Contour+ video camera
Contour+ preview: an all-weather video camera that's meant for the extreme sports junkie
- Good video quality from our testing so far
- Wide, wide, wide lens
- Packed with extra features
- It's a pricey piece of tech
- Adding accessories drives the price up further
The Contour+ action camera is, from our testing so far, a brilliant device. Its video quality is good in its highest quality mode, and there are a few other quality settings which offer versatility. It also feels very sturdy -- we accidentally tested this, with thankfully positive results -- and it's reasonably easy to operate with a little training. The advanced features make tweaking video settings a breeze -- its wireless iPhone integration is excellent.
Price$ 699.00 (AUD)
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The Contour+ sets itself up as the king of action cameras. If you're keen on recording your whitewater rafting, or downhill mountain-biking, or motorsports track day outing, it'll handle itself capably.
The lens is great and video recording quality is surprisingly good for its compact size. However, the price tag restricts it to serious enthusiasts — and anyone with special mounting needs or looking to go underwater will have to fork out even more.
From our limited time with it, the Contour+ seems to be one tough unit. It's built with a water resistant aluminium shell, with high quality plastic and rubber for the mounting points and rear access door. It's strong but isn't too heavy — we can't see it adding too much weight to a snowboarding helmet, for example, and it's light enough that it shouldn't put excessive strain on a mount if it's being shaken.
The front lens element rotates to let you level the camera no matter what angle it's sitting on — the range of motion covers 90 degrees anticlockwise from dead centre and a further 180 degrees clockwise from dead centre, so you've got an almost unrestricted range of motion for mounting the Contour+.
The retail pack for the Contour+ comes with two flat surface mounts, which rotate through a full 360 degrees, and a 'profile' mount which looks shaped to clip the Contour+ onto a smooth bike or snowboard helmet.
We put one of the rotating flat surface mounts onto the Contour+ to test it out, and found it a little tough to take off. After a lot of straining the mount came flying off... and the Contour+'s lens barrel smacked into the table we had been testing the camera on. The Contour+ was perfectly fine — not even a dent or a scratch — but the table suffered a deep rice-grain-sized gouge; like we said, the Contour+ is tough.
The feature we've loved most so far about the Contour+ is Connect View. Through a little Bluetooth card plugged into a port in the rear of the Contour+, the camera can sync with and connect to an iPhone 4 or Android smartphone. A free downloadable app lets you change various settings like white balance, exposure compensation, contrast and sharpness, as well as resolution and quality settings.
You can also muck around the camera's microphone (internal or external) or integrated GPS. Most interesting though is the camera's ability to stream low quality video at a reduced frame rate, helping you fine-tune the camera's aim. In our testing so far this has proved invaluable — setting up a shot means no wonky horizons or blocked lenses during playback.
The Contour+ can shoot in either 1080p or 720p — 1080p gives you a 130-degree field of view while the reduced 720p res lets you use the full 170-degree lens. Similarly, you can pick NTSC or PAL frame rates of 25 or 30fps in 1080p, and an additional 50 or 60fps option opens up at 720p. There are three quality settings — medium, high and maximum (but interestingly no 'low' setting — Contour clearly thinks highly of the Contour+'s video quality). You can also select a continuous photo mode which takes 5-megapixel snaps every three, five, 10, 30 or 60 seconds. H.264 .MOV files are output.
The Contour+ records to MicroSD; the camera comes with a single 2GB MicroSD card but you can use a card of up to 32GB. A USB cable for charging the camera's battery, a mini-HDMI cable for viewing playback or monitoring the camera's output on a LCD TV, and a microphone cable for attaching an external mic are all included. You also get Contour's Storyteller software which lets you edit video, check saved GPS data, and post the resulting clip online.
We'll hold off on sharing clips of the Contour+'s video quality until our full review, but we're happy to report that at 1080p 'Max' quality video is clear and detailed, even in low-light scenarios. Being able to set specific exposure and white balance settings means video quality is more consistent than on cameras without these controls. The 720P 50/60fps mode also seems to do a great job of capturing frames clearly for half-speed playback.
We're going to put together a few videos of the Contour+ in action for our full review. Stay tuned!
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