GoPro has officially unveiled the upcoming Fusion 360-degree action camera. Like the Hero and Session, it's designed to be strapped to virtually any part of you, your bike, shoes, car or any number of accessories. It's just as much an action camera as the others, except this one shoots in 360 degrees and has some impressive features.
It's worth noting, the units we saw were very much pre-production models, and this was more a sneak peak teaser than a full-on product announcement. That means some (or most) details and specs aren't being shared, but we've seen enough of how it performs and works to at least give you a taster of what to expect. If pre-launch models are anything to go by, the real thing won't just be what the 360/VR capture market needs, it could revolutionise action camera video.
GoPro Fusion preview: Design
- Camera on the front and back
- Small monochrome screen
- Square, monotone grey design
GoPro kept things fairly simple on the design front. It's a square camera that's noticeably larger than the Hero 5, but it is roughly the same thickness and has a similar finish. GoPro retained the dual-tone grey colour scheme and the grippy diagonal lines around the edges. As you'd expect, it also has the same two-button control system to keep things familiar and simple for existing users.
There's a camera on the front and the back of the Fusion, as well as the usual small, square monochrome screen on the front which will show basic information during shooting, just like the Hero does. The one thing it doesn't have is a touch screen or viewfinder. Arguably, having one on a 360-degree system doesn't make any sense, so it's a fair omission.
Using the usual mounts, you can attach the Fusion to most of the existing selection of GoPro accessories as well as some new custom designed ones, although due to its size, it obviously won't fit in the Karma mount. That means no drone flying for this gadget just yet.
The Fusion is built to withstand water up to 5m (16ft) too, which isn't quite as deep as the new Hero 6 Black can handle, but then it's not really designed for underwater shooting. Due to the fish eye lenses on either side, water refracts light too much and produces an unusable shot. The waterproofing does, however, mean that you can use it for shooting most water-based sports or activities. It's fine being splashed or temporarily submerged.
GoPro Fusion preview: Cameras and OverCapture
- 5.2K spherical video
- 18MP stitched photos
Being a 360-degree camera, the Fusion is equipped with two 180 degree lenses that capture everything all around the device. It shoots 5.2k video, and its sensors and optics make this one of the best action cameras we've seen. Strangely, it's not because its footage can be viewed in a VR headset like the Gear VR (as cool as that was). It's what it does to transform the 360 video in to a flat video that anyone can watch.
With so many consumers using their phones to consume media on the go, GoPro decided it made sense to develop a way to transform its 360 captures in to videos that look great on a flat screen. With 5.2k resolution and something called OverCapture, the company looks like they've cracked it.
Using its OverCapture feature, you can choose to have a nice flat shot of one part of the action, or select a wider one, or even have a "tiny planet" like experience that shows all of the video. More importantly though, when editing the footage you can pan through select parts, or transition between the tiny planet and more traditional flat video scenes smoothly in one motion.
As an example, you could have the Fusion set up on a tripod, completely still and have a bike or dog run past it, and in the edit, you can follow that action almost as if you were moving a regular single video camera. So when you go to show your friends, or watch it back on a TV, you don't miss any of the important action.
As you're watching it back, it looks as the the camera itself was being moved, but it isn't. It's all in the OverCapture technology and the way it can switch, transition and edit. It's pretty phenomenal.
What this does for regular consumers, and technophobes, is it gives them the ability to make amazing action videos. You'll be able to make professional looking, immersive video, and barely lifting a finger to do it. Arguably then, you actually get a better experience from it on a flat mobile or TV screen than strapped into a headset, although even then, the video quality was good.
For VR users, the experience is enhanced further by the 3-way microphone system built into the top of the camera. With headphones in, the 3D audio moves around as you move your head, changing your view within the video.
As for still photos, the entire stitched 360-degree image is 18-megapixels inside.
GoPro Fusion: When can I get it?
- Pre-orders now
- Available to buy in November
Pre-orders for the GoPro Fusion are live now, with orders due to be shipped towards the end of November. Desktop solutions for editing OverCapture footage are going to be available when the camera is available to buy, and the mobile OverCapture feature being built into the GoPro app for iPhone and Android will be live sometime at the beginning of 2018.
Being an advanced camera means paying more than you would for a Hero. In this case, you'll be ponying up a cool £699 or $699 to get the next big thing in VR capture.
Even though we've now pretty much seen the full spec list, it's the experience and end result that excites us the most. What's going to make this camera unique is its ease of use and the OverCapture feature.
With OverCapture, being able to smoothly switch between a regular sized photo or video frame to the tiny planet effect in a single transition, editing on the fly on a smartphone, it's impressive to say the least. We think this is the real story here and something which has the potential to shake up the VR camera industry, and reinvigorate the action camera market.