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GoPro HD Hero vs ContourHD – Extreme Sport Digital Camera

Rating 3.00 out of 5
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GoPro HD Hero

Extreme Sports have been very popular in the last 20+ years. It has always been a challenge for these sports enthusiasts to visually document their amazing accomplishments. Digital cameras have allowed many in the past 10 years or so to strap on a handheld camera to their helmet or carry as they performed their daredevil stunts. These cameras are bulky and prone to all sorts of problems. Within the last 2 years, we have seen some interesting advances in portable HD camera designs. The two cameras I will compare are specifically designed for the extreme sports enthusiast to strap on and record their achievements in 1080p HD video.

Basic criteria for the comparison:

  • Under $500.00 USD pricepoint.
  • 1080p HD recording.
  • Designed for extreme sports video recording.
  • Single button – hands free recording.

Video footage taken from the GoPro Motorsports HD Hero.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OI7x706ODVM

Video footage taken from the VholdR Contour HD.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjg09bualfo

First: The GoPro HD Motorsports Hero.

GoPro HD Motorsports Hero

GoPro HD Motorsports Hero

The GoPro HD Hero is a small rectangular camera that looks like your typical “point and shoot” camera. The actual model that is referenced for this comparison is the GoPro HD Motorsports Hero. This camra comes with:

  • 1 HD HERO Camera (5 megapixel)
  • 1 Rechargable 1100 mAh Lithium-Ion Battery
  • 1 Waterproof Quick-Release Housing (180’/60 m)
  • 3 Flat, 3M™ Adhesive Mounts
  • 2 Curved, 3M™ Adhesive Mounts
  • 2 Quick-Release Buckles
  • 1 Vertical Surface “J-Hook” Buckle
  • 1 Suction Cup Mount
  • 1 Three-Way Pivoting Side Arm Assembly
  • 1 USB Cable
  • 1 Component Video (HDTV) Cable
  • 1 Composite Video + Audio Out Cable
  • Warranty: One Year

Camera Optics

  • Lens Type: Fixed Focus (2ft/.6m – ∞), glass
  • Aperture: f/2.8 (high performance in low-light situations)
  • Angle of View: 170º ultra wide angle in WVGA, 720p, or 960p mode
  • Angle of View: 127º wide angle in 1080p mode 

Video

HD Video Resolution Modes:

  • 1080p = 1920×1080 pixels (16:9), 30 fps, 15 Mbit/s data rate
  • 960p = 1280×960 pixels (4:3), 30 fps, 12 Mbit/s data rate
  • 720p = 1280×720 pixels (16:9), 60 fps, 15 Mbit/s data rate
  • 720p = 1280×720 pixels (16:9), 30 fps, 8 Mbit/s data rate
  • WVGA = 848×480 pixels (16:9), 60 fps, 8 Mbit/s data rate

Audio

  • Microphone: Built-in
  • ACC Audio Compression

Photo

  • Resolution: 5 megapixel
  • Capture Modes: Single shot, photo every 2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 secs.; 3 photo burst; self-timer

Storage

  • Memory: SD card, up to 32GB capacity (SDHC)
  • Included memory: None

Weight

  • 179 grams

Approximate Retail Pricing: $300.00 USD.

Second: The ContourHD.

Contour HD

ContourHD 1080p

The GoPro HD Hero is a cylindrical camera that looks nothing like your typical camera. The actual model that is referenced for this comparison is the ContourHD 1080p. This camra comes with:

  • ContourHD Camera
  • MicroSD Card (2GB)
  • Goggle Mount
  • Flat Surface Mount
  • Rechargeable Battery (3hrs)
  • USB Cable
  • Warranty: Length unknown

Camera Optics

  • Lens Type: Unknown
  • Aperture: unknown
  • Field of View: 135° – 960p and 720p
  • Field of View: 110° – 1080p and WVGA

Video

HD Video Resolution Modes:

  • 1080p = 1920×1080 pixels (16:9), 30 fps
  • 960p = 1280×960 pixels (4:3), 30 fps
  • 720p = 1280×720 pixels (16:9), 60 fps
  • 720p = 1280×720 pixels (16:9), 30 fps
  • WVGA = 848×480 pixels (16:9), 60 fps

5 megapixel Sensor
Codec: H.264 (AAC audio)
File Type: .mov

Audio

  • Microphone: Built-in
  • AAC Audio Compression

Photo

  • No single photo imaging support included.

