Here’s everything you want to know about the GoPro Fusion ($699.99), the first all-in-one 360 camera from GoPro.
– Background and history
– More information about OverCapture and how it differs from Virb 360’s HyperFrame and Insta360 ONE’s FreeCapture
– Sample photos
– Sample videos
– User manual
– Software tutorial
Updated: November 17, 2017
Originally posted: September 28, 2017
BACKGROUND AND HISTORY
Ever since 360 cameras became popular starting around 2015, enthusiasts had been expecting a 360 camera from GoPro. GoPro first released two rigs, the GoPro Odyssey, a Google Jump 8K 3D 360 camera rig consisting of 17 cameras, and the GoPro Omni, a 6-camera rig that captures 8K video in 2D. GoPro also acquired Kolor, developers of Autopano stitching software.
Finally, in April 2017, GoPro announced the Fusion, their first all-in-one 360 camera which featured 5.2K video and the ability to frame a 360 video as a flat non-360 video, a feature which GoPro called “Overcapture.”
The Fusion was originally scheduled for release in 2018. However, on September 28, GoPro announced that the Fusion would begin shipping November 30, 2017 for $699. That date was later moved to November 24, 2017 in the US, and in fact began to ship sometime November 13, 2017.
Here is a video giving an overview of the Fusion’s key features, and how it complements GoPro’s line of cameras:
If you want to see the launch announcement, you can see it here.
Unlike other 360 camera companies, GoPro placed heavy emphasis on using the Fusion to take flat / cropped non-360 videos. The launch explained to GoPro shooters how they could could use a GoPro Fusion to capture their adventures in ways that would not be possible for a conventional GoPro camera. I commend GoPro for coming up with memorable names for 360 video techniques. “Angel view” definitely sounds catchier than “invisible flying camera.” 🙂
GOPRO FUSION SPECIFICATIONS:
GoPro’s Fusion order page doesn’t disclose the specifications of the Fusion. However, I found the specifications months before. Nokishita Camera, a Japanese camera news and rumor site, posted a leak of the GoPro Fusion manual. Buried in it were almost all of the specifications and features for the GoPro Fusion! Here are the specifications and features:
|Video resolution:||5.2K @ 30fps
3008 x 1504 @ 60fps
The 5.6K mode I mentioned in the video above didn't make it to the final version.
|Photo resolution:||5760 x 2880.
Can take photos in burst mode (up to 30fps). Can take photos in Raw format (The GoPro gpr format, based on the DNG format). Does not necessarily mean stitched in Raw.
|ISO (photos):||100 to 800|
|ISO (videos):||100 to 6400|
|Shutter speed:||up to 30 seconds. Long enough for light painting and night sky photos.|
|Storage:||two removable Micro SD cards|
|Connection:||USB Type C|
|Release date:||November 24, 2017 (however, it began shipping sometime November 13, 2017).|
GOPRO FUSION FEATURES
Here are GoPro Fusion’s features:
Image stabilization: GoPro has confirmed that Fusion has gyro-based stabilization. Stabilization is very important for 360 videos because it ensures that a viewer can look around the video smoothly. Stabilization also makes it possible to hold the camera
OverCapture – This is one of the most important features of the GoPro Fusion. It lets you use the 360 video to create a traditional 16:9 video in 1080p resolution, with full control of the perspective. First, you shoot a 360 video. After the video is recorded, you download the video to your Fusion phone app. From there, you frame the video by moving the phone around, as if you had been shooting the video with your phone. The end result is a 16:9 full HD video that looks like it was shot by a professional cameraman.
OverCapture therefore appears to work more similarly to Insta360 ONE’s FreeCapture, as opposed to the Virb 360’s simpler HyperFrame or Insta360 Studio, which shoot virtual camera perspectives through sliders that you control with the mouse. The practical difference is that with OverCapture (and FreeCapture), virtual camera movements appear more natural instead of robotic.
Between OverCapture and FreeCapture, there seem to be a few differences. First, with OverCapture it appears you can tilt the virtual camera whereas with FreeCapture (as of version 1.0.7 of its app), the virtual camera is always level.
On one hand, tilting the camera gives you more creative freedom. On the other hand, a camera that remains level will have a video that looks more stable. Then again, the sample video shown by GoPro looks pretty stable.
Another possible difference is that with FreeCapture, you can zoom the camera smoothly from telephoto all the way to tiny planet and anything in between. In the GoPro OverCapture demo video, I did not see any zooming, although this OverCapture video, posted months before, does show zooming:
But this demo video showed panning movements that were too smooth and seem to have been generated from a desktop-based slider interface and not a handheld smartphone interface.
