Plot Watcher Clone Brinno Camera Review

2010 Plot Watcher Clone (PWC) Review - May 21, 2010

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 weeks 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 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.

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 gurus 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.

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

Get Flash to see this player.


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