GEAR REVIEW – Contour ROAM Video Camera

Apparently 48 hours of video footage is uploaded to YouTube every minute ! Thats 8 years of content a day ! No Way !

I wish I had a dollar for every time I have shared on Facebook or Twitter an amazing video of some crazy dude jumping off a bridge with parachute in hand or extreme skiers attempting near vertical slopes as the mountain sheds its coat of snow all around .

Capturing the impact gravity has on the human body as it attempts some crazy exploit has been brought much closer and much more real with the recent advances in camera technology and the development of Point of View Cameras (POV’s.)

This technology has not escaped us here at ultra168 and as the on-line world moves to a much more visually engaging format we are going to be bringing you more and more videos.

We are big fans of the Contour range of cameras and its latest edition to the family, the Contour ROAM is reviewed below. This is a long video due to it being a comprehensive review of both the camera and its range of available accessories.

Thank you to Contour Australia for the cameras used in this video.

Coming soon will be a “How to Guide” to making impactful running videos.

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14 thoughts on “GEAR REVIEW – Contour ROAM Video Camera

  1. good review, thanks,i’ve been waiting for your thoughts. i saw some footage comparing the contour, go pro, and drfit cameras. front what i can tell, the go pro does not rate as well as the contour or drift. at the moment, i’m considering the drift – it has slow motion and time lapse options, a small screen for playback, and a remote control you can wear on the wrist. have you seen or tried the drift? i’d be keen to hear your thoughts on that one too.
    cheers, emu

    1. Hi Mark, thanks for your comments. I have used the drift, but not out on the trails. The way I see the 3 brands is Go Pro is Windows PC, Contour is Apple and Drift is BlackBerry! Might be a bit harsh, but in terms of brands used by skiers, boarders, BASE jumpers and MTBers it is normally either a Go Pro or Contour you see strapped to their heads/frames.

      My towpenneths is this, memory is cheap so when I record stuff, I just keep the camera rolling and edit what I get from loads of footage, so playback screen is not necessary to me and is more suited to more professional set ups. All 3 of the Contour range have a time-lapse mode ranging from 1 sec, 3, 5, 10, 30 and 60 second intervals. Its a simple switch to enable this function and the images are very detailed. The Contour+ and GPS versions record 60fps and the ROAM up to 30fps so in Full 1080p mode you can slow stuff right down when editing and get a high quality result with simple software packages like iMovie. To be honest most of what we use these cameras for is general outdoor action stuff and will often be scaled down in post production so it will rn quickly on YouTube and iPhones rather than in full cinematic quality. Here I would use a Canon DSLR like the 5D or 7D or even the new iPhone 4s which is superb quality video.

      Don’t see many Drifts in Oz either so getting all the extras maybe a little harder ? Anyway, its a bit of fun and a nice distraction from running.



      1. Oh and Mark, I forgot to add a fourth brand you may wish to consider and that is ReplayXD. Not very common yet, but used loads in motorsport especially in the US. Tonnes of similar features and similar pricing to the Contour. I am yet to try one out as they only ship to Oz and I would like to see one in operation first.

      2. Cheers Marcus. If the contour is the apple, then that sounds like me! Good to know that it also has time lapse. True, not many suppliers of drift in oz. I might take a look online at the replay also. nothing like a new toy to play with, my flip video is not cutting the mustard anymore!

    1. Hi Andrew, about 3 hours, so you would easily fill a 32GB memory card in Full HD mode. The simple on off switch means you only use it when you need to record something, so it has no standby mode and is ready to record in under 2 seconds so 3 hours of filming is in experience about 48 hours of activity, or a race weekend for something like GOW100 or C2K.

      1. Cool, thanks Marcus.
        Do you find the inability to switch to stills without plugging back in an issue. I guess that means do you ever use it for stills? And the sound quality, do you use this or your other Contour for recording interviews?

      2. Whippet, I tend to just take single images from the video footage if I want one. The ROAM is definitely the simpler version of the 3 cameras, compared to the GPS and Contour + version which have a switch on the back to switch between video and stills if you wish. I normally carry my iPhone4 with me on training runs so use this camera for stills if I need to get more serious.

        As for the sound, I just leave the ROAM in standard setting and it seems to pick up sound really well for interviews. The recent firmware fix has sorted the internal mic issues where the levels kept changing.

        At the end of the day, the sort of stuff I am publishing to Ultra168 is not Spielberg quality, its more getting the quality of content up and up really quickly. e.g. my footage of the WS100 2011 start was up on Youtube within minutes using this camera and my laptop and it really got Ultra168 name out there when we were just starting out.

        If I had a 1:1 interview lined up with some superstar and we had time to set up a camera shoot, I would probably switch to my Canon DSLRs and auxiliary mics to get a higher quality footage.

  2. i did actually find the issue of not being able to see what you’re filming detrimental when using the Contour, but heard that the new model does have some sort of option using a cable to a mibile phone or similar to provide a view screen. Is this the case?

    Quickly, I’d say that I picked up the GoPro Hero 1080 HD in the US for a decent bit cheaper than it costs here, with the backpack attachment (viewing screen) and pretty much love it. It’s the main camera for most of the photos and any video I’ve taken in the last 6 weeks.
    Comparing it with my limited experience of the Contour, I believe
    – the Contour films better and gives a smoother texture to footage in low light conditions
    – the GoPro handles motion and footage taken on the move a little better
    – comparable picture quality in normal lighting conditions
    – for sound, I’d lean toward the Contour. I can hear the digitalisation of the sound on the GoPro, although not sure if this is attached to the reduction in resolution needed when filming to transfer and watch directly on iPad.
    – for ability to work on the spot and access functionality while you’re out and about, including seeing what you’re shooting and playing with all settings, massively in favour of the GoPro.
    – didn’t enjoy the laser sighting method on the Contour and some shots which I thought were set up to be quite level came out with a bit of an annoying tilt on them (earlier edition Contour)
    – Contour better for transporting, as the GoPro has no ‘Hold’ switch or similar and a couple of times it turned on in my bag, using up all battery by the time I got to where I wanted to film. I fixed this going up a mountain by taking the battery out whenever I wasn’t using it so I could film near the summit, but doing this a few times with frozen fingers got old very quickly.

    Weighing one against the other and based on my personal preferences, the GoPro does nudge just ahead of the Contour. But I do still have a certain amount of Contour envy and think that there isn’t the kind of marked difference between them that makes one clearly better overall than the other.

    1. All very valid points Roger. I agree not much to choose between the two. As I say its a bit like Apple v Microsoft. At the end of the day, they both perform equally well for what we are doing, I just think the Contour range look so much more sexy!

      Yes you are right, with Contour, you can use your iPhone as a Bluetooth enabled viewfinder which sends back live images, but again, nice to have and not mandatory for me.

      The local deals for Contour are comparable to what they retail in the US based on my albeit quick trawl of the usual sites this morning. JB HiFi in Sydney CBD have a huge range and are open to some great deals at the moment.

      It is a good time to be a consumer of gadgets !

  3. Hi – reading through the review – thanks so much! I would love to get a Contour Roam this xmas but I am being told by Contour that you cannot playback or edit the 1080p setting on Ipad2. Does anyone know if this is true? I had thought with the new operating system (IOS5) this should be doable……any thoughts?

  4. Hi Marcus,
    just bought my Contour Roam2 and wondering if you are going to follow up the last line of your review? “Coming soon will be a “How to Guide” to making impactful running videos.”

    How have you stabilised the Contour when using the head strap? It feels like my Contour bounces beside my head with each step, even walking. If I tighten that headband any further it feels like my head will burst.


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