GoPro has seen better days. The slide started largely with their Karma camera drone getting recalled because of battery problems, but they’ve also struggled to move their core cameras forward in meaningful ways — it’s led to a declining stock prices and questions about the company’s future. GoPro answered those questions today with a refreshed Hero camera and, for the first time, a 360-degree camera.
The Fusion marks GoPro’s latest foray into a new market, and one that the company hopes goes more smoothly than their initial attempt at a drone. Like most 360-degree cameras we’ve seen, the GoPro Fusion uses two back-to-back cameras with wide-angle lenses that record in tandem, with the camera software stitching together a spherical 360-degree video (along with 360-degree audio). The Fusion can record in 5.2K resolution or take 18 MP 360-degree still images. GoPro says it also shouldn’t need a gimbal for stabilization — their new electronic stabilization tech should do the trick.
As always for GoPro cameras, the Fusion is well equipped for the outdoors. GoPro says it’s waterproof up to 16 feet and will work with most of their existing mounts. It’s also got the usual kit of sensors and hardware inside — GPS, compass, accelerometer, and gyroscope. You’ll be able to use GoPro’s voice controls with the Fusion, too.
But, aside from what we hope is higher image quality, there’s not much here yet to set the Fusion apart from some of the other 360-degree cameras we’ve seen this year. Fortunately, GoPro does have one pretty cool trick up their sleeve. They’re introducing a software feature called OverCapture that will turn 360-degree videos into regular old flat videos. That might sound like it defeats the purpose of a 360-degree camera, but that’s not necessarily the case. Using the feature, it’ll be possible to cut out a traditional frame from the 360-degree video — in other words, you won’t need to worry about carefully framing a shot before hitting record.
The one thing GoPro hasn’t discussed is battery life, so we’re not sure what to expect there. We do know that the GoPro Fusion can be preordered now for $700, with shipping slated for November. GoPro will bundle in their Fusion Studio desktop editing software with purchase, which will include that new OverCapture feature — that feature won’t come to the iOS and Android apps until next year.
At their event in San Francisco today, GoPro also announced the Hero 6 Black. The big change here is the GP1 image processor, the first chip that GoPro has designed themselves. GoPro says their chip will improve dynamic range and image quality, especially in low-light conditions. It’s also now possible to take 4K video at 60 frames per second. GoPro didn’t have much to say about battery life here, either, so we’d imagine it’s not much different than the Hero 5. The Hero 6 Black is available now for $500, and is shipping out to customers and retailers immediately.