Best Contour Camera 2017 – For Your Motorcycle Adventures
What is the best motorbike helmet camera on the market right now? Where do you even begin to choose? Can a Contour camera hold its ground against the best helmet cameras?
Ideally, an above-average motorcycle helmet action camera encompasses excellent video quality, clear audio recording and output, robust build, convenient helmet mount system, and one that comes with plenty of augmenting accessories, including multi-mobile OS platform apps. An inclusion of top-notch Point-Of-View (POV) or wearable camera software is also a crucial element to enable users to shoot, snap, edit, share, store, and backup footage and stills anytime, anywhere.
However, the perfect motorbike helmet camera is still a work-in-progress affair and is (spoiler alert!) something you’ll not find on the market right now. But the contenders in the category are giving their best to ensure you film your on-road experiences in brilliant, crisp and clear video, with ample memory storage capacity to boot, and also ensuring that you won’t have to break a bank to afford the best motorcycle helmet Contour camera money can buy right now.
The Contour Camera Line
For this piece, we are on to Contour cameras. The Contour camera line is no doubt one of the best you can slap on your motorbike’s helmet. And with Full HD integration, wide viewing angles thanks to capable, rotating lens, waterproof casing, and sleek whole-unit designs, we can see why most users hold Contour cams in high esteem (and up the top of their bikers gear). Also, Contour is merging with iON Cameras, and we can surely expect better hardware and software to come out of that arrangement (more on that later).
Now, though, is time to lay the facts and determine the best among Contour’s motorbike helmet cameras for consumers. Let’s find out, shall we?
The Best Contour Camera – Roam, Roam 2, Roam 3 and Contour+2
4. Contour Roam Camera
Things you might like about the Contour Roam Camera:
- Good and customisable software,
- small size,
- very portable,
- a great bargain and easy to use.
Things you might not like about the Contour Roam Camera:
- does not capture video in 60fps,
- lacks both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity,
- has no internal memory and lacks voice recording.
The ContourRoam Waterproof HD has claimed the 4th position on our list and it has been, for a time now, the best selling helmet camera for bikers across most adventure stores, and for good reasons. The Contour camera shoots decent high-definition video (720p) in both reasonably lit and low light conditions. That is thanks to its 5 megapixels sensor up front. Users also get a nice 2-hour uptime to record their favourite moments, which is better than most of the competition and also considering its $140 (94.75GBP) price while brand new.
A Waterproof Action Camera
It is waterproof such that you can ride with the ContourRoam mounted to your helmet and take in all the action while it is raining, or in high humidity conditions, say, in the early mornings near a dam or lake or just when it is so really wet. Do remember that the Contour camera is waterproof to one metre. So we most definitely would not recommend you wearing this Contour Camera for scooba diving and such.
Rotatable and Fast
The ContourRoam is capable of rotating up to 170 degrees, so you can take in wide-angle views, minus the need to sojourn just to adjust the camcorder to point to particular scenes. Also, from completely off, it’ll only take about two seconds to snap that memorable picture before the object/scene disappears out of site—not even the latest iPhone is that fast. You’ll agree that the best moments to capture on film or in pixels are rarely planned. So we like it that the ContourRoam can switch on in split seconds and can capture a beautiful image before you can bike past it, or before it stops.
Because this highly portable, little thing is well built (brushed aluminium), it can ward off damage and save the innards for later viewing. Those include a MicroSD port, mini-USB port (also for charging and transferring recorded media) and you can slot in your preferred MicroSD card capacity (supports up to 32GB SDHC memory) to store your footage and photos. Were it not for the price consideration Contour fronts for this model, we might be tempted to go for the higher capacity GoPro Hero3, or the less costly $150 Tachyon OPS HD—both support SDHC memory cards of up to 64GB, enough room for a couple of hours’ unedited film.
Underneath the rear cover you will find a Reset Button, which you can use to reset the cam if it ever got stuck on “Record”, and a Format button to sweep the MicroSD card clean.
You might also be happy to know that you can mount the CR using almost any standard tripod, and can also strap it in place faster than you can say bikers’ pleasure.
