This was initially going to be a review of the GoPro HD for snowsports but now, quite organically, this article has become a review and comparison of the GoPro HD and Vholdr Contour HD for snowsports. A quick word on why I think a review like this makes sense.

First reason, these seem to be among the most popular POV cameras. Second reason, I’ve already reviewed both the GoPro HD and ContourHD so was familiar with their use and quirks (I’ve included links to my previous reviews below in the section on “Biases”). Third, I thought this review might fill a niche. There are already are a lot of reviews of the GoPro HD and the Contour HD, some good and some bad but most generic. What is lacking are reviews focused on these point of view (POV) cameras for the snowsport enthusiast. Snowsports in the Coastal British Columbia region is a particularly demanding laboratory with our heavy snowfalls, dark gloomy winters, and challenging light conditions.

Summary: GoPro HD vs. Vholdr Contour HD

The Vholdr ContourHD 1080 and GoPro HD are relatively cost-effective, robust POV cameras. There’s little to choose between them in terms of video quality; both are good. Both are subsceptible to producing jerky video, however, jerkiness can be minimized by using the cameras in appropriate conditions and with appropriate mounts. The ContourHD has a slight edge in useability but the GoProHD will be more resistant to inclement weather. As far as costs go, GoPro HD’s MSRP is $299 USD; the ContourHD 1080’s MSRP is $330 (ContourHD is $299).

For snowsports both cameras have well thought-out mounts. Non-helmet wearers skiing deep powder might find the ContourHD’s goggle mount to be preferable as that mount is located high and won’t be coated in pow. Helmet – wearers and those who ski in shallow powder or hardpack will find little to choose between the GoPro and ContourHD in terms of mounts and useability – practically speaking, the ContourHD’s goggle and helmet mounts are at least as good as the GoPro’s helmet and chest mounts. From a pure fashion sense the ContourHD’s form factor is sleeker and less obstrusive then the toaster-like GoPro worn on the head. Using the GoPro chest mount remedies this fashion faux pas.

To summarize, both the ContourHD and GoPro HD are compelling POV offerings. Compact, self-contained, very configurable, excellent quality video and decent sound. There’s very little to choose between them and what you pick will depend in large part on individual user quirks and what kind of use you’ll have for them.


I am relatively new to videos, only having started shooting and editing videos this year. I have no aspirations to produce professional quality videos – my efforts are limited to short snippets uploaded to the web via Vimeo and the site. I have little interest in video post-processing and limit my efforts to merging raw clips together and sometimes adding text and soundtrack. My videos mainly showcase skiing and biking in the Southwestern British Columbia, Canada area. Although I’ve tried to pay attention to concerns that “prosumer” videographers may have, the comments in this review will reflect my biases.

I have provided many video clips as sample output. PLEASE READ THE COMMENTS ABOUT THE VIDEOS (click the Vimeo links to see them in HD and/or to read the comments) which outlined how I rendered and presented the videos. You can process video output to preserve as much quality as possible (larger files say for file-sharing via DVD) or like I did, you can process the videos to present pretty decent quality while managing file sizes for video-sharing via web.

If you want even more details about POV Camera functionality and more technical information here are some older reviews of the GoPro and ContourHD authored by myself.


GoPro HD

There’s a lot of literature about the GoPro HD on the manufacturer’s website and in various articles (see citations above). Suffice it to say that the GoPro is easy to use. There’s a button to turn it on. There’s another button to record. There’s a LCD with cryptic displays but the well-written GoPro manual explains everything in detail. Ideally you should configure all your settings (eg. time, date) when you’ve got the manual in front of you. You would then be well advised to remember how to change the resolutions so you can change resolutions in the field if you like (resolution settings are also printed on the back of the GoPro). Here’s some other observations about the GoPro specific to skiing:

  1. Sound-wise, the GoPro HD’s on-off tones are louder then the GoPro Hero but they still aren’t terribly loud especially if its storming or if you have a helmet on covering your ears. I’d like the tones to be louder.
  2. Continuing with the above comment, you’ll often be checking whether or not the GoPro HD is on or off. When chest-mounted it’s easy to do so. Ditto for the head-band mount as you just slide the head band off. The helmet mount is a bit more fiddly as you’ll have to undo your chin-strap. As mentioned, if surroundings are quiet this might not be an issue as you’ll be able to hear the faint tones.
  3. The GoPro HD buttons are useable even with gloves.
  4. It’s pretty easy and quick to cycle through menus to change resolutions if you’ve taken the time to read the manual.
  5. There’s no display on the GoPro so you’ll have to get someone to see if the GoPro is pointing the right way. It’s not terribly hard to do and certainly a lot easier then biking as it’s pretty easy to “assume the position” of skiing and snowboarding. Bottom line, it’s really not a big deal to figure out how to aim the GoPro the right way.

