The April 2017 GoPro announcement about expanding their product line to include a 360-degree spherical camera tweaked the interest of video fans everywhere. GoPro Hero’s popularity with amateurs and professionals alike kept the intrigue on simmer while the company sorted out what qualities would be available in the new GoPro FUSION. Teasers were tossed out from time to time, with a September announcement about advance orders in November.
About the GoPro FUSION
The GoPro FUSION 360 is a compact design with an offset lens on both sides of the main chassis. It produces action videos and single frame shots that display the entire filmed action at 360 degrees. Easy to use editing software makes it simple for just about anyone to skim through the footage and decide what to keep, crop, or eliminate. Other inviting features are its waterproof qualities, the ability to mount the camera in a variety of scenarios, and the accurate stitching from software. Extreme sports and everyday jogging with the dog are about to experience a wider enhancement of action.
Surround sound adds to the visual display. There’s a USB Type-C port beneath a removable door, while the battery fits behind a second door. The battery is larger than the one used to power GoPro’s Hero6 Black. The Karma drone and grip are not compatible with FUSION and GoPro does not endorse any attempts to make it work.
GoPro Fusion’s build delivers an impressive display of 5.2k filming at 30 frames per second (fps). Its versatility verifies its ability to go beyond a VR camera. The introduction of OverCapture delivers enhanced shooting with spherical content that can be turned into traditional video one frame at a time. It’s an option that allows selecting what the editor (aka the person wearing the camera during filming) feels best defines the action. Zoom in, out, pan, and withdraw from the action to achieve a perspective to fit the desired results.
The 360-degree dual-lens camera records to two MicroSD cards, one for each module. The software stitches the files automatically and results in an accurate display of the action. The spherical field also records at 3K/60 fps, resulting in an immersive video with sharp image quality. Still images have the 360-degree display saved at 18-megapixel resolution.
I particularly like the telescoping pole that comes with the camera. It allows the camera to be mounted away from the body. Angel View erases the pole from the frame, giving the impression that the camera was floating ahead of the person during filming. Fusion is an action camera that straps to a car, bike, pet, or person and shoots at 360 degrees. The realistic 360-degree display makes the viewer experience what the subject felt during the shoot. What’s amazing is the quality of stitching the images from the two cameras. It’s hard to detect the seams connecting the scenes.
Comparison between GoPro FUSION and Garmin VIRB
The FUSION and VIRB 360-degree cameras are similar in appearance although the size is different. Picture a wider, taller GoPro to get an idea of Fusion’s appearance Fusion is taller and wider than a standard GoPro. This makes it more susceptible to buffeting by waves and water pressure than the low-profile VIRB. The mission to bring individual active sports filming to life provides a challenge for water activities. VIRB has the advantage of being the first of its kind with its early 2017 release date. GoPro FUSION has already proven its substance with products like HERO. Both companies have a stellar reputation for delivering photo, video and audio as promised. The first difference between the two is the price. Both are on the high end, with VIRB checking in at $100 dollars more than the $699 forecasted for Fusion.
Until now, avid GoPro users rigged cameras together and depended on Omni’s software stitching to put everything together. The new FUSION with OverCapture introduces the opportunity to capture an entire scene and select the frames wanted for editing. Garmin’s HyperFrame serves a similar purpose. Both have mobile app and edit desktop software to stabilize, share, edit, and add overlays. While FUSION is waterproof up to 16 feet, VIRB is water-resistant up to 33 feet.
There are bound to be changes between now and the release date. It’s still not certain if FUSION has 3 or 4 microphones to capture 360-degree sound. Garmin’s VIRB has four built-in microphones to capture 360-degree audio successfully. FUSION 360 has four microphones holes (three on top and one on the back), though the exact details of the final version isn’t known.
Both units use their individual company’s software and mobile app for easy editing and professional-looking videos.
Voice command consists of simple requests and sophisticated responses. It’s nearly as enjoyable as Angel View, a unique feature that makes it seem the camera was floating ahead of you while taking footage. Resulting video is amazing and must be seen to be believed.
5.2k spherical content is captured at 30fps while 3K is captured at 3K. Shoot impressive stills at 18MP. OverCapture is an easy to use mobile app feature that permits sharing footage in a remarkable fashion, including:
- Selecting each frame
- Altering footage
- Post-production editing
The GoPro smartphone app delivers the ability to capture the desired window by:
- holding up the phone.
- panning inside the spherical capture
Footage records to the FUSION’s dual MicroSD cards. The software matches the right files to each camera module’s card and stitches them automatically. At present, stitch lines appear in underwater video shots. That’s something for the company to figure out later. The ability to use OverCapture to create a fixed-frame video to share on social media is a welcome asset. What else is included in the purchase to win public approval? Try compatibility with wi-fi, Bluetooth, most GoPro mounts (including dog mounts!) and items like a compass, accelerometer, and GPS.
- Good appearance of 5.2K resolution
- Mobile app is easy to uses
- Works with most mounts
- Impressive fixed-frame content with Over Capture
- Angel View feature adds excitement and creativity
- Opens sales at a high price
- Two MicroSD cards required to operate
Some features are unavailable until firmware update is ready in 2018
GoPro is quite enthusiastic about its first-ever 360-degree camera. The product’s been mentioned or discussed over the last several months in press releases and teasers containing data about the ProHero6 Black. More details were shared about the FUSION 360 during the late September 2017 press event. Following the theme of “sell first, firmware update later”, the company has a prototype and specs to enchant camera aficionados anxious to decide how GoPro Fusion will enhance shooting during extreme sports. Beta software will likely change before the camera’s expected shipping release date in November, while orders are being accepted now. Shipping possibilities will probably be a camera that operate on slow 2.4GHz signals for several months. OverCapture should be available on mobile around Spring 2018, along with a firmware update for 5GHz Wi-Fi capabilities. It will result in faster transfer speed and enhance operations dramatically.