Storage

  • Memory: Micro SD card, up to 16GB capacity (SDHC)
  • Included Memory: 2 GB

Weight

  • 123 grams

Easy Edit Software

Compatible with:
    Mac (10.4, 10.5, & 10.6)
    Windows (XP, Vista, Windows 7)
Videos Download via USB 2.0

Approximate Retail Pricing: $300.00 USD.

Overall Winner:

GoPro HD Motorsports Hero. The GoPro HD Motorsports Hero has these added features not found on the ContourHD 1080p which truly adds to the usefulness of the camera.

  • Still photo capabilities
  • Direct video/audio connections for immediate viewing
  • Waterproofing to 30 meters
  • Better audio recording with minimal wind noise capturing.

The ContourHD is great piece of EYECANDY but unfortunately lacks the features that makes the GoPro HD Motorsports Hero the better product between the two. What the GoPro lacks in external beauty, the camera makes up in internal and external functionality. The GoPro is the hands down winner.

Recommend: GoPro HD Motorsport Hero

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Discussion

26 comments for “GoPro HD Hero vs ContourHD – Extreme Sport Digital Camera”

  1. Added Note:

    Just for fun, you can press the play button on both videos above and watch them both simultaneously to give you an idea about image quality and stability.

    Posted by Bob Katayama | November 22, 2009, 7:37 pm
  2. You missed a few key features.
    Waterproof case – ContourHD has this coming as an accessory.
    Configurable – this is a huge piece you missed. ContourHD can adjust the bit rate (default to max) so the bit rate is higher than GoPro but can be low enough to work on most computers. Next you can adjust the microphone volume, which is a big deal for sports. Last is you can configure the lighting (metering, exposure, sharpness, and contrast).

    Posted by Marc | November 23, 2009, 11:46 am
  3. Hi Marc:

    Thanks for your comments. I understand that there are some configurations you can make with the ContourHD as you have mentioned but they can only be accomplished while connected to the PC beforehand. In an extreme sports environment, it is very difficult to predetermine the conditions ahead of time and in many cases the type of adjustments reqired like the exposure and contrast should be done on the spot which is not possible with the ContourHD. Adjusting the volume is another issue that really benefits from direct unit access which the ContourHD lacks since you need the ContourHD connected to a PC to make the necessary adjustments which for me is something I feel is too inconvenient. Until the ContourHD had the ability to adjust the features directly on the unit itself, the capabilities are just features that are not utilized when and where they should be.

    Once the ContourHD comes with either the buttons directly on the unit or a remote device you can connect to the camera to make the various adjustments before filming, these adjustable features are just features that have no true benefit in the real world.

    Posted by Bob Katayama | November 23, 2009, 10:46 pm
  4. As far as the waterproof accessory goes, it is an accessory on the ContourHD while it comes standard on the GoPro HD Hero.

    Posted by Bob Katayama | November 23, 2009, 10:50 pm
  5. I prefer the computer controls. Buttons are limiting… these devices are often upgradable via firmware. Making button A/B/C limits you to 3 settings. Using software lets you have far more control of the settings.

    For me the fact that you can’t view a direct feed out of the ContourHD bites. I want to be able to tweak the settings and see the results in real-time on my computer. Not set, unplug, test, plug-in view footage.

    To me the Hero seems better for mounting on surfaces because it don’t need all the 3rd party mount that the VHolder models need. The VHolder models seem superior for mounting on goggles as they are smaller and have a lower profile. They seem safer in many helmet of goggle setups in a crash.

    Honestly, to be fair you would need to really compare these 2 devices in the 3 or 4 common applications.

    - Ski/Snowboarding ( to see if which unit does better with cold and fogging issues )
    - Surfing/Water sports ( compare how well the cases shed water (even if the VHolder is an accessory), casing ergonomics. Underwater/Above water lighting adjustment speed.
    - Sky diving/Altitude sports. (Wind noise issues, pressure issues)
    - Motorsports ( the only footage you are comparing…), shock, vibration.

    This review is rather poor IMHO.

    The overall section also is really out of order and misleading.