Vholdr ContourHD 1080

There’s very good product literature for the ContourHD 1080 on the Vholdr site and a nice review in a article by pointofviewcameras comparing the ContourHD 1080 with the older ContourHD. The ContourHD is another paragon of functional simplicity. There’s two buttons on the outside; an on-off button and a slider to turn recording on/off. Once you open a rubber cover, you can also access a Hi/Lo switch which you can set (using the provided EasyEdit software) to record at different resolutions. Here’s a grab-bag of comments about the ContourHD 1080 for skiing.

  1. The ContourHD’s audible tones indicating when it’s on/off and when it’s recording are reassuringly loud which helps take guesswork out of shooting video.
  2. Control buttons are useable with dexterous gloves. I’ve seen some people glue a small projecting nub on the recording slider of the ContourHD 1080 so its a bit easier to move the recording slider up and down but haven’t found it really necessary with my gloves.
  3. You cannot change resolutions in the field other then through the Hi/Lo switch. I didn’t find that much of a problem since I’m shooting video for web-sharing and will almost always default to 920p or 720p video @ 30fps.
  4. The ContourHD’s video quality can be tweaked using their EasyEdit software. Contrast, exposure, sharpness and metering can be customized. Unfortunately there’s no way to do that in the field without resorting to PDAs or more electronic gadgetry. My suspicion is that once you figure out default settings lack of video settings field-adjustments won’t be an issue. However, it is a drawback if you don’t have access to a computer (eg on a multi-day trip) and want to continually modify settings.

This video showcases skiing in different conditions (dust on crust powder, deep powder) with the GoPro HD (headband mount backwards), ContourHD (goggle mount forwards), and ContourHD 1080 (goggle mount forwards). Sound presented “as is” without any music track.

Mounting Options

GoPro HD

GoPro informed me that the headband mount wasn’t ideal for skiing. This makes sense as it’s hard to make the headband mount stable. Instead they recommended the chest mount and the helmet mount. Despite GoPro’s advice I thought I would experiment and used the GoPro HD chest, helmet and head-band mount (note that the GoPro Hero mounts and GoPro HD mounts are interchangeable).

  1. The chest mount worked well and produced a nice stable image but in deep snow (poor me – I skied a series of four days where we got 135cms/ 54 inches) the snow would quickly clog the screen. Personally I wasn’t a big fan of the chest – mount POV since my hands and poles were always occupying large portions of the image. The 960p setting worked well for this mount since it produced a POV image that captured the most square footage.
  2. I ski a lot in the backcountry and don’t use a helmet when ski-touring. I tried the helmet mount on top of my toque/hat and had pretty decent results. I could use this perspective to produce decent footage looking forwards and backwards. I expected footage to be jerky but if I was in soft powder the resulting footage was useable. Since footage when I was in harder snow was very jerky and nausea-inducing I have to conclude that GoPro’s advice was correct. However, if you are in soft powder snow and you ski smoothly, the headband mount can produce pleasing results.
  3. Expanding on the headband mount POV, it produced the most interesting footage when I was following another person closely. However, its tough to see when you’re eating someone’s powder cloud; moreover, this isn’t the safest protocol from an avalanche hazard perspective. I dealt with these issues by moving the headband around to angle the camera to either my left or right and used this angle to then get good footage without being directly on the other person’s tail.
  4. I headplanted spectacularly at least once in deep snow wearing the headband mount and it stayed on my head. However, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to rig up some sort of leash to keep the headband connected to some item of clothing (eg a jacket).
  5. I used the helmet mount on icy hardpack. GoPro is correct; that mount is very stable and produces very nice images. It would be trivial to mount the camera looking backwards to record the backward facing POV. My only complaint is in from the trivial vanity department. You’ll look like the biggest gaper touron on the planet skiing around with the toaster-like GoPro on your helmet. As concession to vanity you can pop it off your head and stick the GoPro in your jacket or simply fold the camera down so it’s a little less obtrusive.

GoPro Camera Mounts

This video showcases the GoPro chest and helmet mounts.

Vholdr Contour HD
Not to belabour a point but GoPro’s mounts were radically superior to the ContourHD’s mounting options for biking. This is not true for skiing where both companies have their mounts dialed. For my personal use as a non-helmet wearer, I would have to give a slight edge to the Vholdr ContourHD’s goggle mount.

  1. I loved the ease of use of the ContourHD’s goggle mount. It feels like it might move around but if you cinch down your goggles, you’ll get good footage. The mount allows you to dial in horizontal (move it backwards or forwards on the goggle strap) and vertical direction (the little ratchets on the mount). You can film backwards and film forwards. It’s close to your ears so it’s easy to hear on/off tone. It’s sleek so that you don’t look like a complete dork when wearing it. In short, it’s beautifully well thought-out for skiing.
  2. I used the ContourHD 1080’s new vented helmet-mount on my ski helmet. It’s substantially better then Vholdr’s old vented-helmet offering and produced stable footage. It’d be used if I was skiing with my helmet and without goggles.
  3. I haven’t yet figured out how to use the ContourHD if I’m not wearing either a helmet or goggles. Subscribe to this article and I’ll put up an update once I figure out how to jerry-rig a stable mount.

