|Ai tracking||No battery, powered only by USB|
|IR tracking||No lens cover for lens protection|
|3 axis gimbal|
|Large 0.5-inch sensor size|
|Sharp image quality|
Insta360 Link is a 4K gimbal-mounted webcam with AI tracking and smart gesture control for both Mac and PC. I’ve been testing it out for the last few days, and I’ve got to say I’ve been impressed by its features, particularly the video quality and the tracking. It follows you well as you move, and with all of the different shooter modes and features I’ll show you in this article, I think it’s the ultimate all-in-one webcam. So who is this actually for? Well into the 360 and marketing this towards business professionals who are often in many video conferences or people working from home using zoom and Microsoft teams online teachers and lecturers. Be it for live classes or pre-recorded streamers and broadcasters, the camera can also rotate into true portrait mode, making it perfect for posting or broadcasting live to Instagram and Tick Tock, and I agree.
I think that with all of its features for anyone who falls into those groups looking to improve their production quality and make their video conferences or classes more engaging, this is well worth considering. I’d also say it’s for Content creators like myself or anyone looking to get into it. It’s just for anyone who wants a top-quality webcam for FaceTime or Skype with family and friends. It outdoes my MacBook Pro’s built-in camera in pretty much every aspect, and you can still use those tracking features and gestures within those apps, too, which is pretty cool.
There is also a free companion app, the insta360 link controller for both Mac and PC, with a load of settings and options for tweaking how the camera looks and works so you can fine-tune it just as you like. So I’ll show you some of its top features and some comparisons with the camera but first, let’s take a look at the design and specs so you can get an idea of how this neat bit of tech works.
Insta360 Link: Specs
|Dimensions||69mm x 41mm x 45mm (2.71 x 1.61 x 1.77 inches)|
|Weight||106g (3.73 ounces)|
|Gimbal||3 axis gimbal|
|resolution||4K resolution of up to 30 FPS and 1080p up to 60fps with an F1.8 aperture|
|Mic||dual noise-cancelling mics|
|Minimum autofocus distance||10 centimeters from the lens|
|Zoom||4x digital zoom, AI Zoom|
Insta360 Link: Design & Specs
So I was surprised when unboxing it at just how small this is. I was expecting this big bulky webcam from back in the day, but roughly seven centimeters tall and around four and a half centimeters wide and deep, it sits elegantly on my MacBook Pro.
It has a hinged clip on the bottom for easy mounting to your laptop or desktop monitor. It sits perfectly where The MacBook’s Notches, but you might want to mount it just to the side to avoid covering the ambient light sensor, which could cause screen dimming if you have auto brightness enabled; plus, it has a quarter-inch mounting point on the bottom for tripods.
Insta360 Link: 3 axis gimbal & Tracking
It’s mounted on this three-axis gimbal which you can manually control or use auto tracking and have it follow you around the room.
This is cool think like Center Stage that Apple first introduced on the iPads Apple uses an ultra wide camera and then crops in to track a subject but here with a physical gimbal that moves. We get that tracking at full 4K resolution without any loss in quality.
It has a wide range of movement over 180 degrees panning from left to right to cover a large space. You can also re-center the gimbal at any time by double tapping the front of the base, and within 10 seconds of inactivity, the gimbal points downwards and goes into privacy mode. The top of the base has an LED strip that can Flash and change color to give you a nice visual confirmation when you’re using some of the smart gestures, and it can rotate into true portrait mode, perfect for Instagram and Tick Tock.
Insta360 Link: Camera comparision.
The camera boasts an impressive half-inch sensor with a 4K resolution of up to 30 FPS and 1080p up to 60fps with an F1.8 aperture. Phase detect autofocus, and this thing blows any laptop camera out of the water in terms of video quality. Normal images in any camera, or if we take an example of a MacBook shot image or video, look noisy and muddy looking. I guess it’s just the limitations of a built-in camera.
Still, the insta360 link looks at its maximum 4K; the link images look crisper and clearer, thanks to that big image sensor and the 4K resolution. It has phase-detect autofocus, too, so that you can hold something up pretty close to the camera, as close as 10 centimeters from the lens.
It will focus on it, and it does prioritize faces, so if you come back into sharp, it’ll work for some games, but yeah, it switches between Focus quickly, and that’s great if you want to show maybe your audience and products maybe you want to get into product reviews or content creation as are the desk View and the overhead modes.