    * Direct video/audio connections for immediate viewing ( very valid )

    * Better audio recording with minimal wind noise capturing ( subjective depending on what sport you do, Hero sounds mutes for some applications. Wind Noise, and vehicle vibration are very subjective as many people want that to convey speed. Most pro’s will be mixing in their own separate audio. )

    * Waterproofing to 30 meter ( this is an accessory for VHolder. This should be reworded, it one INCLUDES a case. But this also has a flip side which the Hero is always in it’s case… and can’t be mounted without it… the VHolder can go either way. )
    * Still photo capabilities (who cares, I want a video camera not a point & shoot. This might be a valid issue for some, but I think is a stupid feature. Buy a camera to be a camera, but a Helmet Video Camera to be a Video Camera.)

    Posted by Hays Clark | December 4, 2009, 4:23 pm
  6. Hi Hays:

    I totally agree with your comments and especially the one about this not being a good review. This was not meant to be a review but a quick comparison between the two products only.

    Posted by Bob Katayama | December 4, 2009, 5:42 pm
  7. I have both, the GoPro sucks when compared to the ContourHD. The ContourHD is just a better camera period… I also don’t see how you can say how the GoPro has “better audio recording”, audio is pretty much non-existant on the GoPro due to its waterproof case that it ALWAYS has to be in.

    Also the GoPro has no option for a threaded mount, so forget any tripod action.

    Posted by Bob Kratchet | December 10, 2009, 3:05 pm
  8. To add another thing:

    I HATE that the GoPro you have to look to see if the little light is flashing to see if it’s recording. And you HAVE to take it off your head to make sure it’s on. Good luck making sure it’s pointing in the right direction, I have so many videos that the trajectory is just wrong because it’s a wild guess.

    The ContourHD, push the button to turn it on, hear the beep, see the lasers to make sure it’s pointed in the right direction, slide the switch and hear the beep to know it’s recording. Slide the switch again and hear it beep twice to know recording is stopped.

    Posted by Bob Kratchet | December 10, 2009, 3:09 pm
  9. Why on earth is this billed as an “extreme sports” review? It’s a motorsports review. And a superficial review at that

    Bob Kratchet – fyi the GoPro now has a threaded mount option – available as an accessory

    Bob Katayama – you failed to mention that the ContourHD has a user-configurable setting on the camera – you can set the Hi/Lo setting to trigger different resolutions. Geez

    Posted by Lee Lau | January 3, 2010, 1:52 pm
  10. Hello Lee:

    With all due respect, the manufacturers of the camera deem their product as being in the extreme sport category and not me directly. Also, this is not a review of either product but just a comparison between the two specifications only. This is why the post is classfied in the VS category and not the reivew category.

    There are lots of actual reviews online that you can easily locate via http://www.google.com if that is what you are looking for.

    Thanks

    Bob

    Posted by Bob Katayama | January 3, 2010, 2:34 pm
  11. You people are not very bright. What person shooting video does not want to be able to control settings in the field? That is vital for any still or video camera. It has been a basic feature since cameras went into existence. A four hour mountain biking trip can see a wide range of lighting conditions depending on when you start to finish. And I would not want my 2k dollar laptop on my back to change the iris because I am riding a bit later than normal.

    And yes, I want a camera that can do stills. Heaven forbid I come along to a burned down house that looks like a good cheesy photo op. It might seem a bit not practical, but I like the option.

    While this is far from the perfect review, it is not bad. The list of features needs to match up, but between this review and the ability to read others like it, I can make my choice. Because unlike others, I will read more than just one.

    Posted by Bing | June 1, 2010, 5:35 am
  12. All comments aside, the two video clips clearly (at least to me) give the GoPro the advantage. In the Contour HD footage, the outer areas lose sharpness and the landscape has a slightly unreal, CGI-like quality to it. I’ve also viewed the footage on both manufacturer’s sites and came away with the same conclusion. The GoPro footage just looks more natural to me.

    Having said that, I haven’t yet found a truly fair comparison of these two cameras. I would suggest a comparison in which both cameras are mounted side-by-side and the resultant footage played back simultaneously via split screen.

    Posted by Knest | June 5, 2010, 1:14 pm
  13. P.S. Regarding the side-by-side demo, I’d be glad to provide that if the two manufactures would like to send me each of their cameras…eh what fellas?

    Posted by Knest | June 5, 2010, 1:20 pm
  14. [...] needs. The GoPro also has many more features than does the Contour. This review may be helpful: Technobrains | GoPro HD Hero vs VholdR ContourHD – Extreme Sport Digital Camera ______________________________________ Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening [...]

    Posted by Vid cam opinions? GoPro HD vs Contour HD - Hayabusa.oRg | August 11, 2010, 1:26 pm
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