On the Ice with the GoPro Fusion


Like virtual and augmented reality, the adoption of spherical (or “360-degree”) video into the mainstream has been a mixed bag. On one hand, the technology has evolved rapidly and in a manner that mostly benefits consumers—e.g., it’s become more accessible, generally easier to use, and costs less than initial offerings; on the other hand, what to do with all that promising tech remains somewhat more vague. Enter the Fusion, GoPro’s latest foray into the spherical-vid arena that promises not only cutting-edge technology but also a clear-cut purpose and use case. Excited by the Fusion’s potential and what it could mean for the 360-video market, Shawn Steiner and I decided to test out the Fusion to see if it could live up to the hype.

But First—

Before we talk performance, let’s do a quick rundown of the Fusion’s specs and features. First and foremost, its purpose. Aptly named, the Fusion joins together two categories of devices: spherical video and action cams. In doing so, its primary role is clear—to give users the ability to record action footage in a 360-degree format. Other options for capturing photo and video are available (we’ll cover those later), but shooting spherical action video footage is the headline.

Facilitating the Fusion’s use-case are a long list of bona fides that includes dual offset cameras capable of shooting stabilized 5K video and capturing 18MP still photos, a 360-degree multi-mic setup, a full complement of radios and sensors—all housed neatly inside a compact, waterproof body that’s designed to withstand whatever adventure comes its way.

Content is stored on two user-supplied microSD cards and the included rechargeable battery yields an estimated 70-plus minutes of 5K recording (more, if you shoot in 3K). The Fusion also comes with two sticky mounts (for flat and curved surfaces), an easy-to-use extendable mini-tripod/selfie-stick, and USB Type-C cable.

In the Field, On the Ice

We approached our review in two segments: filming and post-production. For our in-the-field adventure, we decided to head down to Prospect Park for some ice skating and, for fun, I brought the Fusion with me to Mexico for some vacay content.

Out in the wild, the Fusion was a breeze to use. Typical of the GoPro brand, the controls were straightforward and easy to understand, the device was super portable, and it seemed more than capable of taking a beating[1].

Similarly, shooting with Fusion couldn’t have been much simpler. At the ice rink, we used a MegaGear Shoulder Strap to position it on my shoulder. Once it was in place, all I had to do was press the capture button and the Fusion started to record—easy as that. You can also use the companion app as a remote control and/or viewfinder, but even though those features worked perfectly fine, we didn’t really need them for our adventure. I should also mention that, once attached, I totally forgot the Fusion was there, which is what you want with any good action camera—the freedom to move as you normally would.

Now down in Mexico, I didn’t strap the Fusion on my shoulder. Instead, I tried the different sticky mounts and included tripod and pushed it down a lazy river aboard a personal raft. Aside from the random yahoo cannonballing me, the waters weren’t exactly choppy, but still, the Fusion’s ability to stay securely in place and capture stabilized footage was impressive. I also dunked it in the pool for some underwater testing and, as advertised, it never missed a beat—though I should point out that, as expected, the Fusion loses radio connection with your phone when it’s submerged.

So, to recap our in-the-field portion: So far, so good. The Fusion traveled easy, fit great, was easy to use, and worked flawlessly, even after multiple drops and some underwater shooting.


Of course, innovative design and in-the-field performance are only half the story. Where the Fusion really looks to shine is in the post-production process, where GoPro’s innovative editing software lets you stitch and export your footage into a variety of formats, including CineForm and ProRes for advanced editing and compressed formats for immediate upload to social media. I’m nowhere near the post-production pro Shawn is, so I’ll turn this part of the review over to him for a quick recap on how the post-process went, with a look at some of the footage we shot.

Shawn here; let me start with the good news. VR and 360 video support is becoming more and more widespread, with Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X both offering it natively via recent updates. And, the GoPro Fusion comes with software that makes it easy to create edit-ready footage for different types of workflows. We stuck with ProRes and a flat color profile for working in Premiere Pro on an iMac and I couldn’t be happier with the way it handled. Now for the bad news: it can still be tough to deal with, requires a bit of learning to master, and it needs a decently powered machine.

What I did really enjoy was the simplicity and large array of settings available when you plug in the Fusion and open GoPro’s app. You can get your footage straight up onto YouTube or make a flat Cineform file that will handle color grading. The only issue here is speed, mainly due to the Fusion’s slow USB connection—switching computers did not change the processing time at all. To improve this, you will want to copy over the files to the computer manually, but make sure to keep the two cards organized so you don’t run into any problems. It would be preferable if GoPro could do the stitching in-camera or, at least, just record to a single SD card to simplify data management.

