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HD Cam shootout!
(Tested March 2010)

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Self Contained Hi-Def Cams
March 2010

Self contained cams are very popular and now in great Hi-Def. They offer a simple, all in one solution in selectable resolutions up to 1080p Hi-Def. The two cams below, the ContourHD 1080p and the Hero GoPro HD, are top examples of what is currently available in today.




After we compare side by side
which one will you choose to buy...


Specification Comparison Chart

Some specifications taken
 from mfg's website or product manual.
ContourHD 1080p  GoPro HD Helmet Hero
Suggested Retail Price $329.99 $299.99
Included mounts Goggle and flat surface, extra stickem pad Vented helmet, headband, 2 flat surface, 2 curved surface, adjustable pivot arm, WP housing* with add'l open "audio" back, 2 quick release mounts
Included cables USB


Software Online download available


Lens/Field Of View (FOV) 110 deg. on 1080p, WVGA
135 deg. on 960p & 720p

 127 deg. on 1080p
170 deg. on 960 & 720p

Adjustable camera settings via software: Time, 4 video quality, audio gain, bit rate, contrast, exposure, sharpness, spot/center/avg. metering via camera menu:
video settings
exposure metering
Video settings 1080p@30fps
960p "full frame"@30fps
720p@30 or 60fps
WVGA (848x480 @60fps)
960p "full frame"@30fps
720p@30 or 60fps
File Type/codec QuickTime .MOV/H.264 MP4/H.264
Battery / included rechargeable lithium - yes rechargeable lithium - yes
Battery run time 3 hrs (as per Mfg.) 2.5 hours (as per Mfg.)
Internal memory No No
Memory Storage MicroSD up to 16GB

SD up to 32GB

Memory included Yes - 2GB No
Still photos? No  Yes - 5 mp, several modes
Digital zoom? No No
Remote or LANC No No
weight w/battery 4.4oz 6.3oz in wp case*, 3.5oz without
Size L x W x H 3.75" x 1.27" x 2.15" 1.6" x 2.77" x 2.5" (in case)
Weather resistance "water resistant" Not WP without WP housing - NOT included Yes, only with WP housing* (included)
Other notes: Rotatable lens, dual laser sighting system Online video hosting/posting *housing must be used for mounting of camera

Out of the box. Both cams are packaged in a clear "Rubik's cube"... a puzzle to open and not the most eco friendly of packaging. This is cool clever marketing, but I'd rather see minimal packaging from both companies.


Packaging aside, the Contour once charged is ready to go, the GoPro will need a memory card.

Performance Information

  ContourHD 1080p Hero GoPro HD
Image sharpness Overall good but soft in corners Very Good
Image Clarity good, but has some vertical lens flare when facing direct sunlight Good, only occasional lens flare
Color quality OK - cooler colors (settings adjustable) Good - warmer colors
Contrast Good (adjustable) Good
Lighting compensation Good Good
Smoothness of video Good - great frame grabs Good - great frame grabs
Shock resistance (image) OK, heavy shock/vibration causes some distortion OK, heavy shock/vibration causes notable distortion
Sound quality OK ++ OK, but only with open back, poor to none if waterproof back is used.
Mounting system Very good and many Good and many
Ergonomics/shape Good, back cover can come loose, very good record switch Fair - buttons can be fiddly, modes can be changed accidentally
Battery life (mfg specs) up to 3 hours up to 2.5 hours

Some test video is HERE

ContourHD - Pro's:

  • Great overall video quality.

  • Good mounting system with many options

  • Comes with battery and memory card

  • EZ one slide switch recording

  • Sophisticated software for changing cam settings

  • Wide angle lens - without much distortion

  • Light weight

  • Handles low light well

  • Rotatable lens - very handy!

ContourHD - Con's:

  • MOV File system not as software editing friendly

  • Packaging could be more eco-friendly

  • Access flap on back can be bumped loose reaching for record switch

  • Image color is a bit unsaturated and on the "cool" side

GoPro HD - Pro's:

  • MP4 video easier to edit

  • Great overall video quality

  • Good mounting system with many options (but some can be a little fragile and flexy)

  • Many record options  (But be careful you might be shooting stills instead of video)

  • Wide angle lens - without much distortion

GoPro HD Con's:

  • Even though small, it's shape is "bulky"

  • Low light becomes a bit grainy (video clip coming)

  • Must use waterproof case for mounting system

  • Getting on the heavy side

Bottom Line:
Both cams are good ones and both have their particular pro's and con's. If pure video quality and ease of editing (file type) is your game, then I feel the GoPro has the edge, but it ergonomics and mounting are important then the Contour has it's advantages. Both cams could use some work in one way or another, as is the case most of these cams: no cam is perfect. I think you need to review all the info to make your choice. One thing is sure, either one will give you good results, I think your choice will depend on how and where you are going to use it.

Contour HD 1080p wish list:

  • Adjustable image saturation (like the contrast)

  • Work on shock proofing

  • Threaded front lens cover

  • Positive latch on back cover

  • Work on packaging (go green please!)

Hero GoProHD wish list:

  • Work on shock proofing

  • It would be nice if it were more aero/ergonomic (not a brick)

  • 1/4 x 20 threaded mount in the camera AND case

  • More positive record button - it's easy to NOT be recording when you think you are

  • Work on packaging (go green please!)

Notes about AUDIO/SOUND
Even though I do not use much of my native audio from my cam shoots (I usually put in music instead), it's a big bonus to have it. It adds to the moment, a short chat at a break in the action with your friends or whatever. A few of these companies have opted for water-proofness over audio but I really hope they can find a way to do both!