HomeReviewsInsta360 Go 3S Camera Review: Compact, Creative 4K Action

Insta360 Go 3S Camera Review: Compact, Creative 4K Action

The Insta360 Go 3S camera introduces a playful aspect to photography. By its compact size, it encourages creative expression that surpasses capabilities found in smartphones or larger cameras. The camera’s magnetic mount, along with its array of accessories, allows for unconventional perspectives, including hands-free and first-person viewpoints. Whether capturing underwater scenes, observing from a pet’s vantage point, or documenting sports activities, the Go 3S proves invaluable. Enhanced by the Action Pod for prolonged battery life and remote monitoring, its 4K upgrade and FreeFrame feature excel in producing content tailored for social media platforms, distinguishing the Go 3S as a significant advancement over its predecessor, the Go 3.

Advantages:

Drawbacks:

INSTA360 GO 3S Quick overview

The Insta360 Go 3S is the latest tiny action camera in Insta360’s lineup. It offers magnetic mounting and accessories for hands-free operation and unique POVs. When your phone isn’t an option, the waterproof Go 3S is a great choice.

This new model updates the Insta360 Go 3 with key upgrades, including 4K video resolution, up from 2.7K. This makes it even better for TikTok and YouTube reels. Additionally, it now has Apple Find My, a useful feature for such a small 1.38oz / 39.1g camera.

The main improvement is the higher-resolution video. Other than that, the Go 3S isn’t drastically different from the Go 3. However, it remains a worthy upgrade and one of the most creative action cameras available.

INSTA360 GO 3S SPECS

  • Weight: GO 3S camera: 1.38oz / 39.1g; Action Pod: 3.4oz / 96.3g
  • Dimensions: GO 3S camera: 1.0 x 2.1 x 1.0in / 25.6 x 54.4 x 24.8mm; Action Pod: 2.5 x 1.9 x 1.2in / 63.5 x 47.6 x 29.5mm
  • Video Resolution: 4K: 3830 x 2160 pixels at 24/25/30fps
  • Photo Resolution: 12MP (4:3); 9MP (16:9)
  • Connectivity: USB-C 2.0, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 5GHz
  • Storage: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB
  • Battery: GO 3S: 310mAh; Action Pod: 1,270mAh
  • Run Time: Go 3S: 38 mins; Action Pod: 140 mins (for 1080p 30fps video)

The Go 3S can be submerged up to 33ft / 10m and records slow-motion video at 200fps in 1080p. It also features a wider lens and automatic aspect ratio switching.

Gesture control is now available alongside voice commands. This allows you to position and start recording without hands-on interaction. The Action Pod transforms the Go 3S into a more traditional action camera, although it’s not fully waterproof.

Insta360 Go 3S
Insta

There are some trade-offs compared to larger cameras. The tiny 310mAh battery lasts only 38 minutes when shooting Full HD video, which is less than other action cameras. Image quality also falls short. Despite being ‘Dolby Vision-Ready,’ it lacks an HDR video mode, limiting highlight and shadow detail.

However, the Insta360 Go series is known for its versatility. The Go 3S excels as an FPV drone camera and for first-person perspectives. My kids have used it creatively, attaching it to a soccer goal, our dog’s collar, and inside our guinea pig hutch.

Insta360 Go 3S
Insta

An online search reveals even more creative uses, like shooting unboxing videos from inside a box. When paired with the Action Pod, battery life extends to 140 minutes for 1080p recording, enhancing its versatility.

Though not perfect, the Go 3S is a solid alternative to a smartphone for creative filmmakers.

INSTA360 GO 3S Review: Price

Launched on June 13, 2024, the Insta360 Go 3S is available in different bundles. Prices start from $399.99 / £349.99 / AU$719.99. You can also purchase it as a standalone unit for $239.99 / £209.99 / AU$429.99.

The Go 3S can be bought with or without the Action Pod. If you own the Go 3 and want to upgrade to the Go 3S for its 4K video and new features, the standalone option saves money. The Go 3S comes in 64GB or 128GB versions, similar to storage options on a phone, with internal memory only.

The Standard Edition bundle with the Action Pod costs $399.99 / £349.99 / AU$719.99 for the 64GB version. The 128GB version is priced at $429.99 / £369.99 / AU$769.99. Standalone prices are $239.99 / £209.99 / AU$429.99 for 64GB, and $269.99 / £229.99 / AU$479.99 for 128 GB. Prices are close to the Go 3’s launch price, but the UK price is lower.

I tested the Standard Edition bundle in ‘Midnight Black’. The box includes a magnet pendant, a pivot stand, an easy clip, and an adhesive plate. This selection of accessories is generous. Additional accessories, like the 2-in-1 selfie stick, are available on the Insta360 website.

