Design and features
In terms of design, the Contour+2 follows the blueprint laid down by all other Contour cameras that have come before it. It's a long, metallic tube with sparse controls. A record switch along the top now comes with a lock, to prevent it from accidentally falling out of place and stopping/starting recording.
At the front is a 270-degree rotating lens element, while the field of view of the lens itself is 170 degrees. There is also a laser provided on-board, which can be used for levelling the shot; useful for situations where you cannot verify the orientation by using a remote viewfinder.
Unlike other action cameras on the market, the Contour+2 has no screen. To interact with the device beyond commencing and stopping recording, you need to connect the camera to a computer and use the (somewhat limited) Storyteller app, or one of the smartphone apps.
Fortunately, the Contour+2 comes with GPS and Bluetooth connectivity, which is simple and intuitive to use. Press the dedicated button at the top of the camera, and then pair it with your chosen device. Run the app on your smartphone, and voila — access to the remote viewfinder functionality. The app also gives you access to changing the settings on the toggle switch. With two positions, you can set each to hold different shooting options; for example, position one can be for full HD videos, and position two could be for 720p high frame-rate capture.
At the time of writing, only the iOS app is compatible with the remote viewfinder option on the Contour+2, with an update to the existing Android app coming soon. While the smartphone app is easy to use, and pairing over Bluetooth is seamless, at times it is unstable. For example, sometimes you commence recording using the on-screen button, and then the app stops responding, so you can't end recording.
A rail slider on the side of the camera, as well as on the waterproof casing, allows for a number of different mounts to be attached. From time to time, they can get stuck and require a fair amount of force to remove. The Contour+2 also has a 2.5mm microphone input to boost the audio quality from the on-board microphone. Plus, the Contour+2 has the ability to stream footage over HDMI.
The Contour+2 comes with a waterproof case that lets you reach depths of up to 60 metres, and it does give you access to some of the controls — namely, the record slider and rear status button. While the metal body appears sturdy, it does scratch easily, as shown in the image below.
We swear, it was nothing to do with us.
|Sony Action Cam||Contour+2||GoPro HD Hero 2|
|1080p (30fps), 720p (30fps/60fps/120fps), 480p (30fps)||1080p (25fps/30fps), 960p (30fps/25fps), 720p (60fps/50fps/30fps/25fps), 480p (120fps/100fps/60fps/50fps/30fps/25fps)||1080p (30fps), 960p (48fps/30fps), 720p (60fps/30fps)|
|2-megapixel still images||5-megapixel still images||11-megapixel still images|
|Wi-Fi built in||Bluetooth built in||Wi-Fi available with optional BacPac|
|f/2.8 fixed||f/2.8 fixed||f/2.8 fixed|
|170-degree lens||170-degree lens||170-degree lens|
|No image or lens rotation||270-degree rotating lens||180-degree image rotation|
|65 grams||155 grams||94 grams|
Note: while the GoPro Hero 3 has been announced, we haven't included it in this comparison, as it's not available yet in Australia. We will update this chart when it becomes available.
Video quality is fine when viewed in isolation, with the lens delivering reasonably sharp footage. Put it side by side with other action cameras, such as those from Sony and GoPro, though, and you will see that the video quality is not as impressive. Colours are more muted, while exposure struggles to cope with high-contrast and bright situations. Low light is also not a strong point of the Contour+2, resulting in a fair amount of noise. This obviously won't be an issue for anyone shooting predominantly in outdoor, bright situations.
We also encountered a few issues during the testing process with the Contour+2. Part of our evaluation involved strapping the camera to a skateboard to see how the camcorder coped. While the waterproof case added another layer of protection, it was also bulky and not ideal for attaching to a skateboard.
Without the casing, when being thrown about in a rugged situation, the Contour+2 kept giving card errors and refused to record, while the microSD unit itself kept popping out of place — even with the back door firmly closed.
Also, because the Contour+2 lacked a screen, it was impossible to tell what the problem really was without connecting it to a computer and diagnosing the problem — which is not exactly something that you want to be doing when on the slopes.
Still images have a more subdued colour palette, while there is a fair amount of noise and fringing on images. The Contour+2 can capture shots at intervals of between 1 to 60 seconds.
The Contour+2 is ideal for action adventurers who want a helmet camera with a simple recording control. For other applications, the Contour+2 presents a frustrating user experience, which is disappointing, given its premium price.
At AU$549, it is hard to justify the cost of the Contour+2 over its nearest competitors, the GoPro and the Sony.