“The ContourRoam is a good helmet camera that supports waterproof video recording, rotates over a wide angle, is lightweight, and comes with a great price.”
3. Contour Roam 2 Camera
Things you might like about the Contour Roam 2 Camera:
- Looks great,
- captures video at 1080 pixels,
- really easy to use,
- waterproof up to 10 metres without a case,
- steady and continuous recording,
- and can practically hang out with most motorcycle helmet mount systems.
Things you might not like about the Contour Roam 2 Camera:
- Having to plug it into a PC every single time you want to adjust Contour camera modes and settings.
- It also has a non-removable/non-swappable battery.
Number 3 on our list is the successor to the ContourRoam – an excellent helmet camera for the following reasons, besides that you only need to slide forward the rubber switch on the top, and you are recording already.
The ContourRoam 2 is rotatable up to 180 degrees to the left and up to 90 degrees to the right. That means you can easily stay focused on the road ahead and let your Contour camera find its vantage points, but we find that it can’t record 1080p video when rotated to a full 180 degrees position.
What it can capture, however, are beautiful photos at a maximum image resolution of 2592×1944 pixels using its 5MP sensor. You can record video in 1080p (up to 125 degrees) at 30 frames per second (fps), at 1280×960 pixels (4:3 ratio), and in 720p at 60fps when you need smoother recording. Whichever resolution you choose for video recording, you can do so in H.264 format and store the (microSD media) footage in the included 4GB of SD storage card, a rare treat that adds value for money.
You can also record sound in 48 kHz stereo and experience considerably little noise from a windy exposure with this Contour action camera.
Contour Roam vs Contour Roam 2
Like its predecessor, the Contour Roam2 has a Reset and Format button beneath the rear, waterproof design cover. Moreover, the highly portable, (55x34x100) mm and 145g ContourRoam 2, comes with a Micro-USB port round the back cover for charging and connecting to your PC when you need to make adjustments to, say, camera resolution and other camera settings. The slot is also necessary for transferring video and photos to other devices.
Plug to a PC to Change Settings
Having to plug to a PC every time you need to make even minor adjustments to shooting settings is somewhat limiting, time-consuming and can be infuriating. Why? Because as things stand with this action cam, once you’ve set your ContourRoam 2 to a particular mode and resolution at home with your PC, for example, you can’t undo it in the field. Not unless you carry that particular computer in your backpack.
In fact, you’d need to strap along your laptop computer to make adjustments to the Contour Roam 2 on the road, which is far from convenient and what a tiny and decently powerfully helmet camera should be about. You still need to install QuickTime with Contour’s Storyteller PC app to start shooting. However, the application software is excellent and intuitive to use even for first timers—making edits, sharing to social media, and other gimmicky tricks, a nice treat.
For your memorable moments, the rechargeable but non-removable Li-ion battery can capture high-quality video for about 2 hours and 35 minutes straight (some people have gone up to 3.5 hours) which is a better life than its predecessor. The fact that you can’t swap the battery for a spare one when it runs out of juice, maybe enough reason for some of you to ditch it, but the onboard battery is decent enough for short treats before the unit needs a session with an adapter.
“For $199 (134.68GBP), the ContourRoam2 is a high-calibre Contour camera that captures good quality video and snaps beautiful photos in both decently-lit and low light conditions at a great price, and in wide-angle POV. The GoPro Hero 3 may offer better video and even build quality, but it is much pricier.”
2. Contour+2 Camera
Things you might like about the Contour+2 Camera:
- That it is sleek, durable and sports a low-profile design.
- Also, the crisp video quality,
- rotatable sensor up to 360 degrees to root out off-axis video,
- GPS integration plus you can overlay GPS data on video,
- works with your smartphone via Storyteller and Connect apps, and a couple of cool new features. However, it still maintains that same old’ ease of use, plus it now costs $299.99 (203.03GBP) brand new from the manufacturer.
- Also, the Profile Mount included is specifically meant for mounting on a helmet.