The third difference — which is probably the most significant — is the image quality. I don’t have the Fusion yet, but I do have the Insta360 ONE (reviewed here), and if the sample Freecapture videos posted for the Fusion are truly representative of its actual quality, they seem to be a bit better than those of the ONE. That’s not too surprising because the Fusion is 5.2K and $699, while the ONE is 4K and $299.
OverCapture will be available via an app update in “early 2018.”
Surround audio: The manual states that the Fusion has 3 microphones on top plus one more microphone not shown in the diagram (4 total). UPDATE: as I predicted, GoPro has revealed that Fusion will have surround audio!
Protune mode: you can set the ISO limit and set exposure compensation (+/- 2.0EV). I don’t know yet if the Fusion has Protune flat color mode (for maximum dynamic range), although I suspect it does.
Waterproof up to 16 feet without a housing like a Hero5 Black. However, just because a camera is waterproof doesn’t mean it can take good underwater photos or videos. UPDATE: GoPro has confirmed that the Fusion underwater stitching will not be smooth. I don’t know yet if they will produce a separate waterproof housing to enable smooth stitching underwater.
Voice control. This feature is similar to GoPro Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session. Voice control is a useful feature for an action camera such as the Fusion because it allows hands-free operation of the Fusion when you might otherwise be occupied
GPS location tagging. This feature is useful mapping, among other things. However, the user manual did not mention Google Street View. Nonetheless I suspect the photos will be compatible with StreetView.
Quikcapture: When Fusion is in standby, you can quickly capture a spontaneous moment by pressing the shutter button. This will automatically wake up the camera and begin recording. Alternatively, you can hold down the shutter button from standby to use Quikcapture with a time lapse photo.
Video highlights: You can bookmark highlights in your videos that will later make it easier to edit the video. Highlights can be marked either by pressing a button on the Fusion, or with a voice command, either “GoPro Highlight” or “That was sick” (:D).
In addition to a time lapse video mode, Fusion has an intervalometer (time lapse photo mode). The intervals can be as short as 0.5 second to as long as 60 seconds. There is also a separate night lapse photo mode that can take sequential photos with long exposures. This can help create photos of star trails.
Remo waterproof voice activated remote: Fusion is compatible with the Remo waterproof voice activated remote for the Hero5 Black.
Can record while charging. The side door can be removed to make it easier to connect a USB cable while recording.
It has TWO micro SD cards. It seems that this means it uses one Micro SD card for each lens, which has important implications. First, it implies that there’s probably no in-camera stitching. It also means there is probably no live streaming capability. Fortunately, you can view in 360 using the app: “You can move the device itself or navigate with the touch screen to explore the full 360˚ image.” I suspect that is a low-resolution version that is stitched on the fly. I don’t know however, if you can get a fully stitched live preview. It might be possible to preview one lens at a time.
For the workflow, they recommend connecting the camera via USB to your PC. However, for Raw photos, you need to transfer them via Micro SD card one at a time.
Here is a sample 360 photo in full resolution, by Sascha Endlicher, M.A.. This photo was a long exposure photo.
Here are my observations:
– The stitching is perfect! This looks as good as the stitching of the Theta S, and looks better than the stitching of the Theta V. It looks seamless even at close distances.
– Sharpness is about as good as can be expected for a 360 camera of this resolution. The sharpness is pretty consistent throughout the frame.
– In this long exposure sample, the noise seems quite low.
– Very good flare resistance. It’s not immune from flare, but the flare artifacts aren’t objectionable, and there is not a lot of reduction of contrast.
– There is some green fringing in high contrast areas.
– There is some posterization noticeable in the sky.
GoPro Fusion Sample Videos
Here is a sample 360 video from the Fusion:
The sample 360 video looks impressive. Is it better than other 360 cameras? It could be but it’s hard to say — there are several 360 cameras with very detailed videos such as the Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere, Insta360 ONE, Ricoh Theta V, Garmin Virb 360, and the Yi 360 VR to name a few. The Kodak Orbit360 might also be more detailed than the Fusion if used in “overcapture mode.”
Here is a playlist of GoPro Fusion sample videos (click on the upper left corner to select a video):
Fusion Studio is available for download here, for Windows or Mac (scroll down — thanks to Matt Smitherz and Meng Fye for bringing it to my attention). Here is a tutorial on Fusion Studio by Al Caudullo of 360 VR Voice.
I’ll update this page as soon as I receive the Fusion. In particular, I will be comparing it against the Garmin Virb 360, Yi 360 VR, Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere and Ricoh Theta V. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. In the meantime, if you’re interested in the Fusion, please join the Fusion Facebook group.