I had high expectations of the Contour HD. Once I got the thing out of its packaging I wasted no time in attaching the camera to my helmet (with the optional helmet mount), heading out on the street and filming a quick line down the drive. The subsequent viewing solidified the two things I love and hate the most about the camera.
First up, the letters HD don’t disappoint (it’s 720p for those who want to know). The quality of the footage is outstanding. For a lens so small the picture is pretty crisp––not Collective or NWD crisp, but pretty damn good for a camera that’s not much bigger than a cell phone.
Although the footage was great it was mostly of my handlebars, and herein lies the thing I like least about the Contour HD. The velcro straps are hard to do up tight and I struggled to find a suitable position for it on my Giro Xen. Luckily my Fox Flux has vents that are more conveniently positioned, but owning the right helmet shouldn’t be a prerequisite for using this camera. The standard goggle mount works a treat with, well, goggles. But try and mount it anywhere else and you’ll be reaching for webbing and maybe some snowfoam.
These are only teething problems though, and on my second or third ride I had everything pretty well sussed and working nicely. Despite a bit of rider error (when I discovered the Contour HD can take the hard knocks) I’ve been amazed at the results. It’s so light you can barely notice it on your helmet, the large grippy on/off button is easy to use in gloves, and the series of audible beeps lets you know whether you’re filming or not.
Having used other brands of helmet camera in the past, the Contour HD’s ability to handle changing light conditions while dipping in and out of cover on singletrack really impressed me. It definitely performs better on overcast days and in low light conditions but it’s not too shabby on sunny days out in the open either. The Contour HD doesn’t cope so well with strong midday dappled sunlight, but no camera is going to deal well with those conditions, no matter how expensive.
At $600 it’s not cheap, but the ability to capture your favourite trails and your friends, and share the results in HD is worth it. Being able to analyse riding styles and the way your bike is operating is the cherry on the cake. My Contour HD comes on all my rides now. CALEB SMITH
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