Stop Motion Videography – A Brinno TLC 200 Pro Review

December 10, 2016 at 3:54 pm by

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Winter is coming and the snow is about to fall. You think that recording the snowfall in the morning would be a great video to share on Facebook. You set your phone to record a video and walk away. Come back a few hours later and the snow has finished and you’ve now got a video on your phone.

Recording a video sounds so easy on paper. That video of the snowfall on your phone may sound great in theory, but what you end up with is an hour-long video of snow falling. I don’t know about you, but watching an hour or two long video of snow falling sounds just as interesting as grass growing.

So how would you take a video of something that happens over the course of hours or even days? Time lapse videography is the answer.

By taking a picture at set intervals, a camera, or the software that runs it, could then take all of those pictures and put them together into a video. Recording snowfalls has never been so easy, as now you can set a camera to record a picture every 5 seconds for the next few hours and then have a frame rate at 30FPS.

What you now have to share on Facebook is a short 1 – 3-minute video of a quick and neat snowfall. The “likes” and hearts will pour in from your friends.

In previous years, wanting to capture time lapse videography for personal use was expensive and required a camera that weighed about the same as a laptop. Nowadays, things have changed just ever-so-slightly.

Known as Brinno, this company is a big name on Amazon for time lapse cameras. From different models and styles, the one in today’s spotlight is their top tier model capable of taking 240,000 photos. By using the included 4GB SD card, just imagine what you could time lapse and record over the course of hours?

Welcome to my review of the Brinno TLC 200 Pro. Throughout this review, I will be discussing the following topics: the design, functionality, and my final thoughts. A special thank you to Brinno for providing me with this device.

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Design

Brinno’s TLC 200 Pro is a compact camera that has some appealing design aspects to it. It’s not expensively built and it doesn’t require a camera mount to operate.

Matte black in color, the TLC 200 Pro is constructed out of plastic which gives it a weight that is less than one pound. Furthermore, I was surprised to see that the body is moderately resistant to drops, falls, and bumps.

A physical tour of the TLC 200 Pro reveals the user controls, including an on/off toggle wheel switch, a large “OK” button, menu and time buttons, and a reasonably sized LCD screen. The 1.4-inch LCD display shows the camera’s software menus and a live camera feed that voids the need to use a smartphone or computer.

Continuing on, there are two thick rubber flaps that conceal an SD card slot as well as a camera extension port and microUSB port. This camera extension port can be used for accessories, such as a flash or motion sensor.

For the bottom, there are four sticky rubber pads that do a great job at preventing the camera from moving on most surfaces. There is also a female camera screw slot for when you want to use the TLC 200 Pro with a mount. More on this later.

Unlike other cameras, this camera is powered by AA batteries. While this may seem like a battery eater, it’s quite the contrary. Battery performance will be discussed in the next section, but the bottom of the camera houses the four AA batteries required to operate the camera.

To finish off the physical tour, the top features the 1.3MP HDR camera lens, as well as a camera status LED. This LED will blink red for “waiting” or “error” or green when the camera is actively recording.

The camera lens sits on top of a variable shaft that gives the lens the ability to rotate vertically. Without moving the camera, you could capture a shot of the night sky by pointing the camera directly upwards or watch cars driving by, by pointing it straight ahead.

Inside the box for this camera is not a whole lot. Other than a rubber camera lens protector, it’s a tad disappointing not having a carrying pouch, even if it had been a rubber or meshed one.

There are, however, two user manuals that are just fantastic. While the directions on how to operate could be better, every function and option that the camera can do is included in either the User Manual or Quick Guide. The quick guide and user manual show you the correct settings to choose on the camera as well as tell you what they do.

Brinno does offer a fair number of accessories for this camera, but they can be pricey. Extra lenses, shutter release, motion sensor, wall mounts, and rotating pan mounts are available, but I felt like just a stationary camera with a mount was good enough for most people’s needs.

One accessory that I would consider is the weather resistant housing. The TLC 200 Pro is not waterproof, so if you were to leave the camera outside and it rained, that may be the death of it. I did risk mine a few times with early morning dew falling onto it and it seems to have survived without harm. If the weather housing wasn’t an extra $50, then it would be an “A-Okay” purchase for me.

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Functionality

This product is a special one because I’ve had a longer time reviewing it than I do with other products. Yet, even with an extended amount of time with this camera, finding things to time lapse is a difficult challenge.

