Inspired by the Naked GoPro, Insta360 released a new ultra-light HD camera – the SMO 4K. This is a collaboration with BetaFPV. The SMO 4K is basically the naked Insta360 ONE R, which has almost the same level of image quality to the GoPro.
I am getting one to review but they are still out of stock, so I thought I would share news about this camera first.
Where to Buy?
The SMO 4K is available at these vendors:
- Banggood: https://oscarliang.com/product-y6pw
- GetFPV: https://oscarliang.com/product-hcfx
- RDQ: https://oscarliang.com/product-8nby
- BetaFPV: https://oscarliang.com/product-cm8b
Features of the SMO 4K
Alternative to Naked GoPro
The SMO 4K Camera uses the same concept as the Naked GoPro. But instead of the GoPro, the SMO 4K is a stripped down Insta360 ONE R Camera and it even includes the 4K wide-angle lens, it’s put into a light weight protection case, and image quality is every bit as good as the full size camera.
Weighing in at under 30g and shaped like a credit card, the SMO 4K can be mounted on most FPV drones such as 2.5-inch micro cinewhoops, even 2″ micro quads. The BetaFPV 95X V3 even comes with a mount that allows the SMO 4K to be installed directly, as well as a power cable that is soldered to the FC out of the box.
There is no DIY involved like the Naked GoPro, everything is done for you, you can use it out of the box. That’s probably the biggest advantage for me because to tear down a GoPro Hero 6 can take hours.
Powered From LiPo
The SMO 4K can be powered directly from your drone LiPo battery, so you don’t have to charge the camera separately or worry it might run out of battery. It takes 6V to 27V DC input, so basically you can use 2S to 6S to power it.
Video Stabilization and Image Quality
For video stabilization, you can use Insta360’s FlowState, which is a tool in their software (available on PC, MAC, Android and iOS). FlowState allows pilots to get ultra-smooth FPV footage, similar to Reelsteady for the GoPro.
The SMO 4K HD camera is capable of shooting 4K footage with a new ultra-wide FOV option in Insta360 Studio that removes distortion from your shots. Meanwhile, a 100Mbps bitrate and H.265 encoding deliver crisp image details.
It even comes with a UV filter (for better image color), and an ND filter (ND16) (to help you achieve jello free footage). Both filters act as lens protection too. Normally an ND filter set you back another $15 – $20, you are getting this for free.
You can optionally connect the camera to your flight controller and set it up in Betaflight so that you can start and stop recording remotely using a switch on your radio. This allows you to control recording during flight without having to land.
SMO 4K Specs
- Weight: 30g
- Dimensions (WxHxD) 61.5×39.4×29.2mm
- Input Voltage: 6V-27V (compatible with 2S-6S LiPo battery)
- Aperture F2.8
- 35mm Equivalent Focal Length 16.4mm
- Video Resolution
- Video Format: mp4
- Video Coding: H.264, H.265
Video Modes: Normal, HDR, Timelapse, TimeShift, Basic stabilization (in-camera), Pro stabilization (export with Insta360 app/Studio to apply FlowState stabilization)
- Max Bitrate: 100Mbps
- Bluetooth: BLE4.0
- Wi-Fi: 5G (standard range approx. 2m)
- Micro SD card UHS-I V30 speed class, exFAT format SD cards with a max storage of 1T are recommended
SD Card Recommendations for SMO 4K
Here’s my SD recommendations for this camera: https://oscarliang.com/sd-cards-fpv/#hd-camera
How to Adjust Camera Settings
You can’t attach a screen like the Naked GoPro to adjust camera settings, so you have to rely on Insta360’s Android App or iOS App on your phone. The connection procedure is the same as the ONE R, the camera can connect to your phone via WiFi (default password: 88888888).
Insta360 puts the cameras settings on auto by default, but there are a few settings you might want to set manually: ISO, shutter speed and color.
I am a little disappointed that the ISO value has to be set to a fixed value (between 100 and 3200), or Auto. This is different from the GoPro where you can set a minimum ISO and maximum ISO and the GoPro can automatically use the smallest possible value.
And shutter speed can be set from 1/8000s to 1/60s. This makes it possible to take full advantage of the ND16 filter provided by applying the rule of double frame rate: i.e. 1/50 for 25fps, 1/60 for 30 fps and 1/120 for 60fps, etc.
The camera defaults to Standard colors, but it is possible to choose Vivid to push saturation or LOG for “flat” colors to be used with LUTs or custom color grading in post editing.
You can also adjust exposure value (EV from -4 to +4) according to brightness of the environment and your ND filter options, as well as white balance (from 2700K to 6500K).
In the App you can view recorded videos, as well as real time video feed, this helps you determine if your shot is exposed correctly, especially when using an ND filter.
Video Export and Work Flow
The work flow with footage from Insta360 cameras is different than GoPro’s. Because the footage is in a unique file format, you have to import the video files into Insta360’s software first, then export them to MP4 so you can either upload directly to Youtube or edit them further in your preferred video editor.
Two way to access your raw video files: you can either edit your footage right on your phone (through WiFi), or you can take the SD card out of the camera and insert it into your computer.
The Insta360 program offers many cool features, you can choose the FOV you prefer (FPV, Ultra-wide, Wide and Narrow), and whether or not you want to apply FlowState stabilization.
Before exporting, I recommend selecting 4K, and the highest bitrate to minimize compression (or at least 80Mbps to match GoPro footage), though it will generates large video files and requires a decent computer. If you have a slow computer, just set it as high as you can. The default encoding is h.264, you might want to use h.265 for more efficient compression.
Insta360 SMO 4K Video Quality
The FlowState Stabilization from Insta360 is just excellent, it works almost as well as Reelsteady or Hypersmooth.
When it comes to image quality, it’s really close to GoPro’s level in day light condition. But in low light, that’s when you can see the most difference. It’s noisier, and it struggles more to bring out detail in the dark compared to the GoPro. And the exposure change feels unnatural sometimes.
I will think the SMO 4K is a great camera option for small FPV drones and cinewhoop, especially if de-casing a GoPro is too difficult for you. It’s small and light weight, offers excellent image quality and it’s plug and play!
The SMO 4K also has a built-in microphone to record audio, which is missing in a naked Gopro normally.
I also hear quite a few complaints from the community about jello, especially on smaller drones. Maybe the image sensor on the SMO 4K is just more prone to vibration, of course this would be different from drone to drone depending on the hardware and your PID tune, anyway it’s something to be aware of.
Your another option would be Insta360’s latest GO 2 camera, which is even lighter, but only records 1440p videos.
I have been told you shouldn’t update the firmware which is intended for the ONE R, not the SMO 4K. Firmware version 1.2.18 should be fine, but newer firmware might have have bugs for the SMO 4K. So at this point probably stay on 1.2.18 until further notice.