2010 Plot Watcher Clone (PWC) Review - May 21, 2010 Back to Main Review Page
   

2010 Plot Watcher Clone (PWC) Garden Time Lapse Camera by Brinno

 

2010 Plot Watcher Clone (PWC) Garden Time Lapse Camera review

Every since we announced the up coming review on the new time lapse cam called a Plot watcher we got this flood of mail about a very similar device that appears to wear the same clothing but has a different color. We have not received the Plot Watcher cam yet but this camera is here and will be tested very shortly as we can find time to fit it in. Maybe we will get lucky and have them both here at the same time.  

Being much different than a trail camera, this device is day light only operation unless there is some type of lighting provided. Our experience with many of the action cameras that are physically started, this camera comes on by a timing mechanism to produce a picture at a pre determined rate. The action cameras did a very poor job early morning during first light because there was just not enough illumination to support good pictures. The tests will begin once we get all the instructions well absorbed into our gray matter so we can speak intelligently about this new style of field camera. We think this will be fun but lengthy because of the necessary time it has to be deployed and the extended time it takes to review the results. They say it takes about ten minutes to review a days worth of pictures and if the batteries last 6 or 7 days that could require over an hour of scanning just to see the week’s results unless you use a type of movement scanning software to pick out the frames that have action in them. This we will just have to see how it goes once we deploy to the field. 

This is by far not a replacement for your trail camera. It is more like a daylight scouting tool that will look at a large area and snap pictures at a given rate whether or not there is an animal there or not. You will have to realize that this would be more like looking at the same area with your eyes and movement out there at 190 yards would be very small and have to be zoomed in on and to that degree a guess as to horn count would be about impossible. Better results would be in the less than a hundred yards like we have in our typical timber areas here in Georgia. 

This is not a handful like the Bushnell trophy cam. It is much larger (taller) by about three inches. It takes four AA cells through a gasket protected door on the rear of the camera which exposes a battery holder and the settings wheel. There is also a receptacle for you to plug in the USB drive (2 gig supplied---8 gig recommended) for storage. A custom setting can be achieved by running the software on the supplied disk. The wheel settings range from 1, 5, 30 minutes 1, 4, 24 hour fixed settings and one setting where you choose your delay time. The custom setting has a factory default of 20 seconds and is where I will be leaving it for the initial tests. Trigger times and sensing/flash range tests are not going to be part of the review but how well it does during the prime early morning times will be.  

I know I started this review off calling this camera a PWC, but it is actually a garden camera that is produced by Brinno which is found many places and we purchased ours from the good folks at Kotulas.com for about $150 which is about $50 cheaper than the camo colored Plot watcher. Like previously stated this was brought to our attention by many and the main question was “what is the difference” so we are going to find out. Other than the color and maybe some specialized soft ware we think they may be somewhat parallel. I have some ideas as to security for this small chunk of gold and as is it has absolutely no security so  other that a ¼ inch tripod insert on the bottom it would be open to theft if found hanging on a tree. One good strip of camo tape would also take care of the color if needed; you would just have to leave the indicators open and the button and lens. No PIR to worry about as far as things moving. 

A good day watching a construction crew set at 20 seconds I had a fairly fluid AVI to watch and with the supplied software the speed was easy to set and when ever necessary I could pause and step up and down to view a particular picture. The presentation was very good and clear, but remember this was bright day time and ideal conditions in the open and not up under the canopy of the trees. If set up on a good tree without much obstruction above the light will turn the camera on this time of year (May) at about 06:21am and off about 20:28pm which gives about 14 hours a day of time lapse pictures. For a garden cam we think this may have potential and fit into the realm of hunting camera values. We will give as much review as we can on this device and we should be very ready once the (non clone) version hits our woods.

06-05-2010 update:  We have this camera stuck high in a tree watching a big area with a fresh set of batteries. So far it has performed very well and had done everything we expected except the battery life is just around a week with the all day settings we are using. This cam will be pulled soon and replaced with another that is in the review line. That week’s samples will be posted and reviewed.       

 

 

Product Specifications:

 

Camera Sensor :

1.3 Mega Pixel CMOS

Field of View :

54

Focal Length :

20" to infinity

Macro Effect :

20" with background unfocused

Photo Rate Settings :

6 predetermined time settings, 1 custom

 

1st: 1 minute
2nd: 5 minutes
3rd: 30 minutes
4th: 1 hour
5th: 4 hours
6th: 24 hours
7th:Customized setting is created by the user through Brinno software

Time :

All photos are time and date stamped

Format :

A JPEG image stored in a single folder for easy playback and viewing as an AVI file.

Portable Memory Storage :

Up to 8GB on any standard USB Flash Drive (2GB USB Flash Drive included)

System Memory :

8 MB SD RAM

Power Source :

4 AA Batteries (Included)

length of battery usage :

4 - 6 Months depending on time setting

Size (DxWxH) inches :

2.08 x 3.66 x 7.55

Weight :

0.75lbs (without batteries)

Housing Material :

Weather resistant plastic

Accessories :

Custom designed adjustable mounting stake

Below is a screen shot of the included player.  There is a slider on the bottom for manual seek forward and back.  Underneath the video are a set of buttons which include STOP, PAUSE, BACKWARDS PLAY, PREV FRAME, NEXT FRAME, FORWARD PLAY.  Of note is also the motion search feature which provides a motion threshold.  THis will scan through the video frames using a mathematical algorithm to detect motion.  If there is a lot of background motion caused by wind blowing, you may need to increase the threshold.  Conversely if you are missing animals in the search then lower the threshold.

