Contour+ video camera
Contour+ review: a video camera for extreme sports junkies
- Excellent video quality in daylight, good in low light
- Very sturdy and light construction
- Smartphone app control can be finicky
- Internal microphone is not built for speed
If you're an action junkie, keeping track of your exploits -- whether it's for posterity or for bragging purposes -- should be high on your list of priorities. The Contour+ makes that task easy; it's a very convenient, very simple and very sturdy 'fire and forget' solution for recording video where weight and size are important factors. Apple or Android smartphone control is a great setup tool that comes at no extra cost, and about the only design flaw is the poor internal microphone. The Contour+ is pricey, but it's an investment we think is worth making for a really, really cool piece of tech.
Price$ 699.00 (AUD)
In bright daylight conditions video quality is very good, but even in low light the Contour+ does a good job of capturing detail without significant colour noise or graininess in video. If you remember to lower the camera’s exposure when you’re using it at dusk or at night — so that it doesn’t try to over-expose the video to create a ‘daylight’ look — there’s only a very small amount of colour noise in dark areas of the frame.
The Contour+’s video modes do take up a fair amount of memory, though. The Contour+ records in .MOV h.264 files with AAC audio, which are reasonably efficient, but Full HD 1080p video does suck up the space. With the bundled 2GB MicroSD card inserted, the camera’s 1080p maximum quality mode lasted a little over 14 minutes in our testing. High-speed (60fps) 720p video only lasted 21 minutes. You can use MicroSD cards of up to 32GB in size, but this is an additional cost.
The integrated microphone is, in our opinion, the weak point of the Contour+. You can use an external microphone (there’s a socket in the camera’s back) if you have one handy, but we think most casual users will opt for the internal one. We gave it a pretty hard run by testing it on top of a car at high speed — at low speeds it’s OK, but above 40KM/h or so the wind noise is unbearably loud. We wish Contour had included a wind cut menu setting or a wind sock accessory with the Contour+.
We have no doubts about the Contour+’s strength and durability. Like we wrote in our preview of the Contour+, we accidentally hit it against a bench-top, really really hard, and the bench-top came off second best. Similarly, we drove through sun and rain and bugs and smog at highway speeds and there’s not a single scratch on the Contour+’s front lens element. If anything, we’d doubt the strength of the mounts before the camera itself. After a dozen repeats of mounting and un-mounting the camera, the plastic on the top of the rotating camera mount was looking a little fatigued. We think there’s a market for permanent metal mounts that will stay strong over a long time.
The Contour+ is an expensive toy, especially if you’re going to buy a couple of extra mounts, a larger MicroSD card and an external microphone. It is excellent for the purposes it’s designed for, though — recording footage in a wide range of environments, at a variety of quality settings, in a compact and extremely sturdy package. If you are an extreme sports enthusiast or if you can find a niche that the Contour+ suits, we can’t see how it would disappoint.
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