The scoop: TLC200 time-lapse camera, by Brinno, about $200 (available at smartecstore.com).
What is it? About the size of a Cisco Flip portable camera, the Brinno TLC200 lets you take time-lapse and stop-motion videos (stop-motion with the help of an optional shutter accessory) quickly and easily. At the press of a button, you can begin recording video at set time intervals (for example, two seconds, three seconds, five seconds, one minute, etc.), and then press again to stop. The camera is powered by four AA batteries, and comes with a 2GB SD memory card. It can record to AVI movie or .jpeg photo format, with 1280-by-720-pixel resolution (720p) or 640-by-480-pixel resolution (480p).
Settings on the camera let you adjust the interval at which the camera records, as well as adjust for low light, frame rate and whether you want a timestamp on the video. The timestamp setting is nice if you want to use the camera for security footage purposes. The camera can be mounted on a monopod or tripod in case you want to create long-lasting time-lapse videos, and the camera lens can rotate vertically if you want to record the sky. The camera comes in two different color options: blue/black or green/white.
Why it's cool: The ease with which you can create time-lapse videos make this camera a must-buy. Other cameras and camcorders may have time-lapse functionality, but it's usually hidden within their other features. In addition, you can record a segment and then condense the video in video editing software, but the results aren't as smooth as what you get with this camera.
When I used this camera, I was able to get lots of time-lapse videos at a trade show for use as B-roll footage, and I could also create quick-and-fun music videos (for example, I placed the camera on my car's dashboard and recorded a trip to the grocery store and back, and then added a soundtrack via YouTube). With the optional ShutterLine accessory ($20, model ATS100), I could use the camera to create stop-motion animations. If you have the patience for such an endeavor -- you still have to move your objects by hand -- this camera can help you achieve your animation goals quite nicely.
Video enthusiasts will appreciate having this camera in their arsenal for creating additional footage quickly and easily. The more you play with the device, the more ideas you end up getting on creating time-lapse or stop-motion footage.
Some caveats: The software on the camera could be improved to let you view your footage on the camera instead of transferring the files to a computer for viewing. To save battery life, the image on the screen goes away when you're recording, so it was hard to tell after a recording session whether I succeeded or failed until I checked the footage on my computer. In addition, the instructions have some language translation issues -- Brinno is a Taiwan-based company and some of the instructions are confusing.
Grade: 4.5 stars (out of five).
Shaw can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @shawkeith.
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