Published on June 30th, 2013 | by Greg
Brinno TLC200 Pro: Easy, Beautiful Time Lapse Videos
There are many beautiful things under the sun- even the sun and moon themselves, moving across the horizon. And while a single photo might not capture the arc of time, enough of them stitched together can show buildings come together, vast crowds move, or the arc of a year. Video might seem the natural way to do this, but video cameras are made for consecutive moments, scenes rather than vistas of time. If you want to capture time by the second, or by the minute, hour, or longer, then a time lapse camera is ideal.
That’s precisely what the Brinno HDR TLC200 Pro offers- a nifty, easy-to-use package that is simply the best way to record and create time lapses, even in low light conditions. Whether you’re trying to get a better view of your garden over a season, or want to memorialize your house as you’re painting it, there are lots of uses. Many videos online show sunsets and mountains and oceans, and the TLC200 is small enough and sturdy enough to bring just about anywhere.
This model offers much more detail and a huge difference in quality thanks to several technologies, though the resolution is the same (1280×720). We’ve tried out a couple of the previous versions- the GardenWatchCam was a special-purpose device that was cute if limited, and the non-Pro sister model looks quite similar but hides are some major differences. For starters, the new TLC200 Pro offers superior optics, thanks to a new interchangeable CS lens system. The imaging chip is now true HDR, or high dynamic range, which means that you’re able to capture a much wide range of brightness levels. You can see this yourself when using a smartphone like the iPhone 5- take it out in a sunny day and you lose everything in the shadows. Pro photographers “fake” an HDR image by compositing multiple images taking with different apertures; your iPhone can do it for you, but in limited situations that require a lack of motion or moving subjects.
Of course, a fixed position is key, and that can be a little difficult. The TLC200 Pro suffers from the same issue with being a bit hard to mount or setup, as it’s fairly small, lightweight body leads to some vibrations. The battery life has also decreased substantially, likely because of the vastly improved image sensor- instead of 83 days capturing 1 image a minute, you now can expect only 35 or less, depending on the settings. Unlike the earlier model, though, the image sensor on the Pro can capture nighttime shots with ease, and offers twilight, nighttime, and moon scene options. As before, you just need AA batteries, but when replacing them it’s hard to keep the camera in the same position.
The bottom line: if you need better light sensitivity, then this is definitely the model to go for. The results speak for themselves- videos from the TLC200 Pro feel professional, even with difficult low-light situations that would make your smartphone or action camera offer only noisy images. No post-processing is required; the stitching is handled onboard and you simply take out the SD card and you’re ready to do (up to 32GB capacities accepted, results are AVI files). The waterproof housing is still an optional accessory, as is the shutter line, and there’s a motion activation accessory as well now. It’s easy to appreciate good optics, but they aren’t cheap- the TLC200 Pro runs $300 and is available now, online and in stores.