Contour has a bit of a hiccup in their history, so if you thought they have kinda disappeared this last year, you are not alone. They shut everything down for several months, but they have recently come back and are ready to play. One of their mottos is "Contour is simply better." We are going to put that to the test.
Rating: 3.8 out of 5
Price. When we bought the Contour+2 Action Cameras, they were $399+tax/shipping. They are asking $299 for the same model today, but you can't get them in the states. (My guess is they are selling off their old stock to make room for the new models.) This cost is right in line with the GoPro and the Ion, which we would consider to be standard in the industry. Nobody seems to want to charge more than $400 for one of these. No clue why.
Best For…Just filming video. Don't get us wrong, this is a good camera. If you owned one right now, you'd be happy with the results. It's easy to use, it communicates with you, it has a sleek shape, it's tough, and it takes high quality video. But stacking this up next to the GoPro and the Ion, they all do the same things—some of them a little better than the Contour+2—and the others take photos. Unless they come down in price to somewhere around $290-$300, we just cannot see the reason why someone would choose this camera over the Ion or GoPro if they had all of the information.
Video Quality. Excellent. We'd put it right up there with any other camera. I'm sure there are some camera geeks who know more about pixels and frame rates and the like, but for a typical consumer, you the picture quality is great.
Communication.When you slide the panel forward to start video record, it will beep when it's recording. Also, a red light appears on the top of the camera. Most of the filming happens when you aren't looking at the top of the camera, so the reason communication is with sound, which we could head through about 25-30 knot winds. The same thing goes when it's off. Slide the panel back, and it will beep when it's over.
0 to 60. The Countour +2 action camera is one of the cameras that can get up and go. From a cold start to recording, is (NEED NUMBERS here). So when the camera is off, you don't need much time to be camera ready when some radical stuff is happening (or about to). And this is a critical piece for us as we see it in the skiing world.
Photos. Of the four cameras that we field tested, Contour+2 is the only one that doesn't take photos. This is a big minus for us, because it means you need to have your camera/phone at the ready, as well as your action camera. When the cost and quality are near identical, why would you settle for something that has less functionality?
Battery Life/Charging. Nothing good/bad to report here. As a skier, I can tell you that you can't shoot all day (and when we take an action camera to shoot—we shoot A LOT), but you can get a decent amount of footage on one battery. Our suggestion is to buy two, because as with any action camera, the Contour +2 will get you about 30-40 minutes of footage before going to sleep.
For a specific example, the last time we drained the battery was in Monarch on April 4, 2014. We took 11 videos. The shortest, 40 seconds. The longest, 8 minutes. A total of 33:48 worth of footage before it went down. When we first got the camera, I feel like it did 50-55 minutes on that battery.
As for charging, same as any other. A couple hours for a full charge or four hours if you get that spare battery.
Handling. We loved the handling. The shape of the housing is aerodynamic, as you can see, and it was very easy to slide in and out of my breast and side pockets. Then just slide the button forward and it's ready. We also noticed that with the flat lens case, for whatever reason, snow never stuck to the glass, and it did with the others. I can't explain this, but I think it's a good thing.
Toughness. To be upfront, we try to keep these pretty safe. I rolled over a few times in the powder, but I never took a bad spill, and not a scratch. It also comes with a huge waterproof case. I have no doubt that it works, but it take up a lot of space, especially when compared with the Ion (waterproof out of the box) and the GoPro. Contour does have another camera, the ContourRoam2 that is waterproof out of the box, but we haven't used that one.
Mounts. The mounts are fine and standard and won't give you any problems. Something that might throw you for a loop is that the Contour+2 mounts sideways on a helmet (however, the google mount is straight). So you will rotate the face, which has degrees marked on it, to match what you are shooting. There is even a pretty handy site line laser that shows you where level is (no matter how the camera is oriented) so you have everything correct.
Software/Support. As you can guess with a company that ducks in and out of operation, the support has been lousy. We actually bought two of these cameras because we were so impressed with the demo we got at the SIA Snow Show, plus we were given two 50% off coupons. Within a month, one of them stopped working, and a year later we still can't get anyone on the phone to help us figure out what went wrong with it.
They have an app, so you can see what your camera is seeing. We got it working once in March 2013, and haven't since on either of our phones, iphone 4 or 5. We don't give them bad marks for this because these apps (GoPro's too) are largely unnecessary. With those fish-eye lenses, you will struggle to keep things out of the picture rather than in. We shot 15 hours of footage this winter on cameras with apps, and we never used the app once.
Other Products. They also make a camera called the Roam2, which is a scaled down model for $199, plus a variety of cases, charging kits, and a mount for any occasion.
Brass Tacks: Paying the same price for less ability.