To see other reviews for May 2015 view The Paddler ezine: http://joom.ag/n3rb/p16
By Dale Mears
Now when people say action camera everybody always jumps to the conclusion that its a GoPro. GoPro has become a household name even amongst the none adventure/outdoorsy folk. But there are others, and yes jump on any social media and you get a load of people quoting “get a GoPro” or “it’s not a GoPro”. I’ve used GoPro and a range of other POV cameras and now I use Contour and perfectly happy using them.
OK, so I have a number of Contour cameras and their latest edition: the Roam3, is my favourite yet. I know that the frame rates are not as high as the GoPro, I am also fully aware that the still image megapixel rating isn’t quite as high either but there are many reasons to buy the Roam3. Here are some of the reasons I love my Roam3 and recommend it to anyone looking for a good affordable POV camera.
My first reason is style. I studied design and was always told a box was boring, lacked style and most of all lacked creativity – the Contour Roam3 is definitely not a box! The Contour’s form is of a very clean stylish POV camera, the shape is streamline, which allows it to mount easily on the side (yes, side) of a helmet and not limited to the top. Due to the streamlined shape you will notice less drag and air resistance and less of an impact when hitting the water face on, due to the camera having less surface area.
The Roam3, unlike any other POV camera, also has a nice feature where the lens rotates through 270 degrees, so you can rotate the lens to alter your shot – ideal if mounting onto a kayak and wanting to mount flat. The Roam3 also features laser alignment, so you can easily adjust your lens whilst on your helmet by switching on the laser and aligning by twisting the lens. Perfect – every bit of footage is straight and at the angle you wanted.
Contour have a range of older models that do not need a waterproof housing such as the Roam2, however, the Roam3 has been designed to stay waterproof up to 10m without the need for a case. This not only makes it less bulky but reduces nuisances like the lens misting up in certain climates. I know a lot of people who have this issue, forever buying special wipes or those annoying little absorbent pads that you have to squash into your housing. Without the case means the lens does not become misty, meaning you always get great footage.
All Contour camera’s have a single record mode. Located on the top, it is a simple slide switch, which is ideal if you have wet hands or maybe skiing or boarders’ gloves. It makes for easy recording rather than having to check if the red light is flashing and you are on the right recording method. Note: you will have to pre set your recording method, which can be easily done by selecting the settings you want whilst plugged into a computer – it takes two seconds and isn’t any hassle at all. There is a small switch that you can preset. I have mine programmed for 1080p 30fps and photos (one per second) on one camera and the other 1080p 30fps and 720 60fps. You can time-lapse one, three, five, 10, 30 or 60 seconds in photo mode.
The Roam3 defaults at 1080p 30fps and 720p 60fps and you may also use 960p, 720p and 480p at 30fps or 480p at 60fps and 120fps. I personally have only used the 1080p at 30fps and 720p at 60fps and always been very happy with the resulting footage – especially as most video sharing sites compress the footage down to 720 anyway, unless you buy the pro upgrade.
Contour have added a new feature on the Roam3, which is a single button on the rear of the camera for taking stills. Although the stills are five-megapixels, which is low, the quality is ample for on the go shots. Let’s face it, most people will only be uploading these shots to Facebook/Instagram anyway and not printing them out. You can simple hold the back button for a few seconds and it beeps to let you know it is on stills mode, then you press the back button to snap whatever you want.
The Roam3 is an excellent POV camera, streamlined, hardwearing, simple to use and shoots good quality footage. Ok so it does not compete with the later GoPro on fps and still megapixels rating but on function and usability it excels. Its ease of use makes it a perfect all-rounder – it mounts to a standard quarter inch screw thread to fasten to any gorilla pod or tripod and there is a wide range of accessories available such as ski goggle mounts, suction cups and MTB kits for any mounting needs.
Better still, you can pick up a Contour Roam3 as a very affordable option if you are in the market for a new POV camera.