First GoPro HD Hero vs. ContourHD 1080p - Initial Impressions

helmet cam

I tested the GoPro HD against the ContourHD1080p (both set to the 960p mode)

Test Parameters:

Test was conducted 4 - 5:30 pm (evening light conditions)
Both cameras were left with standard settings
GoPro HD was mounted using the Chest “Chesty” harness
ContourHD1080 was mounted using the flat surface helmet mount on a road biking helmet.
GoPro HD used with Skeleton door (lets in more sound but negates the waterproofness.

My initial impressions:

Camera controls / adjustments and displays.

The GoPro is very easy to operate. Once you familiarize yourself with the manual, changing the setting is very easy.
I like the fact that all settings can me changed on the camera.

The ContourHD1080 p controls are also easy to operate. The lasers are a nice addition when trying to align the camera for desired shooting angle.

The magnetic sliding record switch of the ContourHD1080p is easy to operate even with gloves on. I have noticed that occasionally the back cover would pop off as I was grasping the camera to turn it on but I was able to easily pop it back in place while riding.

To change the ContourHD1080p to the 960p mode, I had to use the Easy Edit Software (included with the camera).
The Hi/Lo Resolution switch is set to 1080p - Hi and 720p Lo by default.
I wish that all settings could be done without the use of a computer but as long as you know what kind of video you want to shoot you can set up the camera ahead of time.

Visual and audio indicators are easy to follow on both Cameras but I wish additional record indicators were included at the back of the cameras for when they are mounted in front of you.

Mounting Options

Both the GoPro chest mount and the VholdR helmet mount were easy to set-up. I hope VholdR comes out with a chest mount as well as I really like the kinds of shots you can achieve with this mounting configuration.

Picture Quality

Both cameras do an excellent job at capturing details and colors of the fast changing environment.

Below are two short comparison video taken simultaneously.

GoPro HD bike chest mount cam video in 960p mode

ContourHD1080p bike helmet cam video in 960p mode

Image Stabilization

Not sure if VholdR or GoPro do any image stabilization. Overall I found the ContourHD footage to be more stable but my findings could be a bit bias due to the different mounting options used. I suspect that the chest harness was not tight enough for the top heavy GoPro.
I will be verifying this in a subsequent review by using the same helmet mount configuration.

The 960p resolution settings really helped to take out some of the shakiness present when shooting fast action in 1080p mode.

Exposure Control

Out of the box of the cameras handle the light changes pretty well. The ContourHD1080p is a bit under exposed.  Good news is that the exposure can be adjusted using the VholdR Easy Edit Software to fit your lighting conditions.

Sound Quality

The GoPro has and excellent sound and shines at high speeds, however with the skeleton door cover removed I find the sound a bit too bright (too high in frequency). Much like the GoPro, the ContourHD1080p reproduced the sounds fatefully but at high speeds I found the wind noise excessive. Like Exposure Control, the microphone sensitivity (gain level setting) of the ContourHD1080p can be adjusted using the Vholdr Software. This should come in handy in high wind environments vs. low wind environments or high speed vs. low speed situations.

Battery Life / Charging

WIth over two hours of recording time on both cameras the Lithium Ion batteries were still running strong.
I like using the VHoldR battery charger to charge my extra battery while using the camera and hope that the GoPro guys come out with one as well.

Check out more details on the VholdR ContourHD1080p and the GoPro HD Helmet HERO

See • BrandsContourGoProHelmet Cam Reviews //
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By Antonio Celestino
15 11 2009 at 04:34 AM

What’s the bottom line? Which one is better? What the pros and cons of both cameras?

By J Houx
11 12 2009 at 09:27 AM

Thanks for the review and video comparison! I want the Contour HD so that I can mount it to the side of my paintball goggles. The GoPro is too wide of a design and would take hits all the time.

By borisattva
14 12 2009 at 05:59 PM

what are your thoughts on the angle of view?
do you find gopro 170 degree too much of a distortion?
is the contourhd any better looking with a less extreme 135 degree?

By Caleb
03 01 2010 at 11:52 PM

Yes what Antonio said. thank you

By BBlacky
03 08 2010 at 12:55 PM

Thanks for taking the effort. Good show in not getting nailed by those trees - looks like they would have sent you into the water.

I found this review when attempting to discover whether the GoPro or the ContourHD would be the better choice for shooting action footage in Indonesia. As you mentioned the Contour footage is a bit dark - with severe tropical lighting conditions here this is a consideration.

Looking forward to seeing a comparable review when you do the Edmonton ride in February. HOHO!

By Wayno
18 10 2010 at 12:43 AM

you can change the settings on the gopro to 1080p and the angle changes to 127, maybe 135 on the contour might be ideal but it’s good to have the option of the both. And yeah what was the outcome? which is the best?

By PointofViewCameras
18 10 2010 at 08:53 AM

In 960 the ContourHD records at 135 and the GoPro HD Hero at 170. So definitely a difference of angle of view! But at 1080, your looking at 110 for the Contour and 127 for the HD Hero… so still a vast difference. The outcome depends on personal preference, both cameras perform extremely well in the conditions they were put in…

By Stan Pak
17 03 2011 at 07:27 AM

Thanks for this review. I find it informative however it really would be better to see both cameras mounted on the helmet (at the same moment) because type of mount and place of mounting is probably the main source of quality difference (in terms of shaking). I would also like to see the footage made in better light (like sunny weather). Clouds make all looking flat and digital cameras generally do not make good pictures in bad light. It would be also nice to see both cameras making widescreen clips with good resolution (like min 720i).
However your is one of the best of attempts on the Net I am aware of to compare such type of products. Just need more work to produce better fruits.

By PointOfViewCameras
17 03 2011 at 11:42 AM

@Stan Pak
Thanks for your comments. You can check out our YouTube channel to see even more videos done for both the GoPro HD and Contour cameras in various lighting conditions to see even more comparisons with video quality.

By Don Ridenour
15 05 2011 at 06:32 PM

The down angle of the GoPro contributed to the jerky pics.  For rapid action like bmx, mmx, or evening shooting I prefer the GoPro.  For anything requiring a smaller horizontal footprint I prefer the Contour.  Prefer the GoPro over Contour except where form gets in the way…

By Anton
22 02 2012 at 07:20 AM

Shoting differend video modes, different mounting position, different lighting… What was common eh?

That purple aberation thing on the ContourHD footage — what the hell is that? I don’t whant this ever appear on my videos.

And btw, GoPro Hero2 now has 960p @48fps mode wink

By PointofViewCameras
22 02 2012 at 10:40 AM

The purple spot on the ContourHD video was an issue on the image sensor and covered by warranty. It was pre-release demo and a backup wasn’t available yet since the camera was brand new at the time. Check out our new HERO2 vs Contour+ video to get an idea how the new cameras compare.