Vholdr Contour HD 1080 - Mounting Options

This video was filmed with the ContourHD on the goggle mount.

Video and Sound Quality

There’s not much to choose from in this regard. Both the ContourHD 1080 and GoPro HD produce pretty good video. Each camera lets you choose various shooting High-definitions and Standard definition formats (1080p, 960p, 720p @ 60 fps, 720p @ 30 fps and standard definition) with the GoPro having field-configurable settings. Both cameras also have decent microphones although wind-noise is present when skiing at speed.

  • Both cameras perform best in brighter light producing sharp focused images in those conditions. Video quality suffers when its dark. Video quality isn’t great when going from light to dark and vice-versa but that is true of most imaging devices.
  • Both cameras allow sound-tweaks. The GoPro HD offers a skeleton door with holes in the back for better sound reception – I haven’t tried that option as yet. The ContourHD’s Easy Edit software offers the option of increasing microphone gain.
  • There’s no getting over the fact that even in the nice soft powder in which I’ve been drowning in Whistler’s early season), footage is still somewhat shaky. This occurs with different mounts on both the ContourHD and GoProHD but to a lesser extent as you tighten down the mounts. I have to conclude that shakiness is something that is exarcabated by the rolling shutter technology used in both cameras (more about this technology’s limitations here) . I also believe that HD video presents so much detail that you’ll see shakiness which might be obscured in the more grainy, vague footage you’d get from Standard-definition video.
  • I personally won’t be using 1080p footage much. 1080p files are big and they choke my computer. I can’t see using it much for my primary usage of video-sharing footage over websites where 720p or 960p seems adequate for such a task. 1080p footage from the GoPro HD and Contour HD is provided below for your perusal. No editing was done and these are direct from the camera. You’ll need to click the vimeo link in the videos to look at the videos in Vimeo, and get a vimeo account (free) to download the raw footage.

This is the GoPro HD Camera: Ski Movie from GoPro on Vimeo – sample shows how the video can be presented without being too shaky with tightly worn chest-mount straps and a pole-mount!

This video compares ContourHD 1080 (goggle mount forwards) and GoPro HD (headband mount slightly sideways and forward) footage in 1080p format.

This video compares the ContourHD 1080 (goggle mount forwards) and GoPro HD (headband mount forwards, sidewards and backwards).

This video compares the ContourHD 1080 (goggle mount backwards) and GoPro HD (chest mount forwards).

This video compares the older ContourHD (goggle mount forwards) with the GoPro HD (chest mount). Sound is presented “as is”.

Followup Possibilities

I’ll look into both these cameras more beyond these initial impressions and will update this article as I resolve questions. Some possible follow-ups might be as follows:

  • How will the ContourHD handle moisture and/or snow (I figure its a safe bet the GoPro will be ridiculously tough).
  • The GoPro HD’s battery lasted through 2.5 hours of use shooting in temps of minus 15 celsius. Is the ContourHD’s battery comparable?
  • What will the GoPro accessory backpacs look like? What types will be released? When?
  • What other mounting angles can be used? I bet there are some interesting angles using booms.

Buy Now: Buy GoPro Cameras at REI

About Author

Guest blogger Lee Lau is an avid skier and outdoorsman embarking on many adventures with his loving, and sometimes concerned wife, Sharon. He has over 15 years of experience skiing, ski-touring and dabbles in mountaineering. In the “off-season” he is occasionally found working in his day job as an intellectual property lawyer when he is not mountain biking. As a resident of Vancouver, British Columbia, Lee’s playground extends mainly to Western Canada, including South West B.C. and the Selkirks.


  1. How do these cameras compare to the VIO POV 1.5? I’m curious how durable these 3 cameras are relative to one another. Great review by the way.

    • Brett-
      I have the VIO POV 1.5 mounted on my helmet and I use it here in Afghanistan. The picture isn’t as great as you would think, anything beyond about 20m starts to fuzz a little. Although I do have some awesome footage of Apache helicopters flying about 50ft over my head, the better videos (fire fights with Taliban) you just can’t see as well, but you can definitely hear the bullets whiz by. The little remote it comes with is great, but there is a large piece of it that holds the batteries (4x AA’s) and the small monitor, which is just cumbersome and you have to mount it somewhere. I just keep it in my pocket and hope the cord doesn’t get caught on anything. One of my platoon leaders has the contour HD mounted on his helmet and it is gnarly! Great picture and sound, easy to turn on and off in a hurry, but I would recommend a very large SD to hold all the data. They both hold well in adverse weather conditions too. I would go with the Contour HD though, hands down. Hope this was helpful.