Insta360 Go 3S Review: Innovative Design

The Insta360 Go 3S, weighing only 1.34 oz (39.1 g) or 4.78 oz (135.4 g) with the Action Pod, features magnetic mounting and comes with useful accessories. It also offers enhanced waterproofing up to 33 feet (10 meters).

The Insta360 Go 3S consists of two components: the camera and the Action Pod. The Action Pod transforms the Go 3S into an action camera similar to a GoPro. Without the Action Pod, it remains one of the smallest and lightest action cameras available, with no real rivals.

Both parts are crafted from durable plastic. They can endure impacts and drops without damage. The thumb-sized Go 3S is slightly heavier and a bit thicker than the Go 3, but it maintains the same dimensions. Therefore, it works with the same accessories.

The Go 3S pairs with the same Action Pod to extend battery life and provide easy navigation of settings, plus remote control and viewing. Those who already own the Go 3 can opt for the standalone Go 3S camera to save money.

The camera has a single button for recording. It includes a built-in microphone, internal memory (64GB or 128GB), and a magnetic mount. This mount secures it to metal surfaces and various Insta360 accessories, including the Action Pod.

The Action Pod is straightforward. It has a USB-C charging port, a lock button to release the camera, an on/off button, a quick menu for shooting modes, and a flip-up touchscreen. This touchscreen, similar to the Insta360 X4’s, is responsive and clear, making it easy to use for remote functions without the Insta360 Studio app.

A magnetic underside allows the Pod to snap onto accessories like the Pivot Stand. However, at almost 3.5 oz (100 g), it is too heavy to attach sideways to metal surfaces.

The Go 3S offers exceptional versatility. As a standalone camera, it is the smallest and lightest, ideal for hands-free videos. When used with the Pod, it allows for easy viewing, perfect for vlogs and selfies. It also offers remote control and viewing via the Action Pod even when detached.

In tight spaces and underwater, you may prefer using just the Go 3S camera. It is waterproof up to 33 feet (10 meters), while the Action Pod is only splash-proof. Though the camera in the Action Pod resembles an action camera, only the camera itself qualifies as one.

Insta360 Go 3S Review: Features and Performance

The Go 3S and Action Pod connect via Bluetooth, but the range is limited. Battery life is modest. Gesture control and voice commands are effective.

Both the Go 3S and Action Pod start up quickly and pair easily. Their Bluetooth connection is seamless, making the Action Pod’s real-time view and remote controls responsive. However, the Bluetooth range is limited. The Action Pod loses connection a few meters away, and even sooner underwater.

You can also use the Insta360 app for remote control. Yet, the Action Pod’s dedicated interface is often more convenient than using your phone.

Battery life is a concern. The camera lasts 38 minutes, which is good for its size, but less than a dedicated action camera. It also has a shorter battery life compared to the Go 3 when recording 1080p video.

To extend recording time, the Go 3S can sleep in video modes like TimeShift and Timelapse. Most shooting modes are simple to use and produce decent footage.

Docking the camera into the Action Pod boosts battery life, with the Pod offering up to 140 minutes.

Gesture control and voice commands work reliably. Gesture control is useful in noisy environments. The flashing red light on the Go 3S confirms when filming starts.

Image stabilization is decent but not the best. The Go 3S performs better when mounted to a stationary object rather than a moving one. Using the gyroscope enhances results.

Insta360 Go 3S Camera Review: Compact, Creative 4K Action

Insta360 Go 3S Review: Image and Video Quality

The Insta360 Go 3S offers improved video quality, although it still trails dedicated action cams. It features a versatile lens with wider coverage and HDR capability limited to photos.

Insta360 has upgraded the Go 3S with 4K video and 12MP stills, a significant improvement from the Go 3’s 2.7K video and 6.6MP stills. Beyond resolution, enhancements include 50% more CPU power and Dolby Vision-Ready HDR for better dynamic range.

Despite these upgrades, video quality remains slightly behind top competitors like the Osmo Action 4 and Hero 12 Black, especially in challenging lighting conditions. Nevertheless, the Go 3S enables capturing otherwise impossible shots, making it a worthwhile investment.

The increased resolution is ideal for creators who frequently switch between vertical, square, and horizontal formats for platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. FreeFrame mode allows shooting first and selecting the aspect ratio later, enhancing flexibility.

Tracking autofocus and face detection on the Action Pod’s screen are beneficial for vlogging. The ultra-wide-angle lens and small image sensor naturally provide excellent depth of field. While there’s no specified minimum focus distance, very close objects may not be in focus.

For photos, HDR mode delivers optimal results, with pleasing colors and effective auto exposure that can be adjusted with exposure compensation. Videos are stored internally; even 4K footage in the 128GB version occupies a reasonable amount of space, accommodating extensive recording sessions.

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