Review of Brinno TLC200, TLC200 Pro and webcam timelapse

Timelapse photography looks REALLY cool, and thanks to modern technology, its now affordable to most people.

I’ve done a LOT of timelapse photography over the years.  A couple of examples:

The most expensive, and versatile way is to just use a DSLR and an intervalometer.  However if you are going to just turn the images into a HD movie, to be honest a DSLR is overkill!

One option I’ve been using for years is a webcam and a netbook.  It actually works quite well, in that there is never a a serious limit on diskspace and it can run for about 8 hrs on batteries.  I have done a timelapse of a transatlantic flight like this.

Then came some dedicated ‘off the shelf’ timelapse cameras.

tlc vs tlc pro

The Brinno tlc200 pro and tlc 200. Two dedicated timelapse cameras that recently came on the market. The principal advantage they offer over compact cameras with a timelapse capability is a ‘stand alone battery life’ where they will run for days to weeks on the internal battery (4xAA).

The first one I got was the Brinno TLC200.  It worked well enough for me to get two of them, however there is simply no contest when it’s compared to the Brinno TLC 200 pro.  The TLC200 has a relatively narrow angle lens less suited for timelapse (which typically requires wide angle lenses), it is poor at low light levels and cannot be focused.

This review is also available in video form:

The Brinno TLC200 Pro works acceptably well.  The lens is quite wide angle, and can be focused manually.  It will run on batteries (4xAA) for days to weeks (depending on how often you take pictures).  My principal problem is if you are running it off batteries, it’s almost impossible to tell if the batteries are flat, or even if the timelapse is still running.  This point can be disturbing if you are running a timelapse for months, and do not want to move the camera to check it’s still working.  It can be powered off USB, but this obviously requires a USB power cable (micro).  They do sell outdoor enclosures, but generally I wouldn’t recommend them.  They are only compatible with the standard Brinno lens, and when in the enclosure, you lose the ability to power the camera by USB.  

The camera records the movies directly to SD card.  It comes with a 4Gb card, but if you are doing anything sensible, I would recommend at least 16Gb.  The Brinno will also automatically stitch the images together into an *.avi file.  With the netbook, the most reliable method is just to record a series of images, which you can then stitch together yourself using video editing software.  I use Sony Vegas Pro (not recommended if you are starting with video editing, it’s very versatile, but that also means it’s very complicated!), but most video editing software will allow you to stitch together a sequence of images into a video file.

This is an affiliates link to the Brinno TLC200 Pro.

Brinno TLC200 Pro HDR Time Lapse Video Camera

When you compare the video of the TLC 200 Pro side by side with a netbook with a wide angle webcam, the webcam is the clear winner.  The downside is of course you need the netbook to continuously run the timelapse.  For me, I just ran a timelapse like this for over a year, so it basically ‘cost me’ a netbook.  This makes things like the brinno seem cheap.  Having said that, it’s very nice to be able to see, day to day, that the timelapse is still running away happily.  This is an option you just don’t get with the TLC 200 Pro.  However if you want an entirely self contained unit to run outside (with cover from the elements) for a day or two, the Brinno TLC 200 is superb!

If you are going to use a netbook/ notebook, the choice of webcam is critical.  You NEED wide angle.  Personally I would recommend the Genius wideangle webcam.  It gives you EVERYTHING.  Most importantly a very wide field of view, it records in 1280×720 and it has a small compact form factor with good exposure.


Genius wide angle webcam. Most superb performer for timelapse! Recommended without hesitation.

Most definitely recommended on every level!

Prior to this I had used the microsoft HD camera.  This in its native form is relatively narrow angle and less suited for timelapse.  The solution that I eventually came up with was to take the front off the web cam, and add a cheap wide angle lens.

microsoft camera

Take the front off your microsoft HD webcam, and you can quite happily add a wide angle lens, which provides quite good results!

This actually worked okay, but for me these microsoft webcams would crash intermittently (randomly from hours to days), which was infuriating if you were taking a long timelapse only to find it ruined by the camera crashing.  This is simply not an issue with the Genius webcam.  The Genius wideangle webcam I have found to be the clear winner everywhere!

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10 Responses to “Review of Brinno TLC200, TLC200 Pro and webcam timelapse”

  1. Mike Meier Says:

    Thanks. In the near future I’ll be needing a small camera for time lapse in a fairly hostile environment (rear of a race car).

    I hear that Quicktime, the version you pay for, is also very good at taking a series of images and creating a video.

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  3. Roth Says:

    Please e-mail me. I have to get in contact with you. I have a special timelaps asignmet.

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  5. antti Says:

    How about low-light function in this webcam? I’d like to make night timelapses and automatic upload online. Seems quite tricky at the moment…

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  9. Joonas Says:

    Hi! Can you tell more about using the external powerbank with Brinno 200 Pro? I do have a big powerbank, and the cable. So is there anything I should worry if using the powerbank instead of batteries? Will the camera always recognize powerbank over batteries, when they both are connected?

    I have the basic lense with the camera, and I would need to do 30-day time-lapse with the camera, with frame taking every 20 seconds. Looks like the regular batteries are on its limits if the batteries will last or not.

    I hoped I could figure out these things by making some tests, but looks like I am running out of time before this 30-day task is coming. So that’s why I am asking these questions.

  10. Steve B Says:

    I came here to get a comparison of the two Brinno cameras.
    I have two 200 pros, and I find the lens is TOO WIDE for some of the shots I want. The lack of a ‘night mode’ may be an issue in the regular TLC200, but time will tell as I’m set to get a trio of them for a song…

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