Things We Love: GoPro Fusion, The Ultimate Vlogging Camera?

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The GoPro Fusion was probably the first 360-degree camera in which I was legitimately interested. It wasn’t the first of its kind, but the Fusion’s 5.2K video resolution, combined with the build quality and ease-of-use for which GoPro is known, intrigued me enough to buy one. While the prospect of 360 video is somewhat intriguing, what attracted me more than that was the Fusion’s ability to capture everything around me, enabling me to pan and tilt a virtual camera as I please. In my opinion, the ability to perform these virtual camera moves is a great asset to those looking for a vlogging solution.

GoPro Fusion

Included Accessories

Memory cards aside, the Fusion comes with everything you need to start vlogging with it—a battery, USB cable, protective pouch, and most importantly, a tripod/extension pole. I leave my Fusion secured to the extension pole, ready to shoot, because the protective cover still fits over it while mounted. As for memory, I acquired two SanDisk 128GB microSD cards—that’s right, you need two cards—one for each camera. With 256GB of total storage between the two cards, having space enough for video should not be a problem. After a fresh formatting, the Fusion reports just over five hours of recording time, available in the 5.2K setting at 30 fps.

As I find myself using the Fusion more often, I may invest in an extra battery soon. I get about 45 minutes to an hour of battery life with normal use. Since the Fusion doesn’t include a separate charger (or have a dedicated charger available at press time), I must use the camera to charge the battery. Thankfully, the Fusion supports the GoPro SuperCharger, which offers significantly faster charging times over USB-C.

Form Factor

Starting with the HERO5-generation camera, GoPro has kept on with its rubberized construction, which I love. It feels great in the hand, and it seems particularly resilient. I wouldn’t drop it deliberately to test this, but I wouldn’t be too worried if it took an unexpected tumble (providing it doesn’t land lens-down). That extra assurance comes in handy when walking or running around with the Fusion. The flat shape stands in contrast to many of the other options available from other manufacturers, and I think it works to the Fusion’s advantage, considering how wide both the lenses are.

Dealing with Footage

Whether using the smartphone app or the Mac/PC applications, it seems to me that, of all the other 360 platforms I’ve had experience with, GoPro has one of the best, if not the best back-end programming, as far as intuitiveness and ease of use is concerned. The smartphone app is great for quickly sharing photos or videos to Facebook or YouTube, though, better quality can be had by stitching with a Mac or PC.

My NLE of choice is Final Cut Pro X on my Mac. The 10.4 update provided some nifty 360 tools, making it easy to handle footage from the Fusion (after stitching in the GoPro app), whether the release is spherical or conventional. In most vlog situations, I prefer non-spherical content, guiding viewers by shifting the field of view around, an easy enough task in FCPX.

Image Quality

Getting down to brass tacks, the 5.2K image was an important factor in my decision to buy a Fusion. Opening the 5.2K files in an HD timeline (after stitching, of course) grants great framing flexibility while keeping image quality at an acceptable level. Obviously, the image quality is not going to compete with my a7S II, or even my 4K GoPro HERO5 Black, but neither of those offers quite the same ease of use when it comes to just grabbing the camera and shooting. You don’t even have to point the Fusion at anything, and that already makes it worthwhile!

Audio

Perhaps the greatest concern that I have with the Fusion, regarding vlogging applications, is its audio-recording options. Like many cameras, the Fusion has built-in microphones, which do a decent job of picking up sound from all directions, but in loud or windy environments, the sound can easily become unusable. For serious vloggers who like to talk over their videos live, I’d recommend recording audio separately using a portable recorder like the Zoom F1 or Tascam DR-10L, both of which include lavalier microphones. Just remember to sync your audio in post!

Scratching the Surface

I believe that my current experience with the Fusion is only scratching the surface of its potential. It’s a camera that I can bring almost anywhere and capture whatever’s going on around me. I wasn’t always interested in 360 video, but now, I can consider myself intrigued with the possibilities.

Does shooting 360 video with a camera like the Fusion interest you? Let us hear about it in the Comments section, below.

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