Brinno is a leader in the time-lapse camera arena. They design and manufacture a wide variety of cameras and a host of accompanying accessories to meet the needs of hobbyists, beginners and professionals.
This review is unlike most other reviews as the Brinno BCC300-C comprises a time-lapse camera. I’m currently testing the camera as I type this and the test won’t finish for another seven days. So, although this is a bit unconventional, in an effort to provide a faithful and sincere review, I have started this review before the actual testing has concluded. For your convenience, the latter section of this review is split into daily updates.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Lost time is never found again.” So is there any wonder why we all live in an age where we’ve become obsessed with time and speed? We all want things to happen quickly. When we discuss technology, we invariably ask how fast things happen, what the processor speed is, how fast file transfer rates are, how soon until the next upgrade and so on… When we discuss cars, we want to know how fast they go and how quickly it responds to the driver’s command. When shopping, we constantly receive speed-centric messages like “Fast Food…Ready in two minutes!” or “Fast Delivery”. We have become conditioned to equate speed and saving time with something positive and ultimately good for us. Few of us have the luxury of enjoying the passing of time, like watching a painting develop on a blank canvas, a carved sculpture emerging out of stone or wood, a frozen icicle melting in the spring sunshine, observing a flower come into bloom, or observing the construction of a building. Why is this? It’s because these things (however wonderful they may be to behold) take an awful lot of time.
I have to hold my hands up. Time-lapse photography hasn’t featured significantly in my life to date. However, I’ve admired the benefits of it in wildlife and nature documentaries and on a multitude of home & garden makeover tv shows.
I now have the pleasure of evaluating Brinno’s newest model – The TLC300. Marketed under Brinno’s Construction Series of products, the TLC300 is ideal for documenting the evolution of building or construction projects. There are many time-lapse videos of construction projects on their website, It’s worthwhile watching them to see the possibilities time-lapse photography can afford you. The camera has a very comprehensive list of settings that you can customize from filming schedules to image settings, which I found to be quite intuitive. The interchangeable lens rotates around 90º and coupled with the Clampod, the choices for positioning the camera to frame your desired footage are greatly increased.
In addition to the TLC300 time-lapse camera, the BC300-C bundle comprises an IPX4 weatherproof housing, wall mount, two bungee cords, a 16GB SD card & adaptor, Quick Guide, the aforementioned Clampod & User Guide, a guide to formatting the SD card, 4 x AA Alkaline batteries and a Lens Cover.
There is also a helpful and comprehensive manual which you can download in various languages from the Brinno website or if you’re feeling impatient, you could watch the very handy video on unboxing and setting up on the website. I would strongly suggest that you keep a copy of the manual to hand as it is full to the brim with useful, easily digestible information.
Setting up basically involves inserting the four AA batteries and SD card. You then need to set the language of the user interface and set the correct date & time. The camera settings are configured on the LCD screen located on the reverse of the camera body. The screen itself boasts Full HD (1920×1080) with no loss of clarity or fidelity in bright environments. Navigating and selecting the various options may take some time to get used to. This isn’t helped by what some may consider to be a smaller-than-ideal 1.4” LCD screen. While I feel the camera would benefit from a larger screen, I suspect this may impact manufacturing costs and adversely affect the compact form of the unit. A solution to this could be to assign some of the tasks to a mobile app.
At this point, I’d recommend getting familiar with the accompanying Clampod which is part of the BC300-C bundle. The clamp feels strong and sturdy in the hand and is well made allowing the user to rotate and lock the camera around 360º on any axes. Once the camera is placed inside the IPX4 weatherproof housing, you have the option of using the bungee cords to fix it to a tree or post. You can also secure it to the clamp which in turn can be mounted onto a suitable surface like a window ledge, the edge of a table or shelf. Additionally, with the use of the wall mount, you can attach the camera to a more stable surface if, for example, you intend to document a construction project over a longer period of time and want to avoid inadvertent camera movement. Once again, the set-up video will demonstrate how to do this.
Finally, you can start recording.
I’m not currently involved in any kind of construction project so had to think outside of the box when it came to reviewing the BCC300-C. As spring is in the air, I headed to the garden centre and bought a flowering plant with the hope of capturing the majesty of the buds opening and the flowers coming into bloom over the coming days.
