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.
The price drop may be calculated to compete with Insta360 One X (reviewed here), a popular 5.6K 360 camera that is also $399, and is probably the chief competitor to the Fusion.
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!
the major difference is in the optics. fusion handles flaring way better
Nice to see some love for the Fusion – it’s defnitely not without it’s challenges re: UX etc, but the results are solid and it remains a very useful tool in the bag IMHO.
yes still one of my favorites. I don’t mind the ux. my main concern is the size of the files 🙂
Agreed, and the option of both (or either/or) would be nice, but I’d rather have everything and then choose what I throw away than have a ‘thin’ file and wonder what more could be squeezed out of a camera. I love my Panono still but wish that had raw / dng option.
In such a fast paced area of photography / videography it’s quite nice that some of these older cameras still have their place.
That elusive ‘perfect’ 2 lens 360 camera is just around the camera I’m sure…. 🙂 #lowlightmonster #perfectstitchincamera #1cmminstitch #inmydreams 🙂
Debating whether I should add this to the collection, especially being a big GoPro fanboy. I have plenty of old GoPros to get another $50 off with the trade in and bring it down to $350 (but sadly, still have to add about $21 tax on it).
I’ve been playing with the Fusion for the past few days now and I have to say that I haven’t had any issues with the iOS app on my XS.
Coming from my EVO, which is making me madder by the day (I’ve been harassing the Insta360 customer service staff for weeks now about not being able to set Log or HDR mode as a default mode), I’ve found this camera to be pretty intuitive. A few times today it didn’t seem to recognize my voice commands, and it is maddening to not be able to set a timer. I have One X showing up tomorrow to compare it to. It’s weird, the body of the Fusion is big and, because of that, not the most ideal, but at the same time there’s something kind of nice and premium feeling in it’s size. It’s gonna be hard to decide which one goes back.
thanks Briab! let me know what you think!
btw i agree there should be a way for evo to use hdr video as default. i’m gonna bug them too
At about half of its original price, its clear that the Fusion has reached the end of its active product life and, most likely, that its the 360 camera end-game for GoPro. Now that they already dominate the market and have recently had a massive injection of capital, its time Insta360 throws the final checkmate blow to the competition and releases a 1″ prosumer 360 camera and puts everyone else out of the 360 business.
i would love to see a 1-inch camera from insta360, but i think it would have to be priced much higher than one x — let’s say $799 to $1k. could such a camera become a mass market product? i have doubts, but hopefully we’ll see!
Nice comparison! Am I right in noticing that the Evo was the first shot of the day, so the light is more perpendicular to that wall in the upper left? That would automatically make it a higher EV than for all the other shots… and I think I notice it affects the results. It would be nice to have re-done the Evo at the end with the sun higher in the sky at a steeper angle onto that wall.
Thanks David. IIRC, the shots were taken within a 2 hour window but yes there are differences in shadows. To make the comparisons fair, I compared the areas with similar lighting.