Posted by Mark
I was looking for an action cam a couple of months back and narrowed down my options to the GoPro Hero, Replay XD1080 and the Contour+. It was a really tough decision because each one of these cameras had an advantage and disadvantage. With the GoPro I hated the form factor, it felt too awkward to use and I didn’t feel comfortable using it but it was the cheapest of the bunch and the video quality wasn’t that bad. Plus it’s the most popular action cam with a ton of mounts. The Replay XD1080 is the smallest of the three and has a very easy to manage form since it’s basically just a small cylindrical tube. The downside is that it’s the least popular of the 3 so I couldn’t find much feedback on it and it also had a limited amount of mounts which were also expensive. Finally I checked out the Contour cameras. I love how they look and at first I wanted to go with the entry level Contour Roam which was waterproof and pretty cheap compared to the Replay and GoPro. But, it had one limitation which was the fact it couldn’t record at 60fps which meant if I ever wanted to do any slow motion I wouldn’t be able to properly. I then decided to check out the Contour GPS which was a notch above and finally ended up with the Contour+ which is their top of the line model.
The Contour+ has a bunch of cool features which I will try to go through quickly. First it has built in GPS. When you record a video with GPS turned on and then upload the footage to their website, you get a small map next to your video showing you the route you had taken. That can be handy if you’re racing around a track or going on trails but I don’t have a use for this feature and I always keep it off to gain around 30 minutes of extra battery life. The camera lens rotates which is super practical because if I mount the camera upside down or sideways, I just rotate the lens so that the footage ends up facing the right way up. It also has a bright f/2.8 lens and from the 3 cameras in the line up the Contour+ offered the sharpest and most detailed footage. I haven’t seen a comparison yet to the GoPro Hero2 but I would think the Contour+ is closer in quality to that than it was compared to the previous Hero.
My favorite feature of the Contour+ is the ability to turn my iPhone into a viewfinder for the camera. With one button press on the camera, the Contour App launches on my iPhone and I can then see what the camera sees. Not only that but I can also use the app to change the camera settings like exposure, brightness, contrast, resolution etc. Another feature film makers will like is the external mic jack. What this will allow you to do for example is mount the camera on the outside of the car while having the mic inside the engine bay recording the engine sound without the wind noise. The Contour+ (and the whole Contour family) also has a large sliding button on top of the camera which you use to start or stop recording. It’s easy to activate while wearing gloves and it allows you to tell if you’re recording or not either by feeling where the button position is or just looking at it.
The build quality of the camera is great, it has a brushed metal body and feels like it can take a hard drop. It’s not waterproof but I purchased the waterproof case which makes it resistant up to 60m. I also purchased a universal mount which is a small adapter that gives the Contour+ a tripod mount. I didn’t purchase any official mounts from Contour, instead I purchased some more durable and sturdier metal mounts from RAM. I got the flat surface suction mount and another mount for my bike.
I really love the camera and have no regrets getting it even though the Hero2 got released. The quality of footage is very good (watch above) especially when the weather and light is great. Customer support is also superb. They have pretty active forums and their customer support people are always there ready to answer or solve any of your problems. Not all is perfect since I do have two issue with the camera and the big one being the price. Both the GoPro and Replay XD cost around $300 while the Contour+ costs a whopping $500! You could literally get two GoPro cameras for the price of one Contour+ which is just insane. I had a bunch of PayPal credits which is why I went for it but if I was paying for the whole thing myself I would have most likely gone with the Replay XD instead. Another issue I have is with the night time footage quality. The image isn’t as clear as I would have liked it to be but it’s probably me expecting too much from these small action cam sensors. You can see a short nighttime footage below.
But as I said, I have no regrets getting this camera and compared to the GoPro which I tried using, I found the Contour+ a lot more easier and natural. If you’re interested in purchasing it get it from ebay. I got mine brand new for $455 including the waterproof case. That’s a big saving compared to Amazon’s $499 listed price for just the camera without the case.