I had everything I needed for my time-lapse project. I set the schedule to record from 7am – 7pm, Monday to Sunday. I felt in order to capture what I wanted, I needed to space each shot at thirty-minute intervals with a playback speed of 30fps (frames per second). So, according to my rudimentary calculation, a shot every 30 minutes multiplied by twelve hours is 24 frames per day. Let’s say the shoot takes seven days, that’s 24×7= 168. Divide that by 30 fps = a 5.6 second movie, which I felt was fine for testing purposes. I OK’d the settings and placed the plant in a pot on a window sill. I clamped the camera to the edge of the window sill, pointed the camera at the plant and crossed my fingers. According to the manual, the LED light on top of the camera should flash every ten seconds to indicate that it is recording. However, the LED is not very bright so I couldn’t initially tell whether or not it was indeed flashing. I’d have preferred a brighter light and/or a more frequent flash but I guess this would reduce the battery life.
I now faced a dilemma. How do I check to see if the camera is actually doing what it’s supposed to be doing? Should I take the camera out of the housing, remove the SD card and see what’s on there? I feared that if I took the camera out, the movement might cause the image to jerk when I put it back in the housing and I’d have to start all over again. I figured I’d give it some time to take more shots and then check. A few nail-biting hours passed and I couldn’t restrain myself any longer. I removed the SD card and inserted it into my laptop. My heart immediately sank when I noticed it was blank. “Was I doing something wrong?” I thought. I read and re-read the manual. I watched the Set-up videos again and realized that in order to stop the filming, I had to press the OK button for two seconds after which it processes the images and then creates an AVI video file. I, erroneously just switched the camera off and hoped for the best. So, with a heavy heart, I started the entire process again. This time, I opened my eyes as wide as I could and resisted the urge to blink for ten seconds to make sure the LED was flashing.
Nothing to report. The camera LED is flashing every ten seconds. I watered the plant. The flower buds are still not opening. Some kind of feedback other than the flashing LED on the camera would be nice. I’d like to be able to see the images captured so far, on my phone. I won’t know if I’ve set the correct exposure settings until the test is finished by which time the flowers will have bloomed and there will be no way of correcting it unless I get a new plant and start from the beginning (again!)
A flower opened… but unfortunately, it’s facing the wrong way. It seems the other flower buds which are facing the camera may be a little camera-shy! Although the camera has an unprecedented 100-day battery life, for those larger projects, there is a micro USB port on the side which can also be used to supply power. Brinno does warn that “Batteries cannot be recharged while inside the camera.”
Then it struck me. If I had tied the camera to a tree with the bungee cords, I wouldn’t be able to check the status unless I untied the camera, checked the status and put it back in exactly the same position. Another reason why a mobile app would be useful.
I was greeted this morning with a partially opened flower. I hope it opened during the scheduled photography times and not during the night! I guess I’ll only find out when I see the footage on Sunday (day 7).
The flowers are opening up. I’m filled with what I imagine pre-parental, nervous anticipation is like. I really hope the time-lapse footage works! I’m so tempted to stop the recording schedule to view the video file.
Flowers are looking good. I’m itching to see how this video will look.
The day has finally come for me to see the culmination of my effort and patience. I pressed OK for 2 seconds after which the LCD screen displayed the word “PROCESSING”. The manual says it’s ok to remove the SD card and retrieve the video files. I had clicked the Split File option at the outset which creates a separate file for each day. In hindsight, I ought to have kept it as one long file. I then had to convert the AVI files to mp4 as I’m using a Macbook. I used a free software called Handrake to do this. Then I needed to stitch each file together in order to create a single MP4 video file. You can do this in Adobe Premiere if you feel confident enough, or do what I did and choose a free online method.
Being a complete novice, I’m confident that my video experiment isn’t going to win any awards but I’m quite satisfied with the results. Yes, I should have set the camera a bit higher to frame the main action better. Yes, perhaps I should have kept the light setting on Twilight instead of Daytime (the video is a bit darker than expected.) Yes, perhaps I should have slowed down the frame rate or changed the intervals between shots to slow down the footage.
Although my first escapade in time-lapse photography was conducted with slight trepidation, I have emerged wiser and more confident for my next project. As for the camera? It does exactly what it’s supposed to do despite a few minor niggles. I really do believe that being able to preview the footage on my larger screened mobile phone during recording would have allowed me to fix some of the settings like the lighting or interval period. This would have undoubtedly resulted in a more pleasurable viewing experience.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. However, if Romulus had a Brinno time-lapse BCC300-C camera bundle and a laptop to hand back then, he would have been able to watch the city come to life before his very eyes!
If you are about to embark upon a time-consuming project worthy of recording or reminiscence, the Brinno BCC300-C will give you all of the features and functions you need.
Your message has been successfully sent. We will contact you very soon.