      CPT Frey
      FOB Konduz, AFG

  2. I’ve used the GoPro and the VIO, but not really extensively. Honestly, the VIO is sweet, but way too cumbersome. The whole thing is just a pain in the butt to get situated and use in the real world. I used it a couple of times and found it unusable, really.

    The GoPro is so simple to use and I’d imagine the ContourHD is again similar to the GoPro.

    I’ll defer to Lee, who is the master at all things POV cameras. Lee?

  3. Well written review but I don’t think you can say the Contour’s video or sound quality matches the Gopro. Even your own videos show this…look how much sharper and better the color is in the Gopro footage.

    The gopro is worlds more rugged and you get a ton of mounts whereas the Contour only comes with one helmet mount that is not well thought out. The Gopro comes with enough mounts for several helmets and gear plus headstrap, vented helmet mount, etc. That should be mentioned in your review.

    Also, the sound on the Gopro is really good and wind noise with either back door is barely noticeable. I can ride my moto and hear the engine. Go 10mph with the Contour and it’s a howl fest. This is a known problem, the Contour’s horrible sound…I can’t believe you are getting decent sound out of yours.

    Thanks for the review but I felt the above points were not addressed.

  4. Brett – I have never seriously considered using the POV because I’ve not been interested in any units that aren’t self-contained. I wish I could provide first hand impressions but I can’t.

  5. Mark,

    Good point on what is provided in-box with both cameras and it was sloppy of me to forget to mention it.

    Re the GoPro – they provide the headband (GoPro doesn’t recommend this for snowsports but see my note above where I found it worked well for pow); provide the vented helmet mount; a mount that can go on handlebar/seatpost/ski pole and four!! sticky pads for different flat mounts. The Chest Mount is an added $ 40 accessory

    Re the Vholdr Contour 1080HD bundled is the goggle mount, a flat surface mount (which can be used put on a flat surfaced helmet. The vented helmet mount is $ 20 (see )

    I will say this much. I’m looking at this for skiing use. I did say that I was partial to the ContourHD’s goggle mount and thought it was the best mount for skiing. I wasn’t that excited about the GoPro chest mount for skiing but have changed my mind having used it more and now having had practise aiming it and wearing it a tad higher on the chest.

    The newer ContourHD 1080 mount is a lot better then the old mount which I thought was poorly designed – of note Vholdr has opted to use the same camming method as GoPro did to secure the vented helmet mount so I’ll give Vholdr some props for recognizing past poor design.

    The long and short of it is that I stand by my contention that, for skiing, for all intents and purposes, in my opinion, it’s a tie between the GoPro and Vholdr mounts

    Now it seems that some videos were edited from my review for brevity so I’ll try to add some more videos as context to address your questions about vid quality and sound quality between GoPro and Vholdr tomorrow.

  6. Re Sound quality. As I said both camera have “decent microphones” and produce average sound quality. Let me blunt – I think the sound quality isn’t even close to a factor in picking between the two as they’re both merely average. That’s why I didn’t go into detail in this already too long review.

    I’ll note that the GoPro HD is better then then older GoPro Hero in mic and sound quality and if you can use the skeleton door then probably sound will improve but there’s no way I’m using the skeleton door in powder snow. I’d imagine that the skeleton door would be better in hardpack skiing but the GoPro will pick up a lot of extraneous noise. For example i had to put in a track in the “Icy Groomers” video shot with the GoPro because the sound of the icy runs and wind-noise was terrible

    I’ll also note that you can configure the ContourHD 1080 mic’s to have more sensitive noise pickup. I tried the most sensitive mic setting and discarded the video. There’s too much noise being picked up.

    If you’re really curious, post a comment here and I’ll do a head to head on the same run of the GoPro HD and the ContourHD 1080 (at most sensitive setting) and you’ll see what I mean about “average” sound quality.

    As to moto – I think you’re just using that for illustration? I don’t see its relevance to snowsports.

    Here’s the video of the GoPro with sound only (the squeaking and chirping is from my boots moving in the Dynafit bindings. 60 – 80cms new snow skiing in the BC Interior

    Then from the video below. ContourHD 1080 and GoPro Hd on a 60cms day in Whistler inbounds. The GoPro’s sound is higher and “brighter” – more treble but remember I had the ContourHD mic turned to default setting.


  7. More then any other video this illustrates my (admittedly subjective point) that the ContourHD 1080 and GoPro HD’s video quality is roughly comparable

    Darkside Lake http://www

    (GoPro chest mount looking forward – ContourHD looking back)

    and some other Vholdr and GoPro videos with 20 – 60cms of very light “blower” pow in the BC interior


    (mix of ContourHD on goggle mount and GoPro on chest – you can tell its the Chest mount because my arms will dominate the shot)

  8. How do these cameras compare to the VIO POV 1.5? I’m curious how durable these 3 cameras are relative to one another. Great review by the way.