Things you might not like about the Contour+2 Camera:
- Considering its capability, we are not sure what, especially now that it is cheaper than the competition.
- Then again, a 2-3 hour battery life may not be nearly what you hoped for—it is swappable and rechargeable, though, unlike in the ContourRoam 2 so you can swap with a fully-charged replacement unit on the go.
The Contour+2 HD Hands-free outdoor camera is among the best motorcycle helmet cameras that a modern biker will ever want. The waterproof action camera is quite convenient for recording in a storm, heavy snow, or in densely humid conditions without needing a case. But either way, it can do even better with a waterproof case on—not included in the box.
Despite the native waterproofing, and even with the case on, the onboard microphone records decent sounds, which you can playback accompanied by some action tunes without losing what was said. The same applies when biking in windy conditions.
That is a good thing considering a whole bunch of other motorbike helmet cameras struggle to capture crisp, clear audio mainly due to the waterproof sheath they have wrapped over them. The audio coherence distorts further and worsens if a waterproof casing is thrown into the mix, but we find the Contour+2 to be on top of this little nag of an issue.
170 Degrees View Angle and Premium Features
The six-element lens of the Contour+2 can rotate up to 270 degrees, and use the laser alignment function of the motorbike helmet friendly cam to keep things levelled out nicely. Also, this Contour camera has a wide field of view that spans 170-degrees, and users can expect to take in images at wider angles without compromising on more background detailing and clarity.
This time, Contour did pack a lot more jewellery behind that back door round the back. Open it and you’ll find a status button, removable and rechargeable battery, MicroSD card slot (a welcome 8GB MicroSD card included), Micro-USB port for charging and PC files transfer, a Bi-Mode Switch, Format Button, and an HDMI port.
The bi-mode means you don’t have to use a PC every time you need to switch recording modes like was the case with the ContourRoam2. You can just switch modes right from the Contour camera itself.
Then use the format button to erase the MicroSD card and the HDMI port to connect, watch and immerse yourself in HD video viewing glory from your HD TV, for example. The unit ships with an HDMI cable and microphone extension cable, so you are sorted from the very beginning.
Waterproof Case Included
Also included in the box is a waterproof case (no longer a separate purchase) that makes the Contour+2 completely rain-proof. The case is also shockproof, making the motorcycle helmet camera ideal for use in snowy conditions as well. Still, the case provides room for multiple mounts that are compatible with a broad range of Contour mounts for bikers’ helmets.
As far as ease-of-use goes, all you need to do to get started is to slide the Instant On-Record Switch forward to start, backwards once to stop recording, and further back to power down. As in other Contour motorbike helmet cameras here, you get LED indicators to inform you on battery and storage capacity, as well as when you are recording or not. Finally, the unit measures 98mm by 60 mm by 34 mm, very portable indeed.
“The Contour+2 is great for anyone looking for crisp HD recording, and clean voice recording, and Bluetooth integration, and HDMI streaming for external connections. With this particular Contour cam model, you can use your Bluetooth-enabled Android or iOS smartphone to control things remotely, so you don’t have to dismount your biking headgear. Oh, it is a good-looking cam too, despite being nearly as rugged as the more expensive GoPro Hero 2 Outdoor Kit.”
1. Contour Roam 3 Camera
Things you might like about the Contour Roam 3 Camera:
- Sharp images, little wobble effect even when recording in shaky action,
- superior ease of use with a broad range of sports gear,
- Profile Mount for mounting to the side of a motorcycle helmet.
Things you might not like about the Contour Roam 3 Camera:
- Lacks Wi-Fi,
- having to use PC software to make simple adjustments,
- the ContourRoam3 is fatter and heavier,
- and it is sad to see a maxed out 30fps at 1080p frame rate after all these years.
The all-new Contour Roam3 action camera grabs the #1 spot on our list, but it is a little exciting and disappointing at the same time. What’s with the retro-development?
