Ace Pro Best Settings for Underwater Video

The Insta360 Ace Pro action camera is building a great reputation in the underwater video community. It produces excellent image quality, best-in-class color underwater, and settings presets that are easy to configure and change inside the dive housing.

The Ace Pro’s processing power is evident compared to other action cameras when you see how well it does color-correcting underwater footage frame by frame, capturing high dynamic range (HDR) video, and maintaining excellent image stabilization all at the same time.

I’ve created a detailed review of the Ace Pro for underwater video on my YouTube channel (the 16-minute video embedded below) and also a detailed (20-minute) video comparison with the GoPro Hero12 Black added at the end of this article.


Ace Pro Review – 16-Minute Video!

Ace Pro Specs

Ace Pro ‘Dive Trip’ Features

Operation in the Dive Housing

Best Settings & Custom Presets

Customize Quick Switch Menu

Insta360 Underwater Gear Guide

Video: Ace Pro vs GoPro HERO12 Black

Video: Ace Pro vs DJI Osmo Action 4

The Insta360 Ace Pro has an impressive list of specifications that help it deliver great, and dare I say ‘game changing’, results underwater.

Lens: Co-engineered with Leica, the Ace Pro’s lens has an aperture of f/2.6. This wide lens allows ample light to enter the camera, enabling better low light performance.

Sensor: The other factor in the Ace Pro’s impressive low light performance and great image quality is the 1/1.3″ sensor. This is a large sensor for action cameras (larger than the GoPro Hero12 and the same as the DJI Action 4), which helps the sensor capture more light, record more dynamic range in the scene, and create the opportunity to deliver better color and contrast underwater.

Chip + Processing: The secret behind the Ace Pro’s processing power is the brand new 5nm AI chip. This chip is what fuels the low light performance (e.g. PureVideo) that is at the core of Insta360’s product positioning for the Ace Pro. Underwater we see the benefits of this processor as the camera does three power-intensive processes at the same time: color-correct the footage frame by frame (AquaVision 2.0), capture HDR video, and maintain excellent image stabilization.

HDR Video: High Dynamic Range (HDR) video is automatically enabled when shooting at 30, 25, and 24 frames per second. In short, the Ace Pro records more data from the white point to the black point, delivering better details in the shadows and highlights of the image. HDR video is becoming more common; it is automatic in DJI’s Action 4 and available as a manual option in the Hero12. The Ace Pro’s HDR video is also recorded in a traditional color space, making it easy to view and edit in any software.

PureVideo: PureVideo is a video mode in the Ace Pro designed to enhance low light footage while maintaining great image stabilization. The performance at night is very easy to see in my review videos. I tested PureVideo on a regular dive in daytime and found that it actually lowered overall quality of the footage. This makes sense though since it’s designed for use at night (e.g. a night dive). The takeaway? Only use PureVideo at night… which I’ve recommended as one of my settings presets for the Ace Pro.

48MP Still Photos: That’s right – you can record 48MP still images with the Ace Pro. This is perfect for divers who want to use the camera for surface photos during a dive trip or even as a still camera underwater.

Let’s review some of the great features you can use on the surface with the Insta360 Ace Pro.

2.4″ LCD Touchscreen: This screen is huge compared to other action cameras. It appears a lot larger and even brighter underwater, although actual brightness would need to be compared more closely. Regardless, it’s a pleasure to view the scene through the screen underwater in the dive housing. The screen flips out for surface use, making it practical for selfie video or shooting at low angles.

Magnetic Mount: The Ace Pro features a magnetic mount on the camera body plus little clips to ensure the camera will not disconnect. It’s a clever system that makes it much easier and quicker to add and remove the camera from poles and other mounts on the surface. Note that the dive housing features traditional GoPro-style tabs with twist screw.

Horizon Lock: I love the horizon lock feature of the Ace Pro. When enabled, the camera keeps the horizon level even during moderate motion: think of filming off the side of the boat as it rocks on the way to the dive site. Insta360’s Horizon Lock combined with FlowState image stabilization will help you bring home smooth footage for those surface video scenes.

Clarity Zoom: A standout feature on the Ace Pro, Clarity Zoom allows you to zoom into a scene 2x, which is very convenient when using the camera to capture those surface scenes on your dive trip. Unfortunately this feature isn’t accessible inside the dive housing.

The Ace Pro is depth rated to 33ft / 10m without the dive housing. This means that scuba divers and freedivers diving below this depth will need to use the dive housing. I also recommend the housing for anyone frequently using the camera in the ocean, since over time the salt and other debris will wear out the camera (e.g. salt in microphone holes) unless meticulously soaked and cleaned immediately after every use.

Physical operation and ergonomics in the housing are similar to other action cameras: there is a shutter button on top and a power/mode button on the side.

Quick Capture: I recommend enabling Quick Capture. When enabled, you can press the shutter button with the camera off or in sleep mode and it will turn on and begin recording video. This is extremely useful underwater when the camera has turned off to save battery and you suddenly see a scene you’d like to record.

Presets and Quick Switch Menu: This is where Insta360 has done a great job making this camera quick and easy to use for underwater video. Not only can you configure presets with custom settings for different underwater scenes and subject scenarios, but you can configure the Quick Switch menu to display just the presets and camera modes you want to use. These appear in a single menu that can be opened and scrolled with one finger (hand). For reference, accessing presets on the Hero12 requires pressing and holding the mode button and then pressing the shutter, which requires two hands. With my 5mm gloves I often don’t hit both buttons hard enough, end up changing from video to photo mode, and having to cycle back to video mode and try again.

