro now introduces the ability to edit Auto Highlight video without downloading the source files to your mobile device. You’ll end up editing a low-res proxy, but when you export or share to another app it’ll send the high-res version. Theoretically this will solve my main gripe with Quik, which is that it’s just too much for my phone, but unfortunately this feature was not available to test when I was writing this review.

Alongside the new Hero 11, GoPro is introducing a new camera, the Hero 11 Black Mini ($450), which is a Hero 11 Black in a smaller form factor sans screens. That means there’s no way to review your footage and no way to even frame the shot in many cases. (You can pair it with the Quik app and frame that way.) That might sound strange, but for many of GoPro’s core use cases—that is, the people that really do strap GoPros to their body and go surfing or climbing or motocross riding—the weight savings and streamlined form factor trump screens. You can’t see a screen anyway, when it’s on your head. 

There’s another aspect I like about the Mini, though. A while back, Leica released a digital rangefinder with no screen. That is, there is no way to review your images. The Leica was impractically expensive, but I rather liked the message behind it: Just shoot. Stop checking to see if you “got the shot.” The Hero 11 Mini reminds me of that ethos. As GoPro’s head of product pointed out to me, it’s not the kind of camera that forces you to sit at a distance and shoot your kids party, not in the moment at all. Rather, you stick it in the corner, push record, and go back to living.

All that said, I did not actually test the Hero 11 Mini. I still think that, for most people, the Hero 11 Black is the best action camera to buy. If you have the Hero 10, is it worth upgrading? That depends on whether or not you need the extra vertical space in your shots. If you’re constantly editing video down to different formats, then the Hero 11 is definitely worth the investment.