After a number of years of rapid growth and high expectations, GoPro is current under pressure to maintain its position at the top of the mobile digital camera market.
The active/sport market that GoPro once dominated has been penetrated by great new devices like Google Clips, designed to be direct GoPro competitors.
Even drone cameras have begun to edge into GoPro’s real estate. So it’s no shocker that the cam company is now stepping up with information on the long-awaited Fusion, a versatile 360-degree cam ($700) that’s also a chance for rebirth.
Initially, the camera specs are on top of the market: It uses a dual-lens setup to shoot 30fps video at 5.2k resolution, and take up to 18-megapixel photos – with a choice for unique sphere-like pictures that can be used for panoramas (sound is also 360 degrees).
It’s also resistant to shock, waterproof up to 16 feet, and usually ruggedized for the mountain or the ocean as required.
All the joint smart features of GoPro’s cams also made their way into the Fusion. It has an accelerometer, gyroscope and even a compass to help even out imagery. It can connect with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and use GPS for geo-tagging when needed.
One of GoPro’s lingering strengths is its mounting equipment, which it is has been refining for years: No one else has mounting options so strongly tied to today’s sports equipment and rugged outdoorwear.
People who like to cam their adventures most likely already have GoPro mounting gear, which means they need for GoPro-compatible cams. This is an edge that GoPro is wisely exploiting by making the Fusion compatible with almost all mounting gear.
But at the centre of the Fusion is the appeal of 360-degree footage: does it contain any? Do people really want to go and make these ultra high def spherical videos, or are they still too strange?
GoPro is hoping that those wanting to document their outdoor exploits will be thrilled to try a new format – plus, the Fusion does have an OverCapture mode that renders the 360-degree video into a single “flat” image that’s more viewer-friendly.
Those experienced with editing footage may find different kinds of panoramic tricks to play here…if they desire to. We will find out just how likable the idea is when the Fusion starts selling in early December—who wants to wait past the Black Friday deals?