Insta360 Link: Mic Comparision
And just as important as video quality is, of course, sound. The link has dual noise-cancelling mics on the front to focus on your voice and filter out any unwanted background noise. The built-in mic sound on the MacBook and any other laptop and desktop sounded very stuck. Regarding the mic sound on the insta360 link, I think the noise cancellation on the link is a little bit strong.
There aren’t any settings in the controller app for audio quality. I want to be able to either turn off the noise cancellation or at least tweak it and dial it down a bit. Apple’s done a lot of work in recent years to improve the sound quality of its built-in mics. I do think that they have the edge here. The link sounds fine for use in video calls, but as I’d say, with any camera, pair it with an external microphone to get even better sound quality just for a comparison.
Insta360 Link: port
On the back insta360 link, we have a USB-C port for connecting to your Mac or PC; in the Box, we get stickers for whiteboard mode, a lengthy 1.5-meter USBC to USBC cable, a USBC to USB adapter plus a warranty card and a quick start guide.
Insta360 Link: 360 link controller app
To take full advantage of all of its features, you’ll also need the insta360 link controller app, which is free to download for both Mac and PC. I’ll show you some of the options in this article. just as a overview the app is really plainly laid out and really easy to use we have the preview window of what
the link sees along the bottom we have some toggles and settings to do things like turning the preview on or off a menu to select our resolution there are four buttons for enabling tracking
whiteboard mode overhead mode and desk view you can also enable those first two using hand gestures a screenshot and a record button for recording in the controller app. On the right side there are three tabs gimbal control for manually controlling where the camera is pointing using the on-screen joystick the arrow buttons or by simply dragging on the preview you can also set and save up to six preset positions to quickly move between some set shots that’s really cool and really useful if you often use the same setup or you want to keep showing your audience something that you can quickly jump between with just a click.
under image settings we have Auto exposure and auto white balance these were enabled those comparisons earlier but you can disable them and set them as you like.
- so for me I would set my ISO to 100 to minimize noise and my shutter speed I’d put up 1 over 60 double my 30 FPS frame rate so.
- I get that nice smooth motion blur you could go down here if you want and draw an exposure curve but to be honest .
- it looked fine as it was so I’ll just reset that then I would disable auto white balance and set it to 5200 Kelvin.
- then at the bottom we have four more sliders for brightness contrast saturation and sharpness and you can set those as you wish and then you can click save as preset to remember those settings but I can’t find a way to save more than one preset so that’s something I’d like to see added so you can have different presets for different shooting setups.
- if you don’t want to use manual settings you can just leave the link in Auto and it does a great job on its own.
The last tab we have more settings for enable doubling or disabling the smart hand gestures in AI Zoom options for how fast you want the camera to track and follow you settings for auto or manual focus a toggle for streamer mode which allows you to select a portrait resolution and have the camera rotate into portrait mode and a toggle for HDR the link can do HDR up to 1080p 30fps.
The image or video looks crystal clear. It looks high color defines the image in the link at 1080P with HDR turned on or enabled and In the link at 1080p with HDR turned up or disabled image looks clear but looks more white or less clear image with this image color does not look real. It seems like a white shade in the image but not so much, but it is not noticeable. I think that image looks great and color full with HDR enabled.
Insta360 Link: IR tracking and gesture control
The IR tracking and gesture control set this camera apart and make it much more Dynamic than just an ordinary built-in camera.
Three simple gestures are holding up your palm enable Auto tracking, and now the camera will track you as you move around. It’s responsive and tracks my face well, even when it gets obscured by some of my stands here.
You can set the tracking speed under the settings tab. I like to use the slower setting for even smoother tracking. It still keeps up. Even if I move quickly, you can stand up and move around the room. The camera can mount on top of a MacBook or laptop on a pretty normal-height desk. Still, you could mount it higher on a tripod or an arm using that mounting point on the bottom.
Suppose you also want more of a level eye line with the camera under the settings tab. In that case, you can also enable AI Zoom, which automatically crops into either a headshot, more of a mid-half body shot or, lastly, a whole body sharp if I choose headshot; it automatically crops in as I move back to maintain that framing.
Insta360 Link: L Gesture: zoom control
The next gesture is the zoom control gesture. For this, make an L shape with your hand. The LEDs will blink, then move your hand up and hold it there.
