Saturday, November 23, 2013

Tehkron CagePro for extended Time Lapse Photography with a GoPro: Review

Update:  11/26/13 - I sent a somewhat stern e-mail to Tehkron's support complaining that I would have to pay for shipping to get the product replaced.  They have since modified their response and sent me a shipping label to send the defective product back, and sent a new one as a replacement.  I hope that the new one does not have a defective battery door.  The support representative responded to my e-mail in less than a day apologizing for the  previous correspondence.  I will update this post when I receive the replacement and alter my review as appropriate.

Update:  1/17/13 - After waiting almost a month and no replacement, I finally sent the broken CagePro back.  Apparently, even though the letter from Tehkron stated that they would send me a replacement right away, they were waiting to get the original back from me.  I would recommend that Tehkron alter their RMA process to send out replacements ASAP as stated in their communication, and use the customer's Credit Card as collateral, like pretty much every other technology company on the planet. I finally got the replacement CagePro, and they did include a spare battery door, which is what they claimed they couldn't send me to begin with.  Very disappointed on how this all went down, but I did get a replacement, and will be very gentle with the plastic door.

Tehkron CagePro for GoPro HD Hero 3:  Review

I enjoy taking time lapse sequences with a number of my cameras, and the GoPro HD Hero is usually at the top of my list because of its ease of use.  The problem is that the battery does not last long enough without an external source.  When I saw the Tehkron CagoPro, I thought it would be a good fit since I already have cameras that use the LP-E6 Batteries from Canon.  I am modifying my slow motion time lapse dolly, and needed to have something that would last for more than just a couple of hours.  Here are my initial impressions.

FYI:  Red Lens Ring - I change the lens ring on my housings so that they are easier to identify as mine, and also find if disconnected to whatever I'm riding.  This is not included with the CagePro, and definitely not standard with GoPro.
  • 62mm threaded filter ring.  This will allow for a wide number of filters to be used for additional image control.  I also purchased this adapter ring to test with graduated filters.
  • I already have multiple Canon dSLR cameras that use the LP-E6 Battery, so it worked out great for me not having to purchase this separately.  
  • Lots of 1/4" threaded mount points.  Worked well with my pistol grip mount that I also use with a light blaster.
  • Ability to use the LCD or Battery BacPac, making it much more versatile.  
  • Requires the GoPro skeleton housing.  This was listed on the bottom of their website, but it wasn't something that stands out.    You can pick on of these up on Amazon for $27.23 on Prime.  You could drill a hole in one of your existing housings for the cable to go through, but the skeleton housing is pretty cheap, in comparison to other GoPro products.
  • The door and latch for the LP-E6 Battery is plastic.  The little tabs that allow the door to hinge broke off within the 3rd time putting the battery in.  I have contacted Tehkron for a replacement, but this is very poorly designed.  Most of the rest of the body is machined aluminum and this seems like cheap plastic.  Just be careful when taking a battery in and out.  They wanted me to to pay for shipping so that they could evaluate whether or not to send a replacement, even after I sent them the pictures.  After a email complaining, they have since sent me a replacement free of charge with a shipping label for the old one.
  • Very expensive for the initial prototype.  You can use any standard external USB battery to accomplish the same thing.  The benefit of the CagePro is that it's all in one enclosure, but I will not use it enough to justify the $130 price.    
  • Big.  Since the skeleton housing is required for this model, I think that it should have been designed to use the camera only without the housing, thus reducing the size and weight substantially.  Create one that us the ability to use filters, but not have to use the skeleton housing.  
  • The electronic circuit board is exposed inside the case.  The short USB power tether cable needs to fit inside a small area near the exposed circuit board.  I'd like to see this covered or sealed.
  • Not Waterproof.  
  • Cannot use external microphone, since the the USB slot is being used by the CagePro for power, and the only way to use an external mic is with the 3.5mm mic adapter.
  • Create a mini-USB port on the outside of the CagePro to charge the Canon Battery. This might allow piggybacking another external portable battery pack for even more extended time.
  • Swap the battery to be on the opposite side, allowing for access to the HDMI port.   With the current design, there is no way to have access to that port though the skeleton housing.
Door broke almost immediately.  I contacted Tehkron via e-mail and they responded the same day.  Hopefully, I can get a replacement, or a couple since this seems to be a problem.  Since they will not send me a replacement door, I'll just have to tape it on when I use this. 

Multiple 1/4" threaded mount points on the bottom and side.

Room for the LCD and Battery BacPac.

62mm threaded filter mount allows for a ton of different options for ND or Polarizing filters.

You will have to crop images or videos  since there is some vignetting from the filter.

I also tried a stepper ring to be able to use Graduated filters and an adapter with the GoPro.

Obviously, the GoPro is a wide angle lens and will have to be cropped when using the graduated filters and adapters.

I did some tests to see how long the camera would last using a fully charged GoPro, Original GoPro Battery BacPac, and LP-E6 battery.  Please note that all of these tests were done using the intevelometer set to grab an image every 5 seconds.
  • Total Battery Time 7 hours 13 minutes.  6607 images
The second test was with the Original LCD BacPac, Canon LP-E6 Battery, versus the battery BacPac.
  • Total Battery Time:  4 hours 6 Minutes
Latest Test was with a brand new off-brand LP-E6, HD Hero 3, and NO BacPacs.
  • Total Battery time:  6 hours 31 minutes.  4689 images
CagePro by Tehkron

I look forward to being able to do extended time lapse sequences with the GoPro.  However, I doubt that this cage will be used by me for anything else, as it adds too much weight and bulk to be used for action sports.  I did get over 7 hours of time lapse photography at 5 second intervals, so it does exactly what I need it for.  I think that I could have just done it with an external USB battery for much cheaper.  After my poor interaction from Tehkron support, I doubt that I personally would ever buy anything else from them.  

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