Once I did get the footage loaded into Premiere, I was very pleased with the way it handled, and the fact that it didn’t require any additional settings or flags to work properly. The overall image quality is respectable, especially for a camera in this price range that offers complete 360-degree views. I must admit that while 5K is an excellent resolution, it is still a bit lacking when it comes to 360 video, since when you start looking at it in a virtual reality environment, you are really looking at only a portion of the 5K image, resulting in the viewable portion being only HD or worse, depending on the field of view. Don’t get me wrong. The video is usable for sure, and it’s hard to find anything that majorly improves on the Fusion without jumping up significantly in price. On top of this, the usability of the camera is incredible, and we were able to get it up and running in no time at all.


Another aspect of the post-production process was the much-touted OverCapture mode, which lets you reframe your spherical content as traditional video. You can access this mode using the desktop editor or through the mobile app. Shawn and I each took a stab at it (him desktop, me mobile), to see how it fared.

Mobile: Surprisingly, mobile seemed to be the more capable version of OverCapture. In part because mobile OverCapture allows you to do more than just pick one angle to reframe your video in—you can drag the camera around during playback to create your own unique point of view. What I really liked about OverCapture was the ability to punch out single photos, although, admittedly, the quality of some were better than others.

Desktop: Unfortunately, compared to the mobile version, the desktop version is a bit lacking. Not too much in terms of options or controls, you basically just pick the angle and it captures the static frame, and frankly, the HD output when in the fisheye mode, as opposed to little planet, isn’t great. So, if you are planning on using this simply to punch out your shots later, you will be better served with a standard GoPro or two. I’m a little disappointed here, since I was hoping this would extend the use of this camera.

Final Verdict(s)

Brett: For my portion of the review, I was very impressed with the Fusion. It was easy to use, easy to carry, and for the most part, performed without hiccup. I found the mobile OverCapture mode both innovative and user-friendly, although it’s probably the aspect that needs the most improvement. I think what GoPro can hang its hat on is that, with the Fusion, they’ve arguably created the best spherical action camera on the market. It’s not perfect, but if you’re in the market for an affordable camera that can capture solid 360-degree footage of your next adventure, look no further.

Shawn: While I was a little disappointed with the basic image quality (I’ve been spoiled a bit by the plethora of 4K-capable mirrorless and DSLRs streaming through the offices lately), I will say that the Fusion gives GoPro an excellent starting point for 360 video. It is incredibly easy to use, along with the bundled software and app. The software even seems to be getting consistent updates that will open the door for more and more uses over time, I’m sure. It also benefits from the ruggedness of GoPro’s action cameras and can take a beating, which Brett definitely tested. The Fusion is a solid jumping-off point for GoPro’s first foray into the 360-camera field, and I’m really exciting to see what the company will do with it in the future, whether that is by firmware updates to the app and camera or new models.

[1] Shock tests included the standard backpack jostling, multiple drops on the ice, and one inadvertent fall from a second-story balcony in Mexico.


Interesting article. Seems to echo most of the reviews I've read about the Fusion thusfar. My question is do you think a person interested n buying a 360camera should wait for the next generation or get the Fusion now? oR do you see Gopro releasing a cheaper version of this Fusion based on their new tiered price strategy? 

I would say if you are serious about 360 video it would be best to pick up the Fusion now and learn how to best work with 360 cameras and editing systems. I don't forsee any new products coming out anytime soon, so waiting isn't a good choice if you are looking to jump into this soon.

What am I doing wrong trying to watch this in cardboard?  On my iphone, I click the "cardboard" icon in the player and the video goes fullscreen, but the whole panoramic video is squished across a single 16:9 frame instead of switching to stereoscopic 360 degree video.  I can use my headset fine with youtube 360VR videos but this embedded player won't let me watch in 360.

I'm referring to the video attached to this article, that is.

Gah! Warren, so sorry. We're working on a fix now. In the meantime, you can play the video here and use the cursor to drag the picture around so you can see what else is going on. Might I suggest jumping to the 54 second mark to watch Shawn try to skate up behind me. 

With every upgrade, add-on, plug-in and update it gets more complexicado

Interview with a vampire 

cool article 

Nice review! I absolutely love this camera and I thought I should mention why, which I noticed wasnt touched on. The reason is, you never have to frame your shots. You simply shoot and you dont have to think about it. With Overcapture I can frame it later however I want. Simply put: one reason why this camera is so incredible (quality aside) is that I never miss any of the action due to it being out of frame. I dont need someone else to shoot me even! 

And to the point about Overcapture on Desktop:  "So, if you are planning on using this simply to punch out your shots later, you will be better served with a standard GoPro or two." I dont agree with at all because Fusion captures everything at once, much of which you could easily miss with a standard GoPro. I use it to punch out shots all the time BECAUSE it is spherical.

That is true, if you want to use it as a way to record yourself or entire scenes the Fusion with 360 degree capture and the app is quite nice. Overall, my opinion was that the quality (especially at the seams) wasn't necessarily good enough unless you were specifically doing the spherical images, and a standard GoPro would offer much greater quality for standard frame grabs. Really, it is a nice product, I just wish we had a little bit more resolution to make it a legitimate replacement for more situations where image quality is of high importance.