October 2, 2017
GoPro has unveiled two new action cameras, the Hero6 Black, an updated version of its flagship camera targeting adventurous photographers, and the Fusion, a 360-degree spherical camera that will ship in November. The Hero6 Black includes a first-ever custom processor built for GoPro, and includes a digital zoom, better voice control, more user-friendly editing software and the ability to transport footage three-times faster than the previous version. It is priced at $499, about $100 more than its predecessor.
The Wall Street Journal notes that the Hero6 Black (below) “highlights the challenges GoPro faces as it competes for consumers who increasingly shoot their lives on the smartphones readily available in their pockets.” To compete effectively, GoPro must meet or best the top smartphones, and the Hero6 Black offers the ability to shoot in 4K at 60 fps, as does Apple’s new iPhone 8, at a price “just shy of the entry price for some premium smartphones.”
The Fusion, available for preorder for $699, offers OverCapture, a feature that allows users to “capture every angle at once and choose later which perspective they want to share via the GoPro app.” OverCapture and filters that “manipulate footage’s perspective” won’t be available until 2018.
In July, GoPro “logged a loss of $12.9 million in the second quarter, narrowing from $72.6 million a year earlier.” Citigroup analyst Stanley Kovler estimates “roughly 35,000 to 40,000” in additional camera sales, based on GoPro’s estimate for Q3 revenue to “come in at the upper end of its prior guidance of between $290 million and $310 million.”
The Verge reports that the Hero6 Black “carries the same exterior design over from the Hero5, waterproofing included,” in addition to the improvements in frame rate, image quality and speed. It notes that GoPros have shot in 4K “for a few generations” but that “athletes and professional users” wanted the higher frame rate now offered by the Hero6, which will “have a ceiling of 120 fps when shooting in 2.7K, and 240 fps in 1080p, which means the footage can be played back 10 times slower without any stuttering.”
The new GP1 custom processor, which was created by Socionext, “has been in the works for three years,” and replaces the previous Ambarella chips. The switch, it adds, “is a way to differentiate from that competition, while also giving the company more control over the entire image processing flow.”
Elsewhere, The Verge reports on the 360-degree Fusion (above), which “uses two lenses to shoot up to 5.2K video at 30 frames per second, can take 18-megapixel spherical photos, and capture 360-degree sound,” and is “waterproof up to 16 feet out of the box” and compatible with “most GoPro mounts.” In addition to voice control, it’s got GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, an accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass, the latter three to stabilize footage.
Fusion’s OverCapture, which “allows users to reimagine all that visual information in more traditional, flat, 1080p videos … [is] an idea that, if it works well, truly turns the camera into a ‘shoot first, frame later’ kind of tool.” For that reason, chief executive Nick Woodman describes the Fusion as “arguably the most versatile creative tool.”