There are many popular digital cameras available with accessories like an electronic viewfinder and waterproof case that add to the camera’s features. But you don’t always come across a camera with accessories that let you use the camera hands-free. Most cameras don’t come with accessories like this camera does.
Things are different with the Contour ROAM3. This is a camera that comes from a niche market offering hands-free video recording and photo shooting. With this feature, you can record whatever you see while riding your bike, paragliding or while performing any other extreme sports.
Sleek in design
The camera is just 4 inches long, and sits atop a slightly shorter rectangular plastic block with a tripod screw hole at the bottom, and mounting brackets on the sides. It comfortably attaches on uneven surfaces like the side of your motorcycle helmet so isn’t that noticeable.
The camera comes with an 8GB micro SD card that can store up to 5 hours 11 minutes of 1080p/30-fps video, a profile mount to mount the camera on the side of a helmet and a rotating flat surface mount.
With simple controls, there’s no worry about accidentally getting wrong video settings. For example, it has a one-touch sliding record switch on its top that clicks into place when it’s on. I feel it’s much better than some cameras where I have to have someone stare at the camera for a minute to tell me if the red light is blinking to let me know it is recording.
Waterproofing and rotating lens
With its waterproof housing, there’s also no need of carrying extra cases even when you go diving to a depth of 30 feet. There’s also no need of buying additional adapters to attach the Contour to tripods or monopods as there’s a standard tripod mount on the bottom.
I have to say its rotating lens is a great advantage as it can be attached at practically any angle with the help of a simple mount. You can maintain your shot’s level by rotating it and needn’t change the camera’s position. There’s a status button on the back of the camera that when pressed, activates a red laser, projecting a horizontal line to make sure you have the right shot level.
There is one drawback while using the contour headmount. No matter how tight you tighten it, you may still feel unbalanced or bouncy. As the headmount cannot be angled up and down like other mounts, it usually ends up at a slightly aesthetically annoying upward angle, and may end up only seeing tops of people’s heads!
This is a drawback if OCR is your main reason to buy the camcorder. If it isn’t, then you may actually like the Contour ROAM3 as it is rather flexible in working. While the camera does have very sharp lens, its image sensor is not up to expectations, which is rather obvious in low-light situations.
While the Roam3’s minimalism is great, the lack of Wi-Fi is a drawback. I have to connect the camera to my computer and use Contour’s software every time I needed to tweak settings. I don’t have the patience for all this!
Video recording and photo shots
Regarding video and photo quality, if set right, you can get a rather sharp and focused video recording, but with some noticeable motion blurring. While night time footage was rather dark, except for areas under the streetlights, I won’t complain about this as other cameras I’d tested weren’t much better anyway.
Photos come out as good as video with soft details and simple colors. But night-time photos were not good at all as I couldn’t see much more than the streetlights.
There are two buttons inside the back watertight door where one formats the memory card and the other resets camera settings. I like that you can switch between any two configured video modes using the slide switch. However, what I didn’t like is setting the video configuration as it requires some time and effort as the camera is not Wi-Fi compatible.
The Roam3 is mainly compact in size because of its irremovable battery, which also means that you can’t change batteries if you need to shoot for longer periods. The built-in battery life is pretty good as it can produce 3 hours of 1080p/30-fps video.
It was the sleek design and right price that actually compelled me to buy the Contour ROAM3. Of course, I also liked the other features like its easy recording, waterproof at depths up to 30 feet, various adjustable settings and the 8GB SD card. However, the only and main drawback of the camera is its poor image and video quality, which may be rather obvious to some people.