The new Contour+2 camera is like a fine Italian sports car... built in the 1980's, before they got their quality control process figured out. Awesome and stunning, yet deeply flawed and aggravating.
Here's my initial review from the brief time I've had the camera. I'm not yet sure if I'll be keeping it or returning it. I really want to keep it, but I'm not sure I can deal with its flaws.
The camera records in 720p or 1080p, and the picture quality is great. It has an external mic jack (although sadly, it's only 2.5mm mono). Its profile is sexy (much more so than the GoPro Hero cameras). I can use my iPhone as a viewfinder, and to start & stop recording, which is awesome. It comes with a waterproof camera case.
The camera is inconsistent in many ways. Here are a few of them:
Complete data loss: By far the biggest issue I have with the camera is that if I record for an extended period while also charging the camera (90 minutes or more, it seems) the camera will lock up, and not stop recording. In fact, there's no way to stop recording except to pull the battery out. This has the effect of corrupting the micro SD card and erasing all the video that was taken. This already happened to me at one important event -- I lost the keynote and many interviews from this event. I haven't yet found a work-around to this problem, and Contour support isn't very stellar (they moderate their forum, so even just posting issues is a super painful process).
For example, here's a pic where I've turned the recording switch off, but you can see the front recording light is still on:
The only way to get the camera to stop recording was to remove the battery. This corrupted the data card completely.
Charging: The camera is inconsistent in the way it charges. For example, In this picture I'm using a PowerGen block to charge the camera. See the red light on the top of the camera? That means it's charging.
But if I unplug the USB cable and plug it right back in, the red charging light goes away. About five minutes later, it'll turn back on. Why does it take five minutes? Is it charging in those 5 minutes? I have no idea.
The internal mic is also just terrible. I mean, so horribly bad that it's unusable. And what's with having a 2.5mm mono jack? The folks over at Contour haven't exactly prioritized audio in any way on this camera, which is a shame.
I may return this camera and try the GoPro Hero3 camera out. It's not as elegant of a piece of hardware, but I'm hoping that GoPro may be more advanced in its software and audio prioritization. It's a real shame, though. I really want to keep (and love) this camera.
Here are some other pictures of my "ideal rig" setup with a RODE mic:
Ok so great news -- a senior person at the company wrote me back, so I'm hopeful that he will help me work through these issues.
One thing he asked me about was why I found the support experience to be poor, as that's something they really try hard to do well. I'm hoping we can have that convo here.
So, here is my answer re: support experience:
1) posts are moderated. This is frustrating because I can't have a convo with other users where we could share knowledge and help each other. I'd really like to see the support board opened up. Trust your users.
2) I got a "page not found" error when I tried to interface with the support interface. Here is what I wrote to the support rep:
when I try clicking on "go to question" above, I get an "invalid
request" error: http://drod.io/image/2r3A1b280L0i
Or I may give this camera a try: http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/blackmagicpocketcinemacamera/
Pricey, but awesome. (Thanks Jeremy Caverly for introducing me to it originally)
It is a bit disappointing to read this was posted a year ago but I have the very same issues on a contour +2 I got this month. Let`s face it if they have not got a fix in 12 months it is not going to happen.
Well, Contour went out of business, so it's definitely not getting fixed!
I read this but I did investigate that far and they HAD gone out of business but someone from Apple took it over. The website is back (though a few old links don't work) and they are active enough.
I even know why mine locks up - it gets to the fat 32 size limit and refuses to finish that film and start another. Any film I make lower than 3.4 GB (about 1/2 hour at 720) works fine anything over and the camera locks up and removal of the battery is required.
As you said otherwise it is a fine camera so with the inconvenience of switching it off and then back on again to ensure the film is saved, I have to make a choice on keeping it or getting a refund and it is a close call.
Where did you hear that they're back? I'd LOVE to read about that.
link The website support is reasonably up to date too.....
I've been using the Kodak Zi8 camera for several years now, and it's been a workhorse of my ability to capture content. I originally reviewed the Zi6, and then reviewed the Zi8 more recently on this blog, and I also did a post on using a wide-angle lens with the Zi6 or Zi8.
But recently, I gave a speech at TJHSST and the Zi8 failed to record the video correctly, so I decided it was time to revisit my setup, since capturing content is so important to me (as per our company manifesto points #13 and #19).
The price of the Zi8 camera has come down so much since its launch (from above $200 to under $100 now) that I decided to use the following strategy:
Here's a video of the entire setup, with pics below that:
I spent $1800 on my first high quality camera. I was on the brink of Life Nomadic, and I justified the purchase with two ideas. The first was that I would be seeing a lot of things for the first, and possibly the only, time. Second, the particular camera I bought, an Epson R-D1s, seemed to hold its value well.
It came as a shock to a lot of people how primitive my camera was in many ways. It had no autofocus, no flash, no video recording capabilities, no self timer, and the only thing it could do automatically was light metering. It did that poorly. After each shot it was necessary to thumb a switch, which mechanically reset the spring for the shutter.
I bought a single lens for it, a Nokton 40mm/1.4. It had no zoom, and the aperture was set mechanically by rotating a ring on the lens. The lens was gorgeous. For those who don't know, a 1.4 F-Stop means that the lens is very fast: it lets in a lot of light. The average camera lens is probably around an f/3.5, which lets in only an eighth as much light as mine did. That's how I got amazing low-light pictures like this one.