Helmet cameras have come a long way. Decades ago they were big, heavy and so expensive as to be out of reach for all but the networks.

Now, $229 buys you a state-of-the-art HD helmet camera capable of shooting 1280×720 @ 30 FPS.

The VholdR ContourHD – HD Helmet Camera – High Definition (1280×720 @ 30fps) or High Action (858×480 @ 60fps) – with FREE Case (a $29.99 Value) is small (weighs only four ounces) but it’s very tough. It’s designed to withstand mud, rain, shock and vibration.

It’s a bit of a pain to figure out how to install the battery and the micro SD card (you have to push up on the back of the camera to unlatch the back cover.) I also find the design of that cover frustrating because during several of my tests, I thought I had the latch secure but did not and hence the camera didn’t operate. But once I figured that out, the operation of the camera was easy.

The camera comes with two different mounts. I mounted the camera to my helmet with no trouble. There are two lasers that you can use to line up the camera and you can conveniently twist the front lens element to make sure the camera is level.

If you want additional mounts, VholdR makes a variety of additional mounts for everything from bikes to windshield mounts. I bought a tripod adapter mount and an extra battery for a total of about $50.

The camera uses a sharp fixed-focus lens. It records onto a five MP sensor.

The Contour comes with some editing software that actually works pretty well. The company even provides a Mac version. I find it just as easy to import the video into iMovie or Final Cut, but for those who don’t have the options, the included software is quite usable.

Once you get through the hurdles of installing the battery and memory card, mounting the camera to your helmet (or whatever) and getting it aligned, recording is the easy part. You slide the button forward to record. It’s a big enough button that you can even wear a glove and still easily find the switch.

The video quality is amazing. The audio quality varied from great to poor, depending on the circumstances. Wind noise was a problem.

If you’d like to see some footage I shot with this camera, check out the post here on Photofocus – http://photofocus.com/2010/05/13/what-i-learned-about-photography-by-racing-cars/ - the scenes shot from inside the car and of the race coach telling me “You Got This” were all recorded with the Contour.

Ergonomically, the camera is perfect for the job. I’d also prefer more mounting solutions come with the camera. Setup could be easier, but otherwise, it’s a joy to use. Recommended.

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This post sponsored by X-Rite Color and the ColorChecker Passport

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  1. […] take on the new HD cameras that are in the market today. I’m only aware of these thanks to Photofocus’ mini review of the VholdR helmet cam and Run.Denim.Butterfly’s wish list of the Sony Bloggie. There’s also Kodak’s Zi8 […]

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