05-25-2010 update:  I had an interesting conversation with one of the guru’s on the phone and found out that the reason I could not find the day/night sensor is because they do not have one. This function is controlled by the firmware and it monitors the lighting conditions and determines if there is enough light for the pictures. The 15 hours a day that it is working now is getting started at first light and ending near dark which for being under the canopy seems to work quite well. They also let me know that they have a way to upgrade whenever they determine they have the need to do so. They are working on something now but would not elaborate until they have proved and tested and then will let us know what is going on. I am pretty happy with the way it is working now.    

05-26-2010 update:  We began to hear from a number of folks that decided to take this same route and the reports I am hearing are somewhat positive. We have an idea as to how we could make a real killer upgrade to this camera and maybe this fall when we get ahead of our commitments we will research that task. We will take this to the deep woods on a swamp later this week. The PW cam is due in this week so maybe we can get a little look at it out of schedule and do a quick comparison. We have 3 cameras coming today and we have two we started but had to slow down because of some difficulties in the cameras that are yet ahead of those so we will take one thing at a time until things get back to a better pace.

05-29-2010 update:  While waiting for its ride down south to its new home on the swamp we set up on the hill and had decent results. The function worked exactly as designed and to our surprise it is very tolerant to early morning and late evening lighting conditions. Having just the one function (taking pictures) not like the other plant camera that is also in testing this cam shined in what it did. The little green light may need a dot of electric tape on it because it flashes every time that a picture is taken. This may be a distraction to animals, but not to plants. The sample pictures are displayed along with a sample slideshow (video conversion) of how it did in the woods. It worked very well and the picture quality was acceptable. The need for 8 gig thumb drives ($20 each) was an additional expense and somewhat non standard due to most devices use SD cards and they are readable with our portable card readers where this requires the use of a computer. All in all we are pretty happy with the outcome so far but it keeps our minds working developing jobs where we can most effectively use this type camera.     

06-08-2010 update:  We retrieved this prize from its lofty position and proceeded to take an extended look at the results. First off out range of vision on its mounting spot was great. What we did not figure on is that not only did its mounting position move in the wind, all of its surroundings moved also. This complicates the use of the movement feature in the software. As far as picking out the rabbit and tree rat population we could do this. It also did tell us where we had deer coming and going from and repeated paths. The supplied software will zoom when you click on the video which helps a little. To say that a big eight pointer walked out of a particular spot 100 yards away we could not do this. We could how ever say it was a large deer and there were what appeared to be horns on the head of the animal. The battery life with the every 20 second setting was 8.25 days of daylight operation only. During this same period there was what would be called a “frog strangler” rain storm. We could see the roan turn from a dry path into a stream of raging proportions. This test has left us pleasantly pleased and if you have a need to watch a large area to pick up on movement routs and not as a detailed observer we feel this camera will do that job well. Pick the highest solid position for mounting and try to aim away from anything that may blow and have a lot of movement in the wind, to aid in your analysis when you use the supplied software. The battery life is such that at the setting we choose (20 seconds daylight) would take only the amount of pictures that would fit on a 4 gig thumb drive.  This would save a lot of money when you purchase the memory for this device and don’t get the 8 gig because 4 gig will be big enough. We have a lot of personal work yet for this device and we would recommend it to anyone that could fit it into a specialized job that they have.      

07-03-2010 update:  The same thing as the other time lapse cams that were put out in the same area to watch a big open field where there is a crossing. Weather knocked limbs down and destroyed the view so we just managed to use up another set of batteries without results.

07-27-2010 update:  We had very good results and found we had positive reports from the field about this camera. The limited battery life was the main complaint but it did better than its big brother. We are closing this review until this fall when things cool off and we approach the season.       

10-24-2010 update:  We have good news about this camera and that is we it all powered up and deployed with its belly full of new software also. They now have a much better version which allows for the images to be viewed in much the same way as the Plot Watcher. With its much better battery life and better software it is a real contender to give the others a run for their piece of the market. Back out in the woods and clicking away so we now have many more of the time lapse cameras to look at but will be only reporting on some as time allows.      

02-14-2011 update:  The final days worked well without issues. This camera has done well for us and we are curious as to what is hiding in the wings for the 2011 model. This review is closed.       

 

 

Sample Clips in original format (short duration and large files)
The video in its native format is an AVI file with 1280x1040 as its dimensions
with a 10 frames per second.  Keep in mind that the supplied software allows the user to slow down the video to a crawl and speed up to blazing fast.  It will also allow for step frame per click and  and motion search for analysis.

Clip 1  Clip 2  Clip 3

 

The following is a compressed sample run at the full 10 frames per second. the original is both better quality and in the full 1280x1040 frame size.
 

Get Flash to see this player.

20 Feet up in a deer stand overlooking a dirt road, scenes of rain cycles

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