  9. Thanks Lee for this extensive review. I’m not sure you can call the video qualities equal though. I’m just judging from your footage, and if I look at the third video at the end of the review (

    ) I consistently see the Gopro being sharper. Just take a close look at the human figures when they’re about 50ft away.

    I’m just confused by the Darkside lake vid, because the backwards image (from the contour right?) seems much brighter and more colorful.

  10. If video stability is important to you, the Vio uses a CMOS global shutter, which means no jello or skew. As far as i know it is the only one on the market that has this. No HD, so the image is STD Def, but accurate pixel for pixel between frames.

    If you can minumise camera shake with the Contour or GoPro then jello will not be an issue.

    Ocean Sports Media

  11. That was a helpful review! Thank you. As a snowboarder however, I do wonder if the gopro’s chest mount would be any good since you’re body faces sideways. Furthermore, I kinda wonder what the sound is like at higher speeds. Most of your vids were shot in deep powder so you’re not going as fast as you would be on a groomer. At least not with the skeleton door off. You had mentioned that the Contour HD’s sound was at the default setting. If you set it to a more sensitive setting (for both cameras), you would be able to hear voices more clearly, but you’d also have to deal with the extra wind noise, correct? Some side by side comparison on some fast groomers, with the sound settings tweaked would be nice! Otherwise, thanks for the info!

  12. NSL – I have to agree with Ryan.

    The sound from both GoPro and ContourHD is not great.

    I’m sorry but there’s no way I’m abusing these things by skiing with the skeleton door off. Someone else will have to test them that way and it won’t be me.

    Look at the “Icy Groomers on Whistler ” video. I had to disable sound because the sound of the ice and the wind was so bad that anything audio was unuseable. The Vholdr is equally as poor.

    In short, the audio for groomers with the GoPro and ContourHD is unuseable- too much wind and the sound of ice on skis/boards overwhelms everything.

    Also agree with your note re the chest mount on a GoPro for snowboarders. It won’t work.

  13. Very nice comparison footage, THANK YOU! I’ve been researching these 2 as the first serious helmet cams to hit the market (all inclusive packages only). I bought the “toy” cams a year or two ago, Tony Hawk Cam, Oregon Scientific – they were junk and I returned them.

    I think I’m going to go Pro HD instead of Countour, because the Contour videos seem to have more shake. I realize mount is the #1 issue here, but well mounted bike videos from another site indicated in identical circumstances, the Pro video comes out smoother. Hard to say if this is a combination of image stabilization (neither company seems to brag about their optical or digital stabilization features as normal camcorders do), and software processing speed (my high def samsung HMX-H100 tends to get chunky or blurry at highest resolution – nothing can be moving), or what… but the bottom line is GoPro gives me less headaches watching the final results.

    So if all goes well and we get some frikkin POW in the Seattle area this winter, my blog will feature some Pro HD footage in the near future. Video quality seems pretty close to me, they are both impressive in depicting snow detail with reasonable lighting.

    The GoPro HD Camera: Ski Movie link is very, very helpful to see how the Pro can function without helmet/wind shake. Wow! Now we just need to jimmy the mounts to be bulletproof and they’ll all look this good.

    Thanks Lee,


  14. To answer the question about changing the Contour 1080’s setting on multiday trips without a computer etc.. It is my understanding that you actually are storing the settings on the media card, not the camera itself, so you can have a card ready to go for different resolutions and frames per second. 🙂

    H2Ov makes a killer underwater housing for the contour, that is fully functional and good to 300′ 🙂

    happy action sporting!

  15. W. Kristensson (sweden) on

    Thanks for a very helpfull review for the choise between these cameras. I will go for the go pro. The goggle mount and design of the contour are stil very good but the picture quality and the waterproof housing and the price makes go pro to a winner. For contour users i can recomend to attatch a stabalizing piece of thin plastic into the goggle strap to minimize the shakings. Aprox 15 cm long and the same width as the goggle strapp. Cut it out, glue or screw on to the strap, make shure it forms comfy to the side of your head.

  16. Jag tackar (i was practising Swedish because there were so many Svenska around Whistler for the Olympics)! I’ve seen people try not just the thin plastic but also a thin piece of foam or rubber and it seems to work really well for the ContourHD.

  17. I am looking to buy two POV camera’s for vacation to Belize where i will be snorkeling, sailing, etc… My question: How is the sound quality for normal use? Such as someone talking, with no action going on. I plan on making a documentary style video, with interviews being overlaid with action. It would be awesome if I don’t need to bring an additional camera just for the interviews, as I am worried about it being stolen since I wouldn’t be using it most of the time. Thanks.

  18. I really appreciate your review, and I’d like to ask you to do some guess work for me. Your review is in snow, my use is in Ocean Kayaks and On high altitude treks in the Himalayas. I need bomb proof, water proof, long battery life, and of course, video quality. Sound is not a topic of interest, they’re all crappy. What’d be your choice in those circumstances?

