Popular digital cameras are not without their accessories and some accessories like the electronic viewfinder and waterproof case can expand the capabilities of the camera. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find accessories that allow you to use your camera hands-free. These digital cameras are simply not designed that way since most cameras have physical buttons that you need to press while others rely on touch screens. Wearable cameras like the Contour ROAM2 represent a niche market where their main purpose is to allow hands-free video recording and photo shooting so you can freely ride your bike or practice other extreme sports while recording exactly what you are witnessing.
Wearable cameras are not the kind of gadgets that you interact with and that is why the ContourROAM2 lacks a screen and doesn’t have any buttons; save for the small format button which simply formats the memory card. This is a good thing because the Contour ROAM2 ends up being small allowing you to mount the action camera in more places or spots than larger cameras. It pretty much has the same looks as the pricier Contour+2 and it weighs pretty light. Although the ContourROAM2 is Contour’s entry-level product, the camera doesn’t feel cheap. It is solidly built with water resistance in mind. As long as you don’t dip the Contour ROAM2 underwater beyond a meter, the camera should just fine. It is compatible with the Contour 3330 waterproof case in case you want to extend the limits to 60 meters.
The minimalistic design also makes it pretty easy to figure out how to operate the ContourROAM2. The only other physical function available is a switch which you need to flick to power on the device and have it begin recording. That is pretty much all there is to it. Unlike the Contour+2, the camera doesn’t just come in black; you get to pick from other fun colors like olive green, red and blue.
The Contour ROAM2 relies on external storage for so the camera can properly store recorded footage. Because of the camera’s tiny size, using microSD cards make perfect sense and the slot can be found on the rear side of the camera. A USB port can be found on the back as well if you wish to transfer stored videos to the computer. The top of the ContourROAM2 features an indicator which is one of the interesting improvements over its predecessor. You can conveniently see if you are running out of battery or storage space by checking the color of the icons on indicator.
Contour ROAM2 can record great video especially if you stick with the Full HD option which lets you record 1080p at a fairly smooth 30 frames per second or 25 fps. Since this can result to very large videos even if they have short lengths, you can use the 720p Action HD mode which records videos that still look good in large TVs but support 60/50 fps. Finally, there is a Tall HD mode if you want your videos at 1280×960 resolution. The package already includes a 4 GB memory card so Action HD is a good first choice unless you decide to buy a higher capacity card. If you prefer taking pictures rather than recording video, you can activate the photo mode and set an interval so the ContourROAM2 can take 5-megapixel snapshots based on what you set. Just make sure you know in advance what setting you want to use because the camera must be connected to a computer with Contour Storyteller installed if you want to change the mode.
The 170-degree wide angle lens and six-element glass result to pretty decent video performance. The white balance settings and exposure are handled automatically as well. The only downside is that you cannot apply manual controls.
The Contour ROAM2 is a Contour product so if you have other Contour mounts like helmet and bar mounts, you can use them. Both a rotating mount and profile mount are already included which means that several of the outdoor activities are covered from snowboarding to water sports. You should be able to properly level your shots thanks to the camera’s ability to rotate 270 degrees. The built-in laser level can assist as well.
The battery life of the ContourROAM2 is pretty optimized as well. 3.5 hours might not sound long but it applies to consistent recording. So whenever you need to save battery life, you just have to hit the Instant On-Record switch to stop recording and then flick it again when you need to continue.
The ContourROAM2 is a great product to consider if you want to witness how it is like to record first-person videos. The $199 price tag puts this camera in-line with midrange point-and-shoot cameras but the build quality is way above average. This POV video camera is only inexpensive because the features are very much barebones. For instance, 120 fps isn’t supported as well as GPS mapping, live streaming and mobile connectivity. The lack of mobile connectivity can be a setback unless you are fine with USB transfers. You will have to consider the $349 Contour+2 if you want those added features but what is striking about the Contour ROAM2 is Contour’s general interest in expanding their niche audience. Remember, Contour’s website has plenty of other available mounts to check out if you want added flexibility or if you find the included adhesive mounts to be limited. Compared to other POV video cameras, the Contour ROAM2 is one of the easiest cameras to use.