Before you record anything, configuring the camera is the first step. Brinno’s user interface, while rudimentary, contains a fair amount of different configuration options.

First, the camera supports several different types of time settings. These time settings control how much time goes by before another picture is taken. Beginning from constant recording to every second to every hour to a custom time, finding how fast you need the camera to snap a picture shouldn’t be difficult. It should be noted that depending on your scenery setting, the pre-set timers (1 sec., 10 sec., etc.) may change or be missing. An example of this is that nighttime scenery cannot record at every 1 second, while daytime can.

Diving into the menus allows you to adjust the focus, frame rate, exposure, HDR range, set a timer, change the scene, adjust the image quality, change white balance, and even choose what is displayed on the final publication of the video, such as a time stamp.

If you are a hardcore photographer, then adjusting the focus, exposure, and changing the image quality is right up your alley. If you are like me and just want to use the camera without fiddling with settings, you can do that too.

Brinno played it smart by not making every user needing to have expert camera knowledge. What I ended up doing for all of my recordings below is I left the camera settings at stock and changed the scene (Day, Twilight, Night, Moon, Star), image quality, and frame rate. My scenes were configured for the correct setting, image quality set to Best (Better is max), and a frame rate of 30FPS.

The lens on the TLC 200 Pro is a 1.3MP HDR lens that captures at 720p 16:9. With an aperture of f/2.0 and focal length of 19mm, the camera does a decent job with recording and taking the pictures. At a field of view of 112 degrees, the camera does tend to pick up many things around it. Therefore, make sure to have a wide view of what you want to record.

I took my adventure to YouTube to see what others may have captured with their time lapse cameras. What seemed most popular was a recording of the night sky. So, I thought that would be a great place to start.

On November 14, 2016, when the super Moon was flying above, I set the camera to record this rare event. You can see in the video that the Moon is washed out and looks more like the sun. Unfortunately, bright objects, like a full Moon, tend to be hard to see on this camera. What I did like seeing, was that the stars and Moon rotate in space so smoothly. Seeing this effect was just outstanding, even if it was washed out. Then, with the clouds getting ready for a morning overcast, it was neat to see how they just suddenly appear.

Below is a great video with a cloudy night that just seems to fly by in a mesmerizing way. You can even see the planes that fly by at night. The ending finished off with a pleasant sunrise.

Up next is an October sunset with wonderful oranges and yellows that fade into the distance. Opening with a nice bright beginning, it ends in a dark goodnight. This was taken on the twilight setting which helps capture darker settings by making them seem brighter than real life.

Where this camera really shines is when you record something in bright daylight. See here how some flowers open up during the morning. The window behind the flowers also shows us the sun making its daily path across the sky.

Finally, I took a recent video of our first snowfall. What’s neat is that you can see the snow begin to fall on top of itself and eventually stack to a few inches. Again, being that this is daylight, the TLC 200 pro does a decent job at recording.

On the TLC 200 Pro, when the recording has finished, to stop the video, press the large OK button for a few seconds. This will make the TLC 200 Pro stop recording and then take all of the pictures that it has just taken and put them into one large video.

Something to note is that when wanting to play back the videos, Windows Media Player may report that the file is corrupted and it cannot open it. This happened for all of my videos, but they worked flawlessly with VLC player.

All of these recordings were taken with different scenery settings and timer settings. In the end, I couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out. Night shots with the Moon could be better, but for a 720p recording and with daytime working flawlessly, I find that many of you would be happy with it too.

From a past review, I had a tripod mount that supports the same screw size as the TLC 200 Pro. I attached it to the TLC 200 Pro and it was a great help when wanting to stabilize the camera for the entire time lapses. While not necessary, it certainly helped.

To finish, battery life on the TLC 200 Pro was impressive. The four AA Duracells I had in the camera lasted for hours of recording time, especially when increasing the amount of time between picture captures. If the camera is set to record ASAP also known as always recording, then it does eat up the batteries quickly. For my testing, expect to get multiple recordings without needing to change the batteries.

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My Final Thoughts

All in all, I am impressed with how the TLC 200 Pro performed and how well the time lapses turned out. It’s friendly user interface, deep configuration, and compact size makes it the perfect device for anybody looking to create some non-professional time lapses. While 720p video leaves out small details, it’s enough to provide a clear daylight video and something that is enjoyable at the end. Priced at $170, the TLC 200 Pro gets my stamp of approval.

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