Posts Tagged ‘good’

Review of Brinno TLC200, TLC200 Pro and webcam timelapse

March 23, 2014

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!

The Price of saying ‘Good-bye’

September 16, 2012

So I was listening to my ipod the other day, and bugger me a track comes on that I’ve not heard for a long time .  It was the track that I was playing on ‘the long drive’ across Wyoming.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I was probably on a day or so away from dying.

I’d arrived near Laramie in the summer of 2007 after driving some 2000 miles from upstate NY and I had an ‘upset stomach’.  I figured it was food poisoning or something and drove up into the Snowies, west of Laramie.  The evening and night was all alone in a car park, with a fever, and what I would call ‘low level hallucinations’, in that when I closed my eyes I would see vivid colors that would take the shape of familiar objects and do really surreal things.

The next day I really wasn’t feeling any better, and certainly not well enough to do anything, and so I limped Westwards.  By this time I was getting worried.  If it was food poisoning, it should be getting better by now, and if anything it was getting worse.  I picked up the interstate I80 and headed West.  It was late afternoon by the time I got to Rawlins, and I was weighing in the balance if I should head to a hospital.  In the end I decided I would head onto Rock Springs and if I was not getting better by then I would go looking for medical help.  That drive turned out to be particularly tormentful, with the pain getting progressively worse and in the failing light.  To make things worse, it turned out the GPS was out of date, and inside my head there was a wail of despair that went off as the GPS announced ‘now arriving at destination (hospital) on right’, when it was clear there was no hospital here.  Thankfully Rock Springs was a fairly small place and a little further up the road I found a Hospital sign.  It was only on getting out of the car I realized something was really really wrong.  All the time I had been in the car, all I had to do was essentially set the cruise control and keep the car on the road.  On getting out of the car, I found the movement so painful that I could barely walk.

The tormentful drive across wyoming. Incidentally, a couple of years later I returned along exactly these roads to fly my plane in the snowies. It was really a very traumatic experience as i had so many painful memories of this road. Had a similar experience when I broke my wrist coming off a pedal bike. About a year later I cycled up to the same junction and was again stunned at the power of the involuntary physiological response.

The fever made my stay in the waiting room a really quite surreal experience.  While they were checking my insurance details I sat very still, and very quietly in an almost transidental calm, like I was only watching my life.  The thing that really sticks with me from that waiting room were the parents opposite me, getting progressively more frantic as they went from credit card to credit card trying to get something that would pay for their childrens treatment. It was an unpleasantly disturbing sight seen through the eyes of one whose my mind wasnt quite right and who, by now was dealing with the unconformable realization that there was something very wrong with him.

When a doctor finally took a look at me, it took him minutes to come to the conclusions ‘appendicitis’.  They took blood, and at some did some form of imaging that required a tube to be shoved up my ass and significant amounts of dye to be injected.  I was assured this would be quite painful, although to be honest at this point I was in so much pain, and in such a dazed state that I just didn’t care. Not even a little!

All this confirmed what they had suspected all along, and that they would operate in the morning (less than 12 hrs after arriving).

Now I knew the risk of death in the operation was small, and the chances of death if they did not operate were all but certain, but nonetheless, when they came to put me out for the operation, that this might be the final curtain call.  Complications as unpredictable as they are, it turned out, my appendix was actually fairly far gone and gangrenous and as a consequence my appendix scar is longer than most!

So these were the memories that came flooding back when I heard this track, and then I remembered something else.

-I had chose not to contact my parents, and the uncomfortable things I had weighted in coming to that decision.

I knew that the chances of death were small but real, and in that case, all my parents would ever know of this is that their son had died of complications in Wyoming.

-So how could I not tell them I hear you ask?

Well, I also knew the operation was something I had no control over, and nor would they.  That is that if I told them I knew they would worry terribly, my mother especially as they could do nothing other than powerless wait on the other side of the world to hear if their son was going to live or die.

… and there, as I stood waiting for a bus, listening to my ipod, it suddenly dawned on me that this was the price of saying good-bye to your loved ones.

It also prompted me down the rather uncomfortable line of thought of what sort of risk of death would you need before the balance was tipped from ‘the probability is small, and the matter is out of everyones hands, so I will spare my parents the emotional grief’ to ‘the probability is high, and even though it’s out of everyones hands, I want to talk to my loved ones for maybe the last time.  What would be the tipping point? 10 %? 30 %? 90%?

I’m curious as to your thoughts on this.  What would you have done?

-You are on the other side of the world and with a risk of death, maybe big, maybe small.  Would you spare your loved ones the anguish? Or does the necessity for the closure of talking to your loved ones, maybe for the last time win out?