Turtle Tough TT-400C
- Stunning Image
- Brilliant Ergonomics
- An abundance of physical buttons and controls
- Outstanding user interface
- Electronic Focus only
- Auto focus is clumsy
- Aspect ratio is different in the viewfinder
The only way to describe the new Turtle Tough TT400C thermal imager is it’s a beast. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and while some may find the look of this camera polarising there is no denying it is extraordinarily functional.
Styled in the manner of a traditional SLR type camera the design does lend itself to some impressive feats of agility and comfort. The manufacturer has taken this concept one step further and provided a lens that pivots or detents through 70°, while the LCD screen independently rotates through 270° for incredible viewing angles. The rear screen is by far one of my favourite features on the camera. It fully rotates through 180° so I can be reversed and re-seated into the body of the camera, keeping it viewable at all times and safe from harm. Ergonomically it is brilliant. The 5 inch 720P high resolution LCD touch screen provides stunning crispness and clarity, whiles its touch controls are precise and responsive.
What’s with all the buttons?
Speaking of controls, there is an impressive array of dedicated buttons which is exactly what you want in a professional camera like this one. There is nothing more frustrating than having key commands inaccessible when needed or having to keep assigning different functions to a single user programmable button. The TT400C has an impressive rotating mode button to choose between the various picture modes (IR, visual, picture and picture and image blending functions), dedicated button for the laser pointer within fingers reach on the lens housing, zoom, image capture, video capture, main menu, back button, auto/manual scale, image playback, and a user programmable button. That is quite an impressive interface that allows a user immediate access to key features without having to navigate through a GUI to find them. It’s another big tick in my book for the makings of a genuine high-end professional camera.
The TT400C also uses a multifunctional joystick to navigate through the cameras menu system, enter/confirm, and control the focus mechanism. It’s very intuitive and joystick control is by far my preference on a user interface.
Another dedicated button labelled finder/LCD, allows the user to switch between the large LCD screen and the integrated internal viewfinder. The internal viewfinder is a must for working outdoors in bright conditions. It is also great for saving on battery power. While the internal viewfinder is indeed very crisp and sharp, it does appear to be a different aspect ratio to the LCD screen and appears to actually distort the image somewhat. Albeit not a major issue, it is strange that this detail has been overlooked. That said, when it comes to internal viewfinders there is not much choice left on the market, so I’m just happy I’ve got one!
A large plastic door on a very solid hinge mechanism reveals a whole suite of interface options, which includes Ethernet, mini HDMI, micro USB and power port.
What about the image quality?
As to performance, you really are spoiled at this end of the market with really amazing image quality. It makes you appreciate just how far thermal imaging has come in the last 5 years. The image is so stunning; even in the 400×300 variant. In fact, the image is so good that I’ve had to check on more than one occasion that I was holding the correct model and not the bigger brother TT-640C. The crispness is due to a great combination of quality lens, detector resolution and sensitivity. The 25mm lens, with its 21.7° FOV is designed to find its target audience; electrical inspection personnel. This falls on the narrower side of standard and really enhances resolution for electrical inspections where the desire to clearly image small components in switchboards or overhead networks components far outweighs the need to have wider angles. The result is large clear imagery of small components that make this camera a pleasure to use in switchboards our outdoors alike. For those who need wider angles, no problem a 40.5° lens is available. However, taking a look at the optional lens line-up of 10° and 6.7° you can tell this camera was design for experienced operators doing distance work.
The 400×300 detector is a newcomer, boasting 120,000 pixels of measurement a boost of almost 10,000 pixels over a 384×288, and more than 43,000 pixels greater than the more commonly found 320×240 sized detectors. Let’s just say that’s very of noticeable.
The sensitivity of 45mk is certainly not class leading, but very respectable nonetheless. When you consider that 10 years ago 80mk was the benchmark in performance for this kind of professional camera, this is a massive step up. For those chasing 30mk, they will need to consider the big brother TT-640C Pro.
It looks complicated, is it easy to use?
While the hardware is truly impressive the most outstanding feature of this camera is the user interface. The Android-based operating system is one of the best developments I have seen to hit infrared camera manufacturers. Rather than develop their own in-house operating systems, manufacturers can now piggyback off one of the world’s most recognised and robust operating systems for mobile platform computing. What this means for us, the “user” is a huge step up in sophistication and user-friendliness. By leveraging such a technology behemoth we’ve now instantly been plugged into the new world of slick user interfaces, comprehensive functionality, as well as seamless wifi connectivity and app integration…. Things we all now take for granted on our smartphones.
It’s taken great hardware and truly made it awesome.
What’s not to like?
That’s a really hard call and I have to go searching for issues.
The focus mechanism is only available in electronic focus. While this is second nature to me, those who prefer a manual lens adjustment may be disappointed. The camera does have auto focus, but it is clumsy and slow, and I don’t rate it at all. The manual adjustment is quick and precise, operated by your right thumb on the joystick control. Personally, I love it, but it won’t suit everyone.
The 25mm lens has a narrow field of view which naturally means that min focal length is increased out to 0.4m (40cm). The upside is that your spatial resolution is increased nicely, the downside that you must be further away from your target. To put that into perspective it’s about 10-20cm longer than your average camera. This should not raise any issues with a standard electrical or mechanical inspections.
The batteries are proprietary and can only be sourced from the manufacturer, compared to days gone by when you could purchase “camcorder” style batteries from aftermarket sources. That said, the battery bay design is awesome. It has a solid door which seals the battery away from dust and dirt so there is zero exposure of the battery on the outside of the unit. The battery door also has a solid lock mechanism to keep it securely in place as well as a spring-loaded latch… evidence of a truly experienced manufacturer.
As you can see I’ve really got to dig deep to find a sore point. This model will be truly remembered as one of those great professional cameras for years to come.