We recently received a Brinno TLC 200 Pro in for review. I am still a little hurt by this as I spotted this dedicated time-lapse camera a couple weeks before we received the review unit and purchased it to use at a 3-day music festival – which I did, thank you very much. More on that a bit later.
The primary feature of the Brinno TLC 200 Pro that was so compelling to me is the ability to set up a shot and let it run for not just a few hours, but for a few days or weeks on a single set of batteries, depending on the settings and how often you are shooting a photo to make your movie. Relatively short battery life has been the primary limitation of the GoPros that has kept me from really exploring their capabilities with the kind of shooting I do. We’ll have an extended GoPro battery review up in a bit.
First thing I did, as I tend to do with all new gear – I took it out of the box, set it up and tested it. Manuals? We don’t need no stinkin’ manuals. Well, until we can’t figure out how something works, then we need the manual.
In this first test, I put the Brinno TLC 200 Pro in my backyard side-by-side with a GoPro Hero 3+ Black (with a Brunton F-ALLDAY-YL extended battery) and shot a time-lapse overnight to compare the quality of the output between the two.
Both cameras were set on a tripod in my back yard angled looking up and to the east. The only ambient light sources for the camera sensors to take advantage of are the moon and a 40 watt incandescent porch light which is situated about 30 foot off of the left of the frame. There is also miscellaneous light noise from other sources in the neighborhood such as neighbor and street lights.
Photos are being shot at 30 second intervals and rendered side by side at 30 fps in FCPX with no post processing done to either camera’s footage.
Settings on the Brinno TLC 200 Pro are Auto White Balance, Images Quality set to “Better”, HDR Setting set to “Medium” with the scene setting set to “Night”.
GoPro Settings: Photo size is 12MP Wide, 30 Sec Intervals, Spot “on”, Protune “Off”
Results – you be the judge.
I was astonished at the amount of light the Brinno TLC 200 Pro picked up in its images. Still astonished.
Next test – use it on the job. I took the Brinno TLC 200 Pro and the Brinno ATH120 Weather Resistant Housing with me to a three-day music festival and set it up on the side of a stage looking out on the audience. I expected to pick up a nice 24-36 hour time lapse of the audience, the park emptying out, events overnight at the festival, sunrise, park filling up, and then a full day of music the following day.
Unfortunately, when I pulled the footage off the camera there were two gaps in coverage that were hours long. Not good. No explanation as to why this happened. The quality was a bit on the “meh” side as well. If you review the footage above you’ll see gaps in time at the 0:33 and at the 1:23 marks. Both gaps, as it just so happened, had the critical times I was most interested in capturing (the last show of the day with the crowd emptying out of the park and the sunrise the next morning). Cry me a river, I know.
After showing the footage to Dave Curlee, and crying about the missing footage, he suggested that I look for a firmware upgrade for the camera. I was skeptical that this would solve the problem since the camera had been on the market for about 9 months. I assumed such a crippling flaw, especially if it was just in the firmware would have been expunged from the product by the time I purchased it. Nevertheless I took Dave’s advice, downloaded the latest firmware from the Brinno website and installed it.
Since installing the latest firmware for the Brinno TLC 200 Pro, I have shot with it three more times for over 24 hours each time with the problem not recurring. The footage above is from a 24 hour time-lapse during 3DPALOOZA at The Geek House. The footage below is a 13 hour time-lapse with the Brinno TLC 200 Pro literally duck-taped to the railing of an overpass on Highway 121 in Frisco, TX. Be patient with the video below – the sexy stuff starts at about 13 seconds.
I’m not convinced that this issue is solved at this point, but each time I use it on a shoot and it performs properly I will feel better about the firmware fixing the issue.
I like this camera. But there are still some issues to correct. After examining the footage on the Brinno TLC 200 Pro I’m not convinced that it’s going to beat the GoPro Hero 3+ Black in picture quality when there is any kind of light available. We’ll see how well it performs over the next several weeks in different conditions with different settings. Always looking for the sweet-spot: I believe the use for this will end up being when I need multi-hour time-lapse which covers a time frame which extends into the evening, when I’m shooting at any time with little to no ambient light to speak of AND I need to leave the camera unattended during the shoot. The Brinno TLC 200 Pro is so inexpensive that if it disappears during a shoot I won’t lose too much sleep over it. I’ve lived through the disappearances of enough GoPros at this point that I just chalk it up to being a cost of doing business.