Instead of recording a widescreen video and cropping + zooming to keep the subject in range, the Insta360 Link just uses its 3-axis gimbal to follow subjects around while coolly recording everything in 4K.
In terms of webcam capabilities, the Insta360 Link is what we professionals like to call absolute overkill. The Link records in 4K and comes with a massive (by webcam standards) 1/2-inch sensor that’s capable of recording in HDR, has a monitor clip but also a built-in tripod mount, and comes with a gimbal system that uses AI to track subjects and even sports a top-view mode that can record what’s on your table in a top-view-stye format like Apple’s own Continuity Camera feature. In fact, it’s so capable as a webcam that its only true enemy is a bad internet connection!
The Insta360 Link is less of a webcam and more of a vlogger’s camera designed to ‘also’ work with your office presentations and online meetings. However, that unique distinction works rather well in the Link’s favor because most current webcams truly suck (so much so that Apple just invented a way to turn your iPhone’s main camera into a webcam). However, if you’re looking for something a little more specialized (and if you’ve got $299 to spare), the Link makes for a compelling buy. Not only do you get to use it for online meetings and presentations but it also doubles up as a good camera for recording videos, streaming, and even performing for social media.
The Insta360 Link comes with a format that seems rather similar to the DJI Pocket 2. The camera sits mounted on 3 motors that give it a great deal of flexibility and stability, allowing it to follow subjects, shift angles, focus on areas, and even flip over to a portrait-mode style of shooting that seems pretty congruous with social media apps like Instagram and TikTok.
On the inside, the Link sports a 1/2-inch sensor (marginally larger than the Pocket 2’s 1/1.7″ sensor) capable of recording at 4K while also executing rather impressive focusing abilities thanks to Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF) and auto exposure technologies that ensure your webcam isn’t struggling to focus on you or any object the way most webcams sort of do.
The Link’s 3-axis gimbal system works in a bunch of ways. Running off an AI that can detect subjects and even gestures, the Link can be used for walking-style presentations (like Apple’s keynotes) where the camera promptly keeps you in the frame, or can even focus on whiteboards/softboards using the camera’s gesture-recognition abilities. Its most impressive feature, however, rides on the coattails of something Apple announced with their new MacOS reveal. The Link’s DeskView Mode allows its camera to tilt downwards and capture your desk, while using AI to help ‘keystone adjust’ it to make it look like a perfect top-view. I can’t help but think that this is a feature that may just end up driving sales for the Link because not everyone has an iPhone 13 to spare for webcam-use. Moreover, the Link’s laundry list of capabilities more than justifies its cost.
A green LED ring powers on when the camera is running, to let you know that you’re being recorded. However, when powered off, the camera can be put in ‘Privacy Mode’ with the lens facing downwards so it never accidentally ends up video recording you without your consent.
You can plug the Insta360 Link on any laptop or desktop display using the clipping mechanism built into the base. There’s even a standard tripod mount if you want to position your camera at a better angle (gamers and YouTubers, this one’s for you). The Link lets you adjust your camera’s parameters like the brightness, contrast, and saturation, and even toggle on or off the HDR abilities for a clearer feed (the HDR doesn’t work with the camera’s 4K output and will only toggle on when the quality’s downgraded to 1080p). Insta360 even touts that the large sensor on the Link helps it perform better in low-light conditions (bigger sensor captures more light), and stereo microphones on the front even offer noise canceling abilities so a dog/baby/traffic/Roomba/plumber don’t ever affect the audio quality of your presentations!
The Insta360 Link is available for $299 on the company’s website with a 1-year warranty. If you’re looking for a webcam that also doubles as a professional vlogging camera, this one might just be for you!
The post The world’s first 4K webcam with a 3-axis gimbal does a MUCH better job than Apple’s Center Stage first appeared on Yanko Design.