  19. Lane, sorry – I’m probably late in answering. The sound quality is good for recording yourself but not so good at picking up what’s said by others. I think you’re better off with even a reasonable point and shoot for interviews with sound.

    Innerwealth – I totally agree that sound is all crappy on these POV’s. I suppose I could have been more blunt in my initial review. I haven’t tried the ContourHD’s waterproof case. I know that the GoPro’s waterproof case works really well. On balance I’d go with the GoPro and buy some extra batteries (not much opportunity to recharge batteries in the Himalayas by plugging into a computer). Note that the ContourHD’s batteries are very similiar to Nokia phone batteries so that’s a pretty cost-effective option too

  20. Hey, thank you for your usefull post. I found it on google. I’ve been following your blog for 3 days now and i should say i am starting to like your post and now how do i subscribe to your blog?

  21. Pingback: Sportskamera: GoPro HD « IT-nørdens blog

  22. One HUGE thing you did not mention (that nobody has mentioned, actually) is the field of view angle!!! ContourHD is 135-degrees, while the GoPro (at 720p & 960p res) is a whopping 170-degrees! The wider the field of view, the more the camera captures (especially up close) and the less shaky it appears. Anybody that knows anything about photography/videography knows that it’s way easier to get a stable shot with a wide angle lens than with a telephoto lens.

    Things like skiing and biking with the GoPro look so much better when the lens is wide enough to capture your ski tips, hands, handlebars, etc.

    This simple difference between the 2 cameras would make me pick the GoPro HD Hero EVERY time.

  23. Ive been using the GoPros for many years (standard, wide angle, and HD) and I love them. Ive attached them to just about everything radio controlled from airplanes to helicopters, to boats and cars. I just ordered the Contour and Im looking forward to using it. I mainly use the GoPro for aerial photography and video at the moment for my business and its great for photos. Video sometimes gets the jello effect but its not too bad. Looking forward to testing the Countour w/ hopefully better sound!

  24. Pingback: Reviews: GoPro HD Hero » Photo Video Online [en]

  25. Pingback: Reviews: Contour HD » Photo Video Online [en]

  26. Hi
    I would really like to buy a POV camera for my boyfriend’s birthday as he’s an obsessed skier and has talked a lot about wanting one. My budget would normally be a max of about £150 for his birthday present so originally I was looking at the GoPro Wide (not HD) as that is much more within my price range. However, having looked at a lot of reviews clearly the HD ones are a lot better and I’m wondering whether I should bust the bank to get him the ContourHD or the GoPro HD. Can you tell me in your opinion whether the difference in quality justifies the extra money? Also, it seems most of you guys think GoPro has the edge on the Contour – should I buy the GoPro even though, as you say, it looks like a toaster?!! The Contour just looks so much cooler to me, I’m worried that might be an important factor but I don’t know whether, in the ski world, people won’t care about that…?
    Advice about what to buy would be much appreciated!

  27. Hi, between the Countour GPS HD and the Go Pro Hero HD I have some questions….

    1. the Go Hero in this forum seams winning in terms of video quality and overall usability, plus a 170 degree lens.

    2. However Countur is sold with the GPS integrated (very clever!!!!) and with a better shape (although the lens is only 135mm angle)…..

    Overall which one you would buy!!!

  28. Puffo – I never tried the ContourGPS. I just tried the regular Contour without GPS. Because the mounts are so much better I would have to go with the GoPro

  29. Lee Lau I am a bit confused about your reply. You said that Go Pro HD is better made than Countour? mmmmm, Countor is made by aluminum while Go Pro is hard plastic (and something else)….

  30. Puffo – I said – and I quote “Because the mounts are so much better I would have to go with the GoPro”.

    I did NOT say that the GoPro is better made than Contour.

  31. Puffo – You may want to check into the GPS feature before springing for that model, seeing as Contour has even posted that it has some kind of issue

    Drew wats with the map gps position moving when the planes standing still? and then the map shows the plane is on a big bank to the left and its still flying straight?????………
    09 November at 15:30:

    CONTOUR Drew we’re still working to perfect the software by squashing a few little bugs…
    10 November at 08:23

    Only one of the Contour GPS videos I’ve seen so far has the video and GPS synced, and all the others show flaws and inconsistencies. Even their original videos on their website were not related to the GPS tracking right next to them, and the GPS feature was what they were highlighting! The only one that I’ve found where the two are synced, is the video currently on their website (makes me wonder if it could have been manipulated?). The GPS version shoots photos but no other Contour model currently does, where all GoPros have both video and photo options. My biggest problem with the Contour is that the user is not able to change settings on the camera itself. For example, if you forgot to delete your SD card after you filled it on your last video play day, you’re hosed since you can’t do it on the camera so you essentially can’t use the camera until you get to a computer to delete the card. This is the same for most of the settings options. With a GoPro, you can make any changes you need at the camera itself, and that is a huge advantage for the user.

