It’s been a while since I’ve talked about action cams here but this is a segment that is still going strong and still quite popular. There are so many new action cams on the market now, it’s hard to believe that just a year or two ago, there were only less than a handful of companies making proper action cams. That has basically all change and now you have so many to choose from with all different types of features and body styles. One of the more popular brands out there is Contour and their ROAM series of action cams. Unlike the “box” style action cams, this one is cylindrical and offers a more aerodynamic shape. The one I’m looking at today from them is the ContourROAM2, which they claim is the simplest action camera out on the market right now.
Design and Build
Like stated above, the ContourROAM2 is cylindrical shaped. The lens element sits at one end of the cylinder while the ports and some controls sit under a waterproof door at the other end. The cylinder is made entirely of aluminum and anodized in the color that you choose, which can be either black, blue, red, or green. The rest of the camera is black, which are the portions that are made of plastic. This gives it a good contrast and makes it visually easier to tell what is what at a glance.
On top of the ContourROAM2 is the sliding switch that makes video taking so easy. It ha a locking mechanism on it so that you do not accidentally engage the camera when you don’t want to. Unlock the switch and slide it forward to start recording. That is it. A red light will display up front to show that you are recording. When done, just slide it back into the lock position and it will stop recording. It’s that simple.
At the bottom of the main body, there is a rather large portion made of plastic. This portion is part of the rail system used to attach the ContourROAM2 on to various mounts. The kit I received included a profile mount and a rotating flat surface mount although you’ll probably want to pick up other specialized mounts for whatever application you will use the camera on. On the front side of the plastic mount piece, you’ll see that there is a record light that glows red when the unit is recording as well as a small hole which I’m assuming is where the mic is. As a bonus, you can also attach the ContourROAM2 to any tripod as is has a tripod mount hole at the bottom.
On the back of the camera is the door that covers the memory card slow and various ports. This portion is water sealed so water can not get in but you must make sure you lock in place so that it does not accidentally pop open. The door has a button on it that when pressed, will show the status of the camera as well as turn on the built in laser level. Pressing the button will show two indicators up top, whether or not you have a memory card installed and the status of the battery. The laser appears on the front and is displayed as a line if you shine it on a wall. This will let you know if you are leveled or not. Behind the door, you’ll find access to the USB data/charging port, memory card slot, format button, and reset button.
Now in case it wasn’t clear, the ContourROAM2 is already waterproof out the box. It does not need a separate waterproof case or accessory. Instead, what you see is what you get and you can immediately submerge it in water as soon as you get it.
In terms of usage, the ContourROAM2 is very easy to use, once you have it set up. To set it up, you will need to download and install the Contour Storyteller app from their site. While you’re at it, you might as well download the user manual from there too. Just point your browser to http://www.contour.com/startROAM2. The software will allow you to configure your device as there is no way to do it on the device itself. The software is also meant to help you manage the videos on your device and help you import them onto your computer. Of course you don’t have to use the software to manage your files as you can just pop your memory card into your computer and pull the files off like that.
The first thing Contour recommends you do is format your memory card which you can do on the camera. Just hold down the format button until you hear 3 beeps. Let go of the button and the LED will flash as it is formatting. It will turn green once complete.
After that, you’re ready to go, just figure out how you want to mount it and where. To start recording, just push the top slider switch forward and the camera will begin recording. It will keep recording until either you run out of space on your card or until you slide the switch back into the off position. If you decide to slide it into the off position and want to record again, just slide the switch forward again and it will begin recording a new file.
Since this is Contour’s simplest camera, there are some drawbacks to it simplicity. For starters, you can not adjust any settings from the camera itself. It must all be done when it is connected to your PC. That means that when you’re out and about, you can’t change any of the settings so you’re either stuck in video or photo mode depending on what your last settings were. Since there isn’t any WiFi built into this version of the Contour either, you can’t use the iOS or Android app with the ContourROAM2. I use these type of cameras for video only so it’s not a big deal to me, though it still would have been nice if I could adjust settings somehow while on the go.
Despite the negatives, this is the easiest camera I’ve used. It’s basically one touch operational which makes it super simple and pretty much foolproof. Of course with a camera like this, you also want good video quality and you’ll be happy to know that the ContourROAM2 does indeed take very good HD video. Audio quality is pretty good too since the camera doesn’t have a case covering up the mic like other cameras do. It takes great video both in and out of water.
I’ve used other rugged cameras that were similar to the ContourROAM2 and had similar ergonomics. Though some of those had more features than the ContourROAM2, specifically the ability to connect to it using my iPhone, they weren’t as easy to use as this one was. The ContourROAM2 also seems a bit more rugged thanks to the almost all aluminum body and better lens design that doesn’t protrude outwards from the body. Also the inclusion of a laser level is unique as I haven’t seen that on another camera.
Overall, I enjoyed using the ContourROAM2. It’s pretty compact and easy to hold too if you don’t want to mount it on anything. It also helps that it’s pretty light as well and not very heavy. Again, the only real downside to this camera is that you can not adjust any of the settings or view any of the videos taken unless you have it hooked up to your computer or load the memory card to another device that can view videos. It can be inconvenient, but for the lower price, I’m willing to live with that especially since the ContoutROAM2 still takes excellent HD video.