There are many ways to best configure the Ace Pro for underwater video. The best settings will vary person to person based on what works for you, the amount of thinking you want to do composing shots, and the amount of editing you’d like to do after the dive.

You can shoot the Ace Pro almost right out of the box; all you need to do is sync the camera with the Insta360 app on your phone or tablet and install a firmware update. More advanced shooters will want to configure Ace Pro Presets.

A preset is a custom configuration of camera and menu settings. Several Presets can be saved, each with different settings, allowing the diver to quickly select the best (pre-configured) settings for the scene.

Divers looking for a point-and-shoot style camera can set up one preset and use that for all of their video. The benefit with this is that you can adjust settings to best match how you plan to use the camera and leave the camera on that preset – no fuss.

For more advanced shooters I recommend the three presets below. Each has slightly different settings to best capture underwater video in different scenarios. Note that these presets are made to be simple and rely mostly on default and automatic menu settings. I have not addressed advanced custom settings since pros generally understand what they’re trying to accomplish and the subtleties of settings changes based on water conditions, sunlight, grading footage to match other cameras, etc., and probably aren’t reading this article!

How to Save a New Preset

Saving a preset is easy. The steps below are for using the LCD touchscreen on the Ace Pro when not in the housing. You can also view my Ace Pro video review for instructions on creating presets (beginning at 9:16).

  1. Configure settings based on my recommended presets below. Note that you can always update a preset after is has been created.
  2. Tap the camera icon in the lower left of screen.
  3. Tap presets tab in upper right of screen.
  4. Scroll across list of presets to the right until you see the + icon and tap the +.
  5. Select a preset name (note that if you use ‘Diving’ the Ace Pro will start labeling these as Diving-1, Diving-2, etc. for convenience).
  6. Tap Save to save your preset.

Custom Preset 1: General Diving

This preset is meant to be your go-to for underwater video across a range of different scenes. It will do well on shallow and deep dives, with and without video lights, and in most dive conditions.

Resolution: 4K

Frame Rate: 30fps (*this automatically enables HDR video. Great!)

Lens: Ultra

All Other Settings: Default

Custom Preset 2: Slow Motion

The slow motion custom preset allows you to create 50% slow motion during post-processing. You could choose to use a faster frame rate in order to create slower slow motion, however with a faster frame rate you might need a higher ISO at depth, which could reduce image quality.

Resolution: 4K

Frame Rate: 60fps

Lens: Ultra

All Other Settings: Default

If you really enjoy slow motion, you could configure two slow motion presets – one at 60fps and one at 120fps. It can’t hurt to have an additional preset ready to go in case you need it.

Custom Preset 3: Night Diving

This preset takes advantage of the video created at night using PureVideo mode. Depending on your dive vacation, you might do a night dive every night or you might never do a night dive. If the latter, you probably don’t need to worry about this preset.

Mode: PureVideo video mode. The PureVideo icon has the two ‘sparkles’ on the camera (regular video doesn’t have the sparkles).

Resolution: 4K

Frame Rate: 30fps

Lens: Ultra

All Other Settings: Default

Quick Switch is one of my favorite features of the Ace Pro. We know that the camera has quite a few video, photo, and time-lapse modes, plus the ability to create many presets. It would be a pain to have to scroll through all those options every time we want to change between our custom underwater presets.

Luckily, Insta360 has thought of this and created a Quick Switch menu that allows us to fully customize which items are displayed in the Quick Switch menu (accessed by pressing the side mode button) and in which order they are displayed. Thank you, Insta360!

I recommend saving your custom presets and then following the instructions below to configure your Quick Switch menu. As above, check out my Ace Pro review video to see these instructions in video format (starting at 12:58). The camera should not be in the dive housing yet so that you have access to the LCD touchscreen.

  1. Press the side mode button.
  2. Tap the icon with three dots in upper right of screen.
  3. Scroll down to your custom presets and tap the circle to activate them (tap in the order you’d like them displayed).
  4. Scroll up and remove any camera modes or other presets you do not want displayed in the Quick Switch menu.
  5. Tap the ‘back’ arrow in upper left to exit the menu setup screen. You’re ready to go!

Interested in buying the Ace Pro or learning more about the features and specs?

Check it out on Insta360 or on Amazon.

There are several pieces of gear you should consider for scuba diving and freediving with your Ace Pro. Beyond the Ace Pro Dive Case, you will want to consider a tray and handle system as well as video lights and the arms that help position them effectively. I discuss all this gear in detail and share my favorite kits in the article below.

See the Insta360 Underwater Gear Guide.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to watch my detailed video comparing the Insta360 Ace Pro to the GoPro Hero12 Black. I compare underwater footage at 30fps, 60fps, and with video lights, plus talk about camera features and operation.

In this detailed underwater video comparison I share footage of the same scenes shot with both the Ace Pro and the Osmo Action 4 action cameras. I compare underwater footage at 30fps, with video lights, plus talk about camera features, operation, and even editing with the Insta360 and DJI Mimo apps.

Be sure to check out all my GoPro and Action Camera Tutorials for Underwater Video.

Brent Durand

Professional writer and underwater photo instructor. Brent is an avid diver and surfer, and has led many intensive photo workshops around the world.