  32. Lee,
    Thanks for the extensive review. I saw your comment about the less expensive Go Pro HD 960. I was considering this for my 13 year old son who skis/snowboards. All the video content we’ve seen is probably the HD 1080 (which looks amazing) so will there be a significant difference in video quality between the 960 and higher priced 1080?

  33. Natalie,

    You’ll find that most people who put up video are shooting at 720p HD at a frame rate of 30 fps. Some people (but not many) are shooting 720p HD video at a faster frame rate of 60fps, which can be a significant improvement for slow-motion video. Like I said, not many people bother to shoot slow-mo. Even fewer people shoot 1080p HD video for a variety of reasons (video processing is a bugger, footage that’s difficult to keep from being jerky).

    If you’re one of the rare people who’ll shoot slow-motion video then by all means get the GoPro HD 1080. If you’re like most people and will almost always shoot in the excellent-for-web quality 720p video at 30 frames per second then save some money and get the also excellent GoPro HD960.

    I will note that I’ve seen deals and sales on the GoPro HD 1080 so that prices between the units can now converge so shop carefully and perhaps you won’t need to make that choice?

  34. I’m late to the party here but I thought I’d throw in my 2 cents.
    We (Contour) have taken a ton of user feedback and redesigned many of our mounts to be significantly more stable across sports. For snow (and many other sports) we now have a low profile mount that is very small, dampens shake and is, well, low profile. It’s great for helmets, skis, snowboards, bikes, etc.
    We also redesigned the goggle mount to reduce shake and introduced a headband mount that stabilizes the image better.

    As for the GPS, I invite you to come check out some GPS videos on the site. They’re pretty cool to see.
    It’s still a new product so we don’t have a ton of examples yet, but it’s fun to watch them appear on the site.

    For shooting with the smoothest quality, we actually recommend using what we call ActionHD which is 720 at 60fps, as Lee mentioned. It is great for slow motion and just improves picture clarity overall.

    With regards to the lens, we opted for a smaller field of view because we wanted to minimalize the distortion that comes with a wider field of view.

    Lacy @ Contour

  35. I ordered the Contour 1080 but they sent me a GoPro. I tried it and I completely hated it. I never knew if it was recording or not because the beep was so quiet. When you’re sitting next to a ski lift, you can not hear it at all. Also, I looked like a doofus with that toaster (as the review brilliantly put it) on my head. I know I’ll lose some lens width with my Contour but for the simplicity and style, it’s well worth it to me. It would be nice if someone would make a POV cam with OIS but for now the Contour is all good.

  36. Just a thought guys (my 2c):

    I just got the Contour GPS for Motorbike, AutoCross, and Airsoft after a good bit of research and pro-con, and come spring, I’m getting a free Droid X sized viewfinder/playback screen (and gun camera monitor :D). They’re releasing an android app (in development) I will be using gleefully on my phone that interfaces with the camera using bluetooth, and I can’t wait to see what other integration possibilities there are.

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  38. Great review. The hard part of using these cameras is what to do with the footage. I found it complicated uploading and converting the files in order to put them on YouTube. (I eventually used MPEG_Streamclip Video Converter software). But I wish someone would offer a short tutorial on simple methods of what to do with the video after it is shot. (ie: how to edit, which software is best, how to store files, etc).

    • El Kamino.

      I’ve deliberately avoided addressing this question as people have such different needs and platforms. Some are MAC, some are PC. Some create DVDs, most edit for the web. Some play a lot with after-effects and video processing. Some (like me) do minimal editing just cutting and pasting clips and putting in some music perhaps. Some don’t bother editing at all and just throw up raw clips.

      I like the software program AVS4You which can edit GoPro and Contour clips natively (ie no messing around with conversion as it can handle all manner of file formats). It’s inexpensive. It doesn’t crash. It’s no-nonsense.

      Bear in mind HD video is processor intensive so your Commodore Vic20 may struggle with the video

  39. Venge – I just got a Contour GPS. I’ve got to hand it to Contour who’ve addressed many of the concerns I raised. Perhaps their production Contour 720 and 1080 form factor and build weren’t quite as robust as they could have been but give them credit for listening to customer feedback. I’m speaking to features like a better closure for the back door. A bigger on-off switch for operation with gloves. Low-profile mount feels a lot better. Rails for the mounts have higher tolerance for tighter engagement. I’ll run a review as a separate article

    • To add to what Lee said, I have had the contour 1080p for about 6 months now and the one thing that has totally blown me away is their customer service. It is hard to find a company these days that provides the level of service that they do. They have a great forum on their web site where you can get feedback and suggestions from employees and other users. Employees respond quickly to complaints and are eager to resolve the situation. I had a slight focusing problem with one of my cameras and the RMA process was quick and painless.

      Not having owned a gopro I can’t speak for their customer service, but I have been looking and can’t seem to find any sort of official community forums. I have dealt with a lot of electronics and camera manufacturers over the years and none have made me feel as welcome and confident about my purchase as the folks at contour.

