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Contour Roam Review

Natty Cordon tells us about the Contour Roam in her Contour Roam review. Enjoy.

Good footage for a good price

Contour have never been the obvious choice if you’re choosing a camera for kayaking, but having recently re-emerged under new management, the company has a lot to offer any badass on a budget.

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I recently read a review of Contour’s top-of-the-range camera, the Contour +2. I am a firm believer that you get what you pay for with action cameras, but if you’re after a camera that delivers quality footage for a fraction of the price, then the Roam 2 is a great way to go. Here’s why…

WHAT COMES IN THE BOX?

The Roam 2 retails at about £150 on Amazon. It comes in an attractive box that contains everything you need to get going with your new camera:

Contour Roam 2 camera with built in battery
4GB Mico SD card with adapter
Lens cap
Tether
USB lead
Profile adhesive mount
Rotating flat surface mount

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Overall, Contour provide you with a really nice package. The camera looks good and feels well-made. The mounts that are provided are super versatile and were all I used for my first year of owning the camera. You will want to buy a Micro SD card with a greater capacity for filming, such as a SanDisk Ultra 32GB Class 10, but it’s nice to be able to start filming as soon as you open the box.

HOW EASY IS THE SET-UP AND OPERATION?

Contour have clearly focused on simplicity with the Roam 2, claiming that it is “the easiest-to-use camera on the market”. They are probably right! To start recording, you simply move the slider at the top of the camera into the forward position. The added advantage of this over a button is that you can feel whether the camera is recording or not, thus waving goodbye to those classic shots of you crumpling up your nose as you try to tell whether your camera’s little red light is flashing.

There is however a price to pay for this simplicity. Unlike the GoPro, you cannot use the Contour to take stills at the same time as taking video footage. I found this quite frustrating at first, until I realised that the high frame rate of the video footage means that you can take relatively high-quality snapshots. Alternatively, if you’re not bothered about getting video footage, you can use the free Contour Storyteller application for Mac or PC to set the camera to continuous photo mode which will take a shot every 1, 3, 5, 10, 30, or 60 seconds.

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WHAT’S THE VIDEO QUALITY LIKE?

The Contour Roam 2 will shoot full HD 1080p videos, just as the Contour +2 does. The shooting mode, frame rate, video quality, white balance, contrast, sharpness, exposure and audio settings can be changed using Contour’s Storyteller application, although I tend to leave most of these settings on Auto which seems to do a good enough job. Storyteller will also tell you how your changes to the settings will affect your battery life and recording time which is a useful feature.

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If you’re anything like me, then all of the jargon about resolution and frame rate won’t really make a lot of sense on its own. What it means is that the camera delivers clear footage and generally performs much better in poor light conditions than cameras in the same price range. Here are a couple of videos that were shot in the contrasting Chilean and British light conditions (bear in mind that the quality of the videos was much better before they were uploaded to Youtube).

ARE THE ACCESSORIES AND MOUNTS ANY GOOD?

The Contour Roam 2’s mounting system is the one reason that I choose to use a Contour rather than a GoPro. You can mount the camera at any angle you wish to and then use the built in laser alignment to rotate the lens and ensure that your footage is still shot at your desired angle.

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Unlike the GoPros, you can choose to mount the camera flush against the side of your helmet, and because the Roam 2 is waterproof without any additional housing, this is a low-profile and elegant system.

Contour only say that the Roam 2 is waterproof to 1m, and whilst I cannot take any responsibility for what you lot get up to with your own cameras, I can tell you that I have taken mine much deeper and it has remained water-tight throughout. One small word of warning, if you are going to be a bit of a loon with your camera like I am, make a stronger tether for it. My previous Roam 2 remains at the bottom of a 70 foot waterfall in Chile.

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If you wish to expand beyond the profile adhesive mount and rotating flat surface mount supplied with the camera, there are a wide range of options available, and you can also buy an adaptor which allows the camera to be used with the GoPro fitting.

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One of my favourite mounts is the suction cup which will stick to the front of any relatively flat and shiny kayak if you’re after some whitewater selfies, and holds really well on a car if you want to get footage of your journey or to use the car as a tripod. You can also use the camera with a proper tripod or a Joby Gorillapod as it has the standard screw fitting underneath.

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SUMMARY

Pros

Relatively low price of the camera and its accessories
High-quality, clear and crisp videos, even in poor light conditions
Ease of use
Waterproof to 1m (and the rest) without external casing
Low-profile when mounted on the side of a helmet
Range of colours

Cons

Needs a PC or Mac to change between shooting modes
Cannot shoot stills at the same time as taking footage
None of the jazzy stuff like GPS, bluetooth, or Wifi
Relatively weak tether if you’re a proper charger

Overall, the Contour Roam 2 is a great option for any badass on a budget. You cannot expect the gadgetry that you get with cameras at the higher end of the price range, such as the Contour +2 or the GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition, but you can expect a camera that looks good, is well made, mounts well, and delivers quality footage. What more could you want?

Contour Roam Review by: Natty Cordon

1 Comment

  1. JohnH

    Great review, that’s exactly why I chose to update to the Roam2 from my old Hero Wide instead of going for the Hero HD and after 2 years use am very happy with it.

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