We are wondering why Contour thought of making a ContourRoam 2 look-alike, from the shape and size, to the way you needed a PC handy to change otherwise basic camera settings. Granted Connect’s Storyteller software for this Contour camera is well improved and further optimised than at the Contour+2’s launch, most users want an all-inclusive and compact action camera. One that has few to no strings attached–a sturdy helmet camera that switches camera modes, contrasting and brightness settings, etc., without relying on external baggage to do so.
Rant over; we don’t doubt that the ContourRoam3 is arguably the best motorcycle helmet camera, as well as waterproof action camera, at its price range. Sony’s garage of action cameras may ruin it for Contour in a short few months, though.
Waterproof up to 9 Metres
Also, the latest Contour camera does not need a casing to take a dip a cool 9 metres underneath a pool or large water basin, which also means it is rain-proof, and will work swiftly and at top form in snowy conditions at whatever biking speed you choose. A section of you complained that the Contour+2 was a bit unsteady on its mount, and Contour engineers may have listened—though GoPro mounts remain THE force to reckon with.
To further complement the ruggedness, Contour’s laser alignment technology makes it easy to eliminate off-axis footage in the final playback cut. That is possible because the 170-degree wide-angle lens on this thing can rotate up to 270 degrees. Simply take an aero-spin with your speed motor monster and the lens will rotate all the way too. Brilliant.
The GoPro Hero3+ costs twice as much so we won’t compare the two for ruggedness and mounting systems. But, you have to like the sharp detailing with which the Contour clasps images, which is better than what we’d report for both the GoPro and the slightly cheaper Sony Action Camera.
The ContourRoam 3 captures 1080p footage at a 30fps rate and 720p at 60fps and up to 120fps. The images are sweet, but how do we wish we could have a higher resolution than the maxed out 1080 pixels. With so many upcoming helmet action cameras clouding out Contour’s grandeur, and some even offering crazy res at better bargains, the ContourRoam3 might have more competition to dizzy its selling points if nothing is forthcoming.
Contour Roam 3 Vs Other Action Cameras
What is definitely not forthcoming is Wi-Fi enablement, so you are pretty much stuck with the Contour PC software for trying to configure your snapper to make decent film footage off of a current event. Now, few people know what and where to tweak things using the software. And most maybe stranded, probably skipping a Contour purchase the next time they are looking for the best helmet camera for bikers.
Unlike the ContourRoam2, though, users can switch camera modes 1 and 2 from within the unit. It is also clear that the Contour flagship action camera was meant to emphasise ease-of-use. Consequently, Contour introduced a Quick Photo Mode at 5MP and Still Photo mode for photos. Atop its nicely rugged, aluminium and aerodynamic body, the Contour camera sports the same old, reliable and snappy switch.
Just like in the Contour+2, all you need to do is slide the light switch forward and you are on for a recording session. Slide the switch back and your Contour camera stops video recording. Slide it farther back and you’ve just powered off the whole set up.
However, unlike the Contour+2, the rechargeable battery on the latest Contour rollout is non-removable. So if you are used to bagging a backup battery, you might be out of luck here. In compensation, though, the ContourRoam3 battery life is a good 3.5 hours—decent for an entry-level action camera, but a bit lacklustre compared to the older generation Tachyon OPS HD, which won’t take a nap and be missing in action for up to a whopping 4.5 hours. The GoPro Hero3 battery is relatively uninspiring too, so we’ll pass.
Choose to buy the ContourRoam3 Action Camera straight from the manufacturer, and you would need to part with $199 (134.68GBP), not bad for all that it can do.
“The ContourRoam3 may have a bit of retro-issues to sort out, but it remains the best piece of Contour you can slap on the side of a motorcycle helmet. Overall, everything seems to be working just fine.”
Contour is joining forces with iON Cameras. ION brings smart connectivity to the high-quality and affordable action camera range of Contour.
In addition to enabling shooting and sharing HD video, iON Cameras brings its pioneering Wi-Fi connectivity and (free) Cloud storage services to the table. Something we feel should have rolled out with a 4th iteration of the ContourRoam line already. With future Contour-iON helmet action POV cameras promising contemporary shoot/share connectivity (to be found on competitor units this time around), Contour would need to bring it’s A-game in its 2017 offering.