      I’m sure I probably sound like some contour employee but I’m not. After how well I have been treated by the company, I feel obligated to sing their praises whenever possible.

  40. First off, thanks for the reveiw! Its helping me with the proccess of researching these camera’s. I realize the majority of the people using these are looking to use these for convential uses (biking, snowskiing, car racing, etc), but I need a waterproof video camera for watersports. So it needs to be able to withstand 45mph crashes into water, be able to clamp on to a boom, possibly be able to attatch to a rope (would be nice but not necessary), and have decent video quality. I don’t care about size or style, I just need something I won’t ruin or lose because it couldn’t take the crashes or fell off and sank. Think one of these cameras might be able to do it or am I looking into the wrong camera’s?

    • Dani,

      I’ve used the GoPro windsurfing clamped on a boom. It’s insanely tough. I’ve not crashed it at 45mph (top speeds flat water sailing are maybe 25 kts or so?) but I bet it’d take it

  41. Please, does anyone knows where on earth I can find a raw footage of this camera to really see the REAL quality (please, not youtube, not .flv NOT WATCH ON LINE but to download) This is really unbelievable, I’ve been searching for hours on google, and I did not find a single one, everything is converted which has lost of quality. I want to see one before I buy the camera. Thanks a lot for any information.

  42. Rodolfo,

    First question; which camera? Your question is unclear.

    Second; take a look at various reviews I wrote for GoPro and Contour where I have videos on Vimeo. If you have a Vimeo account (its free) you can download the raw footage

  43. Lee, thanks for replying to the many questions. It is very helpful to people like me contemplating which to purchase and be able to read throught Q & A posted.
    My buddy has a GoPro HD and it is great for what we are asking it to do and I have to say that GoPro feels like the safe bet, because I have used one (only for waterskiing) and have seen several friends GP vids Mt. Biking and skiing. But, I extremely dislike the record button and having to check if it is recording or not visually (because I have found that it can be easy to get out of sync – you think you are turning it on and you are turning it off, vise-versa. Where as the Contour is a no brainer – forward or back.
    The main concern I have with Contour is lack of chest mount, which is a good location for waterskiing, but I don’t think that will be a show stopper, I’ll figure something out. I am leaning towards the Contour.
    The other is that they do not have yet (but is on the way, now for several months) a waterproof housing for the Contour GPS.
    Dani T – search you tube and you can find both GoPro and Contour taking a beating in watersports – here are a couple…
    I have crashed at about 34-35 mph (boat speed) waterskiing with the GoPro chest mount and it did not miss a beat. No experience with the Countour yet.

    • Thanks Doug. I agree wrt to the on/off button and I’ve recommended to GoPro that the audible tone for that recording function should be made louder or alternatively have some way of controlling loudness of the function.

  44. CA Freeheeler on


    You write like a good IP lawyer – i.e. organized and focused on pertinent details. My compliments! I must mention, I went to REI in San Carlos, CA to choose between the GoPro and the Contour HD, leaning towards the Contour due to the “toaster effect.” The helpful clerk handed me a printout of your review, and said “read this first.”

    I went with the Contour, and I have a couple of comments on mounts.

    For a helmet- or goggle-free mount, I took the strap off of a Petzl LED headlamp, and attached the goggle mount to it.

    The lamp’s strap was not as wide as a ski goggle strap, so I cut a piece of cloth to jam into the mount interface which keeps the mount fairly stable on the strap. The narrow strap is less stable against the head than a wide goggle strap, so it would be nice if a wider strap was available (anyone?). The strap is easily adjustable, so I can cinch it down when recording, and loosen it for comfort when I’m not.

    I noted when trying this out that when it’s on a goggle, there is a gap between the point just forward of the temple to where it attaches to the goggle, and that point is a bit loose. Stuffing a cloth or pad in there might help stability a bit.

    Looking at it more carefully, I saw that the real wiggle point was between the grooves on the camera and the rails on the mount. My best solution so far has been to loop a rubber band around the front part of the mount and the front part of the camera just forward of the recording switch. This seems to improve stability a bit more. I’d appreciate any comments on a better solution. I think ultimately the rail solution only works if they can firmly secure the front end of the rails against a perpendicular flat surface, otherwise they’d have to use a more expensive machined interface with a ball lock or something like that.

  45. thanks for taking the time to write this review. I’m currently looking into which of the two to get. What is your final recommendation? I seem to think the GoPro is the better option at the moment.

    • Tom,

      There has now been substantial refinements of both products. Contour now has the ContourGPS and GoPro has the HD Hero 2.

      Image quality is virtually a tie.

      Mounts; both a tie but it depends to a large extent on whether you like the chest-mount effect.

      Sound; both frankly are terrible

      Battery life is a tie.

      I hate to weasel your question but it’s virtually a tie. If you’re a snowboarder you might prefer the Contour but if you’re a skier its a really tough choice.

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