Drift 1080p Helmet Cam
I originally bought a Contour Roam a year or two back. Got an excellent price, and couldn't pass it up. The Roam had some problems, though. For one, there's a problem with the microphone that's a known issue and isn't being adequately addressed by Contour. The bigger problem I've found though is the inability to review your videos. In one case, I took an entire day's worth of vids with the lens rotated upside-down. In many other cases, several videos would be unusable because of crap on the lens and I wouldn't know about it until I got home.
At one point I considered buying a small cheap notebook computer to keep in the car for reviewing videos on the mountain, but really that's just throwing good money after bad. So I looked around and found a demo unit being sold for cheap at Launch Helmetcams. Again, couldn't pass it up.
This is the older Drift camera with the smaller screen -- 1.5"x1.5", as opposed to the 2x2 on the new Ghost. Still, completely acceptable for a tryout and I figure if I really like it I'll end up getting the high-end unit.
The Drift and the Contour are almost exactly the same size and weight, which is probably not coincidence. They have the same types of mounting options available, i.e. goggle mount, helmet mount, handlebar mount, etc. While the Roam has a large easy-to-use switch on top, the Drift has a remote on/off unit that you can wear like a watch. The buttons on the remote are big enough to manipulate with gloves on. Both units beep when starting and stopping. One small downside of the Drift is that you have to turn it on using the small menu button on the unit before it will obey the remote. But it doesn't draw much on standby so you could probably leave it on all day. There's an option in the settings to have it turn off automatically after a certain inactive duration.
Both cameras have rotating lenses, but only the Contour has the alignment lasers. Both cameras are rated as waterproof to a couple of meters, as long as you don't get nuts. They both use the same MicroSD card, although I think the Contour is pickier about brand and type (just from comments made on the forum).
I will be testing the Drift this weekend, weather allowing, and will post some sample videos and my impressions of the camera in use. The big question will be whether being able to review the video right away will make a practical difference.
I have the older model Drift HD 720. For me it's useful for lining up your shot, to see if you have too much snow, too much sky, etc.
I do review videos on breaks at the lodge but other models use wifi that allows you to view on your phone which is a cool feature. I don't know if this is available on the new Drift models.
I don't know if they fixed this but my issue with the wrist band button on my model is that the damn band is made for small bone people, the damn thing doesn't fit around my wrist, so I can't use that feature.
I brought both cameras to Seymour today. For the record, I should point out that the Roam is Contour's cheapest model, while the Drift 1080p is not. The most significant difference that this makes is that the Roam doesn't have a replaceable battery.
I wanted to do the comparison with both cameras on goggle mounts, but I wasn't able to find my Contour goggle mount. So my comparison is done with the Roam mounted on top of my helmet and the Drift on a goggle mount. The drift goggle mount is quite good in that it's curved, quite large, and has a rough inner surface to hopefully hold better against the helmet. Having said that, all goggle mounts suck. The big problem is that with most helmets, when your goggles are on your face the mount is partly or completely sitting on the ear covers, which provides poor support.
Each brand of camera uses a different technique for clipping the camera to the mount. The Drift's system is larger and easier to handle with gloves, and in fact I was able to clip and unclip the camera from the goggle mount without taking off my helmet or gloves. I might be able to eventually do that with the Roam, but it would take two hands and I'd probably have to take off one or both gloves.
On the other hand, the clip on the Drift is kind of delicate. I broke one of my two clip-on units while figuring out the camera.
The Roam turns on and off using a large, easy-to-find switch on the camera. The Drift has a remote control that straps to your wrist (or whatever). The first difference that I ran into was the on/off beep. On the Contour, you can clearly hear the beep when you turn it on or off. Plus of course, you can feel where the switch is. With the Drift, the ON beep was audible through the helmet but the OFF beep was not. I understand the remote on the new Drift Ghost has feedback, probably an LED light to indicate if it's recording. Definitely an option worth having.
The Drift has a 1.5" square screen on the side. There's no equivalent on the Roam. I found that the visual feedback on the Drift could be brighter. At one point I thought my up/down buttons had stopped working. I eventually realized that I just wasn't seeing the focus change from one setting to the next. I'd expect that the 2" screen on the Ghost would be better for this.
Finally -- The actual videos. I found the Drift video image to be brighter, but I notice that the Drift doesn't handle changes in light levels as well. When you move from shadow to sunlight, the image is washed out for a second or two. The Roam handled the change in light level significantly better. However, the Roam video seemed flatter, as if there's less overall difference in brightness. Overall, I'd give a slight edge to the Roam video for watchability. Of course, both videos are shaky, but that's the way they were mounted.
Some other miscellaneous comments, that may or may not make a difference:
The Roam back end is WAY easier to open and close.
The Drift wrist strap could be bigger.
The Drift does not seem to have an anchor point for a safety lanyard.
And one BIG comment:
The ability to review your videos on the lift on the way up is a game changer. Sorry, but the Drift would have to totally blow it on some level to lose this comparison, at least as far as I'm concerned.
I'll be posting up the comparison videos shortly. They're uploading to youtube right now.
The Drift recorded at 1920x1080 by default. The Roam recorded at 1280x720
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