The camera will then start to zoom in until you put your hand down to zoom out, make an L shape again and then move your hand down just a bit.
The camera will zoom out it can be a bit picky when you first try it, but once you get used to it, it’s really simple and intuitive, and it works well when combined with the auto-tracking in your standing further back from your computer to make sure that your hand is in the frame.
Insta360 Link: V Gesture: whiteBoard Mode
The last gesture is for something pretty cool: whiteboard mode. If any person makes a v symbol with fingers, the link will recognize the gesture and start to pan around the room and look for a whiteboard.
Then after a second, it will crop in and fill the screen with this cool perspective for your audience, and this works using those four stickers that come in the box I mentioned earlier in the article. You place one in each of the four corners of the Whiteboard, and as long as the link can see just one of those, it will find the others, and it will then crop in and show your audience exactly what’s going on.
insta360 link is great if you’re in a meeting and trying to share ideas, or maybe you’re a teacher. You’re teaching a class, or you’re just sharing your to-do list with everyone on YouTube cool feature is that the gestures work well; for the most part, it rarely fails to recognize them. Make sure that your hand is visible within the frame and that you’re not covering your face as you do them. It makes it easy to interact and control the camera while standing back from your computer.
Insta360 Link: DeskView Mode
In desk view, the camera points down at a 45-degree angle towards the desk. It corrects the perspective, so now you can share some notes or review some documents in a video meeting, or maybe you’re a designer.
You’re showing sketches with your team. It even rotates the image 180 degrees so that the viewer sees what you’re doing the right way, which is a clever feature.
Insta360 Link: Overhead Mode
In overhead mode, the camera will Point down 90 degrees for a top-down view. For this mode, you will need to mount the camera to a stand or a tripod and then angle it downwards so that we don’t see the base in the shot.
Now we have this Distortion free overhead top-down View, and again this is great for showing your audience some notes or doing a demonstration. Even if you’re someone thinking about starting a YouTube channel, you could film some unboxings or some Hands-On videos using this.
Insta360 Link: Streamer Mode: True Portrait
Enabling the streamer mode unlocks the portrait orientation resolutions for shooting in true portrait mode, but this might not work with some video conferencing software, and that’s because a lot of those apps, like FaceTime, for example, don’t accept 9×16 vertical video only 16×9 horizontal.
However, it’s still great for recording Instagram or Tick Tock content. You can also use the link with streaming software like OBS to broadcast live to Instagram or Tick Tock, and yes, the tracking and gesture controls still work in portrait mode, perfect if you’re streaming solo. It would be best if you kept it within the frame.
Insta360 Link: Using Link with Face Time
To use the link with FaceTime on a Mac, make sure that it’s plugged in and that streamer mode is disabled; then, in FaceTime, click video from the menu bar and choose the insta360 link for the camera and the microphone and that’s it you’re ready to go you’ll also find similar options in the settings for things like Microsoft teams and zoom.
Still, whatever video calling app you’re using as a tip, you can click this icon in the top right of the controller app to shrink down the UI into this handy toolbar for easy access to a load of the options. In contrast, on a call, the gimbal control in your preset positions, the different shooting modes, and all your image settings is useful and always stay on top.
So that is the insta360 Link in its top features. I like this thing. I think that being able to move around the room all it tracks you makes it a great tool for anyone wanting to create more engaging video conferences or classes as well as using all of those different shooting modes to show something down at the desk in front of you or some notes on a whiteboard I use that in a FaceTime call to show some friends and they thought that was so cool. Then there’s the picture quality with that 4K sensor. It is leagues ahead of what you can get on most built-in laptop cameras. It’s just so sharp and so crisp. It’s so good that I think it makes this much more than just a webcam for calls. I think many content creators will like this, too, especially if you’re making a video solo on your own.
I will use this for all my face time and video calls in the future. I think it’s great. There are a few small things that I think would make this even better though being able to save multiple image preset sets for image settings would be nice. Having options to choose specific frame rates in the controller app, too, unless I missed it; I couldn’t find that and having keyboard shortcuts for entering certain modes or jumping to some preset gimbal positions would be pretty cool, but all in all, the link is well worth checking out if you’re serious about making some high quality engaging experiences on your video calls or for your YouTube videos I think that it’s the ultimate all-in-one webcam.