GoPro Fusion (reviewed here), previously $599, is now just $399 (available from Amazon and B&H Photo), and no you don’t have to trade in a camera to get the new price. Should you buy it at this price? In this post I discuss its key strengths and weaknesses as of April 2019, and whether it is the best deal for consumer 360 cameras.
When Fusion was first released in Q4 2017, it immediately gained recognition as having the best image quality among consumer 360 cameras. In fact, in my comparison, it was able to hold its own against the $3499 Insta360 Pro 8K 360 camera.
With the lower price, should you buy the GoPro Fusion, or the Insta360 One X or some other camera? Here is a comprehensive 40-factor comparison between the Fusion and the One X:
In January 2019, GoPro Fusion was updated to increase the video resolution to 5.6K. Here is an updated comparison that compares theInsta360 One X and the Fusion with 5.6K, and other cameras including the Rylo with 5.8K update:
There were some skeptics who said that the test was invalid because it was made indoors. I made another comparison outdoors that includes the One X and Fusion and reaffirms the conclusion in the comparison:
At the time I made the tests above, the Fusion was at $599. At $399, the Fusion becomes much more attractive. Given my extensive experience with both cameras, which one would I recommend?
First of all, let’s go through the potential dealbreakers. The first one is that if a good mobile workflow is important to you, then go for the Insta360 One X, which has unquestionably a much better mobile app. Fusion’s Android app is unfinished and cannot even export a 360 photo or video (except to Facebook or YouTube). Also, the Android app doesn’t work with Samsung S10+ as of April 2019. Fusion’s iPhone app is better but still a long way from the One X app.
What about for desktop editing? There are at least two considerations to be mindful of. First, if you do not have a dedicated graphics card, then be aware that GoPro Fusion will take a very long time to stitch (Insta360 also recommends a GTX 750 graphics card or better). If you have a decent graphics card such as the GTX 1050Ti, then the Fusion takes about as long to stitch the Insta360 One X.
Second, to stitch the Fusion at full 5.2K or 5.6K resolution, Fusion Studio saves the file in Prores or Cineform format. These formats minimize compression which is an advantage for editing. However, the files are much larger — about 10 times the size of an H.264 file. Also, not all video editors can edit in Prores or Cineform.
Another consideration is photography: although Fusion has great image quality, it does not have manual controls. If you use manual exposure or want to have better control of exposure, it will be much easier to use the One X.
If none of the foregoing are problems for you, then here are six factors in favor of the GoPro Fusion:
– First, it is waterproof without a case. This makes it much more convenient to use for outdoors. Insta360 One X has a waterproof dive case but it has a large nadir. One X also has a water resistant protective case, but it’s been out of stock for several months.
– Second, Fusion has excellent spatial audio, with no special workflow needed to use it. One X’s audio is only stereo.
– Third, Fusion can also record uninterrupted video for a longer time than the One X. The One X tops out at 30 minutes – after that it needs to write to its cache so there will be a gap of a few seconds before it can continue recording. As for the Fusion, if you use a fast Micro SD card, it can record for as much as 1 hour 45 minutes, and some users have recorded even longer times.
– Fourth, as shown in my comparison video, the Fusion has better stitching for video than the One X.
– Fifth, I like the Fusion’s voice command, which is convenient to use when you want to shoot without a phone, or if your hands are both occupied.
– Sixth, and this is subjective — you may like the Fusion’s colors better than the One X’